Inspired by this blog post last year, we’ve decided to not get our kids presents for Christmas this year. Actually, to be completely honest, they aren’t getting presents for their birthdays, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Columbus Day or the second Thursday of the month either. We are finishing up 2015 and going into 2016 as the “Year of No Presents”.
I’m cool with the holidays but I honestly hate gift exchanges. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE giving gifts- there is nothing better than watching a loved one open up a perfectly thought out gift. But there is the problem- the holiday season is so rushed and overloaded that to actually give a gift worth giving is getting hard. I find myself worrying about A) how much to spend, B) what to get and C) how to ship it. It stresses me out and I end up shopping in October because I can’t handle the pressure. Gift cards for everyone! And when someone asks me what I want, I always tell them something I need but won’t just go out and buy myself. Mom- I really do need a new blow dryer.
Of course, I will be with my kids for every holiday, birthday and celebration this year…so why no presents? Because they don’t need a single thing. I swear if another stuffed animal or plastic dinosaur enters this house I might lose it. Because I’m feeling a tiny bit bad about our “year of no gifts”, I might break down and buy them a few things that they actually need just so they have something from us to unwrap. Things like new swim suits for their lessons, some new eating utensils, plates and cups…they will be excited about these things, but I guarantee “new socks” aren’t on their Christmas and birthday lists.
We spend too much money on gifts throughout the year. I was going to share the actual number and then when I added it up I got embarrassed. There is no reason to spend as much money on “stuff” as we have been. Also- both their birthdays happen to be within a month of Christmas. It’s excessive. It’s wasteful. It’s silly.
So what are we doing with all the money we are “saving” from no present buying? This year we have pledged to give our kids “experiences” and it’s probably the best thing we can do for them. Stuffed animals and plastic dinosaurs will be pitched at some point (please God let this be true) but the memory of a fun outing won’t be forgotten as easily. We are taking our gift budget and we are putting it towards a trip to Disney World in January.
The kids have no idea so this will be their Christmas gift this year. I’m planning on wrapping one big box with some Disney character balloons in it. We’ll put our Magic Bands in there and I’ll print out some cute tickets and a note for Layla to read. Santa will fill their stockings with things they can use on the trip- water bottles, glow sticks, autograph books and a few other fun things.
To make their birthdays separate but still special we are planning to do something special as a family for each of their birthdays. This year that means A Day Out with Thomas for Jack and Disney on Ice for Layla (scored discount tickets through the PTA for a show the day right after her birthday).
So far this has been the least stressful birthday/Christmas season we’ve had as parents. I’m not worried about a budget, where to hide the goods, how to get out to shop without the kids or, best of all, where we are going to put all the crap we buy after it’s opened.
My biggest concern with this year of no presents is this: will the kids be disappointed in the lack of gifts to unwrap? My gut tells me “who cares” but my heart doesn’t want them to feel like they missed out. I don’t want Layla to be disappointed that she didn’t get the glow in the dark singing Elsa that she’ll play with 2 times and then shove in the back corner of her closet.
I think this year we will try to focus on being thankful for ALL we have, concentrate on the joy of giving to others and value the time we have to be together. After all, we are going to the happiest place on Earth in January, and I don’t think there is anything I could wrap in a box that could be better than that.
Side note- I can’t wait to share with you how we actually saved for this trip and made it totally “do-able” for us. That’s a post for another day, for now I’m going to work on how to make our tree look pretty with nothing but socks and gift cards under it.