Our kids are not a big fan of my brain that loves to come up with new ideas. Several years ago we started doing an experience gift for our main gift to the kids for Christmas. I've loved doing this the past few years but this year I couldn't come up with anything that would work with our schedule, fiances, and weather. In September, I started digging down in my brain and online for some new fresh ideas. Last year I had the challenge of keeping our Christmas to $350. This year I needed to financially have a similar goal so we could be on track with our financial plan. I've also loved the experience gift as really I don't think our kids are too "needy" -- more filled with "wants" which is not necessarily bad.
Anyways, we decided to do something different and boy did we get flack! Birch even had parents come up to him at church and say, "I heard your family is not celebrating Christmas this year." Wow...it took a bit for our kids to get on board but in the end I think they all liked it. I'm not sure if we will do it again next year. Okay, this is what we did. Right before Thanksviging we had a special dinner with Christmas plates and decorations. Then we presented the kids with baggies that were filled with three things - 1) $10 to go toward their sibling gift (after drawing a sibling's name they each purchase a gift, do an act of service, and make a homemade gift); 2 - a chocolate Santa (this represented how each of them was ready to BECOME Santa...meaning we would do things in "Santa's" name throughout the month and they would not be getting a specific gift from Santa (Birch read a great talk by President Faust about how Santa is emulating Jesus Christ - note all the kids knew about Santa); 3) $$$ (each child received $5/year -- ie. Tyler is 17 years old so he got $85, Nate is 13 years old so he got $65) - this money was for them to purchase whatever they wanted (with parent approval) and then we would wrap the gifts for them and put them under the tree; all purchases had to be made prior to December 15th so we could focus on other Christmas things.
The initial shock brought tears, anger, and disbelief. I was honestly pretty surprised. To me being given a lump sum of money and getting to pick out whatever I wanted sounded pretty awesome!! It's hard coming up with ideas each in that fit in the budget and also that you think the kids will like, wear, want, fit, etc... This took out all the guessing. Chloe was upset because she wanted an electric car she could ride in...let's be honest, she was never getting that! So as the weeks went on I saw the kids carefully making selections. For some this was hard - like the idea of spending the money was hard because then they couldn't take back what they had purchased if they came up with a new idea. For others they added some of their own money as got something bigger that they really had wanted (and wouldn't have received). Some got a little overly preoccupied with the ME ME ME of Christmas (where usually the focus should be on others that you are getting gifts for not yourself). To me this was the negative part of the idea. I loved not stressing out about the gifts, though. It was nice to wrap as soon as something came in the mail (oh yeah, we also did something new -- each child had a specific wrapping paper assigned to them that their gifts were wrapped in. They all wondered why there were no names on the gifts under the tree. Then in their stocking they had a gift from us in their special paper -- then they knew what was theirs under the tree).
The kick-off Dinner back in November:
Best part of Christmas day was our 8 am phone call from Moldova with Elder Ditto!!!
|The allotted forty minutes FLEW by for us!!|
|LOVE THIS ELDER!!|
|Chloe got a La La Loopsy Easy Bake Oven she has ALWAYS wanted!!!|
|Nate got a super cool drone.|
|Nate trying out the gift he made for Coop - a Indo Board. He saw this at Seth and Caroline's house and knew he wanted to make one for Coop. He spent so much time on it and was really happy with the way it turned out.|
|This is my favorite part about Christmas - seeing the kids gratitude toward each other when they have made a gift for them.|
|Alysee got Nate a slack line set.|
|Putting together lego sets that we gave the three youngest kids.|
|Chloe trying out her Easy Bake Oven for the first time - pizza!|
|We had a super yummy dinner of marinaded pork tenderloins, homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, and salad.|
So Christmas 2017 will go down in the books!!! We had so many opportunities to #Lighttheworld and BECOME Santa throughout the month!