Simple and joyful holidays - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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Organize & Declutter > Simple and joyful holidays
Leta's Avatar Leta 03:17 PM 11-27-2007
I think in order to do a scaled down, not so material Christmas, and still have it be a time of wonder and awe, you need to live a certain sort of life all year long. (But what do I know, this is my first Christmas as a grown up.)

I read Unplug the Christmas Machine this past July, and it was awesome. Amazing ideas for traditions, and how to make Christmas a real holiday instead of just presents.

We do three gifts each, plus three stocking stuffers. Other than birthdays and Christmas, we don't buy the kids toys. We get them books and clothes and blah blah blah anytime, whenever they need them. On occaison, a game or some art supplies will sneak in just because, but that's a lot more rare.

DD is too little yet, but DSS knows that he can a do a chore anytime for money. (His grandparents give him money, too.) He can buy stuff with his own money- and when it's his own cash, he likes to shop at the thrift store.

For clothes, we make a list of wants, a list of needs, and then shop at all six thrift stores. Anything that we couldn't find at the thrift store, we'll look for at a retail store, but it's a rarity (and it has to be on sale). Or sometimes we'll check eBay. And in the summer, sometimes I'll hit yard sales. But the general principle is to get what we can used, and then fill in around the edges with new stuff.

We get the kids toys almost exclusively for Christmas and birthdays. If a specific, new item of clothing or some non-toy, expensive item is wanted, that may make it under the tree, too.

It's hard with the grandparents. They are all such spoilers. DSS is 9, and he has a $150 set of monogrammed luggage from L.L. Bean already. : We've started putting the Christmas checks in a savings account, and giving the kids a small amount to purchase something with. Usually, each kid gets around $200 in checks at Christmastime, and that's way too much to let them just spend. We usually give them around $20- $5 from each check.

Anyway, we try really hard for quality over quantity. We do our best to get the kids what they want, rather than we want them to have, or what we think they need. I think that really makes all the difference regarding a low-consumption, but still awesome Christmas.

andiamomama's Avatar andiamomama 10:29 PM 11-27-2007
Thanks for this thread. I'm glad to know i'm not alone in wanting to simplify. In all the movies, doesn't santa bring the one special gift that the kid really wanted? not a huge mountain of crap. last year, ds had to be reminded to keep opening his presents in the way he has to be reminded to finish his green beans. what a waste! and he didn't ask for any of the stuff, didn't use most of it, I've decluttered most of it away already.

I've realized that I can only control my own behavior and that the grandparents definitely do not share my opinions. So I'm trying to ramp up the traditions and homemade presents, along with one or two special things that the kids really really want, and hope that that's enough. we'll know in 30 years, I guess.

sadly, the toy recalls this year are a help in getting other family members to see that we're not completely crazy in not wanting all this junk.
susandeborah's Avatar susandeborah 10:45 PM 11-27-2007
My way of keeping it simple is that I give everyone the same thing for the holidays: DVD's. That way I can do all of my holiday shopping in one place, and everyone knows this is my tradition so people ask me for specific movies. I try to give movies that are less well known. One movie on my list this year (it's going to my parents and my aunt, as well as my 17 year old daughter) is Outsourced, a romantic comedy about a man who travels to India for work and falls in love with a woman there. I went to a friend's house for a Thanksgiving day celebration and we watched this with her whole family - everyone liked it (except the littlest kids, who were bored) so I figure it's a good bet.
G-love's Avatar G-love 12:43 PM 11-28-2007
update: I asked my kids what would be special things for Advent to do as a family, kind of an "experience present", and my son, 7, said he really really wants to make candles (I've had a hunk of beeswax sitting around for AGES). So wish us luck Sunday as we try to pour melted beeswax into cleaned out walnut shells... My daughter, almost 3, wants to "make something for someone" so maybe the following Sunday we'll make Christmas cards for special people...
I'm getting excited about this!
beansricerevolt's Avatar beansricerevolt 05:20 PM 11-28-2007
Great thread!
Lurking around for other advent traditions

Last night our church had its first advent gathering of the season and we all made a family advent wreath. DD made her own as well and we will probably end up using that one
We are doing the advent calender with a scripture in each day and a family time/craft idea slip to do that day as well.
As far as gifts, we do only 3-4 gifts each child plus a stocking (usually 3 small gifts. DD's stocking this year is a small book, handmade felt doll and a double dutch jump rope). A few are handmade and one or two are bought (used most of the time) and we do one family gift which is usually a game to open up on christmas eve. This year I found a used game (snowstorm by family pastimes) on ebay for $5 shipped! Of course I found this deal in July. I've been tempted to bring it out a few times but I never gave in

Another thing Im always looking for are free things to do around our city. Its pretty easy for us to find things living in Chicago. Last week we saw a free family theater/puppet show called The blue nativity
beansricerevolt's Avatar beansricerevolt 05:34 PM 11-28-2007
wanted to add-

Every Tuesday this month we are getting together with our church community and are "waiting together" as part of our advent experience.
Like I PP last night we made advent wreaths.
One week we are going to sing christmas carols together and make/write our own christmas music.
One week we are going to write together and share our poems, stories, prose ect.
One week we will be using the Lecto Divina method to prepare our hearts together.
Lilcrunchie's Avatar Lilcrunchie 01:57 PM 11-29-2007
For Advent this year, we're focusing mostly on activities. I have made up little slips of paper already with a different activity for most of the days. DS is almost 4, so this year I'm incorporating some service ideas into a few of the days, like "go shopping for groceries to donate to the food pantry" and "go shopping and pick out toys to donate for Toys for Tots."

For the past one or two Advent seasons, we've done a new holiday/winter/Christmas, etc. book each night. They are mostly thrifted books. Some were gifts from us or friends and family. I hide a different one each night of Advent and he finds it. Inexpensive and a fun tradition. I just look for holiday-themed books year round at thrift stores, flea markets, etc. They seem to be easy to find. I've also picked up some Hannukah themed books as well for a little multicultural exposure.

DD and DS are getting one big shared gift (new Elves and Angels kitchen to replace the rehabbed curbside MDF kitchen DS has been using for 2.5 years, as it is finally starting to get pretty sad looking), and then 2-3 smaller gifts and stockings. (the stocking for DS contains a lot of art supplies, etc. which we like for HSing anyway).
AngelBee's Avatar AngelBee 03:33 PM 11-29-2007
Originally Posted by G-love View Post
update: I asked my kids what would be special things for Advent to do as a family, kind of an "experience present", and my son, 7, said he really really wants to make candles (I've had a hunk of beeswax sitting around for AGES). So wish us luck Sunday as we try to pour melted beeswax into cleaned out walnut shells... My daughter, almost 3, wants to "make something for someone" so maybe the following Sunday we'll make Christmas cards for special people...
I'm getting excited about this!
So sweet!
MorganRiley's Avatar MorganRiley 07:52 AM 12-01-2007
we only do stockings...that's it

they get too much crap given to them by everyone else already as it is

even then I try to advise the relatives to give things like movie tickets, or donate money towards recreational activities...summer camp...flute lessons etc.

mamamelia's Avatar mamamelia 12:09 PM 12-01-2007
Originally Posted by truelife View Post
We're Christians and we want to keep Christmas about celebrating the birth of Christ so most of what we do revolves around tradition. Some of it is kinda cheesy...

On Christmas morning we will make birthday pancakes and sing Happy Birthday (cheesy part) and will read the Christmas Story.

My kids aren't old enough (17 months and almost 3) to get consumed with consumerism, but DH and I have already agreed that they each get three gifts symbolizing the 3 Wise Men. We also think that if Jesus Himself only got 3 gifts why do our kids need more than that?

We will be going to the nursing home on Christmas day to take regular cookies, sugar free cookies, and little painted salt dough ornaments that the kids will paint.

I made a star garland with all of the people in our lives that we love and are thankful for, and we will countdown to Christmas by cutting a star off and talking about why we are thankful for that person and praying for them.

On Christmas Eve we will have all of our friends over and decorate Christmas cookies. Everyone will come in their jammies and leave with cookies for Santa. We are going to set boots outside for Saint Nicholas and talk about the real St. Nick and being generous giver. The boots will have a little something fun in them.

I really hope to always keep Christmas in perspective. If my kids lose sight of what it is about then we will definitely look at changing things up.
i don't think its cheesy at all. what a warm and lovely holiday you are going to have.
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