Several years ago, and a few kids ago, we had a really tough year. I started doing some research on frugal Christmas ideas. It broke my heart to have to “cheap out” on my kids Christmas.
When I was a kid I remember one Christmas in particular that we got tons of toys for Christmas. I always knew that is how I was going to do Christmas for my kids…tons of toys!
Researching frugal Christmas’ two ideas stuck with me that year; homemade and paired down. Paired down meant one fun gift, one clothing gift, and one educational gift. I was heartbroken to think my 2 kids would only receive three gifts each.
That year we made homemade gifts for each other and I bought the three gifts for each child. I made sure to be very intentional with those three gifts. I made sure to listen to what they really wanted and needed. Luckily, we had family come that year and my three gifts were completely overshadowed by the by the tons of gifts that family brought for the kids.
I was so embarrassed watching them tear through the paper, toss boxes and bags around, throw gifts to the side anticipating the next gift in line. I had failed my kids on Christmas.
I felt miserable, but one thing I noticed, the kids kept coming back to the one fun, intentional gift that I got them. Opening the packages and seeing the over abundance was fun, but the gifts weren’t what they truely wanted (neither were the underwears I got them). Within 6 months most of the toys were broken or not even played with.
I vowed to NEVER feel that way again! Next year I would do Christmas right by my kids. The next year rolled around again and just out of curiosity I asked my kids, “do you remember what you got for Christmas last year?” The only thing they remembered was the one intentional gift I got them.
So I decided to try again with three gifts each. They were perfectly content with the three gifts. Granted, they did receive gifts from grandparents but being intentional with their three gifts; those are the gifts they remember.
It has been so stress-free to do Christmas this way each year. For grandparents we do a homemade gift, usually a picture of the kids framed. For in laws, if we give gifts, it is usually something homemade. I don’t worry about it because I have come to realize that insane over giving at Christmas creates so much stress and I’m not going to play along.
We are now in a much better financial situation and I could overbuy on my now five kids, but I don’t, its the same three gift plan. They are grateful for what they get. Trust me, I have severely missed the mark on some of the gifts some years and we both feel disappointed. There is always Christmas money and birthdays (all of my kids have December and January birthdays…crazy, huh?). Plus, when does real life never disappoint?
Since our family began the three gift plan I have convinced my sister of our three gift plan. After a few guilt ridden years she can see the benefit in the plan. It is not a easy transition, you will feel guilty for a a few years. Just ask your kids each year if they remember what they got the year before…the answer will encourage you.
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