How do I simplify Christmas without looking like Scrooge to the children? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 49 Old 10-24-2008, 03:50 PM
 
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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.

Thoughts?
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#32 of 49 Old 10-24-2008, 04:34 PM
 
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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.

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#33 of 49 Old 10-24-2008, 05:29 PM
 
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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


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#34 of 49 Old 10-24-2008, 05:37 PM
 
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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!

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#35 of 49 Old 10-24-2008, 06:53 PM
 
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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...

thalia loves Jesus and DH wordyeight and DD#1 : 8/2007 and DD#2 9/2010
and remembering: little turtle 5/23/2006 and poppyseed 7/15/2009
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#36 of 49 Old 10-25-2008, 12:16 PM
 
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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
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#37 of 49 Old 10-25-2008, 03:09 PM
 
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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.

sharing life with | 9.5 yo ds | 7 yo dd | love of my life new husband

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#38 of 49 Old 12-03-2008, 06:43 PM
 
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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!
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#39 of 49 Old 12-07-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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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!
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#40 of 49 Old 12-07-2008, 11:10 PM
 
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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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#41 of 49 Old 12-07-2008, 11:23 PM
 
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This will be my older DD's second Christmas and my younger DD's first. We live in Japan and our familes live in the states so we don't have the ability to have Christmas together. There were times I wish I could complain about my MIL/SILs giving my daughters junk gifts or too much but we are so far away that we stick to letters and e-mails with the occasional call. If I could have one thing for Christmas this year it would be to be with my extended family since its been 4 years since Ive been at home with mine and 6 for my husband. I guess being so far away really reminds you about whats important over the holidays and its not the gifts its the people.

Sometimes people need to be reminded of that, especially young people. Im lucky my children are young but I want them to grow up knowing that the importance of things lies with the ones you love not what they buy you.

As for gifts this year we are doing:
Christmas Eve-
A holiday outfit (my MILs best friend is sewing the girls matching dresses)
Nightgowns (Needed anyway since both are short on them)
An ordament (tradition in my family)
Christmas Day
One gift for the two of them to share
Two small gifts each
Stocking
One gift and a stocking for me and DH to exchange

We are having a small get together with friends on Christmas eve and Christmas day will be just for the four of us.

~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#42 of 49 Old 12-08-2008, 11:31 AM
 
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One good thing is that we are strictly doing home-made gifts for the holidays. which is forcing me to sit down with dd and work on crafts - something I never much did before but I realise is "not that bad:
We aren't only giving crafts, we are actually mostly giving baked goods, which dd and I love to make anyway. Some of them have creative wrapping, and look quite fancy.

relaxed-unschooler mama to dd (2003). hoping for second one. love being a mama!!
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#43 of 49 Old 12-08-2008, 01:02 PM
 
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I love the idea of doing volunteer work for xmas.

I understand not wanting to hold back on giving gifts if you have really waited all year for things, but I see kids getting stuff all year anyway - not just at birthdays or special visits from grandparents, literally getting something "fun" every month. New clothes arent even a big deal for kids anymore.

In my imagination I would love it if we could all agree on being together and going around the circle telling each other how special each one is to us. Stuff we actually DONT say all year because we take it for granted or feel shy or itis just never the right moment ... that woul dbe a Christmas to celebrate. Well it was nice imagining it because I dont see it happening ... maybe I will figure out a way to introduce the theme for next year. And we could also agree in advance to do no STUFF gifts (or maybe homemade only) and make this the real highlight.

relaxed-unschooler mama to dd (2003). hoping for second one. love being a mama!!
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#44 of 49 Old 12-09-2008, 01:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by love2all View Post
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
Those are FANTASTIC ideas. I will do that next year. This year is done and paid for. I managed to keep it small. As long as I can resist going out from now until christmas that.
Materialsim is not what I want fo rour family values either. Its a hard fight though, not because of dd, but because the rest of the family is into present/santa extravaganza.


I don't do santa either, and I have been accused of killing the magic in dds life
She gets a stocking for fun, but she knows its from 'santa'

Decluttering 500/2010
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#45 of 49 Old 12-09-2008, 01:55 PM
 
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The problem with older kids is they start wanting expensive things.

DB
I don't think there's anything wrong with expensive gifts as long as the family can afford it and doesn't feel obligated to buy it.

I think the problem with consumerism is when people find themselves buying things just to buy them or only because it's the "gotta have it" item of the year. A computer for a family gift sounds like a wonderful idea. A laptop for a hs grad going to college also sounds like a very thoughtful gift that will be well used and appreciated.

My sister and I received tons and tons of gifts for Christmas growing up, and still do as adults. I think my parents are starting to feel the economy crunch so this year is going to be "scaled back". We'll see if that happens. Honestly, as great as I thought it was as a kid, I just don't find it that great now. I'm just more meh, yeah my parents were pretty well off and we received lots of gifts. But we only occasionally looked at Christmas gifts, never baked cookies as a family, and got to listen to my parents bitch about what a PITA traveling and extended family is for Christmas.

It honestly would have meant much more to receive higher quality, well thought out items and less of it as well as focusing on activities. I would have loved to go as a family sledding (mom has never went with us) or baked cookies together (dad rarely did that).
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#46 of 49 Old 12-09-2008, 01:59 PM
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My suggestion....get a smaller tree. Then the pile of gifts under it won't look so small. (I'm serious! We have a small tree.)

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#47 of 49 Old 12-09-2008, 04:41 PM
 
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My suggestion....get a smaller tree. Then the pile of gifts under it won't look so small. (I'm serious! We have a small tree.)
It sounds strange, but it's true!! We had a HUGE tree and that was great when there was a huge pile of presents under it, but less presents really does look like a meager pile because the area under the tree is so vast.

Half-marathon running Mommy to 3 spunky girls and 1 sweet boy. Spending my days and nights where my kids need me most- at home with them!!

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#48 of 49 Old 12-11-2008, 01:11 PM
 
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If you have a real tree, just not trimming the lower branches up so high can make a difference in how big your "pile" looks. It can make watering difficult though.
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#49 of 49 Old 12-11-2008, 09:42 PM
 
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To be fair, we're semi-Quakers and we don't keep Christmas at all, we celebrate the solstice instead, but we've finally gone the NO Christmas gifts route. None at all. I adore gift giving, I really do, but I'm a spontaneous giver, I like to give little things all the time, and every year I begin to feel depressed as Christmas appears on the horizon. Suddenly, I feel the need to save up all my giving for a day in the future. I don't like it at all. Of course, our daughter is too young to know the holidays any other way, and my husband has never been into holidays at all, so I get the double whammy of having to organize all giving and special occasions, while feeling unappreciated when I do it.

For the holidays, we forego the gifts, absolutely refuse to travel, do without a Christmas tree, and simplify the meals. Instead we make a few evergreen swags, put electric candles in the windows, and string lots of white twinkle lights. If we weren't in an apartment, we'd have a fire going in a fireplace. Instead, we'll have a Yule log cake. Not the same, but nice. We also do stockings and an advent calendar, though the stockings are typically filled with things like stationary, fruit, tea, and chocolate rather than trinkets. Instead of all the shopping and merry-go-round of parties, we take advantage of main street programs like free carriage rides in parks, stroll through neighborhoods to see the decorations, borrow past years' issues of holiday magazines from the library (I like the hype, not the actual work), play carols podcasts, nibble baklava and drink eggnog... That sort of thing.
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