We have four children with birthdays in January, March, April and June – ours are in August and December. Six months out of twelve, we are celebrating a birthday at our house. Generally, after the last kiddo’s birthday in June, I start shopping for Christmas. I know that sounds really ridiculous, but we have a LOT of people to buy for, not just our kiddos. We are blessed with a big family, and not just by blood, but by our extended family of friends and/or their children. In turn, we are blessed by many gifts in exchange. I assure you – one quick glance at our play room, and you’ll know our children want for little.
This year, rather than start early – I have decided to limit the gift giving for our children. The littles will be limited to 10 gifts a piece (and Santa’s limit is undecided though it will be even less) and while that still seems extremely excessive, I have decided those ten gifts will be purchased/gifted with intention. I read an article that suggested intentional/minimal gifting could be limited to four gifts: “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.” Also, I have read in the past that Santa should always bring the most modest gifts in an effort to show compassion to your child’s peers.
Our ten gifts will go as follows:
- Wish list item
- Wish list item
- A fiction book
- A nonfiction book
- A STEM/STEAM toy
- A pair of shoes
- Something that encourages creativity
- An outfit
- A keepsake
- An experience*
*To expand on “experience,” I want to point out that could mean many things for many different people. For example, my oldest asks frequently for a mommy/daughter date so even a handmade coupon promising one-on-one time with your child would be an inexpensive addition to your Christmas gift list, yet the most rewarding present of all.
There are many reasons for going minimal this year, as I have given this a lot of thought.
Appreciation. I want my children to truly appreciate their gifts. I am extremely guilty of ALWAYS going overboard and buying “just one more” gift, especially when I start shopping so early in the year (which, I did not do this year). As we all know, it’s not the number of presents, it’s the “thought that counts.”
The playroom. Over the years our playroom has become a collection site for way too many things. Recently, I cleaned out five garbage bags (that we donated locally). Five garbage bags. I was then able to add a reading area to their playroom (which I have always wanted to do) and an art area, and I feel like those are both very important activities for the girls to be engaged in more fully.
Our carbon footprint. With toys that only cost $1 at Dollar Tree (or the Target bin, or even at Walmart, etc.), it’s easy to say “yes” as we shop. But honestly, those are the first toys I toss out when I purge, the first toys to break, the first toys to get lost. With already overflowing landfills, I am literally spending “only $1” to contribute to more waste (I’ve already started saying no to these impulse purchases). Side note: I don’t want to discount that these purchases are what some can more easily afford, I am speaking solely on intentional gift giving as my motivator.
The true meaning of Christmas. I want to focus more on doing for others, why we celebrate Christmas in the first place, being truly engaged with friends and family, creating and passing along tradition. I can’t believe that the true meaning of Christmas hasn’t been lost, as I go to the store to purchase toothpaste on the first day of October and see a small endcap of Halloween/fall items and pass two entire aisles of Christmas decor.
They don’t NEED it. They truly don’t need any of the things they get for Christmas. They don’t NEED this year’s Christmas fad item (and the fact that we haven’t had cable in 10 years is a bonus because they don’t watch commercials to know what this year’s fad item is anyway). They WANT for gifts and, hey, in life we don’t always get everything we want (I don’t want to raise my children to believe that they do, or feel “entitled” to anything they didn’t work hard for). Why put all of that pressure on ourselves as parents when it’s literally not a necessity. Food, they NEED food – they don’t NEED a new doll (when they already have 20).
As far as the big kids go, it is easier to gift with intention. We can make purchases directly from their lists and know that they’ll get used/worn and appreciated. Our oldest daughter is intentional on her own, and only asks for what she feels like she needs (#goals). For everyone else? Handmade items. This year, I am going to make something for each of my friends. I feel like it aligns with intention and focusing on what Christmas means to me. So, if you’re reading this and we exchange gifts – make me something instead of purchasing a present (a handmade card would be perfect).