Christmas has always been our favorite time of the year. We love to find special traditions, drive around and look at lights, stay up later than usual to watch Christmas movies, hang candy canes on the tree (and then take them right back off to eat them!)
We also try to remember that it’s easy to get carried away on gift-giving, so we work hard to remind the kids of the Reason for the Season.
We want them to have memories of times together, memories of traditions, memories of decorating and celebrating… because they aren’t going to remember the gifts, but they will remember these moments.
Honestly, they will treasure the memories more than the gifts (even if they don’t realize it yet).
With four kids, the Christmas list around here can quickly get long and lengthy. Every year, we think about what we want to give the kids, and every year I say, “We should stick to the four-gift idea.” Some years we are better at sticking to it than others, but no matter what, we always want our to remember that Christmas is not centered around what gifts they will or will not get on Christmas morning.
This is certainly fun, but I want to make sure that it’s not becoming the focus.
These four kids are relying on us to teach them what Christmas is all about: Jesus, giving to others without expecting anything in return, being kind, being grateful, and loving one another.
At the same time, our kids depend on us to teach them that you don’t have to spend money to give something. This is important. I want them to know that you don’t have to spend your money to show someone that you love them. You don’t have to give (or get) the best gift. I think that it’s important to teach them these things because we want them to be grateful and gracious.
Giving your time is more important. Giving your love is more important.
I think that in this day and age, we are working hard to fight against the norm of ‘getting what you want when you want it.” I want our kids to understand that money does not equal happiness. I want them to see that you don’t have to spend money to give a great gift. The BEST gifts are the thoughtful gifts that come from the heart.
Things do not equal happiness either. They need to understand this. The latest phone or device isn’t going to solve any problems, and if it does bring you joy, it will wear off as soon as you have seen the NEWER model being released… it’s short-lived, unlike experiences and memories.
There is a reason that I would rather spend our money on vacations than on toys.
I can remember, being a child, and thinking about buying gifts for my family (my parents, my brother, my aunts). My parents taught us that making gifts was the ‘better’ gift for them. I get it now. It took time. It took thought. It took love.
I want our kids to know this is true in our house, too.
So, we started a tradition a few years ago and we’ve stuck with it. It’s been one of my favorites.
Instead of BUYING gifts for one another, they GIVE an act of service.
Instead of trying to find gifts for one another, they are in charge of making one gift certificate for each other sibling. These will cover one act of service.
They are writing it on this certificate.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Clean your room
- Clear your dinner plate for the week
- Unload the dishwasher for you
- Read you a book
- Make your bed for two days
- Eat your vegetables one night at dinner so that you don’t have to, but you still get a snack (our kids loved this choice!)
- Let you pick what movie we watch for movie night or which game is picked for Family Game Night.
- Take out the trash on your night
The overall idea is that we are teaching our kids about serving each other – doing something nice for someone else and without asking for anything in return. I feel like this gift certificate idea teaches them that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A MATERIAL THING TO MEAN A LOT.
If you DO want to have the kids buy something, but you don’t want them to spend a lot of money, try this…
If you do want your kids to have a gift from one another, we also have another semi-tradition. We do this one sometimes, but sometimes we just skip it and do only the certificate.
I take the kids to the dollar store and give each of them $5. They walk around the store with me (or with Mickey) and buy one thing for each person in the family. They each have their own basket and no one is allowed to peek in another person’s basket.
Honestly, it’s really fun to see what they can find for $1. Sometimes they’ll spend their dollar on crafts and make gifts. Sometimes, they’ll buy something silly for each person, but sometimes they do a great job and buy something that they know the other person could use. 🙂
A few examples from the past few years:
- One year, Beau bought Mickey a pair of camo work gloves because he said that Mickey always had to warm up the car with his hands in his sleeves because it was so cold in the mornings. Mickey wore those gloves any chance he got.
- About five years ago, Jack bought me fake flowers that I still keep in a little vase in my room with a note inside that says the year he bought them. (He bought me fake flowers for about three years in a row… and he BEAMED with pride when he gave them to me, year after year.)
- Ethan bought me a hand-held mirror about three years ago and I still use it. He knew that I used the tiny mirror in my eye-shadow case to see the back of my hair, so he wanted me to have a bigger one.
- Allie bought me purple nail polish last year because it would match my favorite cardigan. I wear it every chance I get.
- One year, Ethan and Jack bought each other the exact same gift. It was so sweet that they both liked it so much for the other one. (Oh- and they all bought some sort of tool for Beau that year… and every year since! haha!)
Those gifts did not cost a lot, but they all had meaning. That’s what matters.
Oh- I also have the kids exchange their gifts on Christmas Eve. It gives them a chance to pay special attention to these gifts.
The best gifts are from the heart…
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