Many families are starting to think about holiday gifts (and perhaps panicking a bit as the holidays seem a bit closer than one realizes!)
I wanted to reiterate my plea for having a very healthy, fun, beautiful and peaceful holiday with a limited focus on the external trappings of gifts, consumerism and commercialism. I don’t know if any of you remember the lovely guest that Christine Natale did last year for The Parenting Passageway and talked about some of her traditions that were not centered on the materialistic things, but on joyous fun and generosity spread out throughout a season: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/06/christine-natales-musings-on-saint-nicholas-day-and-starting-new-holiday-traditions/
My number one suggestion would be to see if you can extend a generous attitude of giving to both your children and those outside your family for the whole season. In my family, we have giving of small things to each other and outside our home starting with Thanksgiving ( we give to a local food bank), St. Nicholas Day (making bread or cookies for our neighbors), Santa Lucia Day (buns), Christmas Eve (pajamas for the children), Christmas Day (three gifts each), small things scattered randomly through the Twelve Days of Christmas, and Epiphany (usually a game for the family). The gifts can be very small, and handmade (in fact, I encourage you to do that!) . There are many families who do things much, much simpler than I do, and I also encourage you to take that route and to really find what works for your family.
My number two suggestion is to prepare your home for this by going through your “toy space” or your children’s rooms and really give them a good decluttering. Perhaps you can bless a family who has very little through your generosity.
I love this passage from the chapter on “Environment” in the book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne: “Imagine all of your children’s toys in a mountain at the center of their room. You’ve rounded up all of the outpost piles wherever they gather and grow through the house. The large bin of bathtub toys, the pile near your phone (which sometimes allows you to talk a moment longer), the ones stuffed into bins and drawers, the revolving bunch that always end up on the kitchen table…add all of these to the heap.
The pile needs to be halved, and halved again, and perhaps halved again.”
This is such an interesting thought for this time of year.
My number three suggestion is to look carefully at what your children really need. What do they really need for clothes, for shoes, for outerwear, for toys, for art supplies? Creativity is often born of the simplest “un-toys”, where children can put their own heart and soul into these toys. I wrote more about that here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/23/holiday-gifts-for-children-how-much-is-too-much/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/19/toys-toys-toys/ , which contains a listing of toys by age.
I would love to hear about your simple holiday plans!