Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Tips and Tricks (Wrapping, Shopping and Giving)

During the holiday season, I blog about Christmas often.  I blog about it because I love it dearly.  I always have.

My mother, who raised six kids, has pretty much taught me everything I know about parenting.  Some of these things I have tweaked, some I implement full force, and some just have to get done with a tighter budget.

Christmas, for us, is on a tighter budget.  But it's still big and brilliant, just like my parents always did for us.  It's about family and giving, and remembering those around us.

To efficiently pull off an over-the-top Christmas with six kids, my mom had to be organized.  She never rested.  She shopped and wrapped and had the holiday down to a stressful science.  But she loved it because nothing compared to all the "magic" of Christmas morning. 

Here, in a nutshell, is what I've learned from my parents about Christmas.

1.  Not all wrapping paper is created equal.  Not all gifts are to be wrapped the same.

Anyone who has ever sat up wrapping gifts in cheap paper knows that it pays to invest in sturdier paper for some items.  Hubby sits every Christmas Eve, wrapping away (in our house, I call this "I buy it, YOU wrap it") and curses the cheap paper as it tears and he patches and then it tears again.

I explain to him that for how much we have to wrap, cheap paper will have to do for Imaginext Castles.

I buy glossy paper to wrap adult gifts.  I buy ribbon.  I tie on bells and ornaments.  I firmly believe in extravagant wrapping just like my mother does.  Fancy wrap reminds me of how I like my candy.  The prettier the chocolate, the better it tastes.

Buy cheap paper for kid's gifts.  They tear through it too quick to notice what the paper looks like.

2.  Store gifts in large boxes or black garbage bags.

With six kids, my mother had to be crafty when it came to hiding gifts.  To keep things organized, she stored our gifts as she bought them, and they were separated according to child.  One large box would hold one child's gifts.  Or one large black plastic garbage bag.

These were lined up in the basement, or storage room, or my dad's office.  We never knew that Santa's workshop was right under our noses.  We never suspected anything, because the gifts were hidden among all the other storage.

I have implemented the same system.

3.  Save receipts in envelopes.

For every child, she had an envelope.  She wrote on top of receipts what she bought, and stored the receipts in the appropriate envelope.

She still uses this system.  Every Christmas, she hands me  an envelope full of gift receipts for the grandkids.  This makes life very, very easy when items go unused or we have duplicates.

4.  Remember everyone, from the mailman to the teachers.

My mother believes in remembering everyone at Christmas.  When I was growing up she made gift baskets for the crossing guards, left tips for the garbage men, and brought a gift for everyone who would be attending Christmas Eve.

If a second cousin or grandparent was expected to be joining us, they had a gift.  No question asked. 

Christmas is about giving.  It's about remembering the people around you, and acknowledging them.  These gifts don't have to be extravagant.  Even a $5 gift card for a cup of coffee goes a long way.

5.  Keep the magic alive.  Always.

Even after myself and my siblings knew what was really "going on" every Christmas, we still had to go to bed for Santa to arrive.  Our stockings were still full in the morning, and we never knew what was going to be under the tree.  There was no "you pick it out and I'll wrap it."

That would go over like a fart in church.

There was magic.  Always.  Every year we watched Christmas movies, made cookies, and read "The Night Before Christmas."  Table settings were festive, there was a fire in the fireplace.

There still is.

No one is ever too old to believe in the magic of Christmas.

Happy Christmas Season!  Enjoy every minute.


  1. I appreciate your tips and these are gonna be very helpful for me I think. Keep this great work up because I always keep searching for cheap shopping in US.

  2. This is great! I'm thinking of getting/making Anthony's bus driver a gift. My husband thinks it's silly....but he's a nice old man and transports my precious cargo to and from school everyday! Definitely worthy. :)

  3. My mom still (for us twenty-something kids) leaves the Santa gifts upstairs and the stockings unfilled until after we go to bed. I love it- keeps the surprise alive, and it makes it fun.

    Since my dad used to fill her stocking, I try to get her back by filling her stocking early in the morning and getting her a "Santa" gift too :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad


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