Many folk ask how I cope with nine-mile wish-lists, followed by the inevitable scrabbling around trying to find the most memorable gift, sewing till four in the morning and traipsing through endless stores for the perfect gift for their kids and lets not mention the wrapping, which can go on until dawn on Christmas day… The thought of doing this for eight kids tends to send friends into a complete spiral. The answer is a simple one – I don’t!!! My kids don’t actually have wish lists and would be a bit surprised if I asked for one!!! I have also learnt that if I want to make my kids something, then make it… but not for a deadline… not for Christmas or a birthday, it is just too stressful!!!
Christmas day is really about celebrating the birth of Jesus… and that is really big in our house!!! We give our kids gifts because it adds to the fun of the day. With that as our perspective our kids also know that we are going to have a bit of Christmas fun but at the same time it is never fun to break the budget. With eight kids we are definitely looking for stocking stuffers that are not insanely priced… remember whatever it is times eight is often just not an option!!!
Otherwise a year of decluttering and sorting through clutter means that my kids have become acutely aware of what is treasure and what isn’t… they know the mantra: “Love it or Lose it…” After a year of reducing our house to something we are comfortable with… I can tell you that it would just be mean to load my kids up with a whole lot of stuff that they just don’t have space for.
All that being said, we do have a gifting philosophy: Our kids always get a stocking for Christmas. Small is better, if it doesn’t fit into a stocking then we don’t get it!!! Their stockings are quirky affairs… full of bits and pieces of stuff they need and stuff they don’t and certainly stuff they don’t get everyday:
Se7en + 1 Things we pop into stockings:
- Something to Read: Everyone always gets something to read – essential for a peaceful Christmas day!!!
- Something in Plain Sight: Home is always a good place to start looking for gifts!!! We did a quick declutter of our house this weekend and I added a new bag to the pile… chuck, donate, keep and potential stocking stuffer. A quick clean-out of the art supplies revealed a pile of never used funky erasers, two packets of glitter, a collection of stickers and some unopened watercolors. They were all bought for potential projects and someone would definitely like them in their stocking.
- Something to Collect: I try and find them something small to play with finger puppets, or the latest gimmick like elastic bangles, water shooters for the pool, or soccer cards.
- Something for School: Office stationary is always a winner!!! They love it and the more “professional” it looks the better… bull-clips and paperclips are very popular!!! Post-it-notes (don’t know where they get that from) and notebooks. Not to mention a book of real live postage stamps for mailing letters to their friends.
- Something Useful: My kids love anything from the hardware store. Honestly kids love useful stuff, especially stuff they can make things with. A ball of string, a roll of tape… even a packet of nails will reap gasps of joy!!!
- Something just for Fun: We always have a couple of party things left over. Can I just say, in a word: STREAMERS!!! My kids love streamers!!! Totally. Otherwise, stray birthday candles, we always have left overs that aren’t enough for someone else’s birthday, these are great for little cooks to add to their baking efforts.
- Something Functional: There is a time and a place for functional gifts and this is it!!! Kids toothbrushes are so cool and trust me they aren’t free… so into the stocking they go! Socks are no longer the boring monotone things we wore as kids. Frankly I think my kids eat socks.
- Something to Snack On: A Box of juice, something tasty and a chocolate or candy… to fill up that stocking!!!
And the Se7en + 1th thing.
When it comes to gifting in our house all the focus is really on the one gift that they give to each other. We will pass around the hat tomorrow and see who gifts who!!! And a whole heap of crazy elfing will follow. We started this tradition to prevent the crazy exchange of gifts amongst our kids – it just isn’t necessary for them to provide gifts for each sibling… trust me each of them would love to wrap a special piece of stick or a pile of leaves for their siblings but the thought of an exchange of sixty-four “extra-special” gifts on Christmas morning sent me into a spin!!! Here are the gifts they made for each other last year and the year before.