I had a comment the other day from Ali asking me how our family handles holiday gift giving in regard to our children. I've actually wanted to post about this, Ali. Since the official gift-giving season is in full swing, now seems like the perfect time.
We're minimalists when it comes to gifts for our children. Not because we're cheap or chintzy (though I am very, very frugal), but because we just don't believe that they need everything they see and/or want.
We desire to live very simply and to teach our children that the most important things in life aren't "things".
So, with that in mind, our children each get 4 gifts each Christmas.
We started out with three gifts each because I heard that idea at MOPS one year. The idea behind it (I guess) is that baby Jesus got three gifts from the wisemen.
But then I came across a wonderful little poem. I can't remember where it came from exactly (Carrie, was it you maybe?), but we loved it and it stuck. We've made it our gift-giving guide. Our children each get:
"Something they want, something they need, something to play with, and something to read."
We ask them to make us a list of some things they would like to have and of some things they need. Of course, that means they have to understand the difference between the two, but we've taught them over the years and I'd say they generally understand.
Together, John and I look over their lists and choose what to buy. We set a price limit and try to keep things pretty even between the three of them. I really, really encourage them to think about what they want and why. I enjoy buying "real toys" for them...things that encourage creativity and imaginative play. Last year, Sarah asked for and received an art easel, which I thought was awesome...but I'm learning to be flexible since I have a pre-teen son who loves all things electronic.
Usually the biggest gift on their list is from Santa. Santa also stuffs their stockings (little stuff), and usually brings a new game that the entire family can play. The remainder of their gifts are from mom and dad.
Ali also asked how we keep it fun, and how we keep it Christ-centered.
Well, I think the fun part is easy. I've never met a kid who didn't love a present.
As for keeping the focus where it needs to be, I think you just talk and talk and talk about the meaning of the Advent season with them.
I also love this idea that my mom used with us growing up. Our nativity set always had a baby Jesus that wasn't attached to the manger, or creche. She had this beautiful gold box that she would wrap baby Jesus up in and put under our Christmas tree. It was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL package by far. On Christmas morning, before we could open any other gifts, we'd unwrap baby Jesus...God's gift to us...and place Him in the manger.
We've adopted that tradition as our own, and I think it helps keep things in perspective. Like I said the most important things in life aren't things...they're people and relationships and our faith in Christ.
Any ideas you want to add? I'd love to know what your family does.
*Update--credit for the poem above goes to Carrie's mom. Thank your for sharing your wisdom!