I wrote last year about how we were going to have a much more toned down Christmas than we had planned in the prior years, and I'm happy to report that it went so well, it is most definitely going to be our method of operation from here on out. Last year, the boys received a total of 5-6 presents, I can't remember exactly, but I recall only 2-3 of them being actual toys. You know what? They were absolutely thrilled, despite it not being the grand event that the LM may or may not have remembered from the past year! There was no tension between my husband I, no feelings of overconsumption, and limiting the day to the four of us was great, considering the actual present opening was about 15 minutes, since there wasn't so much to tear though. The best part was that the kids actually played with what they received, and did so all day long. They weren't overwhelmed by too much stuff, and they both were just so happy to get what they really wanted. I truly can't imagine the day going any other way. After that we were sold and again had the conversation with them this year, that we aren't going to go "too crazy."
What do I mean by "too crazy?"
Basically, after Thanksgiving we sit down and explain to them, "they are very lucky, and since they get things throughout the year, the holidays are really just a time to spend with family, being together. We get gifts for each other to show how much we appreciate one another, but it's more important that we get gifts for those who need a little help during the holidays." The boys really seem to grasp this concept, and I point out that while we might not be getting every toy we want, we will make sure to do extra fun things to celebrate the season. Things like ice skating, Elf on the Shelf, an advent calendar, the Nutcracker, making fun teacher gifts, etc... and honestly, they seem just as excited about those things as they do about their actual Christmas list. We also adopt a few families through their school, and I let them participate in picking out the gifts, which both of them really enjoy.
Now, this doesn't mean they both don't want about a dozen things, (or more) and I can tell you these boys have been writing lists (or in Gray's case having his brother write his list) since right after their birthdays. I let them list away, and then around this time of year I ask for their top 5 things, and then their top 3 about a week later. Working off of last year, we found it better not to buy them any toys, and instead, I get them things they "need" like pajamas, and for example, this year they are getting each other a new set of sheets for their shared bedroom. Then we get the santa present. You know, the big one. For this, I try to push them to really want things that we probably would have gotten them anyway. This year the LM is getting skis, and gray is getting a scooter. I've been holding off on both because obviously it's better if they come this way. Santa also brings them the lego set they want the most and that's it from us. I take the rest of their list and when family asks what they want, that's what we go off of. Our kids they pretty much only want the same thing (legos) so I urge our family to give it to the both of them as a combined present. In the end, that equals about 6 presents and any money I get for them goes into an account, so when they are older they will have enough for a trip or to spend it on something they really want.
Clearly our kids are no going without, and I realize how blessed we are to be able get them anything at all. Certainly this is nothing groundbreaking, but I do feel right now that the need to consume this time of year is at an all time high, and I think this is just my way of trying to make the holidays a little more meaningful for all of us. Now, I only have a small, carefully thought out list for the kids, my husband, and our family, and I really do stick to it. No waiting in line on black friday, or struggling to get the hottest gift. No cyber monday, or shop small Saturday, or promo codes, or whatever gimmick there is to get us to buy more and more. I started and finished all my shopping online a few days before Thanksgiving (in about 2 hours) and besides a few stocking stuffers, I'm done and can now focus on things that don't involve spending money. I'm not going to lie, it's a pretty great feeling.
For me, "less is more" has never rung more true than during the holiday season. The best part is that trimming things down really makes things so much easier, and allows time for the most important trimming of all... the tree!
P.S. This doesn't mean I won't be sharing some great Gift Guides with you all for the rest of the week. The beauty of being done with shopping is that I know what's out there, and right now it's probably on sale!