An Uncomplicated Holiday: Mission Impossible?

gift Photo by kevindooley

I don’t know about you, but my mailbox and email inbox are both quickly filling up with sale ads, catalogs, and invitations to buy more! more! more!

As you know, our mission at Simple Kids is to celebrate, promote, and encourage an uncomplicated approach to raising children.  Though I am a passionate advocate for a simple, slowed-down parenting philosophy, I find that as we enter into the holiday season, my vision for simplicity becomes blurred.

As we experience this month together, I hope to share inspiring thoughts and practical applications on how to create an intentional holiday season as a family. As always, I would love to share the collective wisdom of this amazing community.

Would you be willing to share your thoughts with me on this topic today?

  • Is your family’s approach to the holiday season more simple or more elaborate?  Does this depart from or complement your family’s status quo?
  • What are some practical steps you have taken in the past to create an intentional holiday experience for your family?  What do you hope to do this year to create holiday harmony?
  • When it comes to gift-giving, how do you know when enough is enough?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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  1. I liked Remodeling This Life’s mantra for kid’s presents this holiday season: ‘something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read’. So wise! I’m doing that with my kids, definitely.
    .-= Kirsten´s last blog ..Who Knew it was that easy? =-.

  2. We’ve made the decision that in light of how much the kids get from other relatives, my husband and I don’t buy them any gifts at all. The quantity of New! Things! at their age easily overwhelms their appreciation for any one new thing – they’re still young, but so far, they haven’t even noticed that there is no present for them from Mommy and Daddy. It’s so seasy to be caught up with wanting to spoil them but we’ve decided that we indulge them (far too often) year round and in this season the best thing we can do for them is bring a little less-is-more balance to all the stimulation. We tell them all the time that we see our jobs as being to provide them with ‘all the things they need and only some of the things they want’ so this is a great opportunity to gently reinforce that and (hopefully) teach appreciation for how fortunate they already are.
    .-= Robin (noteverstill)´s last blog ..Bosomy maternal instincts =-.

  3. We are trying to focus on the making and giving of gifts, as opposed to the getting… and it is hard when we have alternate forces at work in extended family. But for us, at least, it gives a lesson about sharing and being grateful. So, from the time our son was old enough to make potato stamps, or press his little foot into model magic we’ve been making things for all the people in our lives. We’ve also learned to say no to the things we really don’t want to do, do more with friends – as a group, and try to enjoy each other. Instead of buying piles of gifts, we get one thing that is really wanted and needed – and it has always been enough. As I get older our time with family is just that much more precious… why waste it shopping and stressing?
    .-= Peggy´s last blog ..Felted Characters from In The Snow =-.

  4. Our daughter will be 8 months when Christmas rolls around this year. My husband and I decided on a short list of simple gifts to give her: a special handmade winter hat, one of those Tupperware shape ball things (from the thrift store!), a wooden car, and a handmade cloth ball or two. We’re encouraging the grandparents to limit their gift-buying and to eschew batteries, but we’ll see how that goes…

    This will be my husband’s and my 3rd Christmas together, and we always set a (very low) spending limit on each other’s gifts. It’s more fun to see what we can come up with on a budget than it is to be able to buy each other anything and everything. We also want gift-giving to be about love, consideration, and kindness, not about out-doing the other person. It’s not a competition.

    We also don’t plan to teach our daughter that there is a Santa Claus. We think it’s important for her to know that gifts come from people who love you, and that it costs those people something to give.

    Kirsten, I also like that mantra! We may consider implementing it as our daughter gets older or as we have more kids.
    .-= Jessie´s last blog ..Thanksgiving at My House =-.

  5. We’re planning a really simple Christmas this year. It just makes sense logistically since we’re traveling so much, plus I don’t have the energy this year to go all out. I’m doing minimal decorations (tree, mantle, a few candles/trinkets) and we’re not attending many events. We’re trying to do family things rather than things just for my hubby and me, so we’re going to the Christmas Train in our area and we’ll drive around and look at lights a couple times a week. We’ll make cookies like always, but I’m doing very little baking.

    As far as gifts, we always get each of our kids three gifts. It’s actually been challenging this year to even come up with three! They have so much. The big kids want bigger (pricier) gifts, but the baby is getting three small things , plus they’ll each get a stocking.

    I’m not nearly as overwhelmed right now as I usually am this time of year. Being with extended family is our focus this Christmas season, and we’ll have that in abundance.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..When in West Texas =-.

  6. This year for my husband and extended family (parents, in-laws) I have made Blurb books on different topics- for my husband, mother and mother-in-law I made a book about my cherubs, for my father I made one about our family trip to Italy a couple of years ago, and for my father-in-law I made one about his annual salami-making day. I wanted to give something that obviously took a lot of thought (and work, my fingers are still killing me!) but that wasn’t driven by the advertising campaigns of my local shopping centre.
    .-= Green Mama´s last blog ..Getting there… =-.

  7. As for me, I tend to keep christmas fairly elaborate with my kids but simplify greatly with all the extended family and friends…that is the part I find overwhelming…I don’t want to spend all my time in the lead up to christmas at the shops! I want to be home with the kids making things, cooking things, visiting the christmas lights etc.
    I think once we are all adults it’s the ritual of sharing time and a meal that make christmas so special – not presents!
    For my kids this year I’ve started an advent calender countdown – with a small gift, craft or outing every day!!

  8. We spread Christmas fun over the whole month… visiting friends, gift making and so on. And we see the grannies one the day before and the other the day after Christmas… but we keep the day absolutely free just for us and we do a family project: one year we made a scarecrow, one year we tie dyed t-shirts… our day is entirely ours and gift free except for a tiny gift that our kids make for each other… they pick a name out of the hat early on the month and then they each make one gift for a sibling (everyone gets to make one and everyone gets to keep one). This way the day seems a lot simpler and all about immediate family, amidst the mad fun of all the other mad days of the “season”
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..Sunday Snippet: Another Patricia St. John GiveAway =-.

  9. I have a budget for presents and hope to keep it and I’ll try to buy more handmade things and make more things like cards or other little presents myself. Thanks Kirsten for the Mantra in comment 1, I’ll keep it in mind for next year.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..24 x 3 =-.

  10. We are going to be especially simple this season with a new baby in the house. I posted today about our method for being intentional and making sure we make time for our favorite traditions this time of year! I’m going to try to make most of our gifts this year, if I can manage it.
    .-= Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom´s last blog ..Countdown to Christmas: Activity garland =-.

  11. Thank you all for such valuable feedback! I so appreciate it. Each of you have such unique insights to contribute to this discussion.

    And yes, we love the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read” philosophy, too. Just right for us!
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..An Uncomplicated Holiday: Three Most Important Things =-.

  12. I gave up perfect a couple Christmas’ ago. My children get 3 gifts from us. We figure if 3 was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us! All of the adults get homemade canning from me – a basket of 3 things. This year a friend of mine had a bumper crop of mango’s so I have Preserved Mango Chunks, Mango Jam, Mango Salsa, Mango Chutney, Mango Rum Sauce, and Mango Glaze. With each I give a couple of recipes on good uses for them.

    As for decorating, we get out what we like and when we get tired, we stop. No biggie. We do celebrate a made-up holiday after Thanksgiving that we call “Thanks-mas.” The kids get an addition for their Christmas book collection and a holiday outfit. The adults get any “Christmas-y” thing they need. Not every adult gets something. I always have a holiday party, so in years past I have been given a Christmas tray or serving piece. Mostly hand-me-downs or sale finds. But, we give them to each other before the holiday so we don’t have to unwrap them at Christmas and wait a whole year to use them.

    My kids gifts all come from consignment or yard sales. If I get more done, that is great, if not, it will be fine, too!
    .-= bryssy´s last blog ..Back It Up!!! =-.

    • Love it!

      “My children get 3 gifts from us. We figure if 3 was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us!”

      Wow, they are lucky to receive such lovely mango canning presents! Do you have any recipes?

  13. Over the years, my family’s holiday focus has been just that… family. Everyone gets a few gifts to open on Christmas Day, but the emphasis of the holiday is on spending time together as a family. In fact, my favorite memories are those of my ‘church family’ spending the day together working as volunteers for our local ‘Christmas Cheer’ program (i.e., Christmas gifts and food items donated to families in need within our community). We do our best to maintain a ‘spirit of giving’ throughout the year, but it’s always wonderful to see that ‘holiday spirit’ really come alive in everyone we meet during the Christmas season! 🙂
    .-= Michelle @ [ real neat ]´s last blog ..Holiday Helps : Budget Forms =-.


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