Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday Giving Guide

The holidays are coming. In another week, they are officially here.

Que panic.

We have just over a month to find the perfect gifts, wrap, bake, decorate and party plan. Add in time for holiday movies and family gatherings, and the next few weeks can feel like more of a stress-fest than a holiday season.

I’ve found that as my kids have gotten older, their wish list grows smaller but much more expensive. I have also seen plenty of begged for gifts entertain for a short few weeks (or even days). I cringe at the money wasted and the clutter that builds up. Every spring there is one or two items I am donating to the Goodwill that make me shake my head.

I’ve seen and tried a few different approaches to Christmas and holiday giving. Some of them really can cut down on the chaos, save you time and wasted money, and make the holidays more enjoyable.

My favorites are listed below...


As much as I love buying and giving, I’ve seen how fabulous giving an experience can be. Last year our big gift to the kids was a family vacation. We drove to Disney World and spent a week in the pools and the parks. By mid-winter the trip was much needed, and definitely money well spent.

There was no extra Christmas clutter, and the kids had something to look forward to well after the tree came down.

Last year, my sister told all my kids she was giving experiences for their birthdays instead of gifts. It was their pick, and my kids love contemplating where they want their aunt to take them. So far she has taken my ten year old to a trampoline park, my 6 year old miniature golfing and to the movies, and my twelve year old to the mall for nails and lunch.

With clever packaging, giving an experience can be just as exciting as a gift.

Some great ideas include: Movie tickets, sporting events such as baseball games or NFL games, concerts, plays or a gift card to a local bowling alley or arcade.

For more great experiences check out TickPick.


These guidelines really make the kids think. I like to have my kids list a few under each category, which makes the gifts still a surprise because they don’t know what they are getting. But by giving guidelines, it gives the gifts a purpose and cuts back on the unnecessary spending.  The kids are more appreciative and the greed train comes to a stop when they know there are firm limits.

I admit I struggle limiting myself to four gifts for each child, because I always had a big Christmas.  But I can stick to a few gifts that fall under each category, and when you add in relatives' gifts there is always more than enough.


Our current method of wish list making is limited to 15 items, with the five “most desired” receiving a star. It’s all too tempting for kids to look through a magazine or online and get the “I wants!” But if they are forced to star five favorites, and they know only fifteen items make the cut, they really start to think.

We usually have the five most desired under the tree Christmas morning, with needed items such as warm clothes, new shoes and pajamas mixed in.  The items we don't buy I can use as ideas for family and friends who are giving to my children.

Most importantly, teach your kids that the holidays are about GIVING. My kids love to do their shopping for their siblings probably more than anything else in the month of December. They shop, wrap and hide the gifts until Christmas Eve, and you’d think they were hiding buried treasure.

We also always participate in gift giving for needy kids and donating food for hungry families in our area. If you involve your kids in helping others, they’ll quickly find there is much more joy in giving than receiving.  By making the holidays more about the season and less about the gifts, the stress lessens and the weeks are much more enjoyable.

Share your gift giving ideas or guidelines below – I’d love to hear them!

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