Arrghh! Christmas!

October 20, 2012

arrghh christmas
Welcome to my Arrghh! Christmas! Series.

I am far from an organising guru and in fact I feel somewhat agitated to see the word ‘Christmas’ splashed around in October, but I’ve learned from experience that if I don’t start getting my head around Christmas now then it all goes to hell in a hand-basket somewhere around December 1st.

This year I am determined to get at least a little bit organised, so over the next few Saturdays I’ll be tackling some of the big things on my list -

Getting Organised. – Links and tools to help us get organised and stay that way
Gift Ideas for Kids – Our favourite toys/gifts from past years as well as other ideas and some of our favourite online stores.
Cool Christmas Stuff Give away – a give way with lots of great items for kids, get your Christmas shopping done the easy way!
Gifts to Make – Home made gift ideas for kids, adults, teachers and more.
Giving Back - How we encourage our family to give to the community and other traditions.

For all of these topics I’ll be looking forward to your input!

I always swear I will be organised for Christmas each year, but I never am, so I need all the help I can get! Please jump in and share ideas, suggestions and links in the comments over the next few weeks. Lets help each other take the ‘ARRGHH!’ out of Christmas!

chirstmas decoration

To get started I have been pondering these questions…

How much is too much when it comes to gifts for our kids?
How do you tame the excess that sometimes comes with Christmas?

We already seem to have every toy that was ever invented, or at least all of the ones that I am happy to have in my house! My kids, especially the little one, really aren’t desperately wishing for anything, because they already have enough. So how do we still give them the joy of gifts and abundance at Christmas but not go overboard and drown under the piles of toys?

I love the ‘something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read…’ gift giving philosophy I first heard about at Simple Kids.

This year we will modify it slightly so that they get two gifts from us, probably a want and a need, and then smaller gifts from the angels (read about why Santa sends his angels to our house). In their Santa sacks there will be small things from that list… a want, a need (socks and undies!), a book, clothes, something creative, something to eat, something funny and something to share.

The Father figure and I don’t give each other gifts, but I’d like to give a whole family gift that is something we can all do together, and I am tossing and turning on how best to tackle siblings giving each other gifts…

So how does it work in your house?
Do you have a limit on how much you give your kids?
Do parents give to each other? What about siblings?
How do you tame the excess?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire October 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm

We bought a family year pass to Perth zoo for Christmas last year. Everyone gets to enjoy it and it isn’t another plastic toy.

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katef October 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm

We used to do this too and it was always a great gift! I am thinking of buying a zoo pass for just my smallest and I, as the other kids will all be at school and kids are free at Melbourne Zoo on weekends and holidays now… hmmm

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Jo @Countrylifeexperiment October 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I try to keep Christmas reasonable. Like you, my kids have plenty of things, and I don’t want them having endless pieces of plastic. My kids give each other and us a small gift (often some stickers or a pen etc), and my husband and I exchange gifts too. I like this because it teaches the kids that it is not all about them getting stuff – Christmas is for everyone.
We don’t believe in Santa at our house so that gets rid of that one!

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Mandy October 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm

the older they get the less you want to buy.
our kids will get 1 gift from Santa. it stems from the whole povety aspect. how do you tell your children santa didn’t go to africa but you get all this crap? we like to think Santa goes everywhere and every child gets one gift. (I’ve just explained our sponsored child can’t have an iPod touch because she doesn’t have electricity).
then we usually give our kids two presents.
so much to think about isn’t it. I don’t think we need to buy more than that as they still end up with loads once all the relos get involved.

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Deb @ Home life simplified October 21, 2012 at 8:33 am

We don’t have any family here so we buy gifts from them to our kids if they don’t send anything so generally they get 1-2 gifts from us, 1 each from both sides of grandparents and the same from 2 aunts and uncles.

we also run a gift drive for the children’s hospital each year where I email all our friends and the families from both kids’ classes at school – we collect new books, toys and small craft sets for the hospital to give out to kids who will be in the hospital over the holidays or end up in the emergency room.

I think we have found a good balance between receiving and giving (we also give a new book to each of the kids’ closest friends to thank them for being a great friend) and agree with Mandy that the older they get the less they want/smaller the gift pile.

This year mine are getting a book set of the secret 7 to share + a couple of DVDs + pocket money for our holiday

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katef October 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

The last few years we’ve really been working on building up traditions of giving to others and charities as well as receiving. I have a whole post planned on ways we encourage compassion and giving at Christmas!

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leah October 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

I didn’t think about siblings gifts but that would float my kids boat A LOT! So will re-allocate some gifts for that, except A will probably want some input for O so will have to take that into account.

We don’t have a limit, if anything there has to be a certain threshold reached for us to be satisfied it is “christmassy” enough. I cheat in that I wrap stuff like new school bags, dancing shoes, clothes, etc as gifts. Stuff they’d be getting anyway, so I guess that is one way to limit? LOL

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katef October 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Yeah I know my big kids love the idea of sibling birthday gifts… I love the idea of making sibling gifts but not the hours of work that I would have to put in to accomplish that! LOL

We also give things that they need… they always get socks and undies and a new summer outfit and loads of art supplies.

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Maree October 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Thanks so much for this post. I absolutely love Christmas but hate the stressed out feeling that often goes with it. I started using the ideas on Organised Christmas http://christmas.organizedhome.com/ like the Christmas planner a few years ago and that has helped a lot with keeping things calm and being organised. I love your gift giving philosophy and I am going to give it a go this year. Thanks again.

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sally October 21, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I love christmas and the one thing we focus on in our house is the building of traditions. The chance to create our own meanings and memories which i hope my children will one day do with their own famillies.

We make our christmas tree and decorations every year. Last year it was made from a cardboard box and dinosaur cutouts. We buy one special decoration which we add to the tree too.

We also have an advent calander but instead of chocolates or toys in it we have a different christmas activity everyday. it may be something as simple as reading a christmas story or doing a christmas drawing or going to the local carols by candlelight.

we don’t do santa in our house as we like our son to know that its the people he loves and love him who gives him his gifts. We also make sure one of his gifts each year is a donation made in his name. He is old enough now to choose who he would like to help.

It will be our first christmas with 2 children so i love the idea of a sibling gift our 5 year old loves his baby sister. My husband and i the past few years have spoiled each other with gifts. Its my husbands birthday 2 days after chrissy so its important to acknowledge this because as a kid christmas overshadowed it alot for him.

We are very busy around december but to see my son get so excited to do all these things together is great. He has already mentioned the advent calander and what he thought we could put on our cards and our tree.

Its a little scary to think christmas is quite close but my mind is racing with ideas for this years tree!!!!!

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Penny October 24, 2012 at 6:51 am

I’m looking forward to this series! I thought I was doing wonderful. I had all the kids gifts sorted, even Miss Possum’s cousins but then they all had a birthday this month. Not so organised now. Argh!

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megan daley November 28, 2012 at 6:49 am

I’m really hoping to tame the excess this year, my girls SO do not need much. We’ve had a pretty horrible year, actually the worst year of our lives EVER so we’re hoping for a Christmas filled with peace, peace and more peace…oh and some good food! We also do the gift giving philosophy you mentioned above, and it looks like you found the original source…well done you. I should have, being a librarian and all! I’ve written about our gift giving here, it’s mainly about giving books! http://childrensbooksdaily.com/book-gift-buying-this-christmas/

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