THURSDAY THOUGHTS

How many Christmas gifts do you give your kids?

Having recently moved house and packed all our belongings up into boxes, I have come to the realisation (once again!) that our kids really don’t need anything for Christmas. As I packed up the children’s bedrooms a few months ago, I found lots of broken knick-knacks and toys that I had stuck in their Christmas stockings last Christmas, and it was again another reminder of the fact that so often these little gifts we buy them, while fun to open on Christmas Day, clutter our spaces and end up in landfill eventually.

This year we’ve decided that Santa will come and fill their stockings (as he does every year), but we’ve asked Santa to bring only practical things: water bottles, books, knitting yarn, socks, undies, playing cards, lip balms, zinc sticks, surf wax, etc. You know those wooden rackets with bouncing balls? Or Whoopie cushions? Or those little plastic guys with sticky limbs that climb down windows? Those were the types of things my parents put in our stockings and I have always put into the kids’ stockings, but this year I am breaking tradition and skipping these altogether.

In addition to the stocking gifts, Michael and I have decided to give the kids each one gift. Just one! We’ll give them something special or substantial that they will love and use throughout the year. Quin is getting a new penny skateboard, for example. Easton is getting a waterproof camera, which he needs for his big Year 8 project next year. Ivy has asked for a polaroid camera. Wilkie is getting a Tonka dump truck. And I still need to figure out what I’m getting for Marlow (it was just recently her birthday, so she really doesn’t need anything!).

When I was little, my siblings and I would each receive around 10 gifts on Christmas, and it would often take us hours to open presents on Christmas morning. My parents would give us several gifts each, and then we’d get gifts from grandparents and aunts and uncles and god parents, etc. (I come from a big family!!)  When I think back to my childhood Christmases, it actually makes me sick to think of all the stuff we got each year. I always piled up my presents in my bedroom on Christmas afternoon after we finished unwrapping gifts, and often that pile of stuff would sit in my bedroom for months. There was one Christmas where, I’m embarrassed to admit, I remember taking note that my pile was smaller than some of my siblings, and it affected my overall happiness and impression of that Christmas. Of course I know, and have always known, that Christmas isn’t just about the gifts… but still, as a child, there was a correlation between presents and happiness on Christmas.

This is, I suppose,  what I am hoping to avoid with my own children. I want them all to be super excited for Christmas, and I want it to feel magical and exciting and worth the big countdown… and yet, I don’t want their happiness to be tied to the number of gifts they receive.

I guess maybe it’s about lowering their expectations. We’ve never given them heaps of presents, but in years past they’d each get a few. This year, they know they are getting one. We’ve explained that they already have enough toys and tutus and craft sets, and they just don’t need more of those sorts of things. Thankfully, I really think our kids are totally onboard, especially the older ones.

I’m thinking we might, in addition, do a family gift exchange where we all draw a name out of a bowl and have to make a present for whomever we choose. This is a nice way to get the kids into the giving spirit and to show them how fun it is to make a present for someone, to wrap it up nicely and to be excited about giving it to your special person on Christmas Day.

I’m curious how it works in your family? How many gifts do you buy your kids? Do you do a gift exchange? What type of gifts does Santa bring?

Courtney x


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Comments (56)

Imogen
December 13, 2018

I like this article. We have four kids: twin girls of 6, a girl of 10 & a boy of 12. I am also against ‘delayed landfill’ presents – so this year I’m also not indulging the kids in a frenzy of irrelevance. But each kid is thinking carefully about a present for each of their siblings – running gear from one to another, a new dog lead from another to another etc – that will be much-loved, and well-used. There’s no-one that knows what a kid wants better than their sibling, after all. And I want them all to realise the joy in giving *as well as* receiving.


jennifer
December 13, 2018

I love this! I agree, that siblings for sure know what their siblings want the most!


Eleni
December 13, 2018

We get our kids three Christmas presents each. We tell the kids that the three kings each gave a gift to baby Jesus for his birthday and that’s how many they will receive on his birthday. Keeping with true meaning of Christmas.


Jessica
January 4, 2019

Wow! This is a perfect reason to limit the number of gifts. And maybe one that kids can actually agree on! Our oldest is five and we’re trying to explain to her what Christmas is all about and why we even celebrate it. Although we’re not a very religious family, we DO celebrate Christian holidays and we’d like to emphasize the good messages and the stories behind it all.


Gerardine
December 13, 2018

Totally agree with you. In my family we try to give one present for each kid, that is the one Santa gives. I encourage both my kids to be something generic, like a horse, not a specific horse, and try to find a toy that fits the description but is also handcrafted & from a small company. Cannot always nail it though, since a polaroid can only be a polaroid! Also they both get one present from their parents they open on 1st of January. The thing is in Greece we celebrate Christmas with our big families(a good thing), and presents of all sorts seem to pop up nonstop..I try to encourage more useful presents, unsuccessfully though…


Constance
December 13, 2018

My husband and i were having the same conversation this year! Our kids put a lot of hope on the calendar (living in Switzerland, they expect to get a lot of chocolate – not a cliché). We are totally against little plastic toys that break and clutter our life (and helps perpetuate that mass production elsewhere), so we decided that we would reduce the number of stockings to every 3 days and fill them with dry fruits, cookies and occasional sweets. This created fury on Dec 1 with our middle son being so disappointed and little by little they got used to a different kind of rythme and reward and now they get excited again about find raisins and dry abricots in their stockings. For Christmas, they are getting just one present as well (skis so they are not to complain!) we made our family do a Secret Santa for all the cousins to limit the number of gifts to 3 per child. We also offer «the community » a board game so that we can all chill out and spend quality time together but I love the idea of the kids taking part in Secret Santa. We’ll look into that for next year 😉


Martha
December 13, 2018

I also came from a family of 5 and always got loads of presents. And I remember having that same disappointment of a smaller pile every now and then. We’ve always tried to be mindful of how many (and what) gifts we gave at Christmas, but it has been harder to get family on board. This year has been especially tricky since we just came back from a big trip and the boys told us they don’t want anything, but I know they would be disappointed with an empty tree Christmas morning. In the stocking we always put a paperback book and an orange/grapefruit. Plus some other goodies (too often things they never use again 🙄) And they get an new ornament on the tree. Often there will be a new clothing item. Trying to think of one more fun yet useful item for each.


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Lina
December 13, 2018

Where I come from stoking are only decorative so we got that one solved. This year I am working for a less cluttered Xmas and bough really conscious presents for family me members. My daughter still gets comercial presents that I know she will love. I think this is her last year of her believing in baby Jesus bringing her presents, so I indulged her wish of a pram for her baby, she is 9 and still loves her baby so we figured we’ll encourage child play as long as she wants to. I agree with you, we are blessed of having kids with all the needs covered and they don’t need as much. Neither do we, but no one in my extended family agreed on the secret Santa to get less presents… so they all get artisan gifts from me, ha! Love tha crafting Santa idea!


Sara
December 13, 2018

We have three kids, boys 9&7 and a girl 5 and I’ve always gone by the rule want/need/wear/read, but they get the ”wear” bit (a christmas pyjama) already on first advent so there’s plenty of use for it through the month already.

I don’t find the 3(-4) presents problematic, but it the stuff they get from my husband’s relations 😭 My parents always buy book from home country which is lovely, but especially my mother-in-law wants to buy the silliest plastic toys that are forgotten in no time. This year we asked her to buy board games, which she eventually did after sulking for not being allowed to buy toys.

Ireland, where we live, is very materialistic and disposable in my opinnion and sometimes it’s so hard to navigate in the middle of it


Katherine
December 13, 2018

Good article. I feel exactly the same about the volume of gifts and such waste. This year I’ve bought around 6 gifts and this includes three books and the other three are games. I want my daughter to grow up thinking of Christmas Day as a day together having fun and enjoying good company and food etc. Not the gift volume. I used to get 2-3 gifts and I look back in Christmas with such happy memories so hopefully can help my daughter so the same. Happy Christ to you and yours.


Danielle
December 13, 2018

When my twin daughters were young we lived in a small two bedroom apartment, for Christmas they had received so many presents from family members that there literally wasn’t space for everything. Their birthday is in January, and I knew at that point that something needed to change. It may sound harsh, but before their birthday I talked with family and let them know I would only allow clothes, books, and “experience” gifts (movie passes, bowling, museum passes etc) into my home as gifts. While initially there was some resistance, over time everyone commented what a great idea it was! I truly believe that Christmas, and all gift giving occasions should be about making memories with those you love!


Nika Lazic
December 13, 2018

Hi! I am a mother of a almost two year old boy and my husband and I decided that we would love that our boy values experience more than actual things so we decided to give him only one toy from Santa and baby Jesus; BUT there is THE THING that we will spend X-mas with grandma, grandpas, aunts and uncles so he WILL receive more than one toy, but we all came together and made an agreement that there will be NO MORE than 3 toys and the rest will be the money for future clothes/shoes/spanish classes etc., for whatever he will need. (we will decorate his new room soon so we will probably use money for that. 🙂 We decided to go minimalist lifestyle so we are adjusting. 😀 Merry Christmas to all moms and dads here and everywhere.


Kathleen
December 13, 2018

I love this post! I struggle with this every year. I recently heard a little rhyme which is what I am planning to do: one thing you want, one you need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read. Done and done! :). I love the idea of one gift per child. The idea of junk in the landfill really stresses me out.


Caroline
December 13, 2018

As I get older and of course so does my only boy 😉 I try also to change my habits and focus more on the time we spend with each other than the gift itself. When asking him what he wants for Christmas I noticed that all he wanted was marbles to play at school and that was pretty much it ! I also changed his advent calendar this year and put more motes about things to do together than little plastic things that to be honest will go to the garbage in a couple of months …. we don’t need much, but if my family asks me what to buy him I try to stick with my mantra : something he wants , something to read , something unexpected something to share ! Thanks for the time you spend for this article and for sharing your thoughts ! Happy holidays ! 🙏


Jolie
December 13, 2018

Wonderful ideas! We are doing something very similar. Our kids are each getting a new insulated water bottle, summer pyjamas, their own tea cup (we love tea), scented playdough made by Dough La La, some books we think they will love and a few edible treats they don’t normally get. And Jenga. Most of that will be stocking fillers. The books and game will come from us. We’re hoping that Christmas morning will be spent cosying up to read our new stories and having a giggle together as we play Jenga. Soul nourishing, heartwarming family time is what we want the focus to be. We know they will get a few of the more typical presents from the extended family and they really have more than enough already so that made it even easier for us to reduce things. We want to keep the anticipation, surprise and excitement of gift giving but not have it be the main event. We did buy whoopee cushions this year though! We love to have one item that brings barrels of laughter during the day and we know our kids will be in hysterics playing pranks on the each other and the extended family with those. We want love and laughter but I hope to find something more eco-friendly to help us achieve that next year.


Nicole
December 13, 2018

We’ve been doing a gift exchange among the adults of our family for at least a million years now but a few years ago we started doing it with the kids too. I think it came after a particulary bad Christmas where we were all knee-deep in presents and the excess was just mortifying. The kids really enjoy choosing/making a present for whichever sibling or cousin they’ve drawn out of the hat. For me, Decemeber and Christmas is all about the traditions of community we fill it with. Too many to list.


Maja
December 13, 2018

In Croatia we give kids presents on 6th of December when we celebrate st. Nikolas and that is time when we fill stockings. Tradition is to give only candy but with years that changed and now we also give toys. Since Croatia is pretty traditional Christian country it is also not tradition to give any presents on Christmas day. That also changed over time due to american films and overall media impact. In our familly we don t give presents on Christmas day but kids do always ask for it beacuse it looks so magical on TV 🙂


Cecelia
December 13, 2018

We also only gift our children a few, special items at Christmas. So of course I agree with Courtney’s sentiment as well as her aesthetic. I love her Instagram account and parenting style. However I do feel it’s important to note that Courtney’s children (as evidenced by her posts and frequent sponsored ads) recieve gifted packages of clothes and toys on an almost daily basis. Beautiful, expensive toys and clothes, room decor, books…the best of it all. So of course they already have everything! So while their Christmas morning may be “simple,” they are very privledged and well provided for children with many, many daily pleasures that most children never see. I don’t think Courtney intended this in her post, but I just want to say out loud that we should not shame parents for giving their children 3,5 or even 10 gifts on Christmas. Perhaps they saved all year for those treasures. Perhaps they are items the children truly need. Or some children may only be getting one toy that isn’t a $200 wooden heirloom item. Who knows. What’s most important is that children and loved. happy holidays!


Tamara
December 15, 2018

I completely agree with your comment, every family situation is different, and of course every parent tries to do his o her best! An one little thing about grandparents, I personally let them give mi kids what they think they would love, even if it’s not my favorite thing, because for me, they have the right to pamper them, that was how it worked in my family when I was little ( parents more strict rules, grandpas for all the pampers) . Well that, every family may do what works for them , happy holidays!!!


Ee kiat
December 13, 2018

Like u I have realised that gifts are becoming superficial. Instead of buying more gifts for my children on Xmas, we decided to donate to charity.


Addie
December 13, 2018

Someone told me a little riddle they use which we are trying to institute as well, 4 things, something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. Now-if I could get everyone else in our family to not give them anything, this would work great but I still feel like with our few gifts plus gifts from others, it’s too much. This brings me to another question I’d love wisdom on, do you make sure all your kids get the same amount of gifts? And in general do you keep things, even in your family? Like if you get one child a happy, do you get them all a little happy? My “oldest” two are 4 and 2.5 (19 months apart!) and I’ve gotten in the habit of getting two of everything so neither of them feel left out (and usually they’ve both needed the same thing like dress shoes or a winter coat) but now I feel like I’ve created a problem where they always expect to get something if the other has it and expect everything to be the same. For instance, we started toilet training our 2 year old which involves a sticker chart and a prize at the end and my 4 year old expects to participate and get stickers and a prize too even though she’s toilet trained-ha! Any thoughts? In general, do you practice the mindset of, if we do something for one, we should do something for all of them? Would love some insight 🙂


jennifer
December 13, 2018

This is a GREAT post!! Thank you Courtney! I love your desicion this year and the choices you and your family have made. They’re beautiful. I especially love your family gift exchange and handmaking the gifts. Even before we had our first child I told my husband that at Christmas and birthdays I wanted to give only 1 or 2 meaningful and quality gitfs. To raise our children being acustom to quality over quantity. I think it can be overwhelming to small children to be bombarded by present after present. We have stayed true to keeping gifts at a low number but it’s the aunts and uncles and friends that bring gifts that fill the house up. It’s inevitable. Honestly, this year I couldn’t spend what I have in the past for the children’s presents so I bought several small (inexpensive) gifts. So this year they might have a few more in number, rather than one or two “big” presents. Thank you again for sharing this post, it’s always great to hear how other families are doing it! xoxox


Zoe
December 13, 2018

I’m really interested in the responses to this .. I totally understand the want to teach our littles the right values and not be be wasteful of money or resources but I think at Christmas it’s ok to let up a little and indulgdge. We as adults can appreciate that the commercialism of Christmas can be a little vulgar but I think we are forgetting the excitement of a pile of presents and things that may only be played with once but the thrill will be remembered forever. Presents are a major part of Christmas for kids, yes completely agree we should open their eyes to the other parts but I don’t think we should take everything away from them x


LAA
December 13, 2018

We also have a large family – five with one more on the way! I have found in the past few years that rather than focusing on the type or amount of gifts our kids are getting (it varies each year, with some years being a big gift of a trip together and some years being things they’ve been wanting or asking for, and I think that variation helps a ton with expectations) that helping them focus on what they can and should be doing for others is what ends up making the biggest difference in our Advent and Christmas season. If we keep the focus on the community around us and giving back during this time it never seems to matter much to them what is or isn’t under the tree… by the time Christmas Day comes we’ve spent so much time focused on what we’re doing to give back and take care of others first, that it feels a real treat to enjoy whatever we receive, regardless of what that might be.


Carol
December 13, 2018

An interesting topic and I see your point but I think one gift isn’t going to feel so magical to come down to on christmas morning! We don’t buy toys for our children that they don’t want or need and we mainly only buy things at christmas and birthdays..they will each have something they need, want ,read ,wear and a sport gift from santa, and some gifts from us..I don’t think it’s unreasonable or anything to want our kids to be happy and enjoy christmas for the magical special once a year day that it is.. 🙂 also any older toys that are not played with I donate to charity or the local school etc. So they are not wasted. 🙂


Helen
December 13, 2018

This has definitely given me food for thought as my approach is quite different to yours. We really do not spoil our children throughout the year buying them more practical day to day things. However I save throughout the year so that we are able to be a little more extravagant. I do get alarmed though about the amount of people who go into debt to over indulge or prioritise buying presents rather than paying bills. (I’m a homeless Housing Officer). So much peer pressure on children these days! Consumerism gone crazy!


KJW
December 14, 2018

I have a slightly different take on this. I am FULLY with you on keeping the gifts to a minimum and not in any way associating Christmas with greed fulfillment. But I also believe in a bit of magic. I can’t give my daughter things like chapstick in her stocking, or bandaids, or “I’d get this for you anyway” practical things – that feels somehow antithetical to the spirit of giving. (My ex used to tell a story of eagerly unwrapping a beautifully wrapped box at Christmas and bursting into tears when he discovered plain white socks inside. He was six, yes, but the sorrow was real.) So I am keeping it simple and low-level but finding and/or making things I KNOW will surprise and delight. (And be eaten or used.) A gorgeously decorated cookie. A pretty tree ornament. Sparkly bubbly bath. And yes, on the under-the-tree gifts – one wonderful gift is perfect and perfectly enough.


Bella
December 14, 2018

This is a great idea! The consumerism around Christmas is just insane. Every little bit of plastic given to our privileged kids and later tossed aside will be here for thousands of years, so sad. What do you do with your advent calendar though? We have tried filling ours with handmade items and notes this year and the kids seem just as excited. Thanks for writing about this, I think so many people follow you so it’s great to see some sensible messages about christmas in the mainstream (social) media.


Annie from Brimful
December 14, 2018

Yes to only a few gifts under the tree! All year long, I talk to my children about how it’s best not buying/getting things that will just turn into future garbage down the line. This Christmas, it’s art lessons, a big wooden firetruck, fun socks (with a Harry Potter/Dobby quote on the bottom), and the game of Monopoly for my four children….plus a few little things and candies in their stockings. It is simple and spare, but celebrated with the reminder that “ it is more blessed to give than to receive.”


Mina
December 14, 2018

This is so interesting. I had a similar experience growing up, with the addition of having to wait for new things until Christmas and birthdays, so if I started riding lessons in September, I’d be in rubber rain boots until Christmas when I could finally receive a pair of riding boots. We didn’t receive toys and things between birthdays and Christmas. That made for lots of presents at Christmas.

Now with my own kids, I find it very very hard to resist buying them the things they “need” as soon as they need them. It’s hard to let my kids be the only ones at soccer in non-soccer runners, or to make them wait for a bike until their next birthday when they “need” one now. It might be especially compounded because my first child’s birthday is in December, so there’s really only one time a year to give him everything if I want to wait for an occasion.

But this year we are also trying to rein it in. Each of my three kids (8, 6, and 4 yrs old) will receive one big gift of a date with mum and dad – we are taking one to the ballet, one to a musical and one to the theatre, plus dinner at a proper, grown-up restaurant. They are also getting one or two smallish presents (my boys will receive a hot wheels track and cars to share) plus a book from us. And stockings. We are also trying to anticipate what they will “need” in the next few months that we will anyway end up buying for them, and try to give those things as Christmas presents (new soccer shoes etc). I also try to think: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. And we make sure that the gift Santa brings (if any) is just something small. I don’t want kids at school to wonder why Santa brought somebody a play station and somebody hardly anything at all.

I find it especially hard to get my parents to hold back, but we are talking about it, and working on it. It’s so interesting to hear how others families navigate this!


Courtney in Australia
December 15, 2018

We are similar to you in that we have always held off buying them things they need if they have a birthday or Christmas coming up within a few months. But… then it would end up being that they received quite a lot of presents, and I had to try to create balance for the other kids, so one child’s ‘needs’ raised the bar for all the kids’ gift piles. Quin has needed a new pair of sneakers (his have holes throughout!) and I was going to hold off and give him a new pair of Vans for Christmas… but then it meant that he was getting two presents, and I didn’t want to throw off the balance. So we just bought him the shoes. It’s tricky when you have several kids, I find!
I love that you’re giving activities to your kids — how fun to go to the ballet or to a musical with your child! (A treat as well for you to spend one-on-one time with each child!) xx


Laura
December 14, 2018

Our son only gets two presents from us.
We always encourage him to write a list of what his wishes are. Then we normaly take one of those gifts and he gets this from us, and one present which he doesn´t expect. After this we give the list to the rest of the family ( if there are appropiate gifts on it, normally it is full of lego and he really uses this all the time. This year it is different he turned 12 so his wishes are different. This year he really wants a new phone, because he destroyed his phone by accident this year. So we thought of getting him a new one, but we asked all the family members to give us the money they normally spent on his presents. Because geting a phone and also many other presents isn´t right. I see the bigger problem in stuff which you buy during the year, little things which are laying in their bedrooms almost untouched…that´s something we should stop doing. 😉 We always say to our son you can put it on you wish list for birthday or Christmas, so there you can see if you really want it or if it is only a phase…. But this isn´t always easy when you are in a toy shop 😀


Gaele
December 14, 2018

I kind of feel the same. I don’t want my kids to be spoiled and to forget the value of a gift. I feel they have all they need but a gift is not necessarily something you need but something you might enjoy or appreciate, or even surprise you! My boys are now 10 and 13 and they know how it works in our family: from us they each get 3 presents: a gift they ‘ask’ for, a surprise gift and a book. It’s been like this for years. They also get gifts from uncle, aunts and grand-parents, but then we hardly ever buy them anything during the year except for their birthdays. I’ve told them many times that gifting someone is a pretty tricky thing to do because the primary goal is to make the person happy, and we do our best to give the best gift but sometimes it doesn’t work. My kids don’t write down a list of presents to give us, I try to listen to them carefully during the year and to pay attention to what they like and then I choose a present accordingly. My son was telling me the other day that almost all his friends know what they will get for Christmas because they will get what they asked for, whereas he has no idea what he will get. But he concluded that he liked that and that I was pretty good with my gifts to them, and even managed to surprise them with gifts they totally love but would have never thought of.


Leanne
December 14, 2018

Great article, Courtney. I’m wondering how you have approached the idea of Santa when it comes to gift giving? Thanks:)


Courtney in Australia
December 15, 2018

Thanks for your comment. We’ve done it differently over the years, but in the past few years, we’ve decided that Santa will fill their stockings with a few toys, and that’s it. Then the main gifts come from their parents. (So Santa doesn’t bring a main gift…)


Lacy
December 14, 2018

I am similarly uneasy over the masses of landfill trash that Christmas can create. And this is why I’m so excited to have found thriftbooks.com. I tend to buy “Good” or better condition books, and let’s be honest, these books would look as they do out of the package from thriftbooks if I’d bought them new and read them to our boys a handful of times. Additionally, I’ve been thrilled to find rare books that are out of print but created fond memories for me as a child.
I’m sure there are other great second-hand sites out there, and it’s really the concept of buying USED that is important to the planet. Keep these treasured stories in circulation, not the landfill!


Courtney
December 15, 2018

I have been thinking the same. I too came from a big family with lots of cousins as my Mum was one of 8. The Xmas tree was always so exciting because there were so many gifts for all the kids. I think back and realise how spoilt we really were. This year we have traveled doing a lap of Australia and our youngest is two (who is Dec born) just really needs for nothing. We have three tonka trucks at home for example. We have explained to our 6 and 4 year old that they will receive gifts they need (like items for school and kindy) and one gift each which both have requested LEGO. The 2 year old will receive a book. We have also explained that when we return home we will be building a cubby, sand pit and vegetable patch with chooks so that is a gift to them also (which costs money). I’m glad more and more are realising our children want our time not a bucket load of plastic rubbish.


Jessie
December 15, 2018

This was such a refreshing read. I’m in agreement with you 100%. We’ve always done the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” since my oldest was a baby (he’ll be 8 next month). 4 kids later, I feel like even THAT is a bit much. This year, we’re traveling “home” to Sweden where my two oldest were born (and my husband’s hometown), so it worked as a perfect “excuse” not to bring a number of presents with us. We told the children to ask Santa for one very special gift and that was it, and something of reasonable size because we would be traveling home 😉 (My 5 year old daughter has asked for a sewing kit ;)) For stockings, I’ve done similar as you in the past with goofy old fashioned fun “things”, but as I get older (and maybe wiser ;)) I realize those things never last too long. My kids love the Schleich animals, so I always throw a new one of those in there, usually a little sweet treat, always a new toothbrush, socks, and some fun coloring pencils. That’s about it. I love what you mentioned about drawing names and making gifts. To this day, I remember my older brother gifting me an orange one year for Christmas. It was wrapped in foil and kinda sticky from being cut open and when I lifted open top, he has stuffed it with a little plastic bag with a $5 bill in it. It was just the most thoughtful gift. Looking back, it made no sense at all. But to our 6 and 7 year old selves, it did. I opened it in the backseat of our car on the way home from some Christmas show or something, not knowing that I’d still think of that with such gratitude almost 30 years later. Meanwhile, I remember very few of the toys gifted to me over the years from my parents and everyone else. I think you know what I’m saying 😉

Merry Christmas to you all. What a gift to have each other.
xo
,


Whitney
December 15, 2018

I also grew up in a big family (7 kiddos) and we had tons of gifts. My husband and I have 3 little girls and we give them 3 gifts (completely fun, but useful) and we also did a group gift for them. It added up so quickly though and I just wrapped everything and thought, it’s so kany presents! Also, both sets of grandparents sent gifts and we’ve asked for experiences, quality time, or nothing and they did not appreciate any of that. It’s hard to juggle, but so important.


Julie
December 15, 2018

We don’t do Santa in our family. It’s me, my husband, a 15 y/o and a 5 y/o- we all buy each other one thing. We all put a ton of thought into these gifts so that they aren’t a waste and honestly it has made Christmas a lot more enjoyable. My 5 year old loves giving gifts just as much as receiving now.


Amanda
December 15, 2018

As a child I revived one gift from Santa and one from my parents. Usually something small from parents. This year I’m doing p.j’s from us and one larger gift from Santa. It helps that we live remotely but they will still see pictures and gear from other friends the piles they got. Any ideas on discussing this with young children?


December 15, 2018

I do the same from the start. They know that there there is only ONE Santa that brings each child only ONE gift! And I also ask our parents to respect that. They can of course buy them something little and practical (usually it’s PJ’s, underwear, books or something they like AND need!) but that is not a present from Santa but THEIR Christmas present. I never wanted them to feel more privileged than other children. So many children don’t get anything. Ever. 🙁 And kids are so humble if you only let them be. For instance: my kids got nuts, apples, mandarines, chocolate lollies and one apple slicer for all three for St. Nicholas (which we celebrate in Slovenia and Germany) and my 5-year old was so unbelievable happy because he got a white chocolate lolly because just three days ago he told to me that he wants to try white chocolate and Nicholas knew it, he knew that he wants to try it and he brought him one! That is something I will always remember and I know he will too. PS. We love the apple slicer because the kids can slice their apples on their own (with an adult watching over their shoulder of course) in a split second. 😉


Karin
December 15, 2018

We are a minimalist family and this time of year is always a challenge. Our kids had their 8th and 6th birthday a week ago. One day apart! With Christmas coming up that could mean a lot of gifts. This is why we each give them tickets to a London West End show for the whole family. One to see in February and one in March. This helps to spread out the excitement. For Christmas we draw names with my family and each buy a gift for one person only. They do have a stocking too. This gets filled with a book, a token for a streamed film, a pair of slippers, a top trump game and (this year) a key ring for their school rucksack since they’ve lots theirs and it helps them recognise their bag. That’s it. And to be honest, even that can seem too much as its all in one month of the year. They don’t get any gifts throughout the rest of the year, mind you!


Courtney in Australia
December 15, 2018

I love the idea of the ticket to a West End show. And the key ring idea too! Happy Christmas. x


Emily
December 16, 2018

Every year one gift comes from Santa, the rest from us. My kids always receive new books and art supplies for the year. I firmly firmly believe that you can never have too many books. We read for 30-40 minutes every night so we’ve got to keep the collection interesting. We also use Christmas and birthdays to get new stuffies. We get small ones that fit in their hands and these stuffed animals get lots of use. They are used at the beach, the river, lake, tub, etc. and the older they look the more treasured they become.


T
December 16, 2018

I admire your commitment to simplicity and an anti-consumerist approach for the holidays. However, I find it a disconnect that the same child who will only be getting one gift for Christmas and practical items in her stocking is promoting a holiday gift guide.


Cate
December 16, 2018

Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Thats always been my Christmas motto. Works for me. No rubbish plastic toys or mass produced stuff. We have never had stockings.


Paula
December 16, 2018

This is great!! We do “something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read” x


Nicole
December 16, 2018

I’m so happy to see some thoughtful conversation on this topic. My family is definitely considered extreme – we just don’t do gifts. My husband and I agreed to give our children gifts on their birthday, but not on Christmas because I think it’s impossible to expect young children to care about Christ’s birth when they’re being spoiled with tons of toys. Their grandparents aren’t exactly onboard, but we have emphasized that we want to receive experiences on Christmas like tickets to a show, a museum, the aquarium, etc. I truly don’t remember most of the gifts I was given as a child, but I do recall feeling disappointed. I also hate feeling like I have to show people how much I care for them by buying them something. I find that attending baby showers, weddings, and just being there for someone in their everyday life is much more meaningful. It’s hard to go against culture sometimes, and I think gifts and generousity are wonderful things – but we can give toys and gifts any day of the year.


Karen
December 17, 2018

We started something similar a few years back and it’s just the best. Our kids each pick out something big and then they get some smaller, useful things. The smaller items tend to be books, new shoes or clothing items. And now my teenage daughter loves makeup and face creams (which cracks me up because I am so not a makeup person) so she puts together a list of wish for items and I’ll pick out two or three. We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah so it helps to have gift options for both holidays. Of course, my mother spends Christmas with us and she is a big fan of lots of packages, but she fills them with practical items now that our kids are older. The end result is that our very small house is no longer cluttered with tons of stuff. And that’s the best Christmas present for me!!


Deva
December 17, 2018

Hi there! I was wondering what´s your approach to telling the kids about Santa being their parents, do your older kids know? Do their classmates talk about it, and ask you about it at home? I remember that for me it was such a shock, I got mad at my parents and grandparents for having lied to me like that, then of course it just wore off.
Loved your refreshing post about one meaningfull thing for each kid, it should be about quality and they really wanting it rather than quantity. 🙂


Rachael
December 17, 2018

What I would like to say is to start small, a small child is really delighted by the box. Its nice to have at home the items they need for their development at each stage, e.g. age appropriate art materials. It’s a long road parenting, and you don’t want to run out of space for delight. Keep the items age appropriate, and not too expensive or numerous and you won’t go far wrong.


Chris
December 17, 2018

It’s seems strange to say how minimal your Christmas/lifestyle is, when you are so often promoting products for sale. On either Instagram or on this website.


Annie
December 26, 2018

Longtime reader here (and I don’t have anything to do with the site) – just saying that Babyccino promotes only super high-quality products and it has changed the way I shop for my baby. In fact, I want to buy her less, but better – because of the things I’ve seen on this site. I have one cashmere sweater for her that she wears all the time, a few onesies, and a few great toys. I think the Babyccino girls really live their lives this way – quality over quantity. And they give us a range of options to choose from.


Danielle
December 18, 2018

spot-on
we do the same and it’s nice to know others do too as it can be hard for some people to understand
so thanks for sharing!


Lindsey
December 20, 2018

Interesting to read and I agree a lot with what you say.

What are your thoughts on the new ‘Christmas Eve Box’ concept?
Im aware I may come across as a bit of a kill joy but personally feel it’s more pressure to spend more money. If we are not all wearing matching Christmas Jammies will our enjoyment of Christmas be any less?


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