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Christmas- Forced consumerism.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Does anyone feel like they are forced to consume 'stuff' at Christmas?
I hate the feelings that I have around this time of year, that I need to start getting ready for Christmas Day, by buying a certain amount of gifts for the children. We have minimal presents anyway and I purchase mainly useful items like pretty clothing etc that I know the girls will appreciate but I still hate the feeling I have of being 'forced' into buying things that the children don't desperately need as we have so much to appreciate in our home already (Books to read, warm blankets, home cooked food, candles etc) I do remember enjoying opening gifts as a child though, it was nice to get something new. I also remember how quickly the new stuff melted into the background of my 'old' things and then it was like Christmas almost never happened. I guess the 'newness' didn't last long. I also remember being disappointed in toys and thinking they were never as much fun as they looked in the adverts. (The children don't watch television so don't see adverts)
I feel like if Christmas didn't happen once a year, I wouldn't buy something new for the children until something old had worn out and needed to be replaced. I hate purchasing things for the sake of it. Does anybody else feel this way?
post #2 of 9
This is reason number five or so on the list of why my family doesn't do xmas.

You can however, celebrate simply. There are great books out there like Unplugging the Xmas Machine and even the Tightwad Gazette books that talk about giving your children time and meaningful experiences.. rather than stuff.

If you are religious you can do the three gifts thing. Baby Jesus got three gifts from the wise men so your child can get just three gifts from santa.

Or, what my parents did was the old poem..

something you want
something you need
something to wear
something to read


My family that I created with hubby.. we do the winter solstice. Small potted tree. No gifts. A huge "soup and solstice" party for the neighborhood. Sometimes a bonfire. Easy stuff.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

This is reason number five or so on the list of why my family doesn't do xmas.
You can however, celebrate simply. There are great books out there like Unplugging the Xmas Machine and even the Tightwad Gazette books that talk about giving your children time and meaningful experiences.. rather than stuff.
If you are religious you can do the three gifts thing. Baby Jesus got three gifts from the wise men so your child can get just three gifts from santa.
Or, what my parents did was the old poem..
something you want
something you need
something to wear
something to read
My family that I created with hubby.. we do the winter solstice. Small potted tree. No gifts. A huge "soup and solstice" party for the neighborhood. Sometimes a bonfire. Easy stuff.

Thank you for the book suggestions!
Previous years, we have kept it very simple, clothing, a book for each child, some cute soaps, candy. I got them Lego to share last year which they haven't played with as much as I initially thought they might. The only decorations we use are a natural potted tree and we also burn beeswax candles which look so pretty. Any relatives get clothing or welly boots. I still find it a pressure though as they are getting older and I worry about classmates discussing huge amounts of presents received and that makes me feel guilty, like I should be giving more 'stuff'.
post #4 of 9

We do the three gifts and really like how nice Christmas is now. We don't do Santa, we only exchange presents between Dh, Ds, and myself, and anything in a stocking has too be edible. We specifically do not do large presents for holidays because I feel like that gets harder and harder as kids age (just like you mentioned classmates getting large presents) and feeds the consumptionist attitude. Christmas for us is focused on being a calm, peaceful time. Both Dh and I came from excessive present families, but you are exactly right when you said that the "high" from gifts fades quickly. When we thought back on the holidays growing up we rarely remembered specific gifts, but we did remember special foods, making cookies, volunteering, getting a tree... So we decided to focus on those memories and since doing that I've felt no need to join the consumerism craziness.

post #5 of 9

I've been doing the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read" thing for quite a few years now.  I still think it's too much sometimes.  I'm going to try to put together activity binders for my kids this year, I think.  My DD's will be journal-type things, and my DS loves word searches and crossword puzzles, so I'll print out a bunch of those and then put them together in a binder and get them some fun pens/markers.  In their stockings will be chapstick and edible things.  I'm in a kinda shitty position (which I try not to think about), as my ex goes totally overboard on presents and in general tries to buy their love, so it accentuates even more the frugal simplicity that I try to bring to the holiday.  I just keep telling myself that they will appreciate the lessons I'm teaching them by not spoiling them (besides the fact that I can't afford it).  I also live in a tiny apartment, so I don't have space for a ton of things, which I use as an excuse with family members.  My parents have been pretty good about honoring my views on this, as they have been getting my kids ski passes/lessons for the past few years, although each year, it seems like they get more 'little things' for the kids "because they need stuff to open"--THAT'S the sentiment that drives me crazy!  They don't need a ton of stuff to open!

post #6 of 9

My husband and I decided to try something new for holiday & birthday gifts this year: the gift of experience. In years past my daughter has had a birthday party with her friends and received gifts from family as well. Instead of going this route this year we took a vacation as her gift. For Christmas she'll be receiving a stocking with gift cards for various fun activities with family and a CityPASS for the city we'll be visiting (giving one to each family member we're celebrating the holidays) and just a couple material gifts from us (not sure how no material item gifts at all would go over for Christmas with her...baby steps).

 

I attempted to politely inspire my family to consider lessons, magazine subscriptions, or gift cards for movies/bowling and other experience centered gifts but, alas, toys still seemed to win out with them, which I won't gripe about too much as I do understand the thrill of giving your only great/granddaughter a toy she'll enjoy. My husband's family is all about practical gifts such as new winter coats and 529 contributions so there is a nice balance between what we're doing and what our respective sides of the family believe to be the ideal gifts for children. 

 

The birthday gift went over beautifully and we intend to take a trip again for her birthday next year. Hopefully Christmas will prove just as a lovely an experience and some new family traditions can be enjoyed. :)

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

This is reason number five or so on the list of why my family doesn't do xmas.
You can however, celebrate simply. There are great books out there like Unplugging the Xmas Machine and even the Tightwad Gazette books that talk about giving your children time and meaningful experiences.. rather than stuff.
If you are religious you can do the three gifts thing. Baby Jesus got three gifts from the wise men so your child can get just three gifts from santa.
Or, what my parents did was the old poem..
something you want
something you need
something to wear
something to read

My family that I created with hubby.. we do the winter solstice. Small potted tree. No gifts. A huge "soup and solstice" party for the neighborhood. Sometimes a bonfire. Easy stuff.

I really love these ideas.  What I remember and love about Christmas is the time spent with family and looking forward to Christmas traditions.  That is what I would like to focus on for my DS.\\

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramzubo View Post

We do the three gifts and really like how nice Christmas is now. We don't do Santa, we only exchange presents between Dh, Ds, and myself, and anything in a stocking has too be edible. We specifically do not do large presents for holidays because I feel like that gets harder and harder as kids age (just like you mentioned classmates getting large presents) and feeds the consumptionist attitude. Christmas for us is focused on being a calm, peaceful time. Both Dh and I came from excessive present families, but you are exactly right when you said that the "high" from gifts fades quickly. When we thought back on the holidays growing up we rarely remembered specific gifts, but we did remember special foods, making cookies, volunteering, getting a tree... So we decided to focus on those memories and since doing that I've felt no need to join the consumerism craziness.

My mom shows affection by buying people things, so I also grew up in an excessive present family.  She still spoils my sister, my DH and I at Christmas.  I'm 31 for goodness sakes!  My sister and I instituted a name draw for our family last year, which has helped (we each buy one gift for one other family member) but my mom still insisted on buying us a gift each.  I don't want her to feel unable to express her affection in the way that is meaningful to her but it is not how I feel or express love.

 

Now, where I also feel a challenge is with my extended family.  BILs, SILs, nieces, nephews.  For the grown-ups we draw names and each person buys one gift for one other family member.  But the kids get a gift from each aunt and uncle and from the grandparents and to me, this is excesive.  My BIL and SIL also expect us to buy their children an additional gift because we are their Godparents and buy us an additional gift as well (so over the top and silly).  I've been making gifts by hand for my nieces and nephews because to me this is more special and the time spent is how I show I care, but I think that BIL and SIL just think I'm cheap.  We are just very different people who have chosen very different lifestyles and have different values for our kids.  These differences seem to be most evident at holidays, birthdays, etc.

 

Anyway, I will be following this thread with interest. lurk.gif

post #8 of 9

Well, I did most of my Christmas shopping for the kids today and spent $175 (which is more than I had intended, but I'm pretty excited about what I got for them).  Each kid is getting a pair of Padraig slippers--DD's are rainbow, DS' are multi-blue: http://www.palumba.com/product/childrens_woolen_slippers/160/?catID=34 --so freakin cute!  I also got a few things that are for both of them.  I ordered this wooden checkerboard, which I think they will love: http://www.palumba.com/product/walnut_maple_checker_set/1586/?catID=105 .  I also ordered both Harry Potter 7 movies as a joint gift for them.  I had been planning to do the activity binders I mentioned above, but then saw these books on Amazon that looked really awesome and I think they will love them!  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1423605292/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01 and http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1402775156/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00 .  Throw a set of gel pens in that I'm dividing between the 2 of them and the total came out to $175.  Normally I would feel like that was way too much, but I think all of the gifts I bought are intentional, useful, and I think they will love them.  A few stocking stuffers for each and I'll be done.  And it's not even Halloween!!  This is definitely the earliest I've ever been prepared with their Christmas presents.

 

Another idea I just had for gifts for my mom, dad, grandparents, sister, etc. are mason jars with cuppow lids http://cuppow.com and hand-knit coozies.  Not sure if I'll follow through with those, but I think they would be really cute :)

post #9 of 9

We give a lot less presents than I guess is 'conventional', and I don't buy plastic, merchandise or gender-sterotyped stuff like Barbie which cuts out a whole lot of crap right off the bat! However, I actually really love looking for gifts - especially when you don't give many, every gift is more meaningful - and giving them. Christmas can definitely be a very consumerist event but I think you can still give gifts to others without it turning into a spend-fest or a day that is all about things. We aren't religious so for our family the day is about spending time with family and friends, giving and gratitude.

 

Our daughter is 2.5 and this is what she will be getting:

 

http://www.bebabo.co.nz/creative-play/tool-box.html (tool box)
http://www.enzedwoodentoys.co.nz/Pages-Range/Page_Pushchairs.html (dolls pushchair)
http://www.etsy.com/listing/62647466/oak-bus (wooden bus with little people)

 

Her grandparents usually get her clothes and books.
 

Also - we rotate her toys (some live in the closet) and re-sell things that don't get played with, so I don't feel overwhelmed by toys. The book Simplicity Parenting has been useful for us - lots of decluttering tips for parents!

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