Monday, December 16, 2013

Simple Little Christmas Giving

We keep gift-giving simple around here. Mostly, anyway.

We believe that homemade is best, second-hand is great, and ethically made store bought is good, too. We consider the carbon footprint of a product, the labor standards and materials used in its production, the long-term impact the product is likely to have on the planet and people on it, and the message the product sends to its recipient. Of course we also try to support local businesses to the extent we can, and socially conscious, eco-friendly larger businesses when we can't.

It's kind of a lot to think about sometimes, this simplicity. 

For those who are curious about what products meet these standards, today I'm sharing what our kiddos will be receiving for Christmas this year. (This is from Mom and Dad, Santa and grandparents, by the way. We try very hard to avoid over-giving.)

Our seven year old will get:
Some audiobooks (Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Mr. Popper's Penguins, etc.)
The American Boys Handy Book
A crossbow (I know- I'm not entirely convinced that this is the greatest idea yet, either)
Beeswax modeling set with wax cutters
College fund cash

Our four year old will get:
A lunchbox
Waldorf doll
Clothes for the doll
Homemade step blocks (similar to these)
College fund cash

Our two year old will get:
A lunchbox
A homemade doll swing (like this one shared on Rhythm of the Home)
Waldorf baby doll
A homemade diapering kit (like this one)
College fund cash

Our two month old will get:
An amber teething necklace
A playsilk
(Mostly) college fund cash

Our stockings will be filled with:
A bit of natural candy from here
Toothbrushes from Preserve
Mason jar tops from Cuppow
Small Lego sets (disclaimer: Lego is not a socially conscious company per se, so we buy with moderation since we do have three kids who are big fans of the traditional building blocks)

Siblings will give:
Next year we may start a "secret Santa" tradition among the kids because this is becoming quite a thing to manage, this gift-giving between six family members. For the past few years, and this year too, we've given each child a dollar amount to spend at our church Christmas Fair fundraiser to purchase gifts for their siblings. It's worked out very well in the past- kids have purchased gently used items or fun little crafted items for their sibs, and have learned the value of budgeting in the process. This year my oldest was helped by a teen at church to even purchase something for me, and I confess that I can't wait to see what his little heart spied for his mama.

Family and friends will receive:
Baskets of our homemade items. That includes honey, candles, lotions and lip balm or breads, jams, pickles... whatever we think the recipient will prefer. We have tons of fun making the products contained in these baskets, and each family member gets to weigh in about what they believe a basket's recipient would enjoy (is this friend a creamed honey sort of person, or a lilac infused, we wonder?).

Mommy and Daddy will receive:
Nothing from one another, actually. Years ago we released ourselves from the expectation of gifts under the tree for each other. For us, Garrett's birthday and Valentine's Day are right around the corner, and we've felt pressured to come up with so many gifts that the pleasure has been stripped away. Instead, once the new year has arrived, we go out to a fancy dinner together and reconnect after the business of December. It's lovely.

What about you? What are you giving your family members this Christmas?


  1. I love our list of presents and love reading about your simple choices for the holidays. I usually do better than I did this year, but not too bad. Our stockings are similar but the big presents got a little out of control this year. I am making a slingshot for my son and am not entirely convinced I should because I am afraid his sister will get ahold of it. Hehe! Thanks for sharing your traditions.

    1. Mama G, we both may have some present regrets this year then- you with your slingshot and me with my crossbow. We shall see... enjoy your holiday!

  2. Emily, I'm always so intrigued and impressed by your posts. You live life the way some of us fantasize about. Like I'll think, "I just want move to the country, raise chickens and vegetables, compost, get rid of half the crap in our house - simplify." This isn't actually you, but I suppose you are living the life you fantasized about, so that's what I admire. And the simplify value really appeals to me, even if we differ in the extent of it. We're pretty far from the fantasy, but we have three under 3 and a husband in medical school, all in good time. This is a bit of a tangent from Christmas presents, but it reminds me of the difference between what I want to do, and what I actually do. Stockings were filled with dollar aisle stuff and we should have gone simpler like you, since that dollar aisle stuff has been totally forgotten and is now just part of the clutter in our house. Sigh. Oh well, there's always next year. Question for you - what do you do about gifts your children are given by others? The tackiest, plastic, glittery, stuff is always given to my kids by someone else. My almost 3 year old loves it. I just don't see myself telling family members and friends not to give us this kind of stuff for bdays and Christmas. Do you?

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