Holiday Celebrating and Gift Giving

My friends and I have an annual conversation about holiday gifts and our children. How much do you buy? What kind of gifts do you give? Do you try to do all homemade or mostly homemade? Do you give used gifts?

Feel free to start that discussion up there in the comments. I love hearing how different families approach gift giving.

I like the idea of gifts having meaning. A great secular poem is:

Something you want

Something you need

Something to wear

Something to read

I love that idea. It keeps the gifts focused and purposeful.

In our family, we celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday (regardless of my religious muddling) so we do gifts that reflect the gifts brought to Jesus. The gifts are often store bought but are sometimes a combination of bought, used, and homemade.

Gold — gold is a luxury item so this gift falls solidly into the “want” category. Many LEGOs were harmed in the making of our “gold” gift.

Frankincense — frankincense is something that smells good. Our gift in this category is somehow hygienic in nature. A nice electric toothbrush. A camping toiletry kit. Licensed character bubble bath. Homemade bath bombs. Makeup (when that day comes).

Myrrh — Myrrh was used in the embalming process. It was something that wasn’t important for a child but it was something for the future. As my kids get older, these gifts will be cedar chest type things — dishes, silverware, pots and pans, small kitchen appliances. But for right now, we stretch this to mean something that will progress them towards their future. Often it’s an educational item or one of those science kits they love but we can’t always justify buying.

Swaddling clothes — these are pajamas or, if they are overrun with pajamas as occasionally happens, another clothing item.

We read the Christmas story on either Dec 23rd or 24th and the kids unwrap these presents when we get to the parts about the gifts.

And then on Dec 25th, the big man takes over. Oh, yes. That jolly old elf also brings a gift (usually a want) and fills their stocking.

How do I keep track of my very focused Christmas giving? I have a spreadsheet. Oh, yes I do. Christmas done right.

Leave your gift giving methods, traditions, habits in the comments!

I think it’s hilarious that you have a gift-giving spreadsheet! We celebrate a secular Christmas, and we don’t really have any super traditions. We always open one gift the night before, then the rest first thing when we wake up, then we make hot chocolate. We usually do some mixture of handmade and store bought gifts. The only thing we don’t do is give expensive gifts like game systems, bicycles, electronics and such. We decided a long time ago that we wanted those sorts of purchases to be discussed as a family, planned for, money saved, etc.. So, we do smaller, fun gifts. We also don’t buy super cheap, breakable stuff that ends up in the garbage days later. For kids, we get them games or Lego sets, cars, fancy juice boxes, special candy or holiday snacks that we don’t normally buy, fun socks, pajamas, etc.. For each other, we might do coffee mugs, house plants, gourmet chocolate, and stuff like that. This year, we decided to buy a Wii U in November, so we are doing our first homemade Christmas. We are allowed a very small budget for supplies, but all gifts will be hand made. I don’t think we’ll do this most years, but it was something we thought would be fun this year, and appropriate since we dropped a load of cash on the game system.

I don’t have an official theme but we tend to get the kids each one flashier “want” gift, then some article of fun clothing, a game (non-electronic), one book, and some sort of active/sports toy or project toy. It helps me keep organized to have categories to fill for each kid.


2 thoughts on “Holiday Celebrating and Gift Giving

  1. My family was/is very agnostic in origin, and as my birthday is the 25th of December that was sort of seized as an excuse, and we had my birthday on Christmas Day, and never celebrated Christmas. We did, as we got older, have a little family get together on New Years Day, sometimes have small presents, but never when we were younger (a serious shortage of money. Serious). Now I have small children my family are gravitating towards Christmas – as a family time, a positive celebration, and a focus on togetherness instead of the sad times. I’m going a bit crazy buying and making presents for people, and trying to ensure that the spread is equal! Once I get into the swing of it I guess I’ll calm down… I love the concept of a ‘themed for meaning’ Christmas, and will try something along those lines next year! I flat out refuse to buy expensive presents though. That’s one big no. It’s got to be about the fun, not the ‘gimme’ 🙂 Great article!

    • It’s interesting that you’re changing your holiday traditions with your own family. Lars and I combined traditions and developed a few of our own.

      I love the entire holiday season from Hanukkah to Bodhi Day to St. Lucia day to Solstice to Christmas to New Years. We celebrate it all!

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