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How do I simplify Christmas without looking like Scrooge to the children? - Page 2

post #21 of 49
opened under the tree for everyone to see after wards.((.sort of like killing a We have 3 different places to go n Christmas eve and Christmas. There is no time to open our OWN gifts in our OWN house. My kids get rushed every where. It makes me incredibly angry that not only do I no get to spend time with JUSt my family on the holidays...but that also now I really feel as if I cannot purchase anything for my Son or Daughter because there will already be soo much STUFF piled under the tree from everyone else that it will be ridiculous.

We do Solstice for just this reason. It gives us time to celebrate as a family and create our own, more low-key traditions. My husband and I open our gifts to each other and our daughter opens her gifts from us (we do Santa on Christmas). We always do at least one handmade gift (this year I am making a knit doll and her wardrobe for kiddo), make a special dinner and decorate cookies. This year we are going to do a Yule log as well. It is a lot of fun and way less crazy-making than the celebrations at either my or my husband's families.
post #22 of 49
It's just sad how materialistic Christmas has become. Whether you are Christian or not, celebrating it as an orgy of excess just feels ... wrong.

We told our families we wanted to scale back Christmas a few years ago. We suggested no gifts for the adults, and just a few for the kids (i.e. grandkids). my mom would always go waaaay overboard, not just for the kids but for me too. Just too much stuff. She didn't take it well and still went overboard. Now, 4 years later or so, she's passed away. :-( I guess I'll miss the excess:-(

DH's family took it pretty well, as a relief according to my SIL. But his dad is still Mr. Gifty and actually gives out a list of stuff he wants (and he's picky, so it's not stuff you could actually buy for him). And he gets us stuff too. He just likes to give, so he'll ask us what we want, which is really thoughtful. And he's not cheap, he got me the Le Creuset pot I asked for. But I would be just as happy if he didn't give me a gift.

We scale it back for the kids. What's important to me is having a decorated tree, stockings with goodies from Santa, going to church Christmas eve, and having a warm feeling with our family.

We don't do big dinners and like to stay home for the actual holiday, so we can be with our cats and our tree.
post #23 of 49
Sorry if this is highjacking the thread but....Here is my worry. We do santa here at our house and I have been known to over do it in the past. This year I would really like to scale back and buy the kids less gifts but I'm feeling bad that they will run out to the tree christmas moring and wonder why Santa brought them so much less this year. Should I somehow tell them ahead of time that there will be fewer and how can I explain it with out messing up the fun of Santa?
post #24 of 49
Originally Posted by DebraBaker View Post
I've also seen the traditional Victorian "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read"....um....four things.
I LOVE this. Thank you!!
post #25 of 49
Originally Posted by AngieB View Post
Sorry if this is highjacking the thread but....Here is my worry. We do santa here at our house and I have been known to over do it in the past. This year I would really like to scale back and buy the kids less gifts but I'm feeling bad that they will run out to the tree christmas moring and wonder why Santa brought them so much less this year. Should I somehow tell them ahead of time that there will be fewer and how can I explain it with out messing up the fun of Santa?
Quite honestly, I'd just do it. Thinking back on my childhood, I could never remember how much (or WHAT) I'd gotten the year before. : They might be confused, but you can just tell them that that's what santa brought. I mean, who's gonna question santa, right?

We don't do santa here, but that's what I'd do if I did.

I've been struggling to scale down christmas for a few years now... but not for my kids, FROM my in laws! They just completely overwhelm us with stuff we don't want and then I sit there with guilt a few months later as I give it away (or sell it). And that's not to mention the guilt of the expectations on how much they got US compared to how much we got THEM. I love the holidays but I *hate* the gift orgy. It always just ends in my feeling guilty.
post #26 of 49
We do the "want, need, wear, read". It has worked well so far. They also get gifts from Grandparents (although my dad's gift to them is homemade), and they get gifts from Aunts and Uncles so they get more than enough. They also participate in a gift exchange with there cousins.
post #27 of 49
this is the six bazillion dollar question.

I don't have an answer for you because my kids are all little.

What I've realized about my own family is that as long is there is something really fun and new to play with Christmas day they are happy. Also, all our toys are owned collectively more or less so a group present works great.

This year I thought I'd give them a set of hotwheels tracks or something similar. They'd play with something like this for hours. My oldest will get a chemistry kit, my second tadpole and ant habitats, my daughter a hand-me-down American Girl doll and a small wooded toy kitchen (she lost her beloved kitchen in our move). We'll give my 2.5 year old a backhoe. The rest of the presents will be things they need--swim goggles, one pair of (second hand if I can find them) ice skates, and some rain gear. I think that sounds like a pretty full Christmas right there.

Generally adults--inlaws, sibs, parents--don't exchange gifts but this year I want to do a better job helping my kids prepare gifts for the adults who love them. I also want them to give serious thought to gifts for each other. Last year my oldest son and a friend made a doll bed for my daughter and my second son and I made a mattress and blankets for the bed. Those were the gifts that created the most excitement last year in both the giving and receiving. My boys were so proud of those gifts!

Again, I rambled.

I also wanted to say that you sound like such an interesting person--8 children and now back at school yourself. I bet your kids are very proud of you.
post #28 of 49
Originally Posted by miss_sonja View Post
We scale it back for the kids. What's important to me is having a decorated tree, stockings with goodies from Santa, going to church Christmas eve, and having a warm feeling with our family.
Ooh, that sums it up nicely! Chrstmas eve church is my biggest thing that I love to do.
Ds is still little, but I've been trying to decide how to handle gifts before next Christmas, when he starts realizing and remembering. I like the idea of the stocking being Santa gifts. We celebrate St. Nick's day too, with the stocking.
Since dh and I have been together, we've had 6 family gatherings to squeeze in for Christmas.. it's crazy. I finally drew the line and had to decide not to go to my mom's side of the family this year, as it means an extra two hours in the car on Christmas. I feel bad, but you know, none of us get too upset if we're not together for Thanksgiving or Easter, so why all of a sudden is it important on Christmas? I think it's the gifts.
post #29 of 49
I'm thinking of doing the Saint Nicholas Day to give the kids their "Santa Claus Gifts" (Don't know what I'm getting them yet, but I'm thinking of also doing the "Victorian tradition" of need, want, wear, read) and concentrating Christmas as the religious holiday that it is and give them a couple more things (small--maybe a new outfit to wear to church that day or the next Sunday or something) from Mom and Dad. But, I know that grandparents will want pictures of the kids opening presents on Christmas morning...

Gotta love the price of plane tickets--I'm not buying 4 round-trip tickets (can't afford anyways-sending DH home for his brother's wedding was a stretch), then have to deal with holiday crowds while 24 weeks pregnant toting an autistic child and his older sister. The family can just deal with us *not* being there.
post #30 of 49
my parents weren't really into Christmas growing up. The years we lived in the US we would get a ton of presents from grandparents etc (we were missionaries so 3 years away and 1 back), the years we were overseas not much. In high school we had friends who were much better off and got a ton of stuff for Christmas, I would get a cheap tourist trinket and a t-shirt. Literally. And no effort to make the day special-my bro would sleep (we lived in Jamaica and all the young people go out on Christmas eve to town for "grand market"), my parents would sleep, my friends would call and tell me about their cool stuff and I would sit. I guess what I am trying to say is

1) care about what matters to your kids-it needs to be in the budget but some consideration to likes is nice (there was none)
2) make the DAY fun
3) start now talking about the true meaning of Christmas

One thing we did that I really liked was go to the Children's ward of the local hospital and sing Christmas carols in the morning. We did that with our church and it was a really nice way to start.
post #31 of 49
I'm thinking about moving to the victorian 4 things or something similar but it still seems too much once you add the Santa gift and the stocking.

post #32 of 49
I kinda agree.. that 4 gift thing does sound neat, but then maybe you're just eventually searching for a gift just so it'll fit the category.
I'm not one to talk, I've only experienced one Christmas with a kid. Our relatives buy him so much stuff no matter what I say, so I'm really limiting what dh and I buy. I'm thinking I'll do his stocking and have that be from santa, maybe filled with a few small things, perhaps things that fit the 4 categories: a book, socks, new sippy cup, and maybe a puppet or something. Perhaps I'll just skip a gift altogether from dh and I.. really, what's the point right now, when they're too young to know, and when Santa is still cool. Though, I had really been hoping to get him a play kitchen. We do have plenty of relatives that would pounce on that as a gift idea, but I'm very particular, and want a nice wood one that is small enough to fit.
post #33 of 49
Santa built a play-kitchen for our daughters one Christmas when we went to Wisconsin. He even left saw-dust ...

It is really quite a nice kitchen - the main part of it is a wood sideboard from ikea, with a hole cut out for a plastic bowl, which is the sink - and has a real faucet - it has cd's for stove burners, with knobs, too. There are two doors ("fridge" and "oven") and a drawer for stuff.

This Christmas, we're going to "tell" the inlaws that they can give our children 1-2 gift items (from a specific shopping list), and if they feel the need to shop more than that, too bad. We cannot handle any more STUFF, mainly because we're downsizing in the spring - selling our house to buy an RV - but also because I'm so very tired of the crap that they give us. They also give the girls magazine subscriptions and zoo membership, and I think that's plenty. Besides, I think it's unfair of them to monopolize the whole gift-giving thing. when they do that, I feel like I can't give my own children anything because they get TOO much from nana & pops

post #34 of 49
We are doing several things this year...

1. 1 toy type gift, it is from Santa. 1 book/music/educational thing. 1 Ornament for the tree. So from us he is only getting 2 things.

2. Gifts from other people may be delayed and not opened on xmas because it gets too overwhelming.

As a teenager, I always most appreciated getting a few clothing items and a "big gift" which still usually was maybe only 50$. Also, leading up to xmas, if I ever wanted anything, my mom would always ask if I wanted that for xmas. ike if the swim team was getting t-shirts, mom said she would buy me one if I wanted that for my xmas present. Made me think twice about it!
post #35 of 49
Originally Posted by sm3247 View Post

I'm tempted to go "no gift" this year and concentrate on spending time together and having fun meals and activities.
That's what we are trying to do this year: see my thread on No Gift Christmas...
post #36 of 49
We are doing a no cheap plastic crap gift giving-
this year each kid is getting things like-
magazine subscriptions
family passes to nature center, kids museums, aquariums etc...
clothing that is needed- underwear, bras, socks
homemade whatever is always acceptable-
dh is a glass blower so we are gifting to all familiy members something homemade...
there is sooooo much plastic stuff here that noone touches- I hate it
post #37 of 49
I'm not sure what ages the OP's children are. Obviously it's easier when they are younger. We hardly have any family where we live, so also does make it easier to control how things go.

This is our third year of having an Intentional Christmas with another family -- all together it's 4 adults and 4 children. Right at Christmas time, we go and stay in rustic cabins in the mountains for five days. It's a beautiful quiet snowy nature spot with hardly any people around. We rent 2 tiny cabins for the families, and a slightly larger cabin for gathering together so that we have private space for naps etc. The cabins are very simple -- wood stoves, ancient furnishing, etc. There is no heating other than the wood stoves, and no running water or bathroom -- it's like camping. We have to take a walk to a communal toilet and shower. There is electricity. We spend our days doing basic stuff (hauling water, keeping the stoves stoked) and having fun in the snow. We have a bonfire and sing carols at night. We don't do any decorating, not even a tree (we have trees in our regular homes though). We have a big turducken dinner on Christmas and share other meals with the other family as well. We hang stockings, and Santa brings one toy per child -- each child gets the exact same gift. Parent or friend gifts are opened back at our regular homes so that there is no fighting over toys or hurt feelings -- it also lessens the focus on "stuff" at this magical time of year. We read special stories and do a scavenger hunt. We save tons of money, we avoid social engagements that are based on obligation, and we preserve our children's innocence when it comes to meaning of Christmas. We love this tradition . After many years of being disappointed by Christmas, I now look forward to it :. It's also really important that there are no phones or computers for people to get sucked into . We have found that making Christmas an experience is so satisfying. Here are some photos...

Another thing that I like to do is lots of crafts throughout the month of December. This year I might try to do a craft advent calendar -- have all the craft supplies bought and organized in advance to do a craft every day or every other day -- my kids would love that. It's about doing, not getting.

I am also totally letting myself off the hook this year -- I am not buying gifts for adults at all and I'm letting them know this in advance. Aaaaaaah..... Only our very closest child friends will be getting small, inexpensive gifts. I've decided that if I want to connect with someone at Christmas, I should do it by spending time with them or writing to them. And if I really want to give something to someone, I can. It doesn't have to be at Christmas. In fact, it feels better to do it at their birthday or "just because". I am not planning to make stuff because I really don't have time and IMO handmade gifts are not generally appreciated enough to make it worthwhile.

My advice would be to develop a vision for what the essence of Christmas is for you and your family, and just do that. IMO, with older kids just buying less is going to feel Scrooge-like unless you make a priority of doing things that the whole family is going to enjoy. State the intention of making Christmas magical, peaceful or whatever and then plan out how to do that in advance. IME, Christmas gallups up before I am ready and it can be sooo stressful when there is no plan. That's when my credit card gets a workout :. We do spend money on the cabins, but these are memories that will be imprinted on our minds and on our children's minds forever.
post #38 of 49

Without looking like Scrooge?

I was thinking about what you are saying about making the Christmas smaller and I had two thoughts....one is that I don't think you have to divulge to your kiddos every thought you are having about making this change. They have only known Christmas to be one way, and making this drastic of a change will probably never sound great to them. I say, decide what you want to do and implement it. If you feel you would like to involve them in some way - do it by having them serve at a soup kitchen, or donate some of their unused stuff. I think this will get their charitable juices flowing and may help them be more receptive to shrinking Christmas. The other though I had is that if you limit gifts to three, you can always have an AWESOME stocking for them - I love a brim full stocking, almost more than I love "big" gifts....just some ideas. Good luck with it!
post #39 of 49
I feel that we are way overdoing Christmas more than usual this year Usually Santa brings 3 fun things that they really want and we give the kids clothes. This was similar to the way it was in my house growing up but Santa brought way more

This year dh and I were walking around Target trying to get our 3 year old's birthday taken care of and do some early Christmas shopping. We discovered that we had no more desire to bring junk into our house as far as toys because they have so much.

I convinced our 6 year old that she would rather have a nice bed quilt, a reading pillow, etc from Santa. I let her pick it out and said I'd let Santa know what she wanted.

I found a fully furnished dollhouse or the little one and convinced her that is all she wanted. I'll put it together and separate the things into 3 piles or something since our rule is that Santa only brings 3 things.

Unfortunately while the children may think it is simplified, I've already spent too much on them. I did purchase an XO laptop for dd to use as part of her schooling and that will be under the tree as well. I feel that since the computer will be big and fun I need to find something cheap and just as fun for the little. I'm going to take clothes inventory and they may not need as many clothes as they usually get.

I'm watching this thread for ideas for next year. My children truly do not need anything else!
post #40 of 49
Going on the title - I think you simplify to where you are comfortable, put on a big smile and enjoy it!

a little background on my perspective.....growing up we always had oodles under the tree and then from extended family. loved it.

this is our oldest's sixth christmas and we have overdone it every year. overdone it by a lot.

so, this year (as I say every year) we are cutting back. I've got grandparents on board and working am on the kids. But then I feel guilty. I feel like I am depriving them of something. I have worked it through and I'm not being a scrooge, I'm giving them a gift of a new tradition that belongs to our family. Some special gifts, more time together, more afternoons of books and cocoa (our winter treat where we light candles and cozy up for reading) making more cookies, learning holiday songs.

But I am upping what we do for others. Will still spend less overall but have an increased need to share with others.

One tradition I have done with my son since he was 2 was go and pick a present he likes/wants for another boy his age and then bring to a toy donation. I'll do this with both boys this year and explain to them again what we are doing. Makes them more accepting of the cutting back and I think a good life lesson.
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