5 ways to have a simpler Christmas

Remember that one time my family budgeted twenty-five bucks for our family’s Christmas gifts? Yeah, twenty-five dollars total. Luckily, my kids do not remember this grim December. Celebrating was a teeth-gnashing experience: we meant to put more energy and emphasis on the advent and Christmas narrative. Instead of shopping, we’ll go caroling! Instead of plastic toys for our kids we’ll donate toys for someone else’s tots!

Sounded great. Noble, generous.

Instead, we ended up frustrated going through thrift store racks, tired of sewing yet another stuffed animal, and oh-so-ready to be done with the holidays.

So, twenty-five dollar Christmases, we don’t do anymore. But I still … I can’t go back to the days I knew as a child: the mountains of gifts, those gift exchanges where we’d text “What does (some dude) want for Christmas?” from the mall because we and dude didn’t know each other well.

I suspect this might sound familiar. Perhaps you’ve found some kindreds in The Year of Small Things because you want something different — starting with Christmas.

Me too. Let’s do this together.  

I’m issuing a Small Things Christmas Challenge! 

How will you err on the side of generosity this season?

How will you give differently? How will you refrain from buying too much stuff? Here are some ways that’ve worked for our family since our Grinchy Christmas:

  1. Experiences over gifts: My inlaws start asking for Christmas lists before we’ve even trick-or-treated. So, I needed ideas. I’ve started a conversation in our Facebook group (join us!), where the general consensus (hear me, grandparents!) is that experiences are better than stuff. Zoo memberships, movie gift certificates, trampoline park passes, a promise to go camping, and yadda yadda.
  2. The “want, need, wear, read” list: Something they want, something they need … You get it. We’re doing this in a shortened version; please don’t tell my kids all four of these categories or we can’t be friends anymore.
  3. Pay to play: my kids want to do soccer but the fee is ridiculous. Same with swimming, a music class, or whatever sport they choose (that doesn’t meet on weekend morning and only practices maybe once a week).
  4. We “adopt-a-child” through the local children’s home. The kids get to shop and learn how to pick out items other kids would like (not just “CAN I HAVE THIS”), and it generates a lot of conversation.
  5. We talk at the table about our budget, especially letting everyone choose which nonprofits we’ll donate to (besides our church). Generally, we give more away than we spend on our own gifts, and the kids hear that, even if they don’t quite get why yet.
  6. I’m still looking for a new monastic orthodontist. That really has nothing to do with Christmas, but I want to throw it out there.

TAKE THE SMALL THINGS CHALLENGE: Share ONE small way you’re celebrating differently this year.

Join us on Facebook to talk about it, or comment below! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *