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One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read

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How we simplify gifts at Christmas

You can simplify Christmas and reduce the overwhelm and expense of what's become normal at Christmas – and it's easier than you think!

If your kids are like mine and have too many toys, you might be looking for ways to make Christmas a little less overwhelming this year. I have one super-responsible son who takes care of his toys, which means he has a good number of toys that he's held on to for years. My other kids don't deserve to have any toys  (just kidding) contribute their broken toys to clutter around our house. But even more than just having too many toys, we started to notice that on Christmas morning our kids would open one toy and toss it aside right away to grab another one. It just seemed like they were starting to get pretty greedy and not as thankful for what they were receiving. We have seen a huge difference in how thankful our kid have become for their Christmas gifts, and we love that they aren't making giant Christmas wish-lists. Instead, they spend more time thinking about what to give other people, instead of what to get for themselves. They know they won't be getting tons of gifts, so they don't spend as much time thinking about what they will receive.

One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read – I am not the one who came up with this idea, but we've done it for several years and we've loved it. I wish I could give credit to the originator of the idea here, because it's been such a blessing for our family! Each of the kids gets these four gifts, and while the first year was a bit of an adjustment, the older kids look forward to these four gifts and the little ones don't know what it's like to have giant piles of gifts under the tree (well, there are still a lot of gifts, because there are seven of us). 

One thing they want – As I mentioned before, when I ask my kids what they want for Christmas, they give me just one or two things instead of a long list. These are things they really want, and have wanted for awhile. This is often a toy, or in the case of my 12-year-old, another book or something she's wanted for awhile. These are some of the “wants” I'm getting this year: 

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One thing they need – This is often a clothing item. This year my son really wanted some Star Wars snow boots, and he doesn't have any boots that fit him now, so that will likely be his needed gift.

One thing to wear – In our home, the “one thing to wear” gift is given on Christmas Eve. They each get a new pair of pajamas and open a bonus gift of a family game. Then we all get dressed in our pajamas and drink hot cocoa and play the game. It's a pretty fun tradition!

One thing to read – This is my favorite part of the four gifts at Christmas. I always read a ton of reviews and try to find books that will spark my kids' imaginations. These are my book pics this year:

For my 18-month-old – “You Are My Baby”- we found this at the library and my little one loved it! The mommys and babies are paired together, and the illustrations are just right for her age.

For my 4-year-old – “Extra Yarn” – another library find. My 4-year-old loved this story about a box of yarn that never runs out. I really loved the illustrations in this book, too. 

For my 7-year-old – “The Way Things Work Now” – we found a much older edition of this book at a yard sale, and my son was so excited to read about how things are made and how they work:

For my 9-year-old – The Mercy Watson Series has been a long-time favorite. It's a pretty easy read for her now, but she really wants to complete her collection.

For my 12-year-old – these books are classics, and she wants to have all of the books to read over and over again, but we're going to start small because these are harder to find. 

That's it! We've simplified Christmas to focus less on gifts (I know that sounds funny, because I just outlined all of the gifts we are giving this year, but I wanted to give you some ideas!). How does your family handle gift-giving at Christmas?

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