Creating a Better Christmas For Our Family

Let me preface this by saying that I love Christmas. I love the cheesy movies, Christmas music, family traditions, decorating the tree, hanging the stockings, opening presents as a family – I’m there for all of it. I really am.

But as I looked ahead to this coming Christmas, I found myself kind of dreading it. Not the moments, but the Stuff. The Stuff that I knew was going to stockpile around our already stuffed house. Our kids are approaching an age where they kind of have it all. They have more dolls, blocks, puzzles, games, dress up clothes, video games and even books than they need. I’ve spent the last few months trying to weed out some of that clutter. We’ve made good progress, but we have more purging to do for sure.

So with Christmas looming,  I found myself seriously concerned that the onslaught of gifts might undo all of the work we’ve done this year of decluttering, setting us even further back. I found myself wondering how I could reinvent this wheel, while still making Christmas meaningful and magical for my children. Specifically – the presents we give each other at Christmas. People always talk about experience presents and I decided that this year I wanted to give the family as a whole one big experience – in the form of a Spring Break trip to one of our favorite local hotel / waterparks, The Great Wolf Lodge.

(As an aside, this is not a Sponsored post – Great Wolf Lodge doesn’t know me – I’m just mentioning them because I felt like it.)

I can hear your doubts – because I had them, too. But hear me out:

How do you give your kids a gift that they can’t actually enjoy until several months later? This would admittedly work better if we were taking the trip during Christmas break. This is not in the cards – but after talking it over with my husband who loved the idea, I decided to give it a shot anyway. I had a puzzle made from a picture of one of our first trips to Great Wolf Lodge that the kids can open and assemble on Christmas morning – so they can have something tangible to open and build hype for the upcoming trip.

Seriously no other presents? Well, let’s be real. They are still going to get presents from their extended family. I also have giant hand knit stockings to fill that I’ll be able to approach with less apprehension since it’s the only thing I’ll be shopping for this year. The key will be not going nuts or I could find myself defeating the purpose. But with some planning ahead and will power, I can totally handle this. I’m actually making a list of stocking stuffer ideas and plan to not purchase most of the things until I know exactly what I’m planning to buy everyone – that way I don’t find myself just one more thing-ing the situation into oblivion. I should have been doing this already probably.. Either way, the kids will definitely have presents to open on Christmas morning. I’m just taking us off the hook for trying to come up with big exciting things to unwrap in addition to stocking stuffers and gifts coming from extended family.

What about the magic of Christmas? There’s still tons of fun things to look forward to. We like to celebrate Saint Lucy Day as a family on December 13. Most years I try to add in other December holidays also. This year I’m not holding back. Advent, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Saint Nicholas Day – even the Icelandic book flood are all on my horizon. The best part is that most of these holidays aren’t going to cost much money at all – the emphasis is really on time together. We’ll also visit a Christmas Tree farm, decorate the tree, watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music, bake cookies together – all of the things that I LOVE about Christmas with less of the clutter and commercialism that can make me cranky in one of my favorite seasons.

If this works – it won’t be the last time. I like the idea of small, simple presents that fit in an oversized Christmas stocking – and one bigger, possibly nontangible item that the whole family can enjoy. This could be the beginning of a beautiful new Christmas tradition.

What do you think?

Do you give experience presents to your children?

Has this worked for you?



2 responses to “Creating a Better Christmas For Our Family”

  1. Jess (Randomly Jess) Avatar

    So, I could have a lot to say. But I’m going to try to shorten this! I WISH that this is something I would have thought of long ago! We’ve gone through the gamut of Christmas “trials”. I suppose that this would make a wonderful blog post (when I decide to hop off Instagram and back onto my blog). But this is something that is newer to me. I heard about it this year– although, I’m sure that it’s been “a thing” for a while. It’s new to me because that isn’t how my family celebrated. Not just who’s in my house now- but growing up as well. They showed their love by buying THE things. Now, my life has turned out differently than the previous generations of my family and I don’t have as much money to spare. So, we’ve tried various ways to do Christmas- but none of them actually made the kids happy because they would always find fault in it, in the end. But I LOVE this idea.

    I’m a little late on the pickup- although I’ve been hearing of grandparents even doing this! They buy an experience for their grandchildren. Something they can go out and DO! Not just your average gift card… but the experience of going and doing something. Again, I’m a procrastinator but I’ll probably talk with the husband about something like this for next year. Possibly a trip for everyone still living in the house at that point… then a different experience that each person can have that has moved out.

    I think it’s a great idea… I really hope that it works for you guys. I really hope to try it out next year! This year, it’s a simple homemade gift for extended family and we haven’t even started for the people who are teenagers who probably won’t appreciate the handmade gift I’m giving to the adults.


    1. Jen E @ mommablogsalot Avatar

      I love handmade gifts – my husband is knitting scarves for my kids’ teachers and I’m making scones to go with it.