Christmas with Children-Keeping it Sane

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Several years ago I heard about an easy way to narrow down Christmas gifts for children. Instead of buying a bunch of toys or other clutter, each child receives the following:

Something to Read

Something to Wear

Something to Play

Something to Share.

With four kids, that is already quite a few gifts. One thing I have tried to do is to knock these out in stages. For example, last weekend I went ahead and took care of the “Something to Read” while doing some other errands. Even though it is just October, I have 1/4 of our children’s gifts finished.

Another thought (if you have lots of kids and a limited budget) is to ask folks who plan to buy for your kids anyway to cover one of these categories. One set of grandparents can cover the “something to play” or “something to wear” category. If they want to spend more on your child, ask them to contribute to their savings accounts or college fund, or to buy savings bonds in your child’s name. This will help build up savings for college, or cars, or a first house.

This is also a great time to start reading some “Little House” books or other older literature when Christmas was not a marketers dream and a thrify mom’s nightmare. Keeping Christ in Christmas is so much easier when you are not having to battle overwhelming piles of stuff that will end up on the floor of the closet in a month.


  1. Dineen

    My husband and I have been discussing this even though our daughter is only celebrating her first birthday this November. We’ve been considering separating Santa and a lot of the gift-giving from Christmas as well as using the old Medieval (Catholic) calendar holidays to help out. St. Nicholas Day is December 6. We think that day could be set aside for stockings and small “Santa” gifts (candy, fruit, nuts and a small toy that can fit in a stocking.) Christmas will be Christmas, the celebration of God’s Son’s arrival on earth with a nice festive dinner and worship, no gifts. January 6 is Epiphany celebrating when the wise men arrived to worship the newborn Jesus and present gifts (it’s the Twelfth Day of Christmas). Since that’s the “gift giving” part of Christmas, we thought that would be a time for gift giving. For my husband and I (after pondering the some of the symbolism of those first gifts) our January 6 gifts for ouselves have been ones that foster our spiritual growth (a Bible dictionary, study texts). For other (the young kids), since it’s in January the after Christmas clearances can offer savings. Since our daughter’s birthday is in November, we’re thinking a spiritual growth gift is still appropriate, considering she can get “fun” gifts at her birthday.

  2. Sharidee

    Just wondering what kinds of things you put in the something to share category in Christmas gifts. I have 7 grandchildren 5 years of age and under. The other ideas are no problem–just curious about the share category. God bless you. I’m a grandmother but have a daughter who is homeschooling and love your site.

  3. LaDonna

    What a great idea! I think this will be the plan for this year! I already have some of it done.

  4. Malia

    Something to share could be a board game for the whole family, or some special food treat everyone likes. It can be a classic video (one everyone can enjoy together). We have usually done board games. Now, we are all stocked up on board games and do not need anymore. I have to get creative again!

  5. Debbie

    For something to share could I suggest some family read alouds… I know you already have something to read but this could be a special book or set of books depending on your $$ situation. I suggest something like Lamplighter, a set or a single book. The something to read could be for individual reading and the something to share for family read aloud in the evenings.

    But also, in my opinion, you can never have to many games.. we try to get at least one new game for the family each year. Timberdoodle, Love to Learn and the Rainbow Resource Christmas Catalog usually have GREAT game ideas for the whole family.

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