Each year our boys receive gifts from their Aunties, Uncles, Cousin’s, Grandparents, friends and of course Santa and every year their pile of gifts seems to grow.
By Christmas Day Evening they’ve usually received visits from all our family members and by this time it’s likely they’ve unwrapped anyway between 30-50 presents in total, sometimes more. Every year I can feel myself becoming more and more uncomfortable with how much they’re getting and every year I see them playing with the same gifts and leaving the rest to gather dust in their bedrooms.
That’s why this year we decided to take a different approach to Christmas.  We decided to buy them less than 10 gifts from Santa/Us and then put the money they receive from family and close friends towards one big toy they can share. I’m saddened to say they’ve chosen an X Box but, it’s all about choice and as a parent living in the 21st century I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that lots of children I know already have a games console. They’ll, of course, think this gift is from Santa but, we’ll know otherwise. This means they get to have toys and gifts they’ll love and actually play with.
Our boys only ever receive gifts or toys for birthdays and/or Christmas and they don’t receive toys at any other time of the year. I know this might seem like a strange concept for some but, it’s an approach my parents took with my sister and I and it’s one I value and have taken forward with our own family.
This has always been the case since they young and they don’t know any different. Many years ago before Aldi and Lidl came along I used to shop in Tesco and when we’d visit the shop to buy groceries and our boys would happily ask if they could go and ‘look’ in the toy aisle and of course I’d happily oblige. We ended up spending 20 minutes looking at toys they couldn’t have but, they loved it and now and again they’d ask, ‘Can I have this toy?’ And every time they’d get the same response, ‘Why don’t you put it on your Christmas or birthday list.’
For some this may sound mean but, don’t for one second feel sorry for our boys because even with this approach they’ve still seemed to manage to accumulate 3 bikes, 4 scooters, 2 go karts, basketball ring, trampoline, swings, footballs – you name it they’ve got it!
I’d like to say our boys are much more humble as a result of this but, they’re not. You see, what they don’t get in toys they get in experiences and this year alone they will have had 4 holidays, 3 of them abroad and 1 in the UK. I’m not telling you this to brag but, I’m sharing this with you to showcase our viewpoint about choosing experiences over gifts.
Memories are so important to me and as a child we traveled every year to many countries, they were not luxurious holidays in fact quite the contrary. We had an old rusty caravan that we used to travel around in and we’d visit as many European countries as we could and I loved it!
Nowadays I want the same for my family; I want to choose adventure and travel over materialistic gifts and create memories that last a lifetime. That’s why this year we decided to reduce their Christmas pile to 10 gifts of their choice and instead we booked a trip to Lapland to visit Santa Claus himself and decided to go the whole hog.  Sadly, this trip was cancelled by the travel company due to a technical hitch and even though we were disappointed we all handled it very well and are just looking forward to next year when we’ll be able to go again.
So instead of having this trip to Lapland we’ve decided to go away, just the 4 of us to a cottage in North Yorkshire just after the New Year. During this trip we’ll be able to spend time together to really connect and spend some quality time playing games, watching movies and just generally hanging out.  We’ve also booked a trip to Harry Potter World too for the boys in February and we’ll see the sites of London too, our parents and their grandparents kindly give us money for Christmas so we’ll be putting this towards this trip, I am so excited for this as we’ve spent many nights together as a family watching Harry Potter.  Already 2018 is looking like it’s going to be a great year for us all.
These experiences do cost money of course and Lapland was hugely expensive but, we saved up and decided it was a once in a lifetime trip.  I learnt a long time ago that you can do anything in life but, you can’t do everything. That’s a good lesson to learn early on and even though we’ve spent half of our house renovation budget on these trips I know I’ll look back and always know we made the right choice. The house will get done in time, there’s no rush I’ll just have to live with a dripping tap and shower every time I get in the bath (Argh!).
We always knew our house was a forever home and we always said it’ll take forever to do but, in the meantime, we’ll be creating memories instead of ploughing every penny into our house.
As a result of this year’s memories that we’ve created through experiences and travel, Richard has now nicknamed me the ‘memory maker.’  He says I’m always looking for new ways to create memories and he’s right and that’s a nickname I’m pleased to own.
Memories don’t have to be expensive, it’s just turned out our trips away this year have been but, they aren’t always.  Do you value gifts over memories or are you like us where you value experiences more?!  we all choose to live our lives in different ways and that’s what makes us unique.  However, you choose to spend your Christmas,  make sure it’s a memorable one.
Merry Christmas To You All x