It is definitely that time of year where I usually run around trying to find the perfect gifts for my friends and family. I have found it can be stressful as you work to find the perfect gift for certain family members (everyone has one or two that are super hard to buy for). I have had many years where this stress almost overwhelmed the joy I get from hunting for and finding the perfect presents. If you are anything like me, you have dealt with this before as well.
I have three teenagers – currently 15, 16, and 17, and I have learned that as they age, their Christmas lists seems to be shorter and shorter and consist of higher priced items. Lately, their Christmas lists consist of cars, laptops, and cell phones. While these are completely normal Christmas lists when you are that age, they are not items we are going to just buy for our kids. The stress it was causing for my husband and I to pick out that perfect gift was turning me into a Grinch! As a result, two years ago I decided we would start doing things a little differently with our Christmas.
In 2016, we added our basic Christmas budget to everyone’s birthday budget throughout the family, which allowed us to give gifts the boys truly enjoyed for their birthdays. We did not give gifts to anyone in our immediate or extended family that Christmas. I did prepare stockings for everyone in my immediate family (because who doesn’t get excited to find a sock filled with awesome stuff at the end of their bed on Christmas morning? I certainly do!) Outside of our stockings, we used our Christmas budget to bless someone outside our family with something they couldn’t afford. We each sponsored someone else’s Christmas with what would have been our individual budget. Our whole family found that to be rather rewarding.
This year, we have decided we are going to switch things up again. Instead of exchanging presents, we are going to buy experiences. For all of our nieces and nephews, siblings, and parents, we looked up places for them to go and spend time with their family (and asked for them to take pictures to send to us when they did.) For our immediate family, we pooled our Christmas budget again and are going to spend the last weekend in December doing stuff together as a family. We will make memories with different activities that were picked out to highlight each individual’s interests. I know that my boys will be moving out sooner than I realize (and that the time will fly by until then), so I want to make memories that we can all think back on.
I can say it feels very freeing to let go of materialism for the holidays and find different ways to celebrate this season. Do you celebrate Christmas with different traditions than the typical American family?