Shop NOW for the holidays, while there’s plenty of time

Today is officially six weeks until Christmas, if you can believe it. You may notice a whole slew of stores and shops featured on the right-hand side – these are all businesses endorsed by Simple Mom for the holiday season. From now until Christmas, I’ll be highlighting a few of these cottage industries every week. Each were carefully selected as businesses I truly do endorse as promoting simple living in some fashion. Whether they exist to help life at home, encourage higher-quality playtime for your kids, or I’m simply promoting a well-run mom business so that she can work from home, each company deserves the Simple Mom “mark of approval.”

With this in mind – this week’s project for preparing for Christmas is to start shopping for your gifts. Or to start making your gifts. I know many of you have already done this (bravo!), but it’s not too late to begin the gift buying process and cross it off as “done” in plenty of time.

It’ll come as no surprise to you that I advocate not going nuts with gift-giving for the holidays. Many extended families draw names, give only to the children, keep it all homemade, or forego gift giving all together, and I think these are all great ideas. But don’t endorse this idea while going crazy for your own family. Hopefully you’ve already set aside the needed funds for Christmas gifts, so you’ve got a financial limit. This is a good thing.

Your kids really don’t need that much for Christmas. Cut back on the gift giving, and:

  1. the focus will be more on what Christmas is really about,
  2. they’ll more deeply appreciate the gifts they are given,
  3. it’ll serve as yet another good reminder that life is not all about them, and
  4. your home will be that much more free of clutter.

In our family, the kids get three gifts. That number is kind-of arbitrary (initially stemming from the idea that Jesus was given gold, frankincense, and myrrh – which is not morally black-and-white, but you get the idea). We take our time opening them, and we let them play and enjoy each gift for a while before moving on to the next one.

Yes, our kids are young, so there may come a time when we revisit this idea, especially if they ever want or need something that’s higher priced. If that’s ever the case, we’ll probably just get them that one gift, and involve them in making that decision, further helping them understand why money management is so great.

The adults – my husband and I – talk over gift-giving ahead of time each Christmas, and agree on our boundaries beforehand. Some years, we haven’t given each other anything. Other years, we’ve done $50 each person max. This year, we’re getting an iPod and calling it our gift to each other. Regardless of what we do, we keep it simple, and only bother with gifts we truly want or need.

snowball fight
Photo by Steve Spencer

Think about your favorite holiday memories from childhood. How many of them involve an actual gift? I’d wager not many. For me, my favorite memories involve being with people, laughing, playing, crafting and baking, going to Christmas Eve church services, and just being together celebrating the season. That’s what your kids will value as adults, too.

Epson Artisan 800 Winner

I know you’re all dying to know – after all, there were almost 2,000 entries for the Epson Artisan 800 printer. I don’t blame you – the printer rocks my socks off. And really, I can’t call it a printer, because it faxes, scans, photocopies, and decorates our home for the holidays. From now on, I’ll just call it our fabulous zipzorp.

Anyway – the winner of the Artisan 800 is Shilo of My Place of Peace with her second entry as a subscriber.  Congratulations! Be looking for an email from me soon, so I can send your info off to the right people.

If you didn’t win, I highly recommend considering it as a quality tool for your home. Head here to order one, and you’ll get a $60 rebate plus an extra set of high-capacity ink. Thank you, Epson, for being so generous to Simple Mom and Blissfully Domestic readers!

Also, don’t forget about the other recent giveaway. If you want to add that extra touch to your holiday cards this year, personalized stamps on Picture It Postage is a fun idea, sure to make the grandparents swoon. And if you’re still in the market for holiday photo cards, I naturally endorse my shop, Chickpea Designs. You’ll save money if you order in November!

Check back tomorrow for another fun giveaway, perfect for a Christmas gift!

What’s your family’s policy on gift-giving? Trying something new this year?  Share your ideas in the comments.

top photo source

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.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. Thank you for the gentle nudge that it’s better to shop early for the holidays now!

    I also think your photocards are next on my list, too! They are so lovely!!!

  2. I like the “photo by Jennifer Love Hewitt” – totally un-Tsh.

  3. I love that question – How many of my childhood holiday memories were about gifts? Very few! Although, I do have 1 very disappointing story about wanting a doll and getting a BeeBee gun for Christmas!


    Jennifer´s last blog post…Make It a Soup Sunday

  4. But how do you control what others give them? Do they get three gifts from you and then gifts from others, or three gifts total?

    Half Assed Kitchen´s last blog post…Chunky veggie salad

    • No, it’s three gifts in our immediate family. We try to recommend gift ideas to extended family through conversations and with things like our Wishpot lists. But we can’t always control that side of things. It’s hard sometimes.

  5. Congrats to the winner! I love the idea of a keep it simple Christmas. I am trying to get there! My kids are older & they basically want one big gift, then I get them little things like lip gloss, socks, scarves, hand-made knitted things. The older they get the harder it gets.

    Keana´s last blog post…Around the Corner

  6. Six weeks!!! Well when you say it like that it sounds serious! 🙂 Actually I couldn’t agree more with your advice about shopping now while you still have time…in fact I’ve been working on a list for a few weeks now and plan to do some Christmas shopping this weekend.

    Growing up, my family was big on gifts and it was just me and my brother. When I met my husband, who comes from a family of 6, I discovered that they don’t give as many gifts. I think that’s awesome and I want my future kids to appreciate what they get, not expect or feel entitled to anything. Plus, I agree, fewer gifts takes the emphasis off ‘getting’ and back on the real meaning of Christmas, Jesus’ birth.

    Sarah H.´s last blog post…I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas – Gifts Using Photos

  7. I am so excited about our very simple Christmas. I’m glad we are starting this while the kids are so young. Of course my 2YO’s main gift if really big and bulky (not expensive, mind you, but large in size)… I totally wasn’t thinking. I want so badly for our kids to grow up without “stuff-itis”.

    Our challenge will be with our families. Our families tend to go a bit overboard with gifts for the kids, even though I repeatedly request minimal stuff since our home space is so limited. I just have to keep in mind that buying for the kids is what makes their Christmas special, and then do my best to freecycle, yard sale or ebay to keep the clutter to a minimum.

    Thanks for the nudge on the Christmas shopping. I actually started last month, but need to kick it into high gear to get all of it done by Thanksgiving, which is my goal.

    bee´s last blog post…Bloggy Diarrhea

  8. One of our traditions helps alleviate one of my biggest problems with holiday shopping. What do you get for the person who already has everything??!! Well, for several years we have used World Vision as a way to still give something, but make it something that blesses someone else more. The goat has always been one of our favorite gifts, but they have many other ones that are also great…and no matter the amount you have to give, they have a gift.

    I am also trying to figure out the best way to cut down on gifts for my daughter…our family seems to go overboard sometimes and that makes it hard. I want her to grow up knowing the true meaning of Christmas! My family wasn’t focused on gifts when we were growing up, we all got something and always nice things, but there was never a pile for each person. The memories are what makes it special…that’s what I want for her!

    Autumn @ My MoonBean´s last blog post…Look Out!

  9. We are doing the same thing – just a few gifts for the kids in the following categories…
    1 Want (from Santa)
    1 Need
    1 to learn
    1 to read
    1 to make
    We’ve asked the grandparents to donate to the kids college funds instead of more stuff…trying to keep it simple and SANE this year.

    LobotoME´s last blog post…{ make your OWN sparkling h20 – win one today! }

  10. We are doing the same thing – just a few gifts for the kids in the following categories…
    1 Want (from Santa)
    1 Need
    1 to learn
    1 to read
    1 to make
    We’ve asked the grandparents to donate to the kids college funds instead of more stuff…trying to keep it simple and SANE this year.

    LobotoME´s last blog post…{ make your OWN sparkling h20 – win one today! }

  11. My husband and I both come from families where Christmas wasn’t a big deal gift-wise, so we’ve done the same with our kids. We actually only get them one big gift or a couple small things, plus candy and an orange in their stockings. There were 10 kids in my family, and every year we draw names and give one person a gift – just something simple. One set of grandparents growing up typically gave my dad a check for Christmas, and we would use that for a vacation or something we needed/wanted for the family. The other set of grandparents gave each child a book, which my parents let us open Christmas Eve to read in our rooms (some of us stayed up reading our new books all night…)

    MaryAnne´s last blog post…First birthday idea

  12. I’m an only child and actually grew up, while being taught its true meaning, expecting and getting a gazillion gifts on Christmas day. My wife and I, for the past few of years, have taken a similar approach to what you’ve outlined here, Tsh.

    We have three boys ages 14, 7 and 6. Though we still need to set a concrete budget, I think we’re pretty set on three gifts each. We’re also heading out with the kids to volunteer/serve a local shelter.

    Great site here, Tsh. Thanks.

  13. What a great blog you have! I love this post about keeping Christmas simple… and in check with a budget! I also think your post on home ownership was so refreshing to read!

  14. We also do three gifts for the kids. Well…four actually. One from Santa, and three from us. We moved to this from probably 8 – 10 gifts per child. We might not spend a lot less this way, but we have put a lot more thought into what we buy instead of just picking up whatever is on sale and looks like the newest trendy toy. They are happier, and so are we.

    Angie @ Many Little Blessings´s last blog post…13 Random Household Tips (TT #29)

  15. My husband’s family always asks for gift certificates which can get really pricey! This year I’m ignoring them and buying handmade gifts from Etsy and some local businesses. I think it is so much more special than a Home Depot gift card, even if that’s what they ask for. My husband and I usually buy one small gift for each other and then a big gift for the both of us to enjoy (Wii, laptop, camera). With extended family, gifts stop when you turn 18. I’m just happy that I found 4 handmade gifts while on vacation!

    Megan´s last blog post…I like my butter layered please

  16. I’m loving this series so much!

    I’m going handmade this year (my hands and other people’s), so I’ve been trying to get a head start, but something or other always pops up at the last minute. If you’ve got gift suggestions for hard-to-shop for folks (in-laws, etc.) I’d love to hear them!

    kitchendoor´s last blog post…Hungry

  17. I think I only have one more online order to place and then I’m DONE! I was on top of it this year. In fact I think I’m going to go order that one last thing right now. Thanks for the reminder!

    kendra´s last blog post…10 Simple Steps to a Great Holiday Photo

  18. I found your site recently and LOVE it! I have recommended it on my blog and told all my friends about it! I am especially excited about the Jesse Tree! Thanks for such a wonderful idea! My friend and I are making our list for the ornaments we need and going shopping this weekend! I have also started my Home Management Notebook and already feel more on top of it (if there is ever such a thing!) Anyway, thanks for all the great advice! Look forward to reading more!

  19. I plan to keep the shopping to a minimum, by making as many gifts as possible (with supplies I already have, yarn, paper, etc.) and by delving into my gift stash. I tend to pick things up all year long, usually on sale. Sounds great, except my basement has been in such a mess that I don’t always know what I have.

    This year I actually wrote down some of the things I bought ahead, and we’ve been cleaning out the basement so I’ll be able to take inventory.

    It feels really good.

    Vintage Mommy´s last blog post…Mommy Moment or Senior Moment?

  20. last year we decided to really cut back and did three gifts each for our boys. House slippers, a robe or a coat and one toy. Guess who had the worst attitude about it? ME. The MOM. I was the only one who wanted more toys!

    The boys didn’t even realize they got less junk than the year before!

    The Nester´s last blog post…Cozyness

  21. There was a huge recession in the 80s, I remember, and all the adults in my family contributed the money they would have spent on gifts for other adults in the family into a fund that we gave to a food bank. Our kids each gave up one night of Channukah and picked a charity too. It was a great year – we’ve done variations ever since.

  22. We’ve made our plan and are keeping gifts to a minimum. Kiddo presents are purchased (4 presents each with a set $ amount). I’ll make a few things for stocking stuffers. We usually put a special note that is the first “present opened” talking about giving a gift in honor of our savior too.

    I’ve had to work on my mom for years, but she’s seeing the light. She still thinks she needs to give about what we do. But she’s not out giving us anymore.

    It’s so comforting to see that my family isn’t the only one doing this and feeling this way!!! Thanks for this post!

    Avlor´s last blog post…Dusk (photo catchup from the other day)

  23. All of my extended family live out of state and will not be with us for Christmas. And since I have a 3 week old baby (plus 3 other kids) I’m not heading out to do any major shopping in the next 6 weeks! So I will be picking up some good ol’ gift cards in the next couple of weeks.

    One tradition we have for my 3 boys is buying tools. First Christmas is a real toolbox, then each year daddy adds one tool to the toolbox. By the time they are grown they’ll have a full set of tools. In the meantime they LOVE using their very own real hammer (or whatever) when working with daddy on projects.

  24. Taking your advice I’m nearly done shopping for Christmas and I’ve managed to pick up a lot of bargains as there are a lot of reductions on at the shops now. Thanks!

    Liz@VioletPosy´s last blog post…Puppies from Heaven

  25. We started the 3 gifts thing when our daughter celebrated her 1st Christmas. We felt like she was getting so much from her grandparents and we wanted to keep the focus on Jesus’ birth. We do 3 presents and a stocking, but that’s it. This year we’re doing homemade gifts for the extended family and my mom has promised to cut back on how many gifts she buys too. We focus more on spending time together and doing things as a family rather than on the gifts. My husband and I don’t even buy each other Christmas gifts. We just try to get out for a long dinner without the kids sometime during the holidays!

    Tracie´s last blog post…Crazy Peyton Jane

  26. Thanks for the post. My husband and I are still kid-less, but we’re trying to decide what to do for the holidays for each other, and what we’d do with kids.

    I often remember a gift from my parents as a kid – a favorite for years: a sock puppet my dad sewed out of one of his tube socks. It’s one a few Christmas gifts I still specifically remember!

    Lori Ann´s last blog post…Kids & Pigs: Book Review

  27. I love the idea of shopping early. I find that when you aren’t rushed, you can come up with more creative and less pricey gift ideas. In fact, I just did about 90% of my shopping this weekend online, and the credit card company called me right after to see if my card was stolen!

    Here are a couple of my favorite ideas from this year:
    1. Handmade napkins for my friend who is going greener.
    2. Hummus-of-the-month for my vegan friend who lives on the stuff. I am going to give him a batch and a menu for the year, then make a new flavor for him each month.

  28. We also do 3 gifts per child in our family for the same reason. My mother gives all the grandchildren 3 gifts too but she uses the rule of need, one want (typically toy related), and one outfit.

    Melissa´s last blog post…Bad hair day!

Add Your Thoughts