A Christmas Tradition Your Family Will Love

As we transition from one holiday to the next, I’m excited to share with you a Christmas tradition that my family has recently adopted. But first, let me ask: How many gifts do you give your kids for the holidays? Do you do the same thing your parents did? If you have a partner, do […]

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one simple change

As we transition from one holiday to the next, I’m excited to share with you a Christmas tradition that my family has recently adopted. But first, let me ask: How many gifts do you give your kids for the holidays? Do you do the same thing your parents did? If you have a partner, do you agree with that strategy? In short, how do you come up with your Christmas traditions?

A few years ago, I found us buying our two girls gifts just for the sake of buying them gifts. It wasn’t (always) because they HAD to have {fill in the blank}. And even after our consumerism, I found myself comparing what our tree looked like on Christmas Eve to all of my friends’ obligatory Facebook posts. {social media at its finest, am I right?} But I was ready to break free from the comparison game and stop buying into the narrative that MORE IS BETTER.

The Christmas Tradition That Set Me Straight 

As much as Facebook can cause us to compare our highlight reel to those of our “friends,” it has also given me some great ideas. And one of them has become my family’s favorite Christmas tradition around gift-giving.

Instead of giving presents to rack up the number of packages, we now make sure our gifts fit into the following categories:

  1. Something you want
  2. Something you need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read

We also fill stockings with fun (generally inexpensive or surprise) gifts. And Santa comes and brings each girl one gift. We realize this is different than what happens in some other households, but we’ve asked Santa to allow us to have some fun gifting our loved ones with presents, too. In addition to those extra gifts, our girls get to open one gift on Christmas Eve. Each year, they get a new set of pajamas and a game for the family to enjoy together. And we are also lucky enough to have relatives (grandparents, aunts and uncles) that are excited to gift them with presents. 

Kate Bowser Christmas tradition
A Christmas tradition that simplifies gift-giving

So how did the kids adapt to this new Christmas tradition?

I’m not going to lie. The first year we implemented this, I was a little nervous about breaking the news to the kids. How they responded shocked me:

Wow, that sounds like so much, mom! {big sigh of relief}

The big surprise

What struck me most was when my kids asked my husband and me to request gifts in the four categories. We weren’t in the habit of spending much on each other for birthdays or holidays. Still, the kids demanded that we all participate in this Christmas tradition. (Okay, not demanding, because we don’t let the kids make the rules. But they felt very strongly we all needed to play along).

What was even more surprising about this new Christmas tradition was when our oldest daughter decided she wanted to give us each a gift she either made or prepared on her own. With her own money, if necessary.

Be still my heart; our kids are watching us. If we give gifts with joy in our hearts instead of out of duty, they will follow suit.

Make this your new Christmas tradition

If you want to change your family’s Christmas tradition, I promise you can, and it’s not too late.

Some tips on making the change:

  1. The most important thing you can do is to have an open and honest dialogue with your kids. Remind them of the holidays’ true spirit, and that thoughtful gifts are more valuable than the total number of presents.
  2. Make it a game. My kids get so excited to think about each category and make sure they have things on their lists that will fit in with each. And then, on Christmas morning, they get so excited trying to figure out which type of gift each open present is.
  3. Re-establish your expectations for what your tree will look like on Christmas morning. It may shock the first year (or two), but in time you will create a new normal for your family around what to expect.

In short, if you feel like Christmas has become a time of buying STUFF that ends up in a pile, unused or unwanted, I encourage you to consider a new way of doing things. I know this Christmas tradition isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay! Just like our diet and lifestyles, there is no “one perfect way” of doing anything. But if you, like me, are trying to raise kids thoughtful of their consumption, this may be the thing for which you were looking!

For more mom-life inspo, check out this post:

Time Management Tips for the Work at Home Parent

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  1. Linda Ervin says:

    I think this gift-giving idea is awesome. It removes the commercialism w/thoughtful buying. Great to see the girls have participated so willingly AND wanted you & Mark to participate…lessons learned!

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