Saturday, August 27, 2011

Simplifying Christmas: Early Planning

Okay, so it has been a little while but this has been occupying my thoughts for the past while.  I love the holiday season. Thanksgiving leading into Christmas.  Cheerful music.  Giving.  Serving. Family.  It is a unique and wonderful time of year.  But sometimes it slips away from me and thus my family.  The hustle and bustle of shopping and shopping and more shopping amidst mad house stores and crowds and blah!  Not what I call fun or cheery or wonderful.  And then you have the heaps of presents under the tree and a moment or two to stop and think about what it is really all about and then back to the gifts. Worldliness.  More.  Wants. Greed.  Stress.  Lack of family time.  Ahhh!

Not this year.  I want change.  I want simple.  I want time with family. Time to serve.  Time to give. Time to ponder.

I have had some thoughts on how this might take place but no firm determinations.  Shopping done by Thanksgiving.  And even then much less shopping.  Less gifts but simple, fun, perfect ones. My thoughts are churning. 

How do you keep Christmas simple?  How do you focus on Jesus Christ and the special day of his birth rather than the gifts under the tree?  How do you keep your family away from the gimmees and more happy to serve and give?


katers said...

I have a friend who gives her kids three gifts, (representing the gifts to the Savior from the wise men). One is educational, one is spiritual and one is something they need. I've always liked that idea.

As for us, we don't do Santa. I do think that you can have a spiritual Christmas and still have Santa, but we feel it's enough of a distraction that we've chosen not to do that in our home. Our gifts are from Mom and Dad and representative of the greatest gift that we've all been given - our Savior and His atonement. Our kids act out the nativity for us and we sing songs together. Also, since we don't have family around we make sure to have a nice dinner with some of our neighbors who also don't have family around. That is one of our very favorite traditions..and a way that we try to remember "the reason for the season."

Can't wait to see what others do!

Pokemon said...

Thanks for sharing Katie. Funny you mention the three gift idea. We are actually planning on that. Although we are going to do an extra spiritual gift on Christmas eve and our 3 gifts don't have guidelines.

I'd like to find a really good picture book about the wisemen and their 3 gifts if any of you know of one please share.

Thanks for the thoughts. I hope others will join in. :)

Lori said...

In the way of gifts - Santa only brings one gift for each child and one for them to all share. We have tried to put more emphasis on meaningful gifts from and to eachother. Eric and I often make the girls something for our gift and we have loved the past two years taking the girls to the dollar store and letting them pick something for one another to give. Our shopping is also done by Thanksgiving so we're not out in all of that "stuff". I like the direction this has taken with less emphasis on lots and lots from Santa and more on tokens of love from eachother, but feel like there is room for improvement in making it a more spiritual holiday. I believe I have shared before our "Jesus Cake" we bake and all decorate for our Christmas Eve dessert. With young children they understand the birthday celebration and we then have the opportunity to give our "gift" to Christ. ( new commitment to do better in an area or something we will do in dedication of Him). Can't wait to hear some of the things you will be doing.

Unknown said...

OH MY STARS! I hadn't even clicked in that we're just a few months away from Christmas!

I try to do the shopping early so it's not as totally stressful during the holidays. We try to be moderate with the presents as well -- the kids don't focus with their is so much stuff.

Becca said...

We do four gifts for each person - "something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read" - we stick to our (relatively small) budget, and spend our time doing other things that help us feel the spirit and focus on what matters most. I like giving gifts, but we try to focus on the "giving" instead of the "receiving" - although that is hard. We go caroling on Christmas eve and take cookies to our neighbors/friends. We act out the Christmas story on Christmas eve, and in the morning we have scones with butter and honey (we try to have a scripture to read for each of our "traditions" that we do - always tying what we do back to the Savior). Last year we added reading a verse about giving gifts to Christ before we opened our gifts in the morning.

we also try to make as many of the gifts as we can (the "want" gift is usually store bought - but also usually bought well in advance. We try to stay away from the stores in December).

The previous comments have some great ideas. Thanks for getting me thinking about this super early in the year so we can prepare now to have a meaningful Christmas season.

Anonymous said...

Each year we have a pretty tight Christmas budget- but we save somemoney to do service projects through out the month.
Here is a link with some of the things we have used our “Christmas budget” for this past year.

On Christmas morning, we too do the 3 gifts-
1. One need- something to make life easier or more comfortable.
(coupon for a pedicure, electric razor, special lovey for bedtime like a new teddy or blanket)
2. One thing to wear- a new dress, necklace, tie or dress shoes for church; always something fancy for church
3. One thing to read- a special book just for them. (Scriptures, magazine subscription, story book, one of the classics)

Santa still comes and fills our stockings with fun little trinkets and fruit. And our kids still get gifts from extended family outside of the home-
but those are the only 3 gifts they receive on Christmas morning.

We then have a big traditional breakfast where we explain that that these gifts represent gifts of the Savior- he has provided a way for our physical needs to be met- (the needed gift), our spirits to be healed (new “sacrament” meeting clothes) and minds and eyes to grow (book.)

We have found it was easier to keep simple gifts and even Santa in our home- because we teach our children the truth about their purpose. The truth is- they are not the reason for the Christmas Holiday- they are the beautiful details that connect the world to one another. I think Christmas is a wonderful time to teach children how to receive and give gifts. They give through there service all month long and receive some tangable rewards on Christmas Day.