Monday, November 30, 2009

Reconsidering Christmas Gifts

Last year I did daily posts throughout the month prior to Christmas, and while that was really fun for me (and hopefully for you!) I have a newborn this year and don't have that kind of energy! Furthermore, I've said a lot of the profound things I wanted to say!! BUT, I do still have a few topics for thoughtful posts this season, so every week or so I'll be waxing philosophical again.
Enjoy my (holiday) monday musings!

In the past, Hubby and I have typically set a dollar budget for Christmas (and then typically tried to get as many items as possible within that budget). On the one hand it meant we kept Christmas 'modest' in a monetary sense, which I think is good for moving away from the greed and more toward the giving and Christ-centered holiday that we want to teach our children...on the other hand the whole stress over how much stuff can we get for how little money kinda defeated the point of it all.

So this year we were talking about it and I brought up the idea of only having 3 gifts per person (since the Wise Men brought the Christ Child three gifts). Some people make it more specific where "The gold gift is something they want. The frankincense gift is something they need, like socks. And the myrrh gift is something to nurture their souls." (I've also heard the idea of giving 4 gifts: "something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.") These ideas felt closer to where we wanted to be, and yet neither was quite what we wanted, because one of the biggest issues is that we want our kids to care about the giving side of Christmas, so we want to encourage/help them to give to the other family members. Then Hubby came up with a brilliant idea!
We have concluded that from here on out each person in the family will get just one gift from each other family member. While the kids are young we will help them pick out gifts for each other person (and we'll subsidize) but as they get older we'll encourage them to think of gifts themselves (we'll still subsidize--within reason!). So for example Bear will get one gift each from dad, mom, Wolf, Santa, and each set of grandparents (not sure if we're gonna have gifts 'from' the baby brother this year, since he'll only be a few weeks old!). BUT, I'll also be helping Bear choose/give gifts to each other family member as well.
In the long run, we figure we'll be spending about the same amount of money, because there will only be one gift from mom, and one from dad (rather than several from us)...things will just have different 'from' labels, and be thought of/chosen by different people rather than all from mom and dad. (Hubby likes to do the Santa thing, so that will still happen...but I'm currently trying to negotiate for Santa gifts to be things that fit inside the stocking, so they will be small...keep the fun and 'magic' of the idea of Santa, but stay away from the greedy side of it. )

Anyway, I'm really excited because it will still keep Christmas spending/greed/stress to a real minimum, but this idea feels like we're going at it from the other direction--it's not about the dollar amount or the number of gifts, but since we each get to pick out just one gift for each other person, each of us is going to end up making it more personal and meaningful, you know? Especially as the kids get older I'm hoping to encourage homemade things or passing along things (like books or toys that they've outgrown). It feels so much better than if we were just trying to pack in the maximum possible bang for our buck.


BonnieKaye said...

Good ideas. Rick and I have discussed a lot how we want our Christmas gift-giving to go. We both are not big gift-givers and don't need gifts to feel loved (though, I recognize there are those who show love and feel loved through gifts) so it's always a little stressful for me to think of gifts. I'll definitely consider these ideas when we have children (hopefully soon, we have been chosen as adoptive parents, yeah!).

megandjon said...

This post is perfect for me right now, as my only little boy is 18 months and we have another on the way. I know this is my opportunity to make Christmas traditions that are managable, and meaningful. I love your idea, though it probably won't quite work for us till the kiddies are just a little older and there are at least a couple of them. Thanks also for the other ideas. I'd never heard of the 3 or 4 gift rule, and the cute little sayings. I've just been thinking something like, 1 biggish gift, one smallish gift, and stocking stuffers. My sis-in-law does the "santa only does stocking stuffers" thing. My in-law family is not super big on santa anyway, and the more i think about it, the more i agree with them. Anyways, thanks for all your great posts!

Mallory said...

We aren't doing Santa at all, we have decided. This year, however, we are trying something new. We are doing three spiritual gifts (three gifts of the wise men) which can be books, music, church or family oriented gifts. Then we get one gift that is something we want that doesn't fit into the spiritual category. Except...we are finding that our spiritual gifts are more expensive than we anticipated, so I think we will only end up with two each. (But they are all worth it!)

Also, I am making Bug a quiet book for church that has different fabrics/textures and buttons, zippers, pockets, etc. It's the only homemade gift I am doing this year, really. So, I hope it turns out!

Christa said...

My extended family draws names every year. The adult names in one hat, kids names in another.
Last year we drew names the previous Christmas that way everyone could have all year to find the perfect gift... I was the only person who took all year "getting" the gift...I actually still haven't finished it (I made my aunt a quilt).
This year we decided to "re-gift." It has to be something nice, that you already have in your home, that you don't have room for, doesn't match your decor, whatever. I really like this idea, because it's saving us money, and it's teaching the children in our family that it really is the thought that counts and not the money spent.

Destiny said...

I love the idea of Santa's gift being the small or stocking stuffer gift. Every year I try really hard to make Christmas more about Christ and less about Santa, but at the same time I know my girls are still young enough to believe in Santa and be upset if they don't get a Santa gift. We have also done a Secret Santa in the past for a family in need to help with the message that it's better to give.

Janeen said...

We do not celebrate Christmas in our household though we are Christians. Our religious beliefs go back to the early years of the Christian church before Catholicism came into being and back then, the Biblical Holy Days were still followed so that is what we focus on. Gift giving is done during the Feast of Tabernacles which is during September/October and actually was probably when Christ was born. Christmas in and of itself, (especially when it is celebrated) is based more on pagan holidays. The Christmas tree especially has a bit of a sordid history so that is a big no-no in our household.

It hasn't always been easy to understand this, coming from a Catholic, Christmas celebrating family myself but I did eventually come to understand why it was such an issue for my husband and for other members of his church. But, to each their own. Fortunately, my daughter's birthday is in December so I can still spoil her during that time of the year.

Andrea said...

Just wanted to say hello! I've been following your blog for a while. Congrats on your newest blessing.

The Christmas presents idea is a good one!

Linked Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...