I know some of you can’t focus on Christmas until after Thanksgiving…but that’s not me. I can pretty much focus on it 365 days a year. Back in July, I added to my monthly goals to start shopping for Christmas gifts and now, I’m done shopping and on to wrapping. Woohoo!
I’ve had, many, many, many questions about how I shop for gifts, who I buy for, what I buy, where I store my gifts and so on. So, that’s what I’m sharing today…how I play Santa.
How many gifts are we buying?
As the years pass (and our families grow), we are buying fewer and fewer gifts for extended family. We buy gifts for both sets of our parents, for my brother and sister-in-law and for Andrew’s niece and nephew every year. Years ago, Andrew’s brother suggested that the adults on their side of the family (siblings and such) stop buying each other gifts, so that eliminated some shopping there.
Every other year, we spend with Andrew’s parents (like this year) and the other years, with mine. On the years that we see my family, we also buy my cousin’s daughter a gift and then my cousins and I do a drawing where we each pick one other person to shop for (since I won’t see them this year, we don’t draw). We started doing this two years ago when we realized everyone had different budgets and ideas when it came to gift giving, so to eliminate any stress or awkwardness, we would just draw and only shop for one person. And honestly, as adults, we really don’t need anything for Christmas…these gifts are just little somethings sweet (nothing big).
The Shull Four on Christmas morning last year :).
What do Andrew and I buy each other?
Everyone does this differently…but Andrew and I decided years ago to stop buying each other gifts…for any occasion. We realized that on holidays/anniversaries/birthdays, we were just going out and spending money just to spend money because it was an occasion…when honestly, we would each rather purchase something on our own when we needed it later in the year instead of the other buying something just because of the day. (We do always exchange cards though!)
Gary Chapman has a great book that I’ve read several times called The 5 Love Languages where he helps couples identify their spouse’s love language and then gives you ideas on how to support and nurture that love language…well, Andrew and I read the book and realized that neither of us had the love language of gift giving and/or receiving, so to us, gift giving with each other isn’t important, so we don’t.
On our annual Christmas carriage ride in 2013.
What do Andrew and I buy the kids?
My kids are fortunate enough to have both sets of grandparents, two sets of great-grandparents and a multitude of aunts/uncles/cousins and such that give them gifts each year for Christmas, so Andrew and I really try to streamline Christmas morning.
Each year, they typically get one bigger “Santa” item. In years past, that’s been things like bicycles, play kitchens, scooters, small basketball goal and such. I really like to get them things that encourage them to go outside and do some sort of physical activity. Santa also leaves them a stuffed animal or doll, a book and one of those jumbo coloring pads.
Andrew and I wrap and give them practical gifts to open from us (since that other stuff is from “Santa”, they need a gift from mom and dad too). We usually give them winter pajamas, a new pair of shoes, a winter hat and scarf and maybe we’ll wrap one toy like a Barbie or something. In their stockings, I keep it really simple…some gum, a little candy, maybe some bubbles and some crayons to go with their coloring books.
Christmas Eve 2010…Smith is 11 months old and Kensington is two.
What do we buy other people in our life?
There are other people in our lives that we give gifts to as well (teachers, friends, neighbors and such). My favorite gift to give is usually something like this…
…a fun jar (this is the ingredients to Cranberry-Chip Cookies) along with the recipe and a note from our family.
For teachers, we usually buy our teachers a gift card to one of their favorite places (we’re given a list of their favorite places) and attach it to a homemade card.
What do we do for others?
Every year, we donate to 3 of our favorite charities. We make sure that the kids share in this with us and honestly, shopping and giving to these three causes are some of the best moments of our Christmas season…
If you’ve ever been asked to fill a shoe box with goodies to be given to kids around the world for Christmas, that’s Operation Christmas Child. Each year, we take our kids to Walmart and they select items to fill a shoe box and that’s donated to a child. It’s amazing how much and yet, how little goes into these precious shoe boxes.
Our church always has an Angel Tree and as a family, we select another family in our area and buy and wrap gifts for them. These gifts are both very practical and a little special. I love doing this with my family too!
And our family always makes an annual contribution to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital each year. I am extremely blessed for the health of my children and really try never to take that for granted.
Where do we hide/keep gifts we buy?
Each year, since I shop early, I really try and hide our gifts in good places until they can be wrapped, so I keep a master list of what I’ve bought, how much I’ve spent and where exactly in my house I’ve hidden said gift.
I always, always, always set an annual budget, write down each person we’re giving to (including charitable donations) and then divide that money out before I start my shopping. Then, after I spend any money, I write it down on my sheet of paper along with a specific description of what I’ve purchased and where I’ve placed it in my house. Erika was with me the other day and she laughed as I pulled my paper out of my purse…a girl has to keep a list!
Other random things…
Several of you have asked about me purchasing gifts so early. I know my family well enough to know what I can buy in advance and what should wait until closer to the holiday. If I see something my mom or mother-in-law would like for their homes, I can buy that in July…I know they won’t be returning it (and they do the same for me). As for clothes, I try and wait until the end of October or November for that stuff. It’s a judgment call.
And then there’s this…
…we do set aside some of our Christmas shopping for Black Friday. Some years, I go out and find stuff and some years, Andrew does (like last year, he was looking for a TV and waited on Black Friday for one). Most years, I shop online on Black Friday because the deals are there too, and I get to stay in my pjs!!
Christmas is without a doubt my very favorite time of the year! Coming up on my blogs over the next month will be lots of ideas for celebrating the season, party and entertaining ideas, recipes, shopping, staying in with your favorite Christmas movie and cocoa and so much more!
Tis the season for carols, twinkle lights, and lots of Christmas cheer!
Don’t forget to head to my foodie blog today because I mixed and matched one of Blue-Eyed Bride’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes into this…
…yeah, you should click here and check this out.