My mother would shower us with gifts…too many gifts…too much money spent. Dozens of gifts and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars spent.
That first year…not only did my children get a dozen gifts from me…but they got a whole bunch from their dad….their grandmothers, their aunts and their uncles. All of a sudden, my kids were up to their ears in gifts!
I didn’t figure in that the gifts came from everywhere and the kids were actually overwhelmed to a point of complete disinterest in what any of the gifts actually were. Santa gifts are in the stocking, the few gifts they receive are under the tree.We are far from wealthy, but we re rich in love and chocolate. A book or two, a science gift, a gift card and an ornament. Something to share within your family and something for someone outside your family. While we’re not part of the travelling team, this ongoing trip provides practical helps. Our simple gift bags included a whole list of things including simple things like washcloths, toothbrush, toothpaste pencils for school etc and even something they might want such as a soccer ball. It was humbling to think these basic needs are so hard to meet in their lives.
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No concerns about computer games and cell phones. Life teaches you & you along the way. It’s the choices we make that we learn/live by. Simply because most of them have forgotten them selves the meaning of christmas. They will have these for their trees when they are adults. Didn’t get anything new (including clothes) during the year. The irony to me is most of my friends that had some money growing up are the ones reposting this article. It really is relative to your childhood experience.
I think that makes a big difference as well that it is not chaos.
I remember savoring opening every gift, trying to keep the wrapping paper in perfect condition. It is great that this gives a framework that works for many families.
I think the appreciation comes not from limiting the gifts (although one should always stay within their means) but rather through the quality of time that is spent together. All of that made it such an incredibly special day. If parents are not excited about opening presents and act like it is a burden, then the children will feel the same. Parents need to teach their children to be grateful for things that they are given. The older grandchildren are given the money so they can add with other money they receive and buy the one big gift they personally want.
I do buy an ornament for their tree, plus have in the past bought a board game that the whole family can enjoy. My kids/mates get a gift certificate to the same place and they all plan a night to go together which is so much fun. There wasn’t a lot of money and most of my things were either hand me downs or thrift store finds, way before it was trendy. Christmas is about giving and that teaches good values. Santa usually brought what he asked for and mommy and daddy gave him some clothes and underwear. Ripping on another mother isn’t in the bible either. They are now grown and married with children of their own and trust me and always have. Just because you can’t see doesn’t mean you can’t believe or that it isn’t real.
Children should be taught sharing/caring and giving out of love. This has been such an enlightening blog up to this point of criticism. Sorry it had to appear and change the tune. He was a very giving man and had a great love for children and protected them. It is consistently poor parenting choices and many other reasons.
I also like the idea of taking children to the store to select a gift or gifts for other children in need, giving them the chance to learn to give to others. My daughter freaks out at the thought of climbing onto a man’s lap that she doesn’t know and asking for things. It was almost a head count of the people of each city of birth.
I have 4 grandchildren, and not a lot of money. My children still trust me, and to indicate otherwise is either an attempt to troll, or downright ludicrous. Children don’t ways have the ability, until much older, to differentiate fact from fiction, even when they’re told.
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It would be different if we perhaps told them it was just for fun and just pretend, but so many people legitimately convince their children that this is real and break their hearts when they find out it’s a lie.
I also gew up poor and often wondered why we got so much stuff when my parents could barely pay the rent. If you don’t fully understand where someone is coming from, then it is best to grant them some grace. Most were cheap dollar store item or even less cost because what they really loved was opening presents.
I literally wrapped things that they already owned (a couple times). Here honey, here is a new blender, sweater and a book that you probably already read. But to imply that if you give more than 4 gifts you are somehow a bad person is ridiculous. This is all about bringing family back into the holiday and not bankrupting yourself in the process.
4 Gift Christmas Challenge
It means, you look around and fill an immediate need they have at the time.
I sometimes will buy something that has several pieces and wrap them individually just so there is more to open. My children are grateful, they are kind, they help out. They also understand they/we have to earn everything we get. My grandma always takes one of our gifts to give to someone else. Its a fun tradition every year to see where our other present goes. However, my focus will be on the elderly. No cut flowers, they die, and most elders see them as a total waste of money. Sometimes a small potted plant that is easy to take care of, is okay for the flower lover. They have a ton already, and barely go out anymore. Baskets of fruit, etc, will normally not be eaten in time, before they spoil.If the elder is still driving/living unassisted, or can call the store and have their items delivered, a gift card to their favorite grocery store, is so appreciated. Assorted cards, with envelopes and stamps is great, if they are still able to write. Give them the day of the week and a specific time of day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a five minute call, or fifteen minutes. Hear your voice, let them know you love them, and that your always thinking of them. Give them the gift that they will look forward to.
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Have your children call, they love the little ones in your life. Or send them a card each month, with a short paragraph telling them what’s going on with you, your family, and your pets. Elders often miss having their own pets, so they love hearing stories about yours. If you can afford to, bring one of each for their roommate, from time to time. Be sure to write on the outside of the box, that these goodies are for everyone. For these care givers and cleaning staff take care of your loved one, day in and day out. Take them out for a drive, lunch, dinner or shopping!
You will see your elder so happy, come alive, and cherish this special moment with you!
I spent as much time with her as possible and called her almost every single day. Anniversaries we gave them a night out (or in depending on their state of health), occasionally when we could afford it we would get them someone to come in for the heavy cleaning twice a month. They were always thrilled as these were things that could at times put a strain a fixed income.
We have a giving tree at church and each child would choose a name card. She bought her some nice hand and skin creams, some spa socks and a gift card.My kids knew to save money from allowance, birthdays etc as they bought these gifts themselves.
We grew up receiving one and it hasn’t changed. Santa’s gifts to bring or gifts from parents?
The idea is for parents that want to save money and cut back a little from all the craziness. Read the comments as this seems to quite controversial it seems!
We are a blended family and by the time we buy the gifts we are left wondering if we got enough for this boy or the other boy.
I think this is a great solution to the problem. It’s not even about the gift itself, really, it’s about having stuff to open.
I like to buy things that have multiple pieces and wrap them all individually. Last year from her mom alone it was over 100!
She is a sweet kid but can’t and doesn’t appreciate all the gifts and is so overwhelmed she barely has interest halfway through. And the very suggestion of a book is like cursing someone to damnation!
My kids as young adults still love and have started looking for jammies for me now. It eventually comes around that you don’t need to buy your own. So we always buy an angel tree gift too, to love even those we don’t know. Things to look forward to…a ride in the park, a meal out, ….you get the idea. He kept that bear until the day he passed away and my oldest now treasures it. They didn’t want or need more, particularly as they eventually started downsizing. If the recipient is on a tight budget, your gift may also allow them to entertain “nicer” than they typically do (a small plate of great quality chocolate at bridge club).
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If she lives in assisted living, coupons for time and an activity with you and with each of your children; a frame that you can put grandchildren’s (or great-grandchildren’s) artwork and change it monthly; read a book to her. The stamps are a perfect addition as well. A couple of my sisters and nieces added to it. She has a rule: every kids of theirs and the kids’ spouse get the same gift (calendars, clocks, lots of 12 things that have pictures included); all grandchildren that are boys get the same gift; and all grandchildren that are girls get the same gift. Give each family a bag/basket that has hot cocoa, marshmallows, popcorn, etc. Reminded me of something my mom would have said. She was one that always went overboard on the gift giving for everyone but never wanted anything in return, unless it was something we made or had not spent alot of money on. A personal memory of something you two shared (remember the time when we went grocery shopping and all the oranges fell off the wagon and rolled everywhere?
I was such-and-so years old and living in this place and doing this thing). Bible quote and what it means to you or whatever. The only cost here is the paper and your time. If you want to add something, a gift card or stamps or even a “coupon” for time to spent with you doing something. Gifts are nice, by the overwhelming desire for most humans is just to have some devoted attention to validate the importance of their exsistence. They have books blankets, candles and lots of games now.
I loved when my grandmother baked for me. A restaurant gift card for a family is also nice. Something for each family rather than each person. A gift certificate to a favorite restaurant is always good.
I also have a few dishes that the kids always admire. Our kids are young and all gifts come from him. Kids get a small gift each from each household(some of the grandparents send money instead, and some go way beyond a gift each). My kids would not even notice if we decided to just do stockings and leave it at that. The kids also get a few little things in their stockings. My behind got there in time to buy a few puffalumps (who remembers those) for my 9 month old. Santa “knew” this and my daughter was impressed. Kids are now 33 and 25 and reading these comments brought back this memory.You will figure it out based on the age of your kids. Every family has a different perspective, circumstances, and values. The other, some (2nd hand) board books (she’s only 1). They get all the clothes they need throughout the year thanks to hand-me-downs, which we are very grateful for. And to this day it’s one of their favorite toys. My children do not get 4 gifts each and they have never felt neglected.
I do not feel bad about being unable to afford more for my kids. In fact, the thought of having more “stuff” gives me anxiety!
They are growing up happy and healthy and learning to appreciate all the blessings they do have. Without fail, every year my son asked for socks. It was the build up of going to give our baked goods and share the holiday meals with all of our extended family that the kids looked forward to. It makes me happy to see others are the same.
The very best we did was going to the homeless shelter and give hugs and love.
We have some fond memories from many years. They were in the car while we were serving, the kids went to my husband and asked if he would go out and get them. There were two kids that day, that were homeless and received nothing. My kids gave those gifts freely, on their own. One of the most proud moments of my life. To this day we still serve at a shelter or church, and so do my kids!
Each person picks out a gift and then we go around the room, one at a time, say who it was from, and open the gift. Now everyone knows who gave them what, and the mess is non existent as we put the paper in a bag as each gift is opened. Yes, it takes a long time but that is part of the fun!
Santa and as the children got older they realized we actually bought those other gifts…lol. As soon as our son was old enough to understand he would help shop for gift to give to a boy his own age. This became his favorite part of the season.
We are up to 8 grandchildren now and the “over-gifting” had to stop!
The younger girls usually want nail polish so that is easy.
I was an only child in my mothers house and every christmas morning there were presents galore.
I started out doing this for my kids but i have 3 now and its getting harder and harder to do it each year.
I know my 9 yr old will understand but how can i explain it to my 5 and 3 yr old??
You could cut back bit by bit each year rather than switching things up suddenly. The kids love getting games if we sit down and play them together!As my children got older they really were grateful after they realized we really got it for them. So far that explanation has worked for us!
It is usually a dvd or new pj’s and candy.
I appreciate that this author is willing to share her ideas, though.
I come from a family culture where 4 gifts each would have been a huge haul!
I guess, but for the more extravagant givers looking for a way to start paring down, this is a good way to do it. So its things we like to do anyway, but in the morning they open the day and can anticipate what the activity will be.We also love to wrap things in different s ways, like a book in a tomato crate from the grocery store. Then a couple of things you were probably going to buy in the next couple months anyway. It sounds like a lot to say 4 gifts but the big expense is probably just the ‘want’ item.
You can probably get most of it at the thrift store too. They always have lots of kids clothes and books. Sometimes that becomes 2 gifts depend on their need.
Last year was a full outfit and a pair of pajamas. Always a gift with a book or two depending on my thrifty finds.
I try to get them one of their biggest wants but those were always “santa” gifts. My husband is the one that it’s hard to rope in to this plan. Slowly he’s learning that there is such a thing as too much.
I can try to teach mine that less is more and material things aren’t necessary to be happy.
I am doing something similar this year to limit myself from going overboard, so for my children, it’s 7 gifts instead of 4.
I am doing the 4 listed in this article plus these three: 5. To some it may still be going overboard, but to me it is cutting back.
We all have our own ideas about gift giving and what our limitations are so to each their own. There were also gifts from grandparents but it was not a huge consumer frenzy of “gimmee!
We have huge family on both sides so it seriously gets out of control with gifts.
You can get toys, school supplies, books, games and stay within your budget. Toys can be hit or miss at thrift stores and it really depends on what the ‘need’ item is.
You can always skip the ‘need’ one if there really is nothing they need besides clothes. Stockings have always been a big thing to our kids and they still look forward to them!
I made scarves one year, dehydrated fruit and apple butter another year. My one aunt gives us homemade yogurt and granola. It doesn’t matter to us because it comes from the heart. As for my husband and myself, we are allowed to buy one thing each that we have wanted all year (within reason) and instead of giving a tonne of gifts to each other we just fill each other’s stockings. Each person, all ages, brings something (wrapped) from their home they no longer need or use.
We either sit in a circle and go one-by-one or draw numbers or go by age. No matter how it is done everyone enjoys it. Oh my, the fun we have stealing other’s gifts and the excitement to see who brought what is a hoot.
You may bring separate gifts for the kids but it is not required.
I do like the idea of the 4 gifts for the immediate family.<