Many people assume the children of minimalists wake up on Christmas morning to receive nothing more than a pair of socks and a coupon for a free hug. Now, while socks are terrific (as a matter of fact, I’m wearing some right now and thoroughly enjoying it) and I’m never one to turn down a free hug (well, maybe not never… I’ll pass on people with viral flu, thankyouverymuch), I believe it’s possible to give generously to your children on Christmas without creating physical excess.
I get asked often how I manage holiday gifts with my three kids, so I thought you might be interested to know exactly what my kids are finding under the tree Christmas morning. (Note: we celebrate Christmas early because we travel, so my kids actually received these gifts last weekend.)
Without further ado… here you go…
First up, the stockings. I try to fill stockings with items that are either useful or consumable. If you’d like a complete list of my favorite clutter-free stocking stuffers, you can read this post.
Here’s what I put in my kids’ stockings this year:
- LEGO minifigures (I know, neither useful nor consumable, but hey, when you send your husband to buy the stocking stuffers, you can’t help it if he goes off script!)
For the gifts under the tree, we follow a “One Big, Two Small” rule, meaning my kids receive one “big” gift (from Santa; I still have one hardcore believer, so Santa’s still going strong at my house) and two “small” gifts (from mom and dad).
This year, we had an extra “small” gift, because the water bottles I’d purchased for their stockings didn’t fit, so they ended up wrapped under the tree.
Here’s what my boys received:
- Water bottle
- Nintendo Switch (clearly the big gift!)
And for my daughter:
- Water bottle
- Deluxe craft kit (definitely the big gift for this crafty kid!)
Also, our cat, Boots, gave the kids a Garfield Christmas DVD and book. (This may have been a bit of a nostalgia gift for their mom… please tell me I’m not the only one who loved the Garfield Christmas special as a kid???)
We also gave the kids a really BIG experience gift… a cruise. We’ve never given a gift this big, but we paid off our house this summer (so freeing! I promise I’ll write a post on this soon!) and we’d promised the kids that when we did that, we’d do a special vacation. Since we were planning this vacation anyway, we decided to turn it into a gift and make a scavenger hunt out of it. “This is fun!” my son Reese said as they scoured the house, looking for clues. We won’t go on the cruise until February, but I know that, of all the gifts they received this Christmas, this will be the one they remember most.
A few other thoughts on gift-giving…
It took me awhile to pare down this much.
My first few years as a minimalist, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable giving this amount of gifts to my kids. I felt like I needed to compete with the grandparents, society’s expectations, what their friends got, etc. Like many of us, I weighed the “success” of Christmas based on how happy my kids were with their presents. It took me years to realize that Christmas is not a competition and nobody “wins” by giving the best gift. Christmas, like any tradition, is above all a feeling. When Christmas feels good, that’s when you know it’s right. And Christmas doesn’t feel good to me if it means an overwhelming amount of consumerism and clutter.
We follow the One In/One Out Rule with new stuff
The day we installed the Nintendo Switch, we unplugged their old Wii and packed it up to sell at a local video game resale shop. My boys were thrilled with the $45 this netted them, which they, of course, plan to spend on games for their Switch. This concept of “One In/One Out” helps us maintain a minimalist home while still enjoying the occasional new items.
We do something besides open gifts on Christmas.
I’m not sure when “Christmas” came to mean “opening presents” but I’d say that’s a pretty short definition of a much bigger holiday. As such, we always plan a fun family outing for the afternoon of Christmas. We’ve gone bowling and roller skating in the past, but this year we decided to see the new Star Wars movie. We don’t see a lot of movies at the theater so this was a real treat! (Truth… When I asked my kids if they wanted popcorn and soda and they were shocked to realize that I was letting them get both! I guess they’re used to their frugal mama…)
I hope this inspires you to think about the kind of Christmas you want to create with your family. No matter how you are celebrating, I wish you a very Happy Holiday!
To a season with less stuff and more meaning,
PS Need some inspiration to start your own minimalist journey? Grab my FREE Minimalist Starter Guide and let’s get going!