Can you believe it’s almost Christmas?!
It’s amazing how quickly the year has flown and that it’s almost 2020. If you’re like a lot of families, you may be wanting to get away from giving things. We value experiences so much more than toys in our family, so for many birthdays & holidays, we gift experiences.
Need some ideas how to segue into a more giving holiday season? Here are some traditions we do every year!
Something we always stress to the kids is to have a giving soul. We go through their toys (& our own things) twice a year. Typically in April/May before we move or travel for the summer and then again in December, right before Christmas.
If it’s broken, we toss it. If it’s in good condition, but something they no longer care about, we donate it to a local secondhand store. We hold onto certain things that we know they may one day gift to their children & things we’ve held on to since we were children.
I saved books & my American Girl dolls from my childhood for my (then future) children. Savannah now has some of the books & the dolls, John has the other books.
Chris & I both love to volunteer! He does it more often than I do because the idea of taking a rambunctious toddler with me is beyond exhausting. The last few years he & the kids have volunteered to ring the bell for a few hours for the Salvation Army in front of grocery stores.
The kids love knowing that they’re helping their local community and we love knowing that we’re (hopefully) instilling that giving mindset.
When I was a child, my parents would let us pick an angel off of the tree at our local store to build a box of goodies for them. This is something I’ve continued with raising my own family. Even in our leaner years, we still made sure to save enough so we could help out at least two families. We let the kids each pick out one or two children each and give them a budget to work with. Not only does it help their math, but they have so much fun shopping for others!
Many times we’ve asked for the gifts given to the kids to be experiences- memberships to local zoos, kids museums, aquariums, bounce houses, etc. Not only does it save us from having more stuff, it gives the kids something to look forward to! They’ve always enjoyed a Saturday trip to the zoo or a Monkey Joe’s.
A few years back, we planned a weekend trip to Disney instead of giving them things. They had their stocking from Santa with a few smaller things from their wishlist & necessities, but their “big” present was opening a box that said they were going to Disney with tees & a piece of paper with the date.
In our case, we utilized Disney’s military pricing to make the trip more affordable & started planning it 5 months in advance to spread out the payments. Disney did their magic and upgraded us as a surprise from our basic room at one of the budget friendly motels to a suite at the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village. Hands down one of the most “magical” experiences we’ve ever had and it wouldn’t have happened had we chosen to continue giving things & not experiences.
I may have cried when the cast member (what they call their employees) told me at check in! If you’re thinking for a friend or significant other, a cleaning service or audible subscription is a great gift that won’t add to the home. Instacart for grocery delivery is a great gift for anyone, but especially those parents who don’t want to drag all the kids into the grocery store.
This is more my speed than Chris’s, but I love to bake! It’s a huge stress relief for me and I thoroughly enjoy it. You should have seen how much I’ve baked before hurricanes. The kids & I will bake a crazy amount of cookies, sweet breads & muffins for Chris to take to work with him. In Jacksonville he worked with a ton of people, so they were typically eaten pretty quickly! It’s something we love to do and the kids ask when we can start every year.
Every single place we’ve lived has always had amazing lights! In Chesapeake, we went to one that gave you a CD with Christmas music on it and you drove right next to the beach to look at lights. I can’t tell you how many times we did that when we lived in VA! In Alameda, there was a beautiful neighborhood that even had a live Santa out there a few evenings a week!
Jacksonville had a neighborhood that was beyond stunning & we miss seeing it! It was gorgeous and we would see it at least 3x per season. We also went to a really fun paid one that was in a huge parking lot, gave out hot chocolate and candy canes.
Bentleyville is an amazing & free light extravaganza in Duluth. It’s SO cold, but so so fun! We went last year when it was 7 degrees, about froze, but had a ton of fun. We can’t wait to go back again this year!
I have a lot of Christmas decorations that I was either given when Chris & I got married, or that I’ve collected over the years. Chris will drag all the boxes up from storage and we’ll spend an entire weekend decorating the house, drinking hot cocoa & watching Christmas movies. It’s such a fun way to kick off the season for us!
What are your Christmas/Holiday traditions? I always love hearing how everyone celebrates the season.