simplifying gift-giving for kids!

it's DECEMBER! For a lot of us, this conjures up mixed feelings of excitement, stress, hope, joy, and exhaustion. Admit it, it's true. I have mixed feelings about gift giving during Christmas. I love giving gifts (major love language for me), but I don't like that a couple of times a year the kids are literally showered with presents to the point where they hardly appreciate what they've been given. I wish we could just pick one day each month to give a modest gift instead of going bananas for Christmas and birthdays. And in the case with our family, we just finished birthday season (our kids are August, September, and October!) and are still riding that wave of presents. The last thing they need is MORE right now, but alas, 'tis the season.

We also don't celebrate Christmas with the Santa tradition. It's a long story and I might post on it later this month, but for now, this post by Jen Hatmaker, sums things up pretty perfectly on where we stand. So in an effort to keep things modest, simple, and practical (ok, and fun), this is what we're doing for gifts this year for the kids.

1. Something to eat
2. Something to read
3. Something to wear
4. Something to do

I especially love the something to eat and do categories as they're immaterial! Here are some ideas I have:

Something to eat
 - Fun cereal for Christmas morning (I grew up with this tradition and we always loved it!)
 - Hot chocolate dates with each parent leading up to and following Christmas
 - Ginger bread houses

Something to read
 - This is Paris by Miroslav Sasek (I wish they had Stockholm, Copenhagen, or Montreal, my favourite city trifecta)
 - God Made All Of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
 - Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

Something to wear
 - Astronaut costume for Oli
 - Matching dresses and tights for the girls (I bought them when Gap Kids last has their famous "50% off already on sale items" sale)

Something to do - We considered ice skates this year for our older two but decided to wait until next year. Instead, I'd like to get a family seasons pass to the Montreal Biodôme. It's such a great indoor activity in the winter months. It's like a zoo and museum in one, and is on the metro line (praise hands emoji!)

I should write another post on gift-giving because I have ALL THE THOUGHTS, but for now, I just wanted to share a few ideas to keep it on the simple side. How do you figure out what to buy?


  1. Anonymous10.12.15

    We got the bio dome family membership for the kids last year....it was amazing. They have a fun play area set up by the cafeteria from dec to mid February, a lifesaver for surviving montreal winters with toddlers. Neisha

    1. I can't wait! I'm thinking of the Granby Zoo membership for the family and making it the kid's combined birthday gift (it's over $200 I think, so would have to justify it... but not something I'd regret I'm sure!).

  2. I asked my sister for the biodome membership for our family too! Such a great idea!

    1. I can't wait! I'm thinking of the Granby Zoo membership for the family and making it the kid's combined birthday gift (it's over $200 I think, so would have to justify it... but not something I'd regret I'm sure!).

  3. This is great! Completely agree. That post by Jen Hatmaker really nails it (as do you :). Love the cereal idea. Our kids would flip! :)

    Question though: how are you doing the Rule of 4? Do you and your hubby give each of your children four gifts? Or do you make sure that they get four in total?

    We are really struggling with our extended family (particularly my side) over this. Not the Rule of 4, per say, but over all of it. They seriously want to inundate our two kids (who are only 4 and 2!@)#*!!!!!!) with a million gifts. It's insane. It has been very frustrating. They all know the Lord and they fully "agree" with our desire to scale back and focus on Christ, but then they go out and buy a million things anyway or harass us about "what else" to get them. It has been very uncomfortable. On top of this, our future brother-in-law is very well-off and sees nothing wrong with getting them everything they want. He has two little girls of his own who essentially whatever they want (will confess that I am struggling with judgment about all this), but sadly, there are a whole slew of other issues at play in those relationships :(.

    Would appreciate some perspective from anyone! I know I should commit all this to the Lord in prayer, but maybe He can use someone to pass one some wisdom :)?!

    1. Hey Roxana, that's a hard one. We don't necessary limit it to 4 unique things, but 4 unique categories, and nothing not within those categories. For example, our kid's REALLY don't need more toys so under no circumstances will we justify buying a toy - unless it's under the something to DO category which would be like a board game, soccer ball, etc (so similar to a toy, but NOT).

      Our families give a lot too... it's hard at times. As hard as it is, you've got to let your bro-in-law parent how he sees fit, and leave parenting your kids to you. If he wants to give his children every toy under the sun, that's his call. You won't make that choice for your kids and that's what matters. Fill your kids with traditions and celebrations of Jesus this Christmas and pray that God uses those things to illuminate the gospel (even to little ones), so the rest (the toys, the things) fade away.

      Also, when people ask what to get your toys (or WHAT ELSE) suggest movie tickets, zoo memberships, taking each individual kid out to lunch... important events like that! They'll build far better memories than toys, and will foster relationship too :)

  4. Love this simpleness of this! Every year I tell myself I will scale back, but I feel like I don't. We try to limit it to 3 gifts per kid, but then there's the whole stocking thing which we did last year when my mother in law made stockings for everyone. Now I feel like they have to be filled. We're doing practical stuff, such as nail polish, chapstick, klean kanteen bottles for summer, colouring books etc. but that's the part that seems over the top to me now. Maybe I'm overthinking, but I'm hoping to do away with stockings all together next year to avoid the "what on earth do I put in their stockings" even if it does end up being practical stuff. Does your family do stockings? With regards to figuring out to buy, I do a lot of thinking in advance. This year each kids gets an instrument (xylophone and drum) based on their love of music, a wooden Ikea cash register (because they currently play "cashier") and some musical bath toys. My biggest challenge is I LOVE buying gifts, researching them etc. and start thinking about it months in advance.

    1. Ah, stockings! Well we have them and don't fill them, haha! But I was thinking, once my kids are old enough to be writing, we could use them as little mail boxes and leave each other bible verses and little notes during the whole advent season! I have the same challenge as you... i LOVE buying gifts haha! But have to reign it in for the sake of not spoiling them and minimalism, and the desire to keep Jesus as the center. And we totally got them that cash register last year for christmas ;)