repinned to my holiday board from Jordan Ferney, original image from Jenny Hass blog
Every Christmas, I think: “This is the year I’m *finally* going to make the holiday season extra special.”
I think of all the things I can make, the traditions I want to start with the kids, the cookies & festive foods I will prepare. I get a little (a lot?) carried away with ambitious daydreams of hand crafting everything– the garlands I’m going to hang from every doorway, the wrapping paper (with homemade bows, of course), the frosted sugar cookies & peppermint fudge I’ll give to neighbors & friends, down to each perfectly executed DIY gift I’ll give. My holiday aspirations resemble something along the lines of Martha Stewart on steroids. It’s unrealistic, but I can’t help myself. I’m an optimist at heart, which makes me ever so slightly impractical (or crazy, either one).
We had a tradition for a few years where we invited 9 or 10 families, one at a time, over the course of December to our house for dinner. I made the same dinner each time to keep it simple (spaghetti, salad, breadsticks) & after dinner we had a little Christmas message & then everyone (including adults) made snowflakes that we put on our tree. It was a lot of work, but doing that made the season especially memorable. The idea was that though we didn’t have much money, our gift to our friends could be a warm meal, good company, & a little message.
A few years ago I (with Joseph’s help–isn’t that sexy?) made jean quilts for each one of my kids. I personalized each one with quilt blocks that matched each child’s likes–Hyrum, army camouflage; Asher, Cars (the movie); Amalia, Disney princesses. Again, a lot of work, but seeing the kid’s light up when they opened an extra special handmade gift made it so worth it.
This year, with a tight budget & a renewed commitment to simplicity & focus on the Christian message of the holiday season, I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts & what we’ll do for our kids. I love the Quaker hymn, “Simple Gifts” (Jewel rocks it, here). I want this year to be simple, meaningful.
In years past, Christmas has been a time to buy toys for the kids.
We decided awhile ago that we always wanted Christmas to be magical & exciting–and part of that, especially for kids, is the gift giving. I know some people have completely abandoned gift-giving because it’s “not what Christmas is about” or “it only supports commercialism.” I agree that commercial mania can distract many from the spirit of the holidays, but gift giving does not have to be a reckless pursuit of more, a ritualistic worship of consumerism. The honest act of giving a gift is selfless, thoughtful. At the heart it’s quite simple.
We figured there were going to be things that are kids needed and wanted, so instead of just buying them any old time, we’d save it for Christmas and/or birthdays.
So for a few years, the kids received a lot of Usborne books (one of my favorite “splurges” on the kids), & solid/durable toys (like a wooden kitchen set), a doll house for the girls, & other things that we figured would provide a good foundation for these kids & any future kids we might have. And Christmas is always a good time to give practical gifts that they’ll need anyway–pajamas, socks/underwear (I know, kinda boring, but when they’re wrapped up in pretty paper it’s fun.), new “Sunday best” clothes.
Because of this, at this point we have plenty of toys & books. The boys are mostly into legos, army men, guns, & books now. And the girls have plenty of dolls, art supplies, blocks, books, dress up clothes.
When I saw this on pinterest, I thought, why not try this out this year?
repinned to my holiday board from Sarah Majors
I love giving gifts (it’s one of the great joys of life, I think), and I hope to never shun the idea or concept of gift giving–after all a gift doesn’t have to be something purchased–it’s about the thought behind the gift.
In order to give a really great gift you have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes & think–what do they need? What would they really like? What can I offer to make them just a bit happier?
I think it can be a beautiful practice of getting outside yourself & thinking, in a meaningful way, about others. Which, in my opinion, is the essence of the Christmas message & spirit.
What are your thoughts on gift-giving? Do you like to give/receive gifts? What do you think about the four gift rule–is that something you could see yourself doing?
Frugal Holidays Part 2: why decluttering before the holidays is essential
Frugal Holidays Part 3: easy DIY washi tape Christmas cards
Frugal Holidays Part 4: 5 of our fave Christmas traditions
Frugal Holidays Part 5: DIY clay baked ornaments
Coming up on next week’s Frugal Tuesdays post: Part 2–why decluttering is essential before the holidays. Please share any memorable frugal gifts you’ve given or received (doesn’t have to be necessarily handmade or DIY) in the comments below or send me an email, & I’ll include your ideas/thoughts in next week’s post.