Do you ever feel overwhelm by the sheer volume of presents at Christmas? I know the feeling. Many years ago, we chose to follow a “Three Gift” guide, when it came to presents.
Not only did it reduce the stress of TOO MUCH stuff coming into our house, but it also help us create a very meaningful shopping list.
Here’s how we choose presents for our kids at Christmas, with joy and minimalism in mind.
When we were new parents in the early years of ‘one child’, we did not have any rules. We bought whatever we felt like for our little prince with abandon. In the weeks following Christmas, we were stuck with a huge mess of toys, that took a ridiculous amount of time per day to clean up.
As our family grew, we scaled back naturally, feeling like “we already had enough toys”. The truth was, we had TOO MUCH.
I remember sitting with a beloved sister in Christ, who has one child. She shared how they were not really sure if they were doing presents that year. Or perhaps they would, but it would just be one little treat from the thrift or dollar store.
What a novel idea. NO presents. It was refreshing to have a friend so grounded and comfortable with not following society’s obligation of giving a monstrosity of gifts. I knew it was a choice, and not because they could not afford it.
Our Three Gift Guide
It caused a beautiful reflection for me. I knew I hated being burdened with tons of things in my home. And still, I had not yet felt the liberty to change that.
EVERYONE has stuff. And Minimalism was not yet touted as something chic for a family. It had the stigma of a vagabond living from the ten items found in their backpack.
That is too extreme for me. But I did want less. I loved the idea of creating our OWN traditions without a huge volume of stuff, and HOURS of opening presents. It was from this spark that we created the THREE GIFT GUIDE.
It allows us to gift joyfully to our kids (we were not willing to give it up entirely) and still have meaningful moments instilled Christmas Day that were not entered entirely on presents. I know rules can be bothersome in excess, but they can hem us in and provide a rich source of joy too! Minimalism helps us have more time for the things that truly matter!
#1. Something to Read
Books are an area I feel comfortable keeping copious amounts of.
Obviously as homeschoolers we have school texts, but we tend to keep a wide variety of books on every subject and topic.
And our children LOVE books. That’s why “Books” is at the top of our list when it comes to Christmas gifts.
One of the three Categories we give from is “something to read”.
I love that this allows us so much freedom to choose a magical, delicious book, and yet takes the overwhelm out of choosing something, because it sticks to our category.
Here is a list of some books we have ordered for our children this year!
The Sarah Boyton books are SO enjoyable for toddlers, and often hilarious! We love them all and I am getting a boxed set for our Little Ones this Christmas.
Eric Carle Books are a big hit with our little ones. This BOXED COLLECTION is a sweet simple addition to a library for tiny ones and “middle littles” alike!
The Little Plane, by Lois Lens
“Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Police Station” by Richard Scarry. Our Five year old is obsessed with anything to do with Police work!
The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs: 100 + Sweet and Savoury Recipes You’ll Love to Bake, Share and Eat! We have so many little blossoming chefs in our house, this might end up being a FAMILY gift!
For 9 and Up:
Bedtime Inspirational Stories: 50 AMAZING Black People who Changed the World. I am very excited for this collection particularly. We have a lot of diversity in our extended family, and we love reading books on diversity, culture and historical figures who changed the world. I am not sure yet who I will give this to, but it needed to be added to our collection!
The Book of Unusual Knowledge, this is a gift for our 11-year-old. I cannot speak for whether it is ‘kid-approved’ but it sounded so interesting and like something he would LOVE!
Some Books on Mine and Yvan’s Christmas List:
Yvan and I both love to read. Here are some of our choices this year!
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad, by John, Eldredge.
- The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
- The Paleo Bread Cookbook: Gluten & Grain Free Breads, Wraps, Crackers And More.
- The Grain-Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free Family Cookbook
- Joy, The Dawning of Indestructible Advent, By Jon Piper
- Oh She Glows! For Dinner:Noursihing Plant Based Meals, Angela Lidden
- Against All Grain, Danielle, Walker
#2. Something to Wear
Our kids are not particular about clothing styles (except our daughter loves dresses). They just want it to fit and that they can get as dirty as they want, playing in it. Hence, the reason why we thrift the majority of our clothing (with the exception of things given to us).
But at Christmas, and occasionally birthdays, we love getting them something special to wear. It could be a shirt or outfit of some kind. But this year we are choosing to get them some new mittens! They LOVE mittens because they spend so many hours playing outside in the snow each year. I often just buy a bunch of mittens that are locally made or thrifted and keep them in a drawer in our mudroom for easy access. We always have a ton so we have dry ones available at different times of the day. But this year I am getting them individual colours.
I love THESE ONES in sizes 6 Months to 8 years old that are Thinsulate and SUPER warm for our Canadian Winters! Plus they come in a variety of sizes and colours!
I chose THESE ONES for our 8-11 year olds! Also Thinsulate super warm with several great colour choices.
#3. Something Special
This category is always so much fun to choose from!
With NINE birthdays happening in our house, presents are a continual flow throughout the year. Which is why we have been embracing a minimalism as a family.
Minimalism is not a ‘poor version of materialism’. It is a conscious choice to choose what surrounds you life, with meaning and purpose.
Sometimes our “something special” is a pass to a park or a trip somewhere making memories to last a lifetime. It could even be a trip to the movies or some science kits.
But this year, with less outings (and often at Christmas), we chose a toy or activity gift for each of our kids that we know they will LOVE, based on their interests.
Stick to a Plan
We also decide on our Christmas budget early in the year and start putting money aside ahead of time. That has helped us so much with our DEBT Free Journey and being able to enjoy the holidays without the added stress of an extra financial obligation.
We also do not currently spend the same amount on all of our children. Our one year old could not care less if his present cost $100 or $1. He would often, quite frankly prefer the box. I did not even get him a gift last year, when he was a tiny baby. I just don’t believe we HAVE to fill our house with things simply for the sake of tradition. Do what works best for your family.
Now, that being said, obviously we will be getting them gifts they all enjoy as they get older. But it is not always about the cost. My middle son LOVES ART supplies. It just so happens that art supplies is a little less pricey than some special lego kits. In compensation, we are choosing to create a gift box of Art supplies that counts as the ONE special gift.
Here is a List of what we chose for our Kiddos, (thought two gifts we are still deciding on):
Lego Technic Compact Crawler Crane. Our oldest is crazy about anything to do with building, engineering or LEGOS! This was a set he was interested in for awhile. I think he will be pretty excited about it on Christmas!
Our Nine-Year-Old, I have been having a harder time deciding on. He has so many interests. I may end up going with Legos for him as well, since he spends the majority of his play time with his brothers, playing legos. But I am considering something musical since he LOVES music. We’ll see, but I will update what I decided on in a future post. Here are some of the things I am choosing between for him: Lego Star Wars Carbon Freezing Chamber, Lego Townhouse Pet Shop and Café (he loves lego houses particularly) or this electronic drum set for my musically minded rockstar.
For our Daughter I am still deciding between some Lego kits. She lost some of her lego creations outdoors this summer and has been hoping for some more. I will probably add a sweet snow-globe like THIS ONE to her stocking because it has been a tradition since she was a little munchkin of a three year old.
Our Three-Year-Old and Five-Year-Old love the movie Toy Story 4 that we have watched on Family Movie Nights! I chose to get them a set of Buzz Lightyear and Woody with Bulls-Eye for a gift they could enjoy playing with together. The bonus for me is that is does NOT come with a million pieces that will be scattered throughout our house!
Our 20-Month-Old is getting this super cute Little People Garage. He already has Little People that he loves to play with so this should be a joy for him. I only paid $13 for it on a recent sale Amazon had! But even $20 is an inexpensive Christmas gift. Keep and eye out on Black Friday for another sale though!
Here are SOME of the Art supplies I chose for our Six-Year-Old! He LOVES drawing and is quite good! We purchased some high quality Prisma Colour pencil crayons (I purchased for only $20 on an AMAZON sale, so keep am eye out come Black Friday! We also bought him this Blank Comic Strip Art Book and a Sketch book. The original sketch book I purchased (in the video) was not a great quality, but he will enjoy using it up quickly, The one I just linked is a beautiful Canson Hardcover for a reasonable price and one I will be adding to his gift!
Decluttering Before Christmas!
This is a SUPER important part of preparation for a gift giving holiday approaching. We all take some time one day to go through our things and pass on any toys or items that are less played with/used.
Plus, It allows for new items to come in without cluttering up our current space!
Often, we donate, repurpose an item or even consider gifting it to someone if it is in nice condition (be sure to tell them it is an ‘up-cycled gift’ and that you not only care for them, but the environment as well!).
Again, Minimalism is a GIFT in and of itself. It gives back a thousand fold in time otherwise spent on caring for too much STUFF.
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Here are some other Special Gift Ideas We considered or are planning to add to our shopping list:
- Local artisan gifts! These are my personal favourite and support our local artists.
- Specialty Food items. This is a GREAT way to support small local businesses, as well as give a ‘consumable’ gift that will not clutter up anyone’s home past the holidays. Consider purchasing locally made chocolates, cheeses, smoked meats, and roasted coffee as a gift for someone you love!
- We also love activities books like these Dot-to-Dot, Water WOW books, and Puffy Sticker Cool Career books, for Kids. They do not last forever, and children get SO much enjoyment from them.
- We LOVE Melissa and Doug toys for quality. Here are some choices that are wonderful time consuming activities that sharpen the mind and give plenty of fun for your kiddos! We love the Stamps collection, Magnetic Pattern Board and Natural 4 Piece Wood Puzzles for 2-4 year olds.