December 02, 2008

Making Christmas Count

Last night hubby and I were talking about how to make Christmas more meaningful to our children. Last year they got so many presents they couldn't open them all in one day. They had presents the days leading up to and the days AFTER December 25. Throw in that ToddlerT's birthday is 1 week before Christmas and Son's birthday is 1 week AFTER and you have serious present overload. I feel like this makes the gifts less special because there simply is no time to appreciate the gifts before the next onslaught of gifts begins - we do a round presents w/my mother and brother, with hubby's Dad, with hubby's Aunt, with our little family and with my grandmother and extended family. Then there are the birthdays to deal with - we've tried having them at other points in the year but that isn't working out too well either.

We do sponser a child in Uganda and we are going to have discussions about the gifts that we are sending to him (through the Compassion organization) and to his family. We sent money specifically for the child then another gift for the family to buy things. We pick angels off the giving tree at ToddlerT's preschool. We plan to take the children to shop for those gifts and be more involved in that this year now that they are older.

My mother and grandmother give me cash to purchase gifts for the children. I am putting 50% of that cash into their college funds instead of toys. I would buy the children clothes if spring clothes were out - they have more than enough winter clothes.

What else can I do to

a. cut down on the amount of stuff coming into my house for the holidays?
b. make the gifts more special - present overload is seriously a problem with so many people that love our children.

Any suggestions?

1 comment:

enjanerd said...

Are your relatives willing to work with you on this? Maybe they are willing to give your children the gift of an experience, e.g. attend a baseball game in the spring, cooking lessons for favorite childhood snacks, a day at the zoo. Or something else more age appropriate for your kids, but geared to be one-on-one so each child gets to be spoiled for a day/afternoon. For these examples, they could go with a pack of baseball cards, a mixing spoon/ingredients, or a box of animal crackers that could actually be wrapped under the tree.

For relatives far away, if they're creative they could make a CD or DVD to share. One of my friends gets a DVD from his brother&wife each year of them doing goofy holiday music videos. Even a narrated photo CD would be cool so your kids can get to know their extended family... although this could quickly devolve into a bad slideshow.

For each new toy they receive, they could pick an old toy to part with (Goodwill or whatever your charity of choice is), at least giving you a chance at maintaining your current toy level.

What I've tried to do with my niece is get her something small and tangible (and re-giftable), putting additional money toward a college fund. I made her a fabric book and got her the sequel to her favorite book (that was mostly a present to my sis-in-law though, so she would have a different book to read 1000 times).

I think what you're doing with your kids to have them pick out presents for other kids is fantastic. This could also lead to discussions about how other people celebrate this time of year and different ways of giving... get them thinking about picking things that other people would like, not just what they like.

Whew. Sorry for rambling on so long. This was a really thought-provoking post and now I'm trying to see how I can apply this to my family too. Looking forward to seeing other people's suggestions!