Our daughter isn’t just our only child. She’s the only granddaughter/niece or nephew on both sides of our family. That means she has three loving great-grandparents, five grandparents, and six aunts and uncles all asking the question, “What does she want for Christmas?” And that’s before Mom and Dad even have checked one thing off their list.
For the last several years, this has meant a LOT of presents in our house at Christmas. Even if everyone just got her one thing, it starts to build very quickly.
I don’t go so far as to say “no presents,” although it crosses my mind every time we’re cleaning the toys off her playroom floor. I love Christmas, I love giving that perfect gift, and now that my daughter is old enough to really “get” Christmas, birthdays, etc., she sure loves pulling the wrapping paper off of something and getting excited about what’s inside. But I knew I had to take a few steps to maximize holiday fun while still saving my sanity.
This year I’ve done two things to try to minimize what comes into my house this holiday season.
First, I buckled down and had a conversation with family members. “Yes, we would love it if you wanted to get her a Christmas present. Can we talk about what she needs this year?” (Hint: clothes. It’s always clothes. My kid grows like a weed, and as a result, pants never seem to stay long enough for very long.) I love the want / need / wear / read philosophy, and if I can balance those four pillars among gift-givers, I’ll feel good about my efforts. Of course, someone can get her that toy she’s been talking about for over a month. She’ll love it. Can someone else get her a book and some new jeans?
Second, I made a list of experience-based gifts to suggest. While those non-tangibles may not be as fun on Christmas morning, they’re the things that stick with her well after the tree and lights have come down.
If not a toy … then what?
Want something to go do? How about tickets for the zoo or the Children’s Museum? Want something a little more sedentary? Do a movie date package, with tickets to a movie and a gift card for some popcorn.
Help them learn a new skill: One of my favorite examples of this is swimming lessons, which have been gifted to us for more than one holiday. You could also sign them up for a cooking class (maybe with an apron for them to open on Christmas?), an art class, or horseback riding.
You could also tie a gift with an activity that kids already participate in. For us, my daughter takes dance lessons. If someone wanted to buy her recital costume for this season, that would be a great idea! Could also go for a new baseball glove, soccer cleats, or anything else on their equipment list. It’s a need, plus something they’ll get to use at practices and rehearsals well past Christmas morning.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the holidays, and I’m just as guilty of it as the next person. But by trying to be more mindful about what winds up under our tree, I’m hoping that we can spread that Christmas spirit far into the new year.