Sunday, December 14, 2014

Simplifying Christmas by Minimizing Gifts {7qt}

Christmas gifts can get so out of hand so quickly, feeding our love for consumerism. More, more, more! all the advertisements scream in our face. But, whoa, can that make Christmas stressful or what?

My husband and I have committed to keeping Christmas as low key as we can by limiting the number of gifts for each child and the nature of those gifts. We try to set our goals well in advance of shopping (think summer), do as much shopping as possible before Advent even begins, and then stick to a set regimen each year. As with all the things we buy we aim for quality first, and then try to hit one or more of the following: handmade, recycled/reinvented, practical, homemade, food, or locally found. With searching in the handmade realm, sometimes I plan to add things to the stockings during Advent, so I can shop at local art and craft sales.

As Christmas is less than 2 weeks away at this point this year, this is just a reference point, so if you wish, you can save it to keep in mind in the future. Or feel free to think we're crazy or whatever. I also decided to give you the exact run down of what we're wrapping and stuffing in stockings this year, so maybe some last minute ideas if you need any. ;)

7 ways we simplify our Christmas, in both the buying/preparing aspect and controlling of the overwhelming sense that sometimes happens on the actual day:


First up, we only give ONE present to our kids.

One total, not one each. This might sound crazy to some, but with three kids, those toys pile up fast, and I feel even with this "rule" in place that I'm still constantly weeding out unplayed-with toys. They really don't need toys, and since Christmas isn't about them (their birthdays are for that), this allows us to also keep the "No asking for toys for Christmas" mantra in place.

This year our boys (ages 7 months, almost 3, and 5) will receive:

2 Madame Alexander Muppet Hand Puppets (one Fozzie, one Kermit) that I scored off Zulily back in the fall.

A homemade Kid Sized Construction Kit created from PVC pipe (instructions courtesy of


We kindly ask grandparents and other family to limit their gifts, too. This can be difficult, but for the most part we've had success asking for a membership for the whole family or one gift that can be enjoyed by the whole gang. For us, one year, this was Melissa & Doug Cook's Corner Wooden Kitchen. Most years, one set of g-parents has given us a membership to the most awesome children's museum ever, which just happens to be less than 5 miles away.

Again, our kids don't do the asking for Christmas. For birthdays, they can concoct whatever list they want, but this holiday, we try to emphasize the "not about them" part.


On top of the 1 group gift, each child receives a new book. As book loving parents, this could be cruel to deny them right? Plus, it gives me the great excuse to expand our library quite a bit.

This year, the kids will be receiving:

SkippyJon Jones by Judy Schachner for B

The only gift I haven't picked out yet is the book for D, but this one is in the running:

The Runaway Dinner by Allan Ahlberg + illustrated by Bruce Ingman

The Legend of Sigurd and GudrĂșn by J.R.R. Tolkien for David

And then each person gets 1 stocking filled with goodies

This year, this is what it looks like:


For Adrian, 7 months, practical, yet fun gifts:

A sweet pair of Camper Leggings from Whole Parenting Goods

Teething Waldorf Gnome Doll from La Fiaba Russa

A ninja nubbin from KiraArts, lovingly chosen by his big brothers

JoJo Maman Bebe Baby Cable Knit Socks

Baby's First Christmas Hedgehog Ornament from Little Sapling Toys


For Blaise, age almost 3, spunky and into anything his brother thinks is cool

A Captain America ornament from Lease A Penny

Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set, also scored via Zulily

Superhero T-shirt

Wooden Top from Homegrown Toys

Frozen band-aids

Stickers - foam and character

Natural candies from the Natural Candy Store

An orange, per tradition


For Dominic, age 5, independent as ever, loves drawing and Star Wars

Millennium Falcon Ornament from Wooden Warbirds

Avengers T-shirt

Wooden Yo-yo from Homegrown Toys

Monsters Inc band-aids

Avengers stickers

Fancy Eraser

Also candy from Natural Candy Store

and an orange


For David

Coffee mug

Zippo Hand Warmer - idea from Olivia // To the Heights's great man gift guide


Beer - usually I pick a couple craft brews that we rarely purchase

And there you have it. Fun, yet simple. We do celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th and give a small gift sometimes in their shoes, and everybody gets a new pair of pajamas to open on Christmas Eve when we return from mass. On Epiphany, January 6th, or on Twelfth Night, January 5th, we add several books to our Christmas book collection. But, that's it.

Christmas for us is as focussed as we can make it, concentrating on Jesus and his coming to earth to be with us rather than a pile of presents. This is obviously not the only way to focus back on our Savior, but for our family, we've found that having these guidelines in place helps us not go overboard or be as concerned with the "getting" attitude. I would love to hear about how your family helps to keep the focus on Christ during the Christmas season. It's always beautiful to hear different traditions and ideas.

And even though it's Sunday night, I'm linking up with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum, mostly cuz I know she's awesome and might overlook my super lateness. Sorry bout that… I was holiday bazaaring it up yesterday to fundraise so we can maybe (please yes!) go see the Pope next fall!!! Yup, that's my excuse. =)

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This post: Simplifying Christmas by Minimizing Gifts {7qt} first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 14 December 2014


  1. We do something similar at our house -- something they need, want, to read, and to wear -- and we fill their stockings with some goodies. I think it helps to keep the emphasis on Christ to not have too many things coming their way.

    1. I love that idea, too! We follow a similar one for birthdays in our house though we do let them have lots of input in their wants for their birthday. =) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarah, I really loved this post! We always try to simplify and that way we leave room to focus on what really matters which is so hard around this time. My questions is, how did you get grandparents on board? Our boys are the first and only grandchildren so come Christmas time the amount of gifts they receive is in.sane. The times we've approached them they've responded in hurt and offense. Can't wait to hear back from you! :)


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