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Meadowlark

Help! How do I "do Christmas" when I don't want ONE MORE THING in my house?

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Seriously. We spent all of Thanksgiving break taking stuff OUT of our house, and it's still not enough. Now with the looming holiday season, I'm seriously wondering how I can prevent going crazy with Christmas coming up. You can see the ages of my kids..kids that are used to a pretty big Christmas morning. Yep, wish I could rewind that one. I have 6 kids who seriously, do NOT play with toys. We hardly have any toys at all in this house. They are readers and we have 5 bookshelves overflowing. They play games, and we have several from last Christmas that haven't even been opened. They have bikes, scooters and everything our garage can hold. Their clothes are piling up all over their room because they have too many.

So, you can see my dilemma. What does "Santa" get them? Some still believe so that kind of puts the gift card/experience idea into awkward territory. I don't want them to wake up and be miserable, but I am to the breaking point. i have spent the past 10 years picking up, organizing, pitching and buying "stuff". I'm DONE. 3 bags went to Good will yesterday. The thought of more coming IN makes me anxious. How do you minimalists do Christmas, and what do I tell my kids who are used to getting a whole lot?

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Santa might get the older ones real tools to build clubhouses and birdhouses and such.  Or molds and a candy cookbook and thermometer.  Stuff they can use, use up, and use in adulthood.  And maybe he will get the youngers perler beads and other non-glitter craft materials.  Playsilks are good.  

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Tell the kids that Santa has read Marie Kondo? 😂

Have you ever really talked with your kids openly about Christmas and what their favorite aspects are? We do this each year. I discovered when I started doing this several years ago that my kids had wildly different priorities than mine and that they honestly wanted a more low key experience. They were all about watching movies with caramel popcorn, having hot cocoa with whipping cream, and hanging out in pajamas.

Santa brings stocking fillers at our house. That’s it. It’s usually a mix of something edible, a body care product, and something small but needed. We give a gift or two to each kid. We do a family experience as a family gift and we get one new game each year to play. We also do some charitable giving—this year we are doing meal baskets coordinated through the local schools for families in need.

A few ideas of stocking stuffers I am giving this year:

*a new external battery to charge on the go

* a beanie hat to match a winter coat

*a caramel sampler pack from TJ

* thinking putty

The overall “influx” this year from Christmas could easily fit into a TJ shopping bag. It’s actually how I am hiding it in my closet. 😉

 

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If you are still needing to “do big”

* a parks and rec class

* tickets to a game, show, or movie

*restaurant gift certificates (sometimes a kid of mine wants a break from my cooking)

*public transport pass 

*swimming lessons

 

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events, restaurant gift certificates.  museum/science center memberships. audio books, etc.

dudeling refused to give me any suggestions.  I gave him "coupons" to his favorite restaurants.  a movies, etc. (1ds helped me do some and I printed them off.).  there was a 24 hour minimum notice

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Are there things that you could get them, that they'd love but that would be replacements?

For example, my oldest kid is getting a bike.  His bike will get passed down to his youngest brother, and youngest brother's bike will go somewhere else.  So, even though there's a gift, there's no net added stuff.  Youngest is getting new hockey skates, but since that means that hockey skates will be coming and going, it all evens out.  

Something similar would be new art supplies, that give you an excuse to purge the old markers or crayons or whatever.  

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You could make a gift certificate for books. My kids always like having a credit on their Steam account or money in their bank for something they want down the road. That also gives them time to decide if they really want something. 

A lot of people are trying out the 4 gift rule. Want, need, wear, read: Will the 'four gift rule' take off?

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In our house kids have to get rid of stuff before Christmas to make room for gifts. If you don't clear out room, there won't be gifts. (not that that has actually ever happened)

 

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Do they have e-readers ipads?  That's a gift and a clutter solution.  I LOVE being able to carry so many books around with me. 

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One year for Christmas my kids got a "We are going to Sea World" puzzle and once they had it put together we packed up our bags and drove to CA. I am seriously considering doing it again because not only do we have so much stuff, I am frustrated at how quickly they break things when they don't use them as intended. (Looking at you ping pong table and tetherball pole and countless other stuff)

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At our house, Santa brings one gift per person, normally something from the child's Christmas list.  For my crew, this is often lego sets, Nerf guns, a drone, etc.

The in-laws also give them one gift each - MIL just asks me what to get them, so I often suggest board games, Snap Circuit kits, art supplies, Kiwi Crates, and other things that I want them to have and would probably buy for them anyway.

This year, from us, they will each also get a book, some special food items, and some stocking stuffers.  Then we are giving them two large family gifts.  1) We are planning a trip to Chicago in January where we will stay in a rental apartment (with a Nintendo - this will be a HUGE hit!) and go to several museums.  and 2) We are setting up a green anole tank - we already have the aquarium and stand, but we will be wrapping up all the other needed supplies and the kids will each get a certificate (actually a green plastic lizard wearing a certificate around his neck) entitling them to choose one anole for the tank after our Chicago trip.

Wendy

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2 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

At our house, Santa brings one gift per person, normally something from the child's Christmas list.  For my crew, this is often lego sets, Nerf guns, a drone, etc.

The in-laws also give them one gift each - MIL just asks me what to get them, so I often suggest board games, Snap Circuit kits, art supplies, Kiwi Crates, and other things that I want them to have and would probably buy for them anyway.

This year, from us, they will each also get a book, some special food items, and some stocking stuffers.  Then we are giving them two large family gifts.  1) We are planning a trip to Chicago in January where we will stay in a rental apartment (with a Nintendo - this will be a HUGE hit!) and go to several museums.  and 2) We are setting up a green anole tank - we already have the aquarium and stand, but we will be wrapping up all the other needed supplies and the kids will each get a certificate (actually a green plastic lizard wearing a certificate around his neck) entitling them to choose one anole for the tank after our Chicago trip.

Wendy

 

So, the gifts that are in the stocking come from you?  

I've always thought that the Santa myth was the he puts gifts in the stocking, so in our house Santa brings little things that fit in, or maybe around the stocking, and the big thing is from me and Dad.  Maybe I just want the credit for the big thing, LOL.  

Not that it matters.  I'm just always curious how other people do things.  

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3 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

So, the gifts that are in the stocking come from you?  

I've always thought that the Santa myth was the he puts gifts in the stocking, so in our house Santa brings little things that fit in, or maybe around the stocking, and the big thing is from me and Dad.  Maybe I just want the credit for the big thing, LOL.  

Not that it matters.  I'm just always curious how other people do things.  

At our house, Santa is the one who brings exactly what they ask for...even if I think it is complete junk that will break within days or never actually get played with.

Last year, my oldest wanted a drone.  Except, he already had one drone that he NEVER played with.  But, but, but this new drone was WAY better and cooler and of course he would play with it and it was the only thing he wanted for Christmas (just like that Christmas when a rock tumbler was all I wanted and would absolutely make my life complete...not).  So Santa brought the new drone and of course it did not live up to the hype and within a week was gathering dust next to the old drone.  I think he has literally played with it for about an hour total in the last year.  Yeah, I have no interest in getting the credit (or blame) for gifts like that.

Instead, anything labeled as coming from me and DH (or indirectly from the in-laws since they just give exactly what I tell them to) are things that I am fairly certain the child will actually use and enjoy.  They are almost never things the kids would think to ask for, because their ideas are limited to the mass-market crap they see in the Amazon and Target ads.  In fact, most of their absolute favorite gifts are things that they would have overlooked or rejected if I had proposed them before Christmas.  So Santa gives them what they think they want and we give them what they actually want.  So far, my track record is much better than Santa's.  😄

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22 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

So, the gifts that are in the stocking come from you?  

I've always thought that the Santa myth was the he puts gifts in the stocking, so in our house Santa brings little things that fit in, or maybe around the stocking, and the big thing is from me and Dad.  Maybe I just want the credit for the big thing, LOL.  

Not that it matters.  I'm just always curious how other people do things.  

We say that Santa fills the stockings at our house but even my little kids know that "Santa" is mom and dad; we've just always treated it as a fun game, not tried to pretend it was real. Mostly I do edible stocking stuffers plus one or two small things. Always including a toy dinosaur for each child, something that has become family tradition.

We don't do individual gifts outside of stockings, they each get a book from Grandma but otherwise everything under the tree is a family gift. This year there will be a couple of board games, an incline mat and an inflatable mat for tumbling, a marble run, and a pair of nice binoculars. I try to make sure there is something each child will enjoy.

For non-stuff gifts in the past we have done things like punch cards for a local trampoline park or a family membership to the local indoor pool.

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35 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

So, the gifts that are in the stocking come from you?  

I've always thought that the Santa myth was the he puts gifts in the stocking, so in our house Santa brings little things that fit in, or maybe around the stocking, and the big thing is from me and Dad.  Maybe I just want the credit for the big thing, LOL.  

Not that it matters.  I'm just always curious how other people do things.  


Well, in our house stockings are from Santa as well as 1 additional gift (usually the "big one"). Then there's usually a gift from Mom and Dad, and a gift from siblings.  There may be a few small other gifts thrown in (often books). I don't understand wanting credit for the gift. That just...is something I can't wrap my brain around when it comes to gifts for kids from Santa versus parents. And if Santa only brings stocking stuff, what's the point of the tradition of writing him letters and visiting him (which we don't necessarily do)?

I feel your pain, OP. We just don't need more stuff. So there's a bunch of consumable gifts (arts and crafts stuff) coming into our house, as well as some gifts meant for more active things (to help with WI winters). In the future, I definitely see us doing family gifts. I like the idea above of a puzzle they have to put together telling them what it is.
 

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5 hours ago, barnwife said:


Well, in our house stockings are from Santa as well as 1 additional gift (usually the "big one"). Then there's usually a gift from Mom and Dad, and a gift from siblings.  There may be a few small other gifts thrown in (often books). I don't understand wanting credit for the gift. That just...is something I can't wrap my brain around when it comes to gifts for kids from Santa versus parents. And if Santa only brings stocking stuff, what's the point of the tradition of writing him letters and visiting him (which we don't necessarily do)?

I feel your pain, OP. We just don't need more stuff. So there's a bunch of consumable gifts (arts and crafts stuff) coming into our house, as well as some gifts meant for more active things (to help with WI winters). In the future, I definitely see us doing family gifts. I like the idea above of a puzzle they have to put together telling them what it is.
 

I'd love to know what active things you're getting- we also love in a cold climate and it is so hard to make sure the kids get the activity they need!

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In our house, Santa brings the one thing they really want.  That's it.  It's not a wow factor thing, it's a love factor thing.  Santa's the one gift you don't have to say thank you for and just get to appreciate unconditional giving.  This year ds9 wanted to ask for a snowboard, lol, and harped on that for a while before realizing it wouldn't be a gift of love.  We have nowhere to snowboard here.  It would sit in the garage.  Now he wants a Lego kit.  More doable, but his brother already took care of that.  Santa may bring him the book he absolutely loved from his book club and wants a copy of his own instead of a library borrow. Mom and dad already picked the books we're giving him, so this would be a special thing on top of that.

For the rest of it, parents and family give the other gifts: things for the room (like a special warm fuzzy blanket), wool socks, a few activities.  Ds is getting a balance board for inside and hockey targets for outside.

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3 hours ago, TABmom said:

I'd love to know what active things you're getting- we also love in a cold climate and it is so hard to make sure the kids get the activity they need!

 A toddler/preschool pogo stick (We have tile floors and don't mind in they use it indoors.) Warning: that sale price is more than I paid. It looks like the marked it up to be able to mark it down.

Teeter Popper

Bilibo

A stick horse (found at Goodwill)

I seriously considered an indoor trampoline. I wish this one was in our budget. Also considered were a tumbling mat, chin up bar, indoor balance beam, and balance pods.

Edited by barnwife

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We just have a set budget per kid, & they give us a wish list to choose from.
I have always felt like we have control over what we end up buying them.

My secondary point would be that (at least gradually) you need to continue to update your Christmas traditions so they are in line with YOUR values (or at least not in conflict with them).
While the kids are still young.  😉

Thirdly, I would QUICKLY be giving early warning signals to the kids about what your Christmas plan is, so they can adjust their expectations.
And make sure your dh is in agreement, or that you can come up with a compromise plan (which is the likely scenario).

YMMV, because we're frugal, with a limited approach to Christmas anyway, and the kids have other celebrations with extended family, so they don't expect a windfall at our house on Christmas AM.  Just a lot of fun together.
 

Edited by Beth S

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15 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

Seriously. We spent all of Thanksgiving break taking stuff OUT of our house, and it's still not enough. Now with the looming holiday season, I'm seriously wondering how I can prevent going crazy with Christmas coming up. You can see the ages of my kids..kids that are used to a pretty big Christmas morning. Yep, wish I could rewind that one. I have 6 kids who seriously, do NOT play with toys. We hardly have any toys at all in this house. They are readers and we have 5 bookshelves overflowing. They play games, and we have several from last Christmas that haven't even been opened. They have bikes, scooters and everything our garage can hold. Their clothes are piling up all over their room because they have too many.

So, you can see my dilemma. What does "Santa" get them? Some still believe so that kind of puts the gift card/experience idea into awkward territory. I don't want them to wake up and be miserable, but I am to the breaking point. i have spent the past 10 years picking up, organizing, pitching and buying "stuff". I'm DONE. 3 bags went to Good will yesterday. The thought of more coming IN makes me anxious. How do you minimalists do Christmas, and what do I tell my kids who are used to getting a whole lot?

Consumables.  Things like candy you would never otherwise buy, specialty soda pop or popcorn, or kits to make some candy or other special dish.  Also, stuff like coloring books and crayons or bath bomb making kits, as is appropriate per age/per kid.  

You can also do kits to make stuff to give away.  Like a friendship bracelet kit.....and you then give the bracelets away.

Dinner and a movie night with mom and dad-again, as appropriate for the age.  Something like a gift card to the movie theater, a gift card to the kid's favorite restaurant, and a special note from Santa directing the kid to take mom or dad out for a night.  

Also don't discount practical stuff to replace things worn our or outgrown.  Shoes, snow boots, etc.  And this is great when kids are used to hand me down stuff too.  Sometimes, it's really nice to get a brand new winter coat instead of one that's been through your brother and your sister already.  

Our kids have end of the year birthdays on top of Christmas.  This year, we replaced everyone's bikes for their birthday.   The old bikes were given away to someone who could use them.  

 

 

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E-readers solve the book problem. We're bookish people. We used to have 10 large bookcases full of dead tree books.  When we downsized we kept 2 family bookcases, a couple of personal bookcases and switched to mostly e-books from here on out.  Like someone stated up thread, it's quite a treat to have a library on hand on the go.

Regular purging 2-3 times a year, gifts of experiences:  lessons, movie tickets, theater tickets, concert tickets, trips, restaurant gift certificates, gifts of consumables for the stockings, family gifts like a trampoline or video/board games, and such solve the stuff build up problem.

One expensive gift per kid can work, usually some type of hobby equipment or upgraded sporting equipment. You can sometimes get family to help fund it for Christmas by giving money to the kid or to you and you put their name on the tag too-that assumes you have cooperative extended relatives.

Divorce yourself from the idea that Santa can only bring stuff as a gift.  Everyone who does the Santa thing does it differently, you can do it as differently as suits your situation.

Divorce yourself from the idea that just because it was one way for your older kids that it has to stay that way for the younger kids.

Don't assume a child who gets an experience gift will be "miserable" on Christmas.  That's really dramatic language for a day full of stockings, food, family gifts, and an experience to look forward to.

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One year, we gave DS a shoebox of paint chips in shades of his favorite color. His gift was that he got to pick one and get his room painted that color.

Another year, his gift was an itinerary rolled up like a scroll: we were going to depart the following morning on a trip. (Rather than hiding a present in my room, I had been keeping clean laundry for everyone, organized to put into the suitcases that afternoon.)

Is there anything like that you can do this year?

Edited by whitehawk
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Experiences, experiences, experiences. Tickets to the theater. Tickets to see the Nutcracker. A surprise family vacation. Off-site cooking/art/music lessons (keeps the stuff out of the house). Ski/snowboarding/snowshoeing lessons. We are minimalists (except books) but DD is getting some needs (a new backpack...thanks to the dog), an Uber gift card (for when she misses the bus), some smelly lotions (consumables) and our family experience gifts (season tix to local theme park for next year). DS is similar. Not a lot of ‘stuff’. DS’s only ‘things’ are an old fashioned record player and a jazz album or two. We’ve also done vacations and theater tix and it’s always been a hit. The memories are priceless. Our kids have never been big on toys anyway.

Edited by Sneezyone
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11 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

So, the gifts that are in the stocking come from you?  

I've always thought that the Santa myth was the he puts gifts in the stocking, so in our house Santa brings little things that fit in, or maybe around the stocking, and the big thing is from me and Dad.  Maybe I just want the credit for the big thing, LOL.  

Not that it matters.  I'm just always curious how other people do things.  


This is how we do it too. Santa only fills the socks.

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2 hours ago, barnwife said:

 A toddler/preschool pogo stick (We have tile floors and don't mind in they use it indoors.) Warning: that sale price is more than I paid. It looks like the marked it up to be able to mark it down.

Teeter Popper

Bilibo

A stick horse (found at Goodwill)

I seriously considered an indoor trampoline. I wish this one was in our budget. Also considered were a tumbling mat, chin up bar, indoor balance beam, and balance pods.

Your kids must be younger than mine! I can’t see sigs on my phone. I have a 12, 9, and 5.

We have had this https://www.amazon.com/Little-Tikes-641664M-7-Trampoline/dp/B015KN8558/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?keywords=little+tykes+trampoline+7ft&qid=1575301944&sprefix=little+tykes+trampoline&sr=8-4

trampoline for several years. I would highly recommend it. We also have foam rubber floor mats in the basement and a kicking/punching bag thing. Those help somewhat!

 

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11 minutes ago, TABmom said:

Your kids must be younger than mine! I can’t see sigs on my phone. I have a 12, 9, and 5.

We have had this https://www.amazon.com/Little-Tikes-641664M-7-Trampoline/dp/B015KN8558/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?keywords=little+tykes+trampoline+7ft&qid=1575301944&sprefix=little+tykes+trampoline&sr=8-4

trampoline for several years. I would highly recommend it. We also have foam rubber floor mats in the basement and a kicking/punching bag thing. Those help somewhat!

 


Ha...yeah, our oldest is 9. I considered a balance board like this for the oldest, but decided the teeter popper will go over better with all of them this year. I also considered stilts this year, but again I think waiting one more year would be ideal with our age spread.

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I second the experiences. A zoo membership, an escape room party, a pass to the climbing wall, theater tickets. Whatever suits them.

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Stocking stuffers are from Santa. Gifts from mom and dad.  

As mentioned above, special edibles (cheeses, jerky, candies, so stuff I don't buy much of regularly). My son likes Thai tea so one year I bought him cans of coconut milk, spices and tea bags.

My kids are always short something or have outgrown something. I guess that makes it easier since we don't just rebuy them stuff right away. 

 This year 2 boys got down sleeping bags. They only had their child sized one. One boy outgrew his skiies but we already got him the sleeping bag so he will have to save up.

Bike locks, flash lights, electric toothbrush in other words, things they will need anyway that is if you use those things. 

 

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21 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

So, the gifts that are in the stocking come from you?  

I've always thought that the Santa myth was the he puts gifts in the stocking, so in our house Santa brings little things that fit in, or maybe around the stocking, and the big thing is from me and Dad.  Maybe I just want the credit for the big thing, LOL.  

Not that it matters.  I'm just always curious how other people do things.  


Sorry, I realize that this might sound judgmental.  I didn't feel that way.  I was just surprised.  I've just never known someone to fill stockings and then not attribute that to Santa, unless they didn't do Santa at all.  

We do "real" gifts in the stockings.  So, for example, my youngest kid this year will get some real tools (hammer, screw driver etc . . . ) in his stocking.  My guess is that he'll be as excited about that as he will be about the rollerblades under the tree.  

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21 hours ago, wendyroo said:

At our house, Santa is the one who brings exactly what they ask for...even if I think it is complete junk that will break within days or never actually get played with.

Last year, my oldest wanted a drone.  Except, he already had one drone that he NEVER played with.  But, but, but this new drone was WAY better and cooler and of course he would play with it and it was the only thing he wanted for Christmas (just like that Christmas when a rock tumbler was all I wanted and would absolutely make my life complete...not).  So Santa brought the new drone and of course it did not live up to the hype and within a week was gathering dust next to the old drone.  I think he has literally played with it for about an hour total in the last year.  Yeah, I have no interest in getting the credit (or blame) for gifts like that.

Instead, anything labeled as coming from me and DH (or indirectly from the in-laws since they just give exactly what I tell them to) are things that I am fairly certain the child will actually use and enjoy.  They are almost never things the kids would think to ask for, because their ideas are limited to the mass-market crap they see in the Amazon and Target ads.  In fact, most of their absolute favorite gifts are things that they would have overlooked or rejected if I had proposed them before Christmas.  So Santa gives them what they think they want and we give them what they actually want.  So far, my track record is much better than Santa's.  😄


Now, I'm curious what things you've found that your kids love that much.  My kids also get a mix of things that they ask for and things that they don't, but they're pretty good about picking things that they'll actually use.  Some of that might be age though.  

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21 hours ago, barnwife said:


Well, in our house stockings are from Santa as well as 1 additional gift (usually the "big one"). Then there's usually a gift from Mom and Dad, and a gift from siblings.  There may be a few small other gifts thrown in (often books). I don't understand wanting credit for the gift. That just...is something I can't wrap my brain around when it comes to gifts for kids from Santa versus parents. And if Santa only brings stocking stuff, what's the point of the tradition of writing him letters and visiting him (which we don't necessarily do)?

I feel your pain, OP. We just don't need more stuff. So there's a bunch of consumable gifts (arts and crafts stuff) coming into our house, as well as some gifts meant for more active things (to help with WI winters). In the future, I definitely see us doing family gifts. I like the idea above of a puzzle they have to put together telling them what it is.
 


I figure that by the time my kids are old enough to have thoughts like "Why did I write a letter to Santa, when the gift came from Mom?", they were probably on to the whole Santa thing, and playing along.  I mean, if you can suspend disbelief enough to believe that Santa's elves make lego kits that look exactly like the ones at Target, then you can believe that Mom talked to Santa on the phone and divided up the list.  Or you're young enough that you aren't even asking those questions yet.  

I was pretty much joking about wanting credit.  I guess that on Christmas morning, when they were little, my kids only got one gift plus whatever was in/falling out of their stockings.   Part of that is that we have a big family, so they were getting gifts later when we gathered at the in-laws.  Since one physically bigger gift, plus smaller things in the stocking seemed about right, and since DH and I both grew up with some presents from mom and dad, and some from Santa, it seemed natural to divide it up that way.  Because the opposite, with the stocking from parents, didn't seem to align with the myth.

 

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27 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:


Now, I'm curious what things you've found that your kids love that much.  My kids also get a mix of things that they ask for and things that they don't, but they're pretty good about picking things that they'll actually use.  Some of that might be age though.  

I think my kids have two things working against them such that they are really horrible at picking gifts.  1) They live pretty sheltered lives - no school, no commercial TV, limited play dates at friends' houses - so they aren't exposed to many different toy ideas.  and 2) They really struggle with inflexibility and therefore have a hard time imagining themselves enjoying anything that isn't very similar to what they already have.

There have been a lot of gifts that I have chosen for my kids that they were initially highly skeptical of, almost to the point of rejection...but which became long term favorites.  Snap Circuits were deemed "too hard", Murderous Maths were "just books", Sleeping Queens "looked boring", etc. 

Last Christmas the kids were all convinced they wanted this laser tag game that inevitably would lead to disregulation and injuries...except that most Amazon reviewers said it rarely worked at all.  Instead I went on ebay and bought them a lot of 100 cheap old used comics books - Superman, Flash, Moongirl, Justice League, etc.  They weren't in pristine shape to start with, but that really made no difference since they have been loved to death since then.  Literally not a day has gone by that I don't see at least one of my boys re-reading through that stack of comics.

Who knows, maybe the laser tag game would have provided just as many hours of entertainment as the comics...but I have my doubts.

Wendy

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2 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

I think my kids have two things working against them such that they are really horrible at picking gifts.  1) They live pretty sheltered lives - no school, no commercial TV, limited play dates at friends' houses - so they aren't exposed to many different toy ideas.  and 2) They really struggle with inflexibility and therefore have a hard time imagining themselves enjoying anything that isn't very similar to what they already have.

There have been a lot of gifts that I have chosen for my kids that they were initially highly skeptical of, almost to the point of rejection...but which became long term favorites.  Snap Circuits were deemed "too hard", Murderous Maths were "just books", Sleeping Queens "looked boring", etc. 

Last Christmas the kids were all convinced they wanted this laser tag game that inevitably would lead to disregulation and injuries...except that most Amazon reviewers said it rarely worked at all.  Instead I went on ebay and bought them a lot of 100 cheap old used comics books - Superman, Flash, Moongirl, Justice League, etc.  They weren't in pristine shape to start with, but that really made no difference since they have been loved to death since then.  Literally not a day has gone by that I don't see at least one of my boys re-reading through that stack of comics.

Who knows, maybe the laser tag game would have provided just as many hours of entertainment as the comics...but I have my doubts.

Wendy

 


I love the comic idea!  I will have to look into that.  

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58 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:


I figure that by the time my kids are old enough to have thoughts like "Why did I write a letter to Santa, when the gift came from Mom?", they were probably on to the whole Santa thing, and playing along.  I mean, if you can suspend disbelief enough to believe that Santa's elves make lego kits that look exactly like the ones at Target, then you can believe that Mom talked to Santa on the phone and divided up the list.  Or you're young enough that you aren't even asking those questions yet.  

 

You didn’t know that Santa sometimes shops at Target?  Sometimes the elves get a bit busy.

I think my oldest son was about 5 when I bought some remote control lightning McQueen car that didn’t work and we took it back to Target to exchange it.  Santa left me the receipt just in case. 

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If you are creative, you could make some kind of "treasure hunt" to find the gift(s) from Santa, making the process take longer & be more fun but with fewer items total in the end.

Make it be cooperative, maybe have a different consumable item with each or some of the clues, then a gift for each at the end or a "big" gift or two that would be shared among them.

 

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We've cut back over the years.  Too much stuff, too much money, and TBH I felt guilty about the amount of crap, or even non-crap, that was unnecessary.  We did it over a few years so that it was less noticeable.

These days, Santa brings the stockings, and generally one gift that they share, generally a game. This year it is the Stranger Things D&D starter pack.   Stockings usually have socks, underwear, a fancy toothbrush, chocolate, and then something fun or cool - this year they are getting some neat t-shirt (dd12 and dd14) and ds is getting a Bayblade which he's wanted forever. For gifts from us they are each getting a poster and some clothes, except dd3 who is getting a tea set.  

I'd like to cut back more tbh, over the next few years, and I think we will be able to.  More things like theatre tickets, little trips, and such.

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I really like the idea of giving 3 gifts each as the wise men gave 3 gifts to the Christ child.  I've not been able to limit in previous years but love this approach.  I may be close this year as I have 3 good things for my daughter but only 1 for each boy.  I just feel the items should be super special when limited.  For you, that would still be 18 gifts!  Is that more or less than typical for you?  I think it would be helpful to give a limit ahead of time.   It may be difficult to limit gifts if they have experienced Santa having a limitless supply of gifts. You could do a special clothing item, special book, science kit?

Santa was not my family's Christmas tradition.  My Italian grandmother did not like trying to explain why Santa brought the kids next door more toys, so they didn't do Santa.  In turn, my mom didn't really do Santa except she jokingly signed gifts "from Santa" or "from the elves" and we had Santa decor but nothing else.  No cookies for Santa or letters to him.  I never thought that Santa might be true. My husband's family was really into Santa and faked footprints in the snow and everything.  All the kids are hard core believers in Santa.  I remember one of his cousins believed in Santa until he was about 12.  I find that very extreme... but I guess just because it's not my tradition.  We still do stockings, even though we don't do Santa.  Stockings contain a couple special candies and smallish toys, like a yoyo, small lego, etc.  

I'm shopping online and having trouble finding some special items for boys.  Christmas seems to be coming so fast this year.  I am not too excited about giving or receiving gift cards.

One thing I almost did this year, i almost made all the kids a photo mug (for cocoa) featuring their favorite toys.  Then every one would know which was their cup.  I thought this would be cute in the stocking.  I opted not because I thought it would crowd my cupboard since part of my husband's gift is a set of 4 mugs each with a photo of his favorite hiking spots.  I hope they turn out well.  Anyway, my cup/mug cupboard is already crowded.

 

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Santa in our house brings a smaller toy, not the big item. I grew up with him bringing the biggest/best toy, but as an adult I chose to switch that around after reading an article about how it is hard for kids whose parents can't afford much at all to explain why Santa brought them a small trinket but got the neighbor's kid a giant swingset - that given all the "better be good" nonsense it would make kids whose parents got them less from "Santa" think they were not as good. That broke my heart, so now the kids get a small gift from Santa, something less expensive, and the other gifts are from us. (Santa does bring stocking stuff as well)

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The Santa thing is stupid.  There, I said it.  Mom and dad give the gifts because they love their kiddo and want to share with them and bring them joy.  Also tie in to the religious themes of Christmas if you’re so inclined.

Even as a kid whose parents did Santa nonsense it always seemed a bit weird to me.  Like, why are we pretending some rando cares about our toy list more than you? 
 

We have never bothered, anyway.  Not with stockings either, that also always struck me as weird.  Apparently I’m a big bucker of holiday traditions?

Edited by Arctic Mama
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10 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

The Santa thing is stupid.  There, I said it.  Mom and dad give the gifts because they love their kiddo and want to share wit me them and bring them joy.  Also tie in to the religious themes of Christmas if you’re so inclined.

Even as a kid whose parents did Santa nonsense it always seemed a bit weird to me.  Like, why are we pretending some rando cares about our toy list more than you? 
 

We have never bothered, anyway.  Not with stockings either, that also always struck me as weird.  Apparently I’m a big bucker of holiday traditions?

Wow, way to yuck on someone else's yum. 

Calling other people's much loved traditions that bring them great joy "stupid" isn't something I'd expect from you, to be honest. 

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I quite like the idea of a somewhat mysterious person giving gifts, just because he loves kids. Even if it's really mainly for little ones. In any case I think there are some very nice theological concepts embodied in the tradition. That said I think we'd be better off to have far fewer gifts than is normal now, it's just part and parcel of a consumer culture that may kill us all.  We have so much we need to overdo gifts for it to make any impression.  It's hard to imagine a time when kids were thrilled to get one nice gift that they had been waiting for all year.

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20 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Wow, way to yuck on someone else's yum. 

Calling other people's much loved traditions that bring them great joy "stupid" isn't something I'd expect from you, to be honest. 

It was my own personal opinion on it, not really a commentary on how anyone else does it, especially after the weird digression about the right way to do Santa - why does it even matter? I think elf on a shelf is a great creepy way to teach kids about the surveillance state too, but that doesn’t mean my thoughts effect anyone else’s enjoyment of it.  I get so tired of the weirdness around Santa though, it’s honestly grating. But, as my parents said repeatedly, this is why I don’t have to do it with *my* family.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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Back to the OP - skip the Santa nonsense and just pick one big family gift experience, be it movie tickets or passes to the theater or museum or a road trip or whatever.  It’s really okay to just bake cookies and decorate them, have one big family thing (or no gifts at all, if you do the “it’s the celebration of Jesus’ birthday, not ours”) and move on.  

Too much stuff is a real issue, and honestly it breeds blindness to our own prosperity and ingratitude in more than a few folks (I’ve been guilty of that myself when I’m not careful!). Cutting back and cutting out anything you don’t find personally, deeply meaningful really is okay.

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1 hour ago, Arctic Mama said:

The Santa thing is stupid.  There, I said it.  Mom and dad give the gifts because they love their kiddo and want to share wit me them and bring them joy.  Also tie in to the religious themes of Christmas if you’re so inclined.

Even as a kid whose parents did Santa nonsense it always seemed a bit weird to me.  Like, why are we pretending some rando cares about our toy list more than you? 
 

We have never bothered, anyway.  Not with stockings either, that also always struck me as weird.  Apparently I’m a big bucker of holiday traditions?


Santa does tie into the religious themes.  It goes back to giving without expectations, and receiving just to receive.  The magi didn't exactly bring gifts because they knew the holy family, kwim?  They were curious little buggers who wanted to know why they saw a star.  Random freaks who brought stupid baby gifts after chasing the family down.  So, yeah, not sure why Santa makes you have such a strong opinion about it all, but sure.
Santa is pure joy.  It's giving a gift, not because it's practical and useful, but just to make someone happy without anything in return, not even a thank you.  It's the ONLY gift our children really ask for by name.  They don't make lists for parents and family. 

Festivus is right around the corner.  It might be more your thing.

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47 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

It was my own personal opinion on it, not really a commentary on how anyone else does it, especially after the weird digression about the right way to do Santa - why does it even matter? I think elf on a shelf is a great creepy way to teach kids about the surveillance state too, but that doesn’t mean my thoughts effect anyone else’s enjoyment of it.  I get so tired of the weirdness around Santa though, it’s honestly grating. But, as my parents said repeatedly, this is why I don’t have to do it with *my* family.

Absolutely, don't do it if it weirds you out. (we don't do elf on a shelf either). Just didn't expect to see you call someone else's tradition - and you knew people on here did this and found joy in it - stupid. Basically to their faces. 

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1 hour ago, HomeAgain said:


Santa does tie into the religious themes.  It goes back to giving without expectations, and receiving just to receive.  The magi didn't exactly bring gifts because they knew the holy family, kwim?  They were curious little buggers who wanted to know why they saw a star.  Random freaks who brought stupid baby gifts after chasing the family down.  So, yeah, not sure why Santa makes you have such a strong opinion about it all, but sure.
Santa is pure joy.  It's giving a gift, not because it's practical and useful, but just to make someone happy without anything in return, not even a thank you.  It's the ONLY gift our children really ask for by name.  They don't make lists for parents and family. 

Festivus is right around the corner.  It might be more your thing.

Unfortunately modern Santa lacks the religious tie in in the execution, otherwise I’d be way more on board.  Pretending to give gifts from Santa feels like lying to me. Always has. 
 

Religious Christmas I’m fine with, especially when it’s actually actively tied in.  But alas, Santa as a concept in modern families is cringey.  Feel free to disagree, but our Christmases don’t lack significance or meaning because we avoid the pretend weirdo aspect.  The Magi aspect is fulfillment of prophecy, not curious little buggers.  But alas, semantics. 
 

Hilarious that this has touched a nerve, of all things.  I was explaining why we don’t bother at all with the stupid Santa tradition or discussions of the right way to handle XYZ - there is no right way.  We each decide based on our beliefs and family.  Shrug. If the OP isn’t into these things or they’re causing stress, ditch!

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37 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Absolutely, don't do it if it weirds you out. (we don't do elf on a shelf either). Just didn't expect to see you call someone else's tradition - and you knew people on here did this and found joy in it - stupid. Basically to their faces. 

No, I called it stupid in general.  You’re taking it on personally.  I think socialism, small dogs sweaters, popcorn shrimp, and movie theaters are also stupid.  If it’s not working for you or your fam ditch it.  Really, offhand personal confession of Christmas annoyance, not anything directed at anyone else in particular.

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46 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

Hilarious that this has touched a nerve, of all things.  I was explaining why we don’t bother at all with the stupid Santa tradition or discussions of the right way to handle XYZ - there is no right way.  We each decide based on our beliefs and family.  Shrug. If the OP isn’t into these things or they’re causing stress, ditch!


See, this is the problem.  Nobody cares if you do Santa or not or why.  It got messy when you jumped in, rudely told everyone else they're doing something stupid, and then thought it's funny you touched a nerve by being rude. Then you double down calling it stupid and think you're better than everyone because you don't do it. 

So, yeah.  Maybe now that the problem is spelled out you can see what the issue is. 

 

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11 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:


See, this is the problem.  Nobody cares if you do Santa or not or why.  It got messy when you jumped in, rudely told everyone else they're doing something stupid, and then thought it's funny you touched a nerve by being rude. Then you double down calling it stupid and think you're better than everyone because you don't do it. 

So, yeah.  Maybe now that the problem is spelled out you can see what the issue is. 

 

Oh screw you.  Seriously.  I don’t have the time to care about overly sensitive random people on the Internet.  Unless you’re going to help clean up the epic drama here?  Go away.

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