Thursday, November 09, 2017

Our Hope for an Intentional Christmas

We recently had a family meeting to discuss the upcoming Christmas season and how we can approach it intentionally. First of all, the kids loved the official term "family meeting" and took it seriously by sitting nicely and raising their hands to contribute. We also finished it off with a cheer which I would recommend – don't need to be too serious! The topic at hand was the reason for Christmas, how much we should be spending on gifts and what sort of items would be considered appropriate for the list. And yes, they know that Santa isn't real although Nya believes that he fills the stockings.

How do you approach Christmas gifts with your kids?

Why the meeting? Am I just a frugal scrooge? It's true that gifts are not a strength of mine to begin with as they tend to stress me out and I'd rather buy something for someone that they actually need. I remember in high school buying my friend an alarm clock for her birthday because that is something she actually needed. A few people made fun of that gift but I know that she appreciated it. Well, I  think she did – it had a large digital display because she wanted it across the room so she wouldn't press snooze. What is the struggle that I have with gifts?

My struggle with Christmas presents is the idea of buying gifts just to have something to open; to provide gifts because we are supposed to.

Child's image reflected in a Christmas ornament

Are these gifts actually celebrating Jesus' birth or are they just expectations? Our kids have all they need and more. Even though we purge frequently, they have ample toys, books and clothes. However, several of my kids have gifts as one of their major love languages so I know it is very exciting for them to unwrap a present and I'm trying to honour that. The amount of money the kids decided on was $50 per kid. Thirty dollars will be spent with Gary and I selecting the gifts and then we will give them $10 to spend on each of their siblings. This allows those who love giving gifts to feel the excitement in actually going out and buying them.

Merry Christmas banner on the mantel

We decided that items on the list should have some practical value – a sports hat, book, hockey gear and crafts are great. Asking for Pokemon or another Beanie Boo is not going to work this time (or grandma can buy it). People often mention experiences and this is really what I prefer but I understand that this is not as exciting for most of my kids, although, last year's surprise was pretty awesome!

A highlight for our whole family is the advent calendar we do every year as it is a time to focus on our family, the reason for the season, and helping others. For each day there is an activity inside which is often family time such as dinner by candlelight, play a board game, flashlight tag, make a gingerbread house and go look at Christmas lights – note they don't need to be fancy or expensive and they can be what are were going to be doing that day anyway. Other items in the boxes often have a focus on what the season is about and giving back. For example, we have included read the Christmas story, donate to the food bank, and choose a gift through Compassion for someone who has much greater needs than we do. We also hope to spend some time with our previous foster children over the holiday.

Advent calendar family activities

I would encourage you to think now about the upcoming Christmas season. 

What do you want your time together to be like? What are your kids hoping it looks like? Have you already talked about what is important to you over the holiday?

Wrapped presents under the Christmas tree

Having a faith-based family, celebrating Jesus' birth is the reason for our season. However, I think that can easily get pushed to the side with all of the other activities and things vying for our attention even though they have great intentions. I'm curious, when you think of Christmas, does it excite you or overwhelm you? What is your favourite part? Do you have a gift budget? As always, I'd love your feedback although maybe don't call me a Scrooge.


Have you seen this video about approaching this season with joy and gratitude?  Makes me smile every time.  As always, I'd love to see you on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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How to have a simple, affordable and intentional Christmas.


  1. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be
    waiting for your next post thank you once again.

  2. i have been feeling like we just have TOO.MUCH.STUFF. lately. I actually started talking with Alf last night about skipping gifts and doing an experience together. We would still do stockings for them, and we would tell them that we're doing an experience and not gifts (so they aren't disappointed on Christmas), but wouldn't tell them WHAT we're doing, until Christmas - that's when they'd 'open' the surprise. But so far, just talking about it. They'll still get gifts from grandparents, but sometimes I think it's just too much "stuff" you know?
    I also am thinking ahead that I want to do a Jesse tree this year. It's early enough that I can actually get it all ready before Advent starts ;)

    1. So much stuff!! Love your idea of doing an experience and letting them know ahead of time but not what it will be.