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There’s something about the Christmas season that drives me crazy. Don’t get me wrong — there are aspects I enjoy with all my heart, like spending time with family, indulging in too much junk, and pausing to feel the joy of Christ in my life. But, I always seem to get wrapped up in consumerism way more than I would like.
When it comes to avoiding over-consumerism, last year was one of the best Christmases I’ve had. It was sweet and simple, thanks to a new rule we’ve adopted.
For each of our kids, we give no more than five gifts, using the following categories as a guide:
- Something to read
- Something to experience
- Something to wear
- Just for fun
This year, we’ll be keeping the tradition going, while shifting our efforts and attention toward celebrating the advent season. Here are my favorite gifts for each of the above four categories. *Bonus: These gift categories can apply year-round.
Gift Category 1 | Something to Read
The Polar Express ~ I remember this book being so special and magical. I love the illustrations, and can’t wait to give it to our daughter this year (probably on Christmas Eve).
Where the Wild Things Are ~ Lily’s sweet Aunt “Boo” gave her this book for her birthday. It’s a classic, again with beautiful illustrations.
Chrysanthemum ~ We actually discovered this book on a recent trip to the library. I love when books recognize the intelligence of children. This is one of them. It uses beautiful rhetoric to tell the story of a young girl and her long and unusual name.
Flora’s Very Windy Day ~ This is one of my favorites. Perhaps partly because it’s about a girl and her little brother, so I can’t help but picture my own two kids. It’s another book that tells a fantastical story through intelligent rhetoric.
Gift Category 2 | Something to Experience
I love the gift of experience. In the past, we’ve gotten our daughter zoo passes. This year, I think we’ll do one of the following:
Family Movie Night ~ Wrap up a bag of popcorn and a free printable movie ticket and let the child pick which movie to watch.
Family Art Night ~ Give an art set, some paper, and an art theme (e.g., stick to a certain subject, like animals, or a certain color palette). You could even have special art-night drinks (e.g., colored milk or sparkling cider for the kids, and wine for the adults).
Gift Category 3 | Something to Wear
PJs and Fuzzy Socks ~ It almost wouldn’t be Christmas without something cozy under the tree. My daughter doesn’t have a lot of cozy loungewear, and she keeps saying she’s cold when she wakes up in the morning, so we figured these would make the perfect gift for her.
Gift Category 4 | Just for Fun
This category could be optional. The point of it is to give you the freedom to have fun with giving if an idea pops into your mind.
Melissa and Doug ~ This is one of my favorite brands when it comes to toys. We really don’t need any toys, but last year, I just couldn’t stop thinking about this cookie baking set. It goes against our general philosophy of simplicity in parenting (since my daughter can easily make these kinds of cookies with playdough, or even pretend her blocks are cookies). But, I wanted to get it for her anyway. This was our “freebie”.