Keeping materialism at a minimum during Christmas requires intentionality. Less focus on the gifts, more focus on the true meaning requires work.
The first step when trying to make Christmas less about the gifts is to examine what type of gifts are being given. In the past we bought gifts based simply on what a person would like. Or we would try anyway. Often this would end in a frustrating shopping pursuit that ended with money spent on an item that wasn’t even needed in order to check a box. The gift held little, if any, meaning or significance. BUT we could mark that person off the list.
Christmas rolled around, and we had a mountain of gifts under our tree. Piles upon piles of packages. Inside those packages were sweaters that would never be worn, another pair of pajamas to add to an already full pajama drawer, and another toy to be placed in a closet. January rolled around, the excitement was gone, and reality set in. We spent a lot of money, with little to truly show for it.
Several years ago we purchased Steve’s parents a gift card to bedandbreakfast.com. 5 years later they continue to talk about that gift with us. That gift allowed them to do something together, create memories, experience life together. When Christmas was over they didn’t hide the gift in a drawer. Instead, they were able to do something that drew them closer to each other. It was a gift that we loved giving. More importantly, it was also the first time we realized that a gift could be a stepping stone for our family to continue on the path of a less materialistic Christmas. Another year my parents purchased the boys skiing lessons rather than a more traditional gift. I can honestly say none of my boys can remember a toy or gift they have received at Christmas (other than the Wii), yet they still, 3 years later, remember that Nanny gave them skiing lessons. Because it was a gift experienced. It engraved a memory into their little hearts and minds. So much more meaningful than a toy they outgrew.
Each year since then, we have tried to spend less money while giving gifts that held more meaning. One year we had our blog printed into a book for each of the grandparents. My favorite website for creating thoughtful photo gifts is blurb.
Last year we gave my favorite gift to the grandparents, which will actually be a treasure to them and my children for years to come. Grandmother’s Memories: To Her Grandchild. We also bought for the granddads the Grandpa version. This book asks questions about their past and life that grandchildren might not know. They are given a glimpse into the life of their grandparents. Through this book, they hear stories never told. Through this book they will be connected a little closer to their family by sharing in their life memories with them. We can’t wait for the day we receive these back.
This year our gift giving list is smaller than ever. Knowing we have a little boy staying with us who has no idea what love looks like, gives us a grand reason to expound on what Christmas is really about while making smaller what the world makes so big. The gifts. The gift we will accentuate will be love.
The majority of gifts making the cut this year hold meaning and significance. It’s either hand-made or purchased with thought given to significance, or an experience gift that we can do together to create lasting memories.
This year we will:
- give gifts that hold meaning
- give gifts that we created ourself
- give gifts to support a cause or someone we love
- give gifts that will encourage or build up a loved one
- give gifts we can pay cash for
- give gifts that will not overshadow the biggest gift of all-our Savior
This year we will not:
- buy gifts simply to buy gifts
- buy gifts in order to check someone off a list
- give gifts that hold no value or significance
- purchase items that will make January painful for us
- spend our December focusing so much on shopping that we lose the time and energy to connect with what is right in front of us
With less pressure around gift giving, we can experience a much richer Christmas season. With less focus on the gifts, we can give ourselves a true gift. A simpler Christmas. A less frenzied season. An uncomplicated to do list. More opportunities to create memories. More time at home, less time in the stores. Joy and satisfaction in knowing our family captured the essence of Christmas this year.