With only a matter of days to go until Christmas Day I decided to share my thoughts about how we’ve approached Christmas this year.
Christmas can be a daunting time for so many, there’s always so much to do. There’s the tree to buy and decorate, there’s the Christmas parties to prepare for, the food to buy and not to mention the gifts we buy for family and friends – the list is endless!
This year we decided to make to a change to the way we approached Christmas. Instead of trying to do it all we decided to take action and in fact do as little as possible, this is a concept I haven’t always been able to grasp.
In previous years I’ve wanted to do it all, the Christmas dinner for 12, the buying of unnecessary gifts to just ‘pad out’ the presents pile on Christmas morning and recreate a house out of home magazine (that bit I’ve never quite pulled off) but, in recent years we’ve decided to turn everything on it’s head and do a few things differently. This year instead of buying gifts for family and friends I decided to buy experiences and instead of trying to do it all I’m trying to do less.
We started with gifts for friends and family, in previous years we’ve bought token gifts for family and friend’s children because that’s what we’ve always done. It has been a tradition, a ‘nice to have’ and for many years and it’s showed their children and ours that they were cared for by others, so much so that they receive a gift. But, upon reflection I’ve realised how many people we were doing this for, what started out as a few close friends slowly grew. So over the past few years we’ve tried to reduce this list to avoid others spending unnecessarily on our children too.
I realised that we were spending £60-£70 (£10 each) on for other children and for what?! The whole purpose of Christmas is to spend time with loved ones and celebrate Christmas traditions ‘together.’ A few years ago a friend approached and asked would I mind if she didn’t buy the boys this year, she explained that she was spending money on so many other children that it meant she had little left over for her own. As an understanding friend I immediately agreed, I could have taken the stance that we’d bought her children gifts for many years before I’d even had my own children but, these types of things truly aren’t important to me. That ‘tit for tat approach,’ has never been my style! Those words she muttered made me think differently to how others might be feeling too, Christmas is expensive and to know that she’d spent money on my children instead of her own made me shudder with disbelief. I was completely oblivious to this but, she’s made me aware of this it changed my perspective and view entirely about buying these token gifts for other’s children.
So this year we’ve decided to go the whole hog and reduce the gifts we give and receive from others. Children, in general, get so much stuff at this time of the year and these £10 gifts we were buying for one another were just adding to the ever-growing pile. £10 isn’t a huge amount anyway so we ended up just buying something (anything) that would be nice for them to open.
It was a little daunting to approach the subject with others as I didn’t want to appear ‘tight or ungrateful’ but, believe me when I say this, their parents were just as happy to avoid the exchange of gifts as we were. They too realised that these £10 gifts were ‘nice to have,’ but were a completely unnecessary. Christmas can get expensive and it doesn’t need to be.
So in the run-up to Christmas this year I shared my views with our close family and friends and they were in agreement too. ‘Lets trade gifts for memories,’ we said.
So this year we decided to invite them over during the festive period and spend time with them eating, drinking and getting merry instead, where the children can play and we can spend time together enjoying one another’s company. This is the true meaning of Christmas and it’s a tradition that I want to continue every year. I’m going to find more ways to encourage connection over the festive period and encourage presence over presents every time!
This approach might not be right for everyone but, it’s right for us. I want to encourage connection, kindness and togetherness at every opportunity as this is what fills me with joy, not the number of gifts we have under the tree.