Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Traditions




I love the holidays and my family look forward to Christmas all year long. Each year we do things a little differnt at our house, but there are some things that are a constant:

1. Christmas is not about gifts, but about celebrating Christs birth and what that means for the world.
2. We give before we get- meaning we go through all our stuff and see what we no longer need, want and clean it up the best we can and donate it to differnt places that can use them or to friends we know that need them. Only then do they even approach me with the "can I get" conversations.

With those two principles at your heart I think it really helps our family make it throught the holidays with a greatful heart and not one of give me. give me.

Another traditions we have is we alternate Christmas with regards to gift giving each year. One year (odd numbers) we will buy only gifts for others: people from angel trees, homeless shelters,nursing home patients,  hospital kids etc. Now keep in mind they do still get gifts from other family members and some of their friends, just not from each other or us this year. Instead we use the alloted money we would have spent on them (normally $150- $200 per child) and spend it on others instead. Keep in mind I also start doing my shopping starting in September to help reduce costs and spread out the $$, otherwise it would kill me. Once we have decided on who we are buying for and how many people the kids go shopping, wrap the gifts, make homemade cards and then we deliver them about a week before Christmas.

The next year (even years) the kids will get four gifts each, knowing they still must stay inside the alloted dollar amount I will spend on each of them.

1. Someting to wear ($50)
2. Someting to read ($30)
3. Something you want ($65)
4. something you need ($65)

 This really helps with kids asking me for Ipads, X-boxes and etc that are huge dollar amounts. Now they do sometimes ask for gift cards to places from myself and other family so they will be able to buy these items, but they understand as a single mother I cannot and will not go into debt for Christmas. The kids also know they during October-December they will not get an allowance, but instead that money is saved for them to buy gifts for their family and friends. I will get each one a Visa shopping card with the money they have earned and they must spend it wisely knowing who they have to shop for. This way the gifts do come from them and they put more thought into it.

Outside of gift giving we also go every first weekend in December to a Christmas Tree farm in Quinlan to hunt down and chop down our family tree. The kids take turns with this. One child gets to cut, one gets to pick it out and one gets to hand the star on top and help me get the tree in the holder. We alternate each year and the kids love it. They have a blast and cannot wait for them to be the one to chop the tree.


We also hang up our lights at this time and start our advent studies. This year we are doing the Jesse Tree for the first time and the kids are getting the biggest kick out of it. They are so proud when they recognize what the symbols stands for and who its about.

For family entertainment, each week we watch a new Christmas movie together. Each child gets a turn to pick the movie and we all sit and watch in our PJs without complaint on the "age" level of entertainment. This is tricky since my youngest is 6 and my eldest is 18, but in the end it works out.  We also love to go to Lowes and do their Build and Grow workshops!

So those are our families Christmas traditions. What are yours?
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