articles / Family life

11 weeks to go are you ready?

As of right now, you have 11 weeks to get all of your gifts bought, wrapped, and under the tree. Yes, it is only 11 weeks until Christmas. Yes, I am aware that it’s not even Halloween yet. The thing is, I cannot afford to wait until Black Friday to start shopping. *By the way, waiting until Black Friday means you only have 5 weeks to shop.*

We’ve always started early when it comes to Christmas because frankly with our income we don’t have the luxury of waiting to start shopping. The times we have waited we’ve gotten down to the last minute with not enough money to buy what we wanted to buy. Being a one-income family makes a huge difference in the way that we shop. The people we give gifts to makes a difference in how we shop too. We have three sets of parents, a sibling, and a few other close family members that we shop for not including Josiah and Samuel.

We have a few different ways that we’ve saved money in the past and ways we plan to save money in the future when it comes to Christmas gifts.

The biggest way we save money is the way we shop for our kids. We don’t do Santa, so we have a little bit more freedom in what we buy and how. Our children get 4 gifts, their stocking, and a family gift. We buy something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Then they get a family gift to share. The stocking has a few small miscellaneous items and they often correlate with other gifts they’ve gotten. Of course this is Samuel’s first Christmas, but this will be the third year we’ve done this for Josiah and it works really well. Our kids have three sets of grandparents that buy for them so they are not lacking in presents. This method with the kids works because it not only saves us money, but it keeps them from having high expectations of expensive gifts and keeps the focus on the true meaning of Christmas — Jesus and the gift He gave to us.

This year we finished up our kids Christmas a few weeks ago. Josiah’s “something you want” was a large set of real wood Lincoln logs that I found for sale on Facebook for $12. Retail I would have paid about $30. For everything else we went to a local consignment sale. Some people feel like children should get “new” things for Christmas, but it has been my experience that Josiah won’t care that his Lincoln logs come in a plain box instead of an official Lincoln log package.

For our parents we try to be creative in their gift. Last year I made my dad a heating pad that could slip over the top of his foot or over his hand. It looked like the top part of a house shoe, but it works great for the gout he has in his toe and the arthritis in his finger. I made my mom a regular heating pad made out of leftover hunting material that I had (my mom loves to hunt). For my in-laws I made different homemade seasonings that I know they liked. My step-dad got a 100% homemade chocolate chip pecan pie.

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Last Christmas Josiah got a few superhero movies that we scored for $1 a piece at a video store closing sale.

I’m not sure what we’re doing for everyone this year, but I will probably be canning, painting, and sewing in order to finish up my family’s Christmas list. I will inevitably end up buying a few gifts for those close to me, but it has been my experience that the time and thought that goes into the gifts for our parents mean more than just going to Walmart.

As far as the exchange of gifts between my husband and I, we’re doing something different this year. Our anniversary is December 14. Since Josiah was born and we had a little one to buy for we stopped buying for each other at Christmas. We have always gone out and eaten or done something special for our anniversary and then skipped Christmas. We typically buy a few things for ourselves around income tax time when we don’t have to worry about gifts for anyone else.

This year though, with having two children in the house I wanted to try something new. Jimmi and I will be doing personalized gifts for each other. It could be the gift of some act of kindness/service, the gift of time, or a homemade gift. Basically, the idea is to focus on doing something for the other person rather than spending money and 20 minutes at Walmart.

Josiah will do the same thing for Samuel. Josiah will have the opportunity to gift something he already has to Samuel or make something special for him. Samuel is too young to understand so of course he won’t be able to do this for a few years. I love this idea because it is hard for siblings to buy gifts for one another and often the parents pay for the gifts.  This is an excellent way to give a gift of the self — a gift that requires effort and thought, but not money.

For those who were raised on big Christmas mornings and lots of fancy gifts, these ideas may seem a little crazy. For those who already have kids that are used to these types of Christmas mornings, it may be hard to change gears.

I am thankful that we made the decision to start these traditions early, but it’s not too late. The way we gift for Christmas is not how I was raised. We didn’t have expensive Christmas mornings, but they weren’t quite as modest as we are trying to do. We want our main focus to be on family and on giving of ourselves to one another because that’s what Jesus did. Jesus was born for the purpose of giving Himself to us. I love Christmas and I love the look on people’s face when they open a gift I’ve given them, but I never want that to overshadow the true meaning of Christmas.

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