It’s time to say YES to your sanity and NO to overextending and overcommitting yourself and your family for the Holidays.

As of a mom of 4 Christmas can get totally crazy and excessive. Christmas morning leaves my living room looking like a toy store. There are piles of toys that have tiny little pieces and are in boxes that I need special ninja tools to open. My kids open the packages so fiercely they don’t  take the time to see what they opened before moving to the next present. They will play with the “things” once, loose all the pieces or break it and never touch the toy again. It will find it’s way to a toy box  and just hang there unwanted or needed.  I will then take the toys to the Goodwill while the kids are at school and they will never know the “stuff and things” are missing.  That’s the life cycle of toys at my house.

Why do we buy into this madness? Are we trying to buy our kids love with things? Are we trying to one-up our neighbors? Are we buying because we were raised in a family without the means to buy? Are we going above and beyond to make ourselves feel something? Not even sure what that something is. Are we doing this because we enjoy seeing the short lived excitement from our kids? I say short lived, because I know an argument will break out between my kids at some point while unwrapping gifts. Are we doing this because our love language is giving gifts, so that’s the way we best show love and therefore Christmas is totally your Holiday because you are able to show “buy” things to make people feel your love?

I am raising my hand because I am guilty. Guilty of making Christmas about presents and the “things” I was buying for my kids. I spent months stressing and buying the most elaborate and personalized items for each one of my kids. I would spend hours browsing Etsy and ordering custom gifts. One example that makes me laugh now, were the crayons molded into the letters for their names. I mean they were crayons and we have a zillion crayons already. Totally not practical or necessary. I would try to spend the same dollar amount and have the same number of packages for each kid to open. Those rules I gave myself turned the buying into complete chaos. I would forget gifts I bought and find items stuffed away in my closet.  Then I would go to Target and buy more to make it fair for each kid.  Can anyone relate to this madness? I would end up with 10-15 gifts per kid. That’s so many presents, and then I had to wrap them. I had a vision of beautifully wrapped packages under my tree with lovely tied bows. That is truly a vision and not my reality. The presents I wrap look like my 5 year old son wrapped, it’s not my jam. I have even considered hiring someone to wrap presents so they can “look” pretty. I mean that’s  totally bananas. I had completely lost my mind and in doing so, I was teaching my kids that the reason for the season were gifts and abundance of “things.”

Then I woke up. My kids have no idea what I bought them for all those Christmas’s, neither do I. My kids didn’t care about the “stuff and things.” My kids didn’t care that the wrapping paper rarely covered the box, because I never measured and cut the paper correctly.  My kids are going to remember how I made them feel during the Holidays, and the experiences and memories we made together as a family. Plus they are going to remember if I was bat shit crazy during the Holidays, because I was stressed, overextended and overcommitted. 

My life’s mantra is Slow Down, Live Simple and Be Present.  I can apply that mantra to every part of the Holidays. Here it goes:

Slow Down– Keep your Yes’s sacred. Sometimes you will need to say no to an invitation or Holiday party. Your kids want to spend time with YOU during the Holidays not hurrying to leave one place to show up late to the next.  Take time to slow down and build your own traditions with your family. It’s ok to say No and you don’t have to give some crazy excuse or explanation for your NO.  

Live Simply– Here’s the hard one for me, because I was so accustomed to buying gifts. Focus on creating experiences and making memories with your kids and loved ones. This isn’t about not spending money this is about how you are spending your money. Shifting your mindset and how you are gifting to giving experiences and not “things.”  This is a win for me too because experiences don’t clutter my home which equals less trips to the Goodwill! 

Some Suggestions of Experiences you can Gift:

  1. Movie Tickets
  2. Plan a Family Vacation
  3. Night at Great Wolf Lodge 
  4. Tickets to a Concert
  5. Tickets to a Live Theatre Event
  6. Attend a Cooking Class 
  7. Tickets to Legoland 
  8. Tickets to the Zoo
  9. Tickets to Sporting Events
  10. Gift Certificate to Paint or Make Pottery  
  11. Make A Craft Together (last year my family went and purchased all the items for a wreath and made a Holiday wreath together for our front door)
  12. Tickets to an Amusement Park or Water Park
  13. One of my favorites my sis-n-law does for my boys is she gifts them a camp-out at her house. They put a tent up in the back yard, have a bonfire, roast hotdogs and make smores. My boys absolute love this gift. 

Subscription boxes are a great way to keep it simple for Holiday gifts. I purchased each of my kids a subscription box last Christmas based on their interest, and they were such a hit. Kids love getting mail. Each month they are pumped when a package arrives for them. I signed up for  3 month subscriptions. Most subscription based companies offer 3, 6 or 12 months. The price typically lowers the more months you sign up for.

Here are the ones I have personally used and would recommend:  My 8 year old son Owen loved his Kiwico Boxes. He enjoys math and science and these boxes kept him busy inside during the cold Winter months. Note from their website: We make STEAM accessible, engaging, and fun. Our goal is to inspire kids to see themselves as scientists, artists, and makers. My 12 year old daughter Olivia enjoys baking and cooking. These kits were perfect for her. They were easy to make, creative and yummy. Note from their website:  Join The Baker’s Club. Modern up your traditions with creative baking kits delivered every other month to make even better memories with friends and family. This was as much for me as my baby boy. The box was filled with age appropriate goodies for him and also fun extras for me too. Note from their website: Discover a monthly box of new goodies for mom & munchkin from Pregnancy to Preschool.

Magazine Subscription are great gifts too.  You can order them on Amazon which keeps it convenient and easy. I love that  they come monthly and my kids want to read them or maybe they are just looking at the pictures either way they have enjoyed the monthly magazine subscriptions. These are 2 of my boy’s favorites:

Sports Illustrated Kids

National Geographic Kids

If you like the shopping part of the Holidays here’s another way to Keep It Simple Sister.  This is the Holiday shopping guide I personally use for each one of my kiddos.

I buy for each kid:

  • Something They NEED
  • Something to READ
  • Something they WANT
  • Something they WEAR
  • Something to DO (Experience)

I stuff their stockings full of goodies too. I don’t do sweats or candies. I keep it practical; socks, underwear , hats, gloves, and gift cards. My family has a tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve and they are pajamas for each kid. It’s kinda a selfish mom thing because they are dressed in cute pajamas for Christmas morning pictures!

Be Present– This is the most important one for you and your family. They need and want your presence, not your presents. There’s a quote I reflect on often as I navigate motherhood “The days are long and the years are short.” The years are numbered when your kids believe in the magic of the season.  Stop stressing, rushing, over extending, over committing yourself and your kids this Holiday season. Focus on spending time together creating memories. Play games, bake, do crafts, play in the snow, create traditions, drive around looking at Christmas lights, watch Christmas movies, adopt a family and provide Christmas for a family in need, spend time together laughing and talking. Stop buying into the commercialization of the Holidays and stand up for your sanity. Give the gift of a happy, not stressed mom and wife to your family this Holiday Season. Keep It Simple Sister. 

Much Love & Gratitude, Megan 

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