Can we escape going ape?

Today's post is brought to you by my real-life friend, Kelly. She blogs over at Waiting for a Little Vlachster.

Kelly's blog has a growing following for good reason. She thinks of the most hilarious things to write about, which means her posts are always loads of fun. She and husband Kyle are waiting for their daughter, coming (hopefully soonish) from China, and Kelly blogs about their life "in the meantime," while keeping us all up to date on their adoption process.

It is because of the way she looks at life that Kelly can turn everyday adventures into great stories. She has a positive perspective and an inspiring attitude. She is one of the most accepting and genuine people I know. I'm so happy she's posting here on the EO today.
Thank you, Kelly!

I am really excited to develop our own Christmas traditions when our daughter from China arrives, in hopefully a couple years or sooner. I want to partake in stress-free, meaningful ways to celebrate this special season. I don’t want to be a psycho mess of a mom, complaining about all there is to do, make, and buy. I dream about an amazing meal that will be chosen with careful selection to enjoy every Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning. Perhaps a favorite movie we cuddle up and watch every year. Or a gingerbread house that is carefully constructed Christmas Eve morning to set out with cookies and milk for Santa that night. A trip to the 8th floor of the downtown Dayton’s, I mean Macy’s, for their Christmas display will be a must-do as well.

So I have all of these dreams and ideas, and I’m realistic that it may take years before my kids appreciate it, but to establish traditions early on is important to me. One thing I have been thinking about is the whole gift business. What a business it is. Yowsa. Scary. While I know I cannot change how extended families do their thing, I love the thought of implementing one of the following ideas with my own family someday.

I recently stumbled upon a blog called Dandee. This artistic woman bleeds creativity. It was her post titled Want. Need. Wear. Read. that had me clicking to a previous post of hers to learn more about her Christmas giving idea, and how to make sure the “more” factor was replaced with a lovely tradition. Essentially her kids get four gifts, one for each category, plus a gift from St. Nick. I really love this idea. It simplifies. It creates tradition and meaning. It means the gifts have not gone APE and taken over the entire day/week/month or meaning of it.

I’ve also heard about families doing a Craigslist Christmas, where each gift is bought on Craigslist. I like that idea too, because that would mean all gifts are being bought locally. Then there is the Only Handmade Gifts Christmas. I would stink at that one, but throw in the caveat that the gifts could be made by anyone’s hand and hello Etsy or Ten Thousand Villages, here I come.

Taking it to a HNL (‘ho ‘nutha levo) is Buy Nothing Christmas. Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites but open to everyone with a thirst for change and a desire for action.” While there website still says 2007, their idea is timeless. One of their posters you can download has a picture of Jesus that says, “Where does it say that you should buy so much stuff to celebrate my birthday?” Now I am not much for people making up Jesus talk…but this one got me thinking…the words “so much” in particular. Maybe on a “Buy Nothing Christmas” year, a family could substitute a “Do Something for Christmas.” I read about this on the Sojourners website last year. A father wrote about how his family all takes part in planning a vacation for Christmas each year. Yes, it does involve money. But making a significant memory, seeing the world, and spending time together also.

At Dianna’s terrific dinner party last Sunday, she told me about a tradition her father started, which she now continues with her family. He didn’t want anyone working in the kitchen over Christmas so a delicious soup would be made the day before. I love this idea. Slaving away on a special meal is nice and all, but simplicity can be quite tasty and stress free in my book, leaving more time to relax and enjoy family. A hot soup/stew, a homemade loaf of bread, and a pie and you’re set.

One little thing we started last year that made the shopping easier was to buy ourselves a Visa gift card with our Christmas gift budget on it. Our purchases aren't messing up our checking account or on a credit card and once the money is gone, we are done. Easy and a free convenience you can get at your bank.

I like all of these ideas but I know there are more out there, because Heather has a wicked smart following. So I would like to know what you do, if you consider yourself someone who has simplified Christmas. If you haven’t yet, do you dream about it? I encourage you to stop dreaming, stop pulling your hair out and wanting to suddenly play bumper cars in the Target parking lot. Be bold, and make it happen. But first share you plan of attack!

(I know, I know, Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet! That is why later, after you comment with all of your amazing ideas, you can visit my blog for a Turkey Tale today. It will make you gobble, I mean chuckle.)

14 clicked right here to comment:

Sabrina said...

Bravo my dear cousin! We have learned well from our Cabbage Patch Madness days. Less is more and family is tops... I can't wait to see your new traditions when baby is here.
And I can't wait when someday we will pushing our strollers together at Dayton's 8th floor display.

Becky said...

These are all great ideas! I am working on creating simple traditions as well; I don't want Christmas time to mean utter mayhem.

LisAway said...

EXCELLENT POST!! I love it! I love the want need wear read thing. And I mean LOVE.

I'm TOTALLY paying you a visit because I love you now (Sorry. Your fault, though.). Thanks for this fab post.

(my favorite parts were the HNL and the not liking people making up Jesus talk. I don't love that either. The second one. The 'ho 'nutha levo I LOVE)

Erin said...

I've heard people say they have a running list of people they want to buy stuff for and possible ideas for each of them in their purse, and then they buy gifts throughout the year for them, so they aren't doing last minute shopping in December (wow. Huge run-on sentence. Sorry). I have never been on-the-ball enough to do that, but I want to one day.

Awesome post. I'm on my way to your blog now...

Kazzy said...

I love the VISA gift card idea. I am totally doing that!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I love the want.need.wear.read. thing! That's a great idea. This year for each kid we are doing one gift from us, one gift from Santa, and stockings (with one movie or Leapster game and candy). And everyone in the family gets to open up a new pair of Pajamas on Christmas eve. That's it. And we always do a Christmas Eve bible reading where the kids act out parts and we sing songs. The other tradition we have is a big Nativity picture we have on the wall with all the people except baby Jesus. He shows up when he gets "born" on Christmas morning. My kids get as excited about that as they do the presents, and I think that's pretty darn cool.

Jasonmrazfanluv said...

I was wondering how did you get your picute at the top of your blog? Thanks!

a Tonggu Momma said...

We've always done the poem thing. I love it!

jodilee0123 said...

If you have kids. . . you must shop the Target clearance after Christmas for the next year--75% off toys! yes! Since we drive to WI every year--it is not possible to take a million presents back and forth. Santa has been told that only gifts that fit into the stockings are allowed and one gift from mom and dad. Our family has grown out of buying for everyone. It is ridiculous to run out and spend money on something nobody wants or needs. I know, our children haven't quite grasped the concept of presents yet. . . so this is all easier said than done! But I just can't see spending a billion dollars on things when my son enjoyed playing with all the washcloths this afternoon! And yes, craigslist AND ebay are my favorites! I have collected quite a bit of stuff at garage sales throughout the summer too. There are no returns if you receive a gift from me! :0) We have been collecting decorations at garage sales and after Christmas sales at stores and this year Jakob helped decorate the outside. He LOVED IT! Yes, we have done our outside already! Christmas for under $100 here! Baking cookies every year too--We're into spritz! Jakob loves to decorate too! Ohhhh--I could go on and on forever!! WE so LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas!

MichelleB said...

I love the christmas soup idea instead of slaving in the kitchen the night before!

Me and my hubby are also celebrating our 10th anniversary on Christmas Eve. Since he bought me a gorgeous diamond necklace from www.idonowidont.com as an early gift I need to make something extra special for him.

I wonder if there are any tips to making a romantic Christmas dinner for two, he would love that.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I absolutely adore the idea of the gift card. That way, the Spouse can actually buy me a gift and have it be a surprise (bc it won't show up on the online check log) AND, you don't overspend. Thanks!

Mrs. Incredible said...

We do 3 gifts per kid. If it was good enough for Jesus (gold, frankinsense and myrrh), it's good enough for us. And this year, I did it all online at Amazon and let UPS deliver it! HA! Also, because most of our kids were adopted from an orphanage, we tell the truth about Santa, as we do not want them to think that when they were in their birth country and did not receive gifts from Santa they were "bad" and now that they are Americans, they are "good."


Kate Coveny Hood said...

There are so many good ideas in here... I really like the handmade only one (of course - I'd have to buy from Etsy since I don't actually make anything myself).

I really don't think I have any good ideas to share... But I have made the effort to downplay presents with my toddlers. I have a three year old and two year old twins, and none of them really "get" presents yet. It kind of makes me happy when I see them looking perplexed by a wrapped box - or to see them playing with the ribbon. It's nice to know that they're not totally present crazy yet. When I was growing up - we tended to get just a few special gifts, so the focus was on quality, not quantity. And that doesn't necessarily mean more expensive gifts. Just ones that were given a lot of thought and often time (because my mom DID actually make things). I'd like to continue that with my own children.

Heidi said...

This post gets me a thinkin'. I am the usual buy what they want, but don't go overboard(whatever that means) kind of mom. I love the want.need.wear.read idea. Seriously, that is so great. Wonderfully thought out post.

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