Two years ago we changed our who buying patterns for Christmas. Thinking of the 3 wisemen that brought gifts to the baby Jesus, we too have gone to just 3 items for each child in the family. A gift of knowledge, meaning, and usefulness.
I really think out the gifts now. A gift of knowledge provides something to learn of or from. For young ones it may be a puzzle and for the older kids a computer game, or scriptures, or a new book.
For the gift of meaning, it might be the gift they really want (within reason) or one of pure thought. Maybe they want to learn to sew, so maybe sewing kit or a sewing machine. For my 19 yr old, we gave him an iron, as he likes his clothes most tidy, and this was something he wanted. My daughter, 17, got an lds cd. For me, I wanted a coat.
For the gift of usefulness some got socks, or a new handmade scarf, or a blanket. My little boys got pajamas.
We have found that changing to this new way, that the kids really appreciate and love their gifts, rather than them being shoved aside as they open other things and then ending up under their beds a few days later.
I know what you mean! What we have done for the past 4 years is to give each child 3 gifts - symbolizing the 3 gifts given to the baby Jesus. One gift is their "gold" gift and the main large gift that they want (bike, dollhouse, kitchen set, etc.). Another gift is a gift to share with the family (game, art supplies, tickets to a performance). And the last is a gift of need (new fun bedding, clothes, etc. ) We also give new pjs on Christmas Eve.
I can't tell you how much easier it has made my life to do it this way. But the best thing is that it has brought a more simplistic feel to our Christmas and allows us to focus more on the real meaning of Christmas. The kids know that they will only have 3 gifts under the tree and they consider this very seriously when they let is know what they want. Plus, they are so grateful for what is given and they really use what they get. They still get gifts from family and friends so they aren't ever deprived, which was my big concern when we first started this.
This has made our Christmas so much better and I have spent more time with my family and less time shopping. We also save money by not buying something just to have more under the tree.
I have a problem with buying stuff just to have stuff, too. We started three years ago, I think, with wise men presents (Jesus only got three presents so that's all my kids need, too). We ended up with this plan: one for their body like a football or quilt, one for their mind (like a book or telescope), and one for their spirit like a quiet book for church or CTR ring. It helps keep me from over buying impulse items.
We do something similar, we do 3 gifts one for gold, frankincense and Myrrh. The gold is their big main present, something they really WANT. Frankincense is Spiritual, and Myrrh is something they need, usually an outfit, undies, or socks. I even wrap them to color, Gold is gold paper, Frankincense is white or silver, and Myrrh is a cranberry or red/mulberry type color. Then they get their stockings, full of fun things. I try to do games, books, girls get some fun jewelry, usually chapstick and pencils fun things. They also get a few treats. Then every Christmas Eve Mrs. Clause brings PJ's and a book, this is a tradition of my dh's family.
Even with 3 presents, with 7 kids (8 this year), that's still ALOT of presents!!
We are Christians, so we give gifts in the tradition of the three gifts mentioned in scripture. Meaning, each of our children also receive three gifts. One gift is more costly, one gift is one they maybe really want or ask for (and that's a big maybe), and one is a theme gift
For example on the theme gifts, my oldest daughter was interested in beauty products for hair, make up, etc. She's in drama and truly uses this stuff. So I bought her a bunch of make up and a hair straightener and curling iron, etc. I bought them through out the year and just kept adding them to her theme box. Most of my children (five out of seven) are artists, so I usually get them something they can do with their hands, and then I do try to get something close to what they wish for. Stockings are my favorite part so I put lots of little things in there that I know they will like receiving like candy or pairs of earrings. I have one daughter who loves beading and gosh those things are expensive. I can put a gift card or small amount of beads in a Christmas box in her stocking and I have at least contributed to her stock that way.
We try and fill our holiday with tradition more than anything, which can help us in the long run where gifts run short for our family, even intentionally.
In November, just before the present-buying-chaos begins, we have a family lesson (FHE) where we sit down with the whole family, talk about the original/true meaning of Christmas and about how blessed our family has been that year. We then buy each child 3 presents, as well as little stocking items. Each present has a meaning. I will try to find the official explanation, but basically they are each wrapped in their own color (red, green, gold) & have their own meaning (gift of necessity, gift of learning, gift of meaning) and make reference to the gifts of the Magi.
I like the kids to make a list of things they would like, just to give me an idea if there is something they really want or the name of a CD they have been wanting, etc. The gift of necessity is usually like clothing, blanket, or something for their bedroom. The learning gifts have been things like a guitar w/ "learn to" DVD, chess set, learning game, science experiment stuff, etc. The gift of meaning is the gift they have been longing for.
Our kids were open their gifts slowly, taking time to look at or play with the item before moving on.
We tend to buy a lot of "family" gifts. Each boy (I have 3) gets one gift from Mom and Dad and then one gift from Santa. Then they get "boy" gifts. Like a pass to the dino park, or a movie they all would like. Santa always brings a family game for all of us. Christmas is very small at our house but we make most of our gifts. Like snow hats, sweaters, quilts for the beds or one year the boys all worked on a sled with Papa to "give" to each other. We also pick a charity to give to. Last year we made hats on the knitters looms and gave them to a homeless shelter.
Also we use cloth bags to give our gifts in, then we don't have paper mess either.
This mom had theme ideas for four gifts instead of the three.
Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, Something to read.
Smart. Smart. Smart. These Christmas suggestions gave me the most to think about.
I remember one Christmas in particular being so happy with my presents until my friend next door came over to see what I got. Disappointment and 'not enough' set in. I know her family wasn’t wealthy so I don’t entirely know where the feeling came from. Fast forward several years later, with me watching a video my dad had taken that Christmas of each of us kids showing what we got for Christmas. I started showing each gift and it kept going and going and going. And going and going! I couldn’t believe all I received, yet I remembered that feeling that it hadn’t been enough. Isn't that terrible?? I think these moms have hit it on the head.