Plan your peaceful Christmas: task 1

Drumroll… There’s seven weeks to Christmas. Seriously. Doesn’t that sound bizarre? Apparently I blinked some time between the last holiday season and now.

I think the best way to have a peace-filled, reason-focused Christmas is to do your holiday tasks a little at a time, not too early and not too late. Tasks on our holiday to-do list morph from merry to miserable when we’re busy to the brim.

Like doing all things one bite at a time, so too can we best savor the season when we do a few things to help us prepare well, a little at a time.

In the past, I’ve done a 12 weeks to a peaceful Christmas series. This year, I’m cutting it to six. And since we at SLM are holding our annual Home for the Holidays giveaway week right after Thanksgiving, I want to start Week Six today. Even though Christmas is still technically seven weeks away. Just go with me on this one. And remember, these tasks can still be applied to whatever holiday your family celebrates.

Ready for your first task?

Plan your gift giving

Seriously—it’s honestly not too early to plan your gift giving, especially if you prefer the homemade route. You’ll need time to knit that scarf or take those photos. Hopefully you’ve already planned your holiday budget, so you know exactly how much money you have for gifts.

You know how to buy gifts, so in this post, I’ll focus instead on a few of the deeper gift-giving issues most of us face.

1. Too many people on the list, not enough money.

A few years ago we gave up any notion that we’d give gifts to everyone in our extended family, even if they bless us with gifts. As much as I enjoy giving, it’s just not in our budget.

The key is communication, all more the reason to plan your gift giving now. Be honest about your gift-giving preferences in a way that resonates well with your extended family situation.

Keep the focus on you, not them. Let them know your family’s preferences (you don’t need to share details), and that you prefer X, Y, or Z. Then hear their ideas. If people still want to do a gift exchange, you could suggest drawing names, going homemade, or setting a price cap. And sticking to it.

2. A fear of too much stuff.

Yeah, me too… I don’t want a horde of gifts under our tree, especially poorly-made toys our children won’t play with in six months. But we’re only responsible for our own actions, so don’t fret over the possibility of Grandpa and Grandma going overboard with the gifts. That’s their choice, not yours.

However, you can share your preferences in a kind and grateful manner, such as only one toy per grandkid, nothing that requires batteries, or perhaps clothing and a book. You can’t make anybody do anything, so please don’t try. Simply express your preferences in gratitude, and move on.

3. A desire for too much stuff.

Maybe you like extravagant holidays, including the gifts. There’s not an across-the-board definition of “overboard” here—we all have different incomes and homes, so it’s not my place to say what you definitely should or shouldn’t do.

But I do recommend checking your heart. Make sure you’ve got giving planned in your holiday budget (either from your watch or your wallet). Ask yourself whether you truly do want something, or if Christmas is just an excuse to get something shiny.

And if you’re not sure of all your deeply seeded reasons, simply try a smaller Christmas this year, and see how it feels. Aim on a family-agreed limit. In our family, we do three gifts each for the kids (it changes annually for Kyle and me). Perhaps you could go homemade, or spend money on an experience instead.

If you don’t enjoy your small Christmas, you can always return to big and bountiful next year.

Remember your family’s purpose statement—refresh your memory of what gets you up in the morning. Those values don’t change during the glittery holiday season. Stay calm.

Personally, I think it’s great to celebrate a small Christmas.

What’s the hardest part about gift giving for your family? What are your solutions?

Join the Conversation
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I guess that I’ve never commented on you blog before and that this won’t be an appropriate fine comment linked to Christmas, but the old Swedish postcard in the head of your post surprised me so much when I opened your post this morning that I have to drop a comment 🙂 Somehow, I can see the postcard in my google reader but not on your website, its’s really cute, though 🙂

    Fortunately, the Christmas is not so overwhelming here in the Czech Republic and we don’t plan to give each other a ton of presents in my family… However, I do already have my Christmas budget planned and the first few Christmas presents bought 🙂 I’m looking forward to the coming tips…

    • Here in Serbia, we can’t afford a large Christmas either. We just get a little present for each one of the grandparent (and that is usually hand-made). If my siblings are here, we do a name draw and so the adults only give one present to one other person. For our own children, we sometimes give them one present each, but more often than not we get one larger family present and that’s it – things we can’t otherwise afford (one year we got a DVD player, then a new monitor for their computer, …). The kids know that if we get a large present, then they will not get individual presents and they are fine with that. The grandparents buy each one of us a present, but we are talking like a book or a shampoo or shower gel or one item of clothing.

  2. Very timely post. I’ve been thinking that I needed to get on top of this. We’re overseas right now, so we also have shipping issues to deal with. Have you read the book UNPLUG THE CHRISTMAS MACHINE? It’s an older book, with perhaps some dated information, but I still really like the basic philosophy about being deliberate with your Christmas choices and not just letting Christmas happen to you.

    • I am really interested in this book… sounds awesome. I love the idea about being deliberate with our holiday/Christmas choices. So easy to get sidetracked with all the glitz and glam of the holiday season.

    • I have heard about this book, but I haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet. I don’t want to completely quit Christmas, I love the decorations and driving around looking at lights and listening to music. But I DREAD the gifts. My son’s birthday is in September and my inlaws feel they must also buy him a Halloween present (really?!?) and we just had a fight about whether they *needed* to bring him back a gift because they went out of town (REALLY?!?) and I’m sure they will buy him way too many *cheap* Christmas gifts instead of 1 or 2 good quality ones. And as others have pointed out, he doesn’t even appreciate the gifts. He will look at his new toys, see the pictures on the boxes of the accessories or other toys that he didn’t get and begin asking for those too. There has got to be a reasonable way to unplug the Christmas machine.

      • Jennifer (and everyone else in the same boat),
        I have experienced the same sort of thing as my girls were/are given an overabundance of toys and clothing. As frustrating as the “buy, buy buy” mentality can be, I’ve used our surplus as an opportunity to share these things with a local organization that helps moms with new babies (instead of trying to consign things). I make a point of taking my kids along and explaining to them who we are helping and why. So, in a way, the “stuff” becomes a tool that I can use to teach lessons we all agree are more valuable than what’s in the packages.

  3. We minimized our gift giving budget for this year… puuh. Now there is more space for small individual surprises.

  4. I wish the whole grandparent thing didn’t get at me the way it does. I can’t stand the excess they pour on our children! They have the belief that more gifts = more love, but the problem is that my kids view them as present machines. They are not appreciative of the stuff, stuff, stuff they get. Our house gets junky and my husband and I have to go through and weed out gifts from years past to make room for this year’s load. If only the grandparents could see that!
    I know we’re not the only ones with the isssue. I just don’t like how my kids take their grandparents for granted, and how my in-laws don’t mind being taken for granted! Sigh. ‘Tis the season, I guess.

    • Oh, Amy, I feel your pain : ) My kids have 3 sets of grandparents (and a great-grandmother) and while we love having our extended family close, the mass of gifts can be overwhelming, especially at Christmas! Here are a few things we’ve tried:

      1. We suggest (from the ones willing to take suggestion) one nice item that we would like our kids to have. It helps give them an idea of what our kids (and we) like, and if it is sort of big-ticket it discourages them from buying 10 smaller things. That sounds sneakier than it really is!
      2. Our kids understand that they have only so much storage space for toys. So, once the doll box is full, you must get rid of one to put a new one in. This holds true at Christmas as well, and the older ones (6 & 3) seem to get it.
      3. We have had conversations with all of the grandparents about the fact that, while we appreciate the gifts, our house is small and we just don’t have tons of room for extra junk. We tried to say it nicely and for some it helped.
      4. If all else fails, we suggest that some items remain at the grandparents’ house to be played with there.
      There are no easy answers, but ultimately YOU are the determining factor in how your kids view Christmas and stuff in general. Don’t let the grandparents drive you too crazy : )

  5. I love this post. I do alot of homemade and half homemade gifts for the grandparents. i have set a mental budget, but have not written anything down. I even did some layaway at Walmart for some toys I knew would be gone.

  6. I wish I’d read something like this a few years ago and taken it to heart. One side of the family had gotten totally out of control with a gift exchange bonanza where we bought gifts for all 25 (25!!!) family members. I did not have the time, money, or energy for that but we went along to make everybody happy. But it was miserable for us!

    This year we put our foot down and are breathing easier. And I’m planning NOW even though I won’t be decorating for a month, so that I have time to select meaningful gifts (I’m even making some) and some margin in my life this holiday season.

  7. What a wonderful post! Thanks for helping me prepare for the Christmas season. It is so easy to get caught into the idea that more means better, but I know that is not the case.

  8. Thank you for creating a plan to help us! This is really wonderful. 🙂 I made my budget using your handy checklist a few weeks ago, and just ordered my first gifts for my children this week as well as our Christmas cards. I love how pre-planning and doing a little at a time are going to help us to have a joyous season!

  9. What a timely post! I have already been going through my gift lists and adjusting based on how expensive fabric and other supplies are this year! I’ve got it down now to a pretty affordable level–homemade cloth napkins for closest relatives, and soup mix in a jar and homemade jam for others. I too have grandparents who like to give my child easily 2 dozen large noisy battery operated gifts, and I appreciate the part about that being THEIR choice. I tend to feel guilty that my inlaws spend SO much on gifts when we simply can’t reciprocate in like value. But, I like the idea of letting that be their call and they do truly love to see my child open things and play with them. I’m resolving now to be more guilt free! Sticking to our budget is the greatest gift I feel I can give our family since it helps meet our future goals of being able to afford me staying home to homeschool.
    Another tough area for us is cards—I used to love sending cards to family and friends with photos or updates on the year, but honestly I cannot afford the postage any longer! What are anyone’s thoughts on an email version? I know there are people who just love the printed cards, but it’s so costly. And wasteful really since I’m sure 90% of those are immediately discarded after the holidays.

    • Lauren Nicole says:

      We will see most of our family during the holidays. So, I am still buying the cute photo cards, but I’m handing them out instead of mailing them. Every little bit counts in the budget dept.!

    • I love the idea of e-cards, if I can find some nice (free) options. I will still send real cards out to the kids and grand parents, from my son. It will be a good way for my 4 yr old son to learn how to write his name. And kids are always happy to get mail 🙂

      • We sent some cards by email last year–just attached the holiday note that we mailed to those without email and some pics. It was partially to save money, but also to save natural resources. I love seeing pictures of friends and family, but don’t quite know what to do with all of them after the holidays are over; I don’t really want to keep them all, but throwing away pictures is tough…so by emailing them we saved some friends/family from that dilemma!

  10. My husband and I are planning ahead this year. I’m hoping my parents and in-laws will be open to our gifts suggestions, but it’s so true that you can’t control what other people do, only how you react!

  11. We love to give experience gifts! We do a family Christmas present of a weekend getaway or a trip to a special event. Every spring our extended family gets together for a weekend at a waterpark resort, and for Christmas my in-laws pay for one night as our Christmas present. It’s wonderful, because we look forward to that trip every ear, and it doesn’t add clutter to the house.

  12. We are doing digital cards only for those who have email addresses. The ones who don’t will get a paper card. I make the digital one a bit more substantial that way they feel its nicer to read through and won’t miss holding the paper card in their hands.

    I will be looking for a way to just let it go this year. We are doing a book swap with cousins for the first time. Looking forward to that.


  13. My husband and I started a tradition last year that I am SO glad we do. We decided to give each other three gifts, no more no less. The gifts are symbolic of the three gifts from the wise men.

    Gold was given to kings, so we give a material gift.
    Frankincense was used by priests, so we give a spiritual gift.
    Myrrh was used in burial rights, so we give an experience (ie something that we can remember/take with us into the next life).

    We have to put so much time and thought into each gift. Realizing the sacred importance of each one and what they meant when given to the Savior is a really powerful way to use gift-giving as a reminder of Jesus.

    I love simple, peaceful, and most importantly, Christ-centered Christmases.

    • Jennie, I absolutely LOVE this idea. I am going to talk to my hubby about doing this in our home too.

    • We also do the 3 gifts but a little differently:

      Gold: Gift for the King – something big and great — this is typically that one thing that they have been asking for
      Frankincense: Priestly Gift – something to help them grow in their faith in the coming year.
      Myrrh: Burial – something for the body. … bed sheets, robe, lotions, fun socks, all depending on the personality of the child

      • We do three gifts as well, for these reasons. We started it when our kids were tiny, so it’s all they know. It really helps that they know they’re not getting more than that—no surprises in that department. 🙂

  14. I really like the sanity in this post. Just last night I had a conversation with my two teen-age children about their gift-giving. The gist of it: I told them I didn’t expect them to spend money on anyone–in fact, they don’t have to spend money at all–but I want them to do something to acknowledge everyone in our family (sibs, grandparents, and their new nephew). We talked about writing a letter to their grandparents about their favorite memories with them, making baked goods, and creating a photo book with pictures from the trip they took with them last summer.

    My guy and I started a tradition last year that I’m really excited about: We give each other a weekend away. I treasure memories from this year’s weekends way more than any thing he might have given me.

  15. Ack seven weeks, which means Chanukah is even sooner. We’re a handmade family, most years, I try to come up with something I can do en-mass. Last year we made collages and lip balm, this year we’re making sets of monoprint cards for people can use. While I love the idea of individually thought out gifts for each person I’m a realist and know they will never get done. So we go for the factory model for everyone but the kids (niece and nephew) and my husband. Although we don’t limit what we get our son to handmade.

  16. I am excited about a simple Christmas this year . I am going to work on making the time fun for the kids. We have seriously cut back on stuff and live in an apartment so they won’t be getting much but we can have tones of fun and that is what memories are really made of.

  17. For me it’s the budget. But I’m planning to do as much home-made as physically possible. Notice the word plan vs. done? I’ve gotta get to it!

  18. As many of us started having children, both my family and my husband’s family decided that we would only buy gifts for the kids. Unfortunately that still leaves me with 28 gifts to buy. We have budgeted $5 per child. I would love to do more (bigger, more special, more individualized, etc) for the kids we are closer to, but we simply can’t afford to with so many others to think about. I decided last year, when Christmas snuck up on me (ha), that I would save up cash (think “envelope system”) throughout the year. Because it worked so well, I will continue saving for Christmas next year and I’m adding a Misc Gifts envelope (to cover birthdays, valentines, Mother’s Day, Father’s day etc), to that those other little gift giving opportunities don’t sneak up on me.

  19. I would love for our Christmas to be more like Thanksgiving – concentrating on family around the dinner table for a great meal.

    We kick off the holidays by dropping off frozen turkeys at a mid-November event sponsored by our local Christian radio station to refill the community food pantry. They fry turkeys and provide a great lunch to the donors making it a festive time for all. It reminds us what the season is about and really sets the tone for the next 6 weeks.

  20. I love this post and have been thinking about this ever since I read “One Bite at a Time” (LOVE your book btw Tsh!) We’re also expecting our second child, any day now, due on Thanksgiving. And I have unpaid maternity leave so it makes this all a bit more complicated for us, but all the more reason to start planning now.

    • We were in the same boat almost 3 yrs . ago with our Thanksgiving baby. The BEST thing we did for ourselves was decorate before the baby came, and get some shopping done. We were able to sit back after she came and enjoy our tree, enjoy the season, and (of course!) enjoy our baby.

      Best wishes!

  21. I kind of had to snicker a little as it says on the post card “Merry Christmas. I hope that you this year, at least 80 nice gifts will receive”. A little sarcastic maybe 😉
    I send gifts from the US to Norway and only have 3 weeks to get them all done. Most of the time it is a little handmade gift, not to big as one year I went overboard. The gifts weren’t expensive, but the cost of sending them were 3 times more expensive than the cost of the gifts.
    For family in the US we have a drawing and last year everyone ended up with exactly what they needed and not a bunch of stuff that you can’t wait to get rid of.

  22. Our family went through the “how do you kindly say we can’t do this anymore” conversation a few years back. Surprisingly everyone was feeling the same way. It just took one person to speak up, and everyone followed suit.

    Our hardest part about Christmas is transporting gifts from one location to another. So what we’re doing is ordering them online and having them delivered to the destination that they will be opened. Some of these items can be wrapped before arrival and that takes a huge load off of us and our car.

    • How did you broach the subject? We already do a gift exchange with my siblings, but I don’t know how to tell my aunt and uncle we can’t keep giving them presents. They don’t have kids and my brother, sister and I are the only nieces/nephew. It’s touchy! We don’t even see them at Christmas most years because they live in a different state, but they always send gifts for us and our kids with my grandparents and I’m pretty sure they expect one in return. Since I only see them once every 2 years and never talk on the phone, I’m not sure how to go about telling them that we won’t be able to get them presents next year… Is that something that’s okay to put in an email?

      • Well, hmmmm. Believe me- I do understand the awkwardness with this subect. I, personally, don’t see the harm in writing something in an email. The subject line and approach can be positive. The way we told everyone in our family was honest. We wanted to get out of debt and because of that we were limiting our gift giving and cutting back on our monthly budget as well. Because all of us in our family were looking at this from the “we are adults now” approach it was completely understandable. You never know- saying something might make your family look at you in a new light when you say you’re doing this so you can be wise with your money. You may try to get your kids to make something for them- and depending on the age of your aunt and uncle, they will probably enjoy that more.

  23. Our grandparents finally cut back on the overwhelming stuff when they saw the kids breaking them, abusing them, not appreciating them, and me needing to purchase more ways of storing it all.
    We decided 9 years ago when our first child was just born to not go overboard … each child gets 3 gifts from us. Each of the kids then gets a gift for their sibling.
    Our downfall is my husband gifting for each other. We both have expensive tastes (more expensive than our budget allows) and we use this time as an excuse to get each other something great. Arrgh, then the credit card has to be paid off in January, February …
    About this time every year I create a spread-sheet of who we give gifts to and what we are purchasing with a dollar limit next to it. It helps keep it visual and all in one place.

  24. My baby isn’t born yet, but she will be in the next couple of weeks. We have plans on how to Simplify and Unplug the Christmas Machine, but this is how my sister and her husband did it, and it’s helped immensely.

    You can’t do anything about what other people get your children, as far as grandparents go, etc. However, for the adults my family draws names – this is because the extended family gets together each year (Aunts, Uncles, Cousins) so we all draw one name and get that one person a gift with a cost of no more than $25.

    As for my sisters family and their Simplifying Christmas. They budget ahead of time and get each of their children 3 nice gifts, and occasionally an outfit or two, depending how much they’ve grown (they’re 6 and 8 this year). They also, as a family, choose to adopt one child and her children get to pick what their adopted child got. Last year she sat them down and explained that it was getting hard to afford both and the kids opted to get one less gift each so that they other child can have a better Christmas.

    They try to explain (as they’re Christian) that Christmas is about Christs birth and his influence in our lives. It is also about helping others, as he did, and remembering to do so all year, not just once a year. It keeps Christmas focused at their house, though they do decorate heavily (as do I, I love it!), but the kids understand what Christmas is about and can tell you the Christmas story, in detail, and the symbolism of a lot of Christmas decorations as well.

    Our plan with our daughter is to do the same.

  25. Period. We have a lot of family.
    Our family decided to stop giving all together but my brothers/sister have been giving to my kids…nice, simple things thank goodness. So I try to bake cookies with the kids and give them to each person we physically see. Cards to everyone else with school pictures.
    Yes, being a single Mom it would be nice to be showered with gifts myself…who doesn’t need something new each year? I need knives, and new kitchen towels. But with the money I save I can pick those things up as a present to myself.

    Pretty simple

  26. says:

    Great article! I agree with the too many people to buy for and too little money. Being that we don’t have too much tome left to shop and this a tight season as far as money goes for many of us I recommend cutting your list and/or finding affordable gifts.
    Some ideas can be found in my post “Cheap but nice Holiday Gift Ideas” @
    Check it out, it may help!

  27. My parents do not give their grandchildren any Christmas gifts. Instead, they purchase supplies to make school kits to donate to a church organization that distributes them to refugee, displaced, and other needy children around the world. When we get together for the family Christmas, the grandchildren assemble the kits and think about the children who might be receiving them.

    So I guess I shouldn’t say that my parents do not give their grandchildren any gifts – they give them the gift of compassion and looking beyond themselves to the world. My own children have never once asked why Grandma and Grandpa don’t give them Christmas presents. I love it!

    (The grandchildren do exchange names for Christmas, so each child does receive one gift from a cousin’s family – but something they will like and not a junky toy.)

  28. Nobody can agree on how we should do gifts for Christmas. We’ve tried various things, but last year my husband and I decided to donate money to a charity in honor of all the adults. I also made an explanation using text from the Advent Conspiracy website to explain what we were doing and why. For the kids, the parents help them make up a wish list and we decide what to get them that we know they will like.

  29. Fortunato says:

    Instead, they purchase supplies to make school kits to donate to a church organization that distributes them to refugee, displaced, and other needy children around the world. When we get together for the family Christmas, the grandchildren assemble the kits and think about the children who might be receiving them.

  30. Stephanie @ Kick-Ass Wife says:

    This year I printed the Holiday Control Journal from I started my Christmas list and thinking about traditions that my husband and I want to include into our family.

    It will feel really nice to have all the preparations completed well before the holiday rush!

  31. Such sanity! Over time, we have developed some things that work. For instance, even though we try to get the kids the same number of presents, we strive more for equity in appearance. We don’t think we need to spend x on each child. If little ones feel thrilled with a big red ball, then that is what we get. Also, we don’t follow rules. If one year, we would rather get one great big gift, then that is what we do. We save throughout the year, but make a rule that we never ever have to pay on Christmas. So, we spend what we have for it and NO MORE, NO MATTER WHAT. But that’s how we live our life anyway, so it’s not a temptation to do it.
    As for sanity-free on the other, we make sure our traditions fit our family. I don’t think it’s necessary to have everyone else’s traditions. The ones we have chosen are ones that we all enjoy and don’t stretch us too much to do them. That was it’s just enjoyable.
    I also pray. We’ve had so many years when a new baby was just born or something crazy. I know that this time of year is special to us, but I won’t kill myself for it. So, I just pray that God would help me know what to do, when to do it and make it work.

  32. I think I’ve shared this before, but maybe on a different blog. My husband and I have been married 5 years (2nd for both of us) and this has been a problem for me since meeting him.

    The first Christmas, I went way overboard, because I could, and because I hadn’t been able to in first marriage. We had a blast choosing and wrapping gifts and couldn’t wait to share with extended family. Well, we really did go overboard in purchased gifts, as that’s not what they’re accustomed to.

    So, the next year and still being the newcomer on the scene I wanted to follow what they’re used to. We scaled way back, they scaled way up. Each year it seems there is no standard and while I know it doesn’t have to be “equal”, I would like to be prepared for the situation.

    One BIL has 8 kids and while 2 were already adults when I met them, and 2 more have since moved away, they’re the main gathering place. The other BIL didn’t have kids until last year. I find it awkward to do a large extended family gathering and gift exchange under these circumstances. The family that has the 1 year old decided one year to not participate in giving. I respected their wishes, but others didn’t and I think it made SIL feel guilty, as gifts arrived mid winter unexpectedly.

    Last year I suggested all home made gifts, as that was more the tradition in the large family. Not everyone did it that way, but I think the exchange was more comfortable that way.

    On a similar but OT note-while I LOVE getting gifts, I do think it’s kinda silly for family members to spend so much time and money buying/making gifts to trade. Wouldn’t it be better to just buy what you want for yourself? 🙂 I contradict myself in that, and maybe I’m just really terrible at choosing gifts, but I find the whole thing stressful!

  33. I am all about the small Christmas idea. We do 3 gifts for each of our boys too. I’m looking forward to making as many gifts for friends and relatives as I can. Been trying to plan that out now because Christmas will be here soon. Hoping I get it all done, but I am focusing on enjoying the process. 🙂

  34. My husband and I have done a “little Christmas” the last few years… family is far away and he often works for time and a half so people with kids can be home. And we are trying to stretch our dollars for things we really care about throughout the year. So, experience gifts for our parents/siblings, small gifts for nieces and nephews, and creatively paid-for small things for each other! We generally get a lot of little things we don’t want or need from various people, but they are easily regifted or given away. And there are usually a few treasures that we would never buy for ourselves!

    It has been so good for me to tone it down (I used to be obsessed with Christmas!) and see how little I can be happy with. I still enjoy the lights and do some decorating and some special baking, but as a teacher I enjoy the gift of time to be at home, special time with my hubby on the days and evenings around Christmas, and a little less going on all the way around. We probably won’t even do a tree this year, which is a little hard for me to let go of but it seems like a good fit this year!

    My favorite tradition is to watch “The Nativity Story” each year — such a great little film that reminds us what the season is really about. Everything else is luxury on top of the real gift!

  35. We figured out our budget for November & December today and also put together a simple gift giving plan. It was my husband’s idea and he made several charts with who to buy for, gift ideas, cost and date gift was bought. After he made it he said, “Wow, I should be a mom!” It was really helpful doing it in early November before life gets crazy. We also got our Christmas card pictures today! Had a friend do them. Wanted to do it while we still have colored leaves and it was nice not throwing it together in mid December with setting up the cheapie point and shoot camera.

  36. I love these suggestions.

    The hardest part of gift-giving, for me, is toting stuff across an ocean. We live overseas but are going back to the USA for Christmas this year. It’ s hard to pick out gifts that are lightweight and pack-able but are still things that people want. Also, since we live in Asia, people often want something “Asian” for a gift. There are only so many options! After living here for several years, I am kind of running out of ideas for “Asian” gifts!

    Thanks for the post – helpful!

  37. We live overseas in Asia but are going to the USA for Christmas. My biggest challenges in gift-giving this year are 1) toting all our gifts across an ocean and 2) finding gifts that are “Asian” people. Since we’ve lived here quite awhile, I’ve kind of exhausted my “Asian” gift-giving options. There are only so many! My family often wants something that is characteristic of where we live…but I’m running out of ideas!

    Thanks for the post – helpful!

  38. I was hoping you were going to say it was ok to start decorate now and do a little each week 😉

  39. Hi there!

    I actually decided to try and make my gifts this year rather than spending a bundle and allowing stores to rape my wallet for a change of pace.

    I’ve been finding Christmas these last few years overwhelming. Family always wants such expensive gifts, and each year we must have spent almost $2,000 and we don’t even have any kids! One year we spent $8,000!!

    So now I have decided that I will be knitting gifts and started over a month ago and I can’t wait to give family their home made gifts.

    I just feel as I get older that Christmas has become more about greed and obligation rather than the true meaning of the occasion which feels as though it is getting smothered by companies suffocating the public with commercials and products that they say we should all be buying. But I say no more! Time to get back to the real reason for Christmas.

  40. Great post, Tsh! I am all for a peaceful Christmas . . ..

    At The Power of Moms, we have a PDF planning template to help moms identify the purpose and principles behind their Christmas, create their vision and brainstorm, and organize/identify their next actions.

    Thanks for all you do!

  41. I really like your point #3. I think people get caught up in shiny things when they would probably be much better off with less. As for me, I prefer to spend money on experiences instead of things. Memories last forever. 🙂

  42. We use to exchange gifts with each other’s families. But that meant one family was buying for a family of 8 while another family was buying for a family of two. Even if you buy just one gift for the whole family how do you make it relevant for the parents, the 13 year old, the 2 year old and everyone in between? What happens when you give or receive something that just adds to the clutter of useless junk? Now we do a family book. We choose a theme or topic (last year was traditions, this year is dating, engagement and wedding stories). We all write our memories/stories, submit to the editor (me), include pictures and then have one copy printed for each family (something Grandma insists on). This year we’ve also included a regular “significant events” section to include births, graduations, moving, etc. It is meaningful, takes up little space, is a treasure and has brought our family closer together.

  43. I find the hardest part of gift-giving is deciding how to limit who we give to. Do we give to just the cousins or the adults in that family as well? If we get a gift from someone should we quickly scramble to get a gift to them in return? This year we are simplifying out of necessity, as my husband has been laid off from work. But, you know what? It is totally freeing, to know that we don’t have extra cash to spend! Now we have to get creative, to make homemade gifts, repurposed or recyled items, whatever.
    I really appreciate your Christmas budget planning sheet. Thanks so much, useful info as always.

  44. My mother did Christmas up in a big way, with the tree surrounded with a mountain of presents. I clearly remember the wonderment and excitement I felt coming down the stairs! But I also remember the let down feeling when all the presents were unwrapped. I try very hard to give them the wonder without all the let down.

    Question: If we sit our three children down and explain to them that they will each receive three gifts from us, I am sure that they will just push the rest of their wish list onto Santa! How can we limit Santa?

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