This time of year things can really amp up a bit – with social events and sing-alongs and school pageants and classroom projects and gift giving and decorating and well, you get the idea; it’s busy right now. Even if it’s good busy, (which I hope for all of you that it is!) it’s still busy and definitely takes some serious intention. And planning. And ideas! For how to keep things feeling the way you want them to feel.
While I do love the giving spirit that is prevalent this time of year, I don’t love the feeling of obligatory getting that seems to want to dominate. Being aware of that is our first step towards making it work for us. When we know what we don’t want, it’s easier to focus in on what we do want. And from that knowing, and from the web, and from trial and error over the years, we came to this…5 ways we make gift giving work in our house…
Experience. Rather than a thing, we focus on an idea. A special class or outing, a trip to the movies, a book of coupons for visits to the bakery or the ice cream shop or a one-on-one date to the cafe or some other such outing where the prize is the process.
Consumables. Perhaps this comes from having a big family now and coming from a big family, but having your very own box of protein bars or a special treat or your own box of Mac and Cheese or some other food that we would never have in house otherwise? That you can eat when you want and that you don’t have to share if you don’t want to but you can if you want? That’s heaven for a kid in a house with 5 other people. You can eat if fast, or make it last. It’s up to you and you are in charge of that little food domain.
Want/Need/Wear/Read I saw this on the Simple Kids blog and I don’t know whether they made it up or whether they got the idea from someone else but I think it’s brilliant. I love the parameters it sets and I love the simplicity of it and the fact that it’s all sort of covered – desires are met, needs are met, a fun garment can be purchased that might not be otherwise, and a book to read, which provides an instantaneous activity! It all takes care of that feeling many of us parents get when we put the gifts out and think, “Oh my! That’s not enough!”
Presence.It sounds cliche I know, but truly, what if accompanying the presents there was also presence. Phones would be turned off, screens could be pushed away, distractions could be eliminated or at least minimized which is sometimes all you can do with this many people in a house, and we could greet our children with our full present selves. We could play the games they want to play, and engage in a way that felt like a gift in itself. Something I know we can’t always do with all that needs to be done in a day, but on this day, in this season, that seems like it could really bring about the feeling we’re all truly seeking.
Group gift that is also an activity. Something like a board game for the family or a big giant puzzle or an art supply of some beautiful variety that is given to the group for the group and that instantly inspires some fun family time.
In our house we’re going for the feeling of satisfaction and we are well aware that feeling comes not from a thing but from our approach. (and quite often this time of year we need to remind ourselves of that!!) It is not about getting more, but about making sure that what we bring in are the things that bring us more of the feelings we want.
What are some ways you make it work in your house? What’s your favorite gift to give? Or get? What’s the feeling you’re going for this holiday season? And how do you make sure you get there?
We’ve made a decision this year to focus on the entire long season as opposed to just one day. In year’s past we always celebrated the pre-season, Advent, and all the festivities leading up to Christmas. This year though we’re extending it even further, beyond New Year’s day even, all the way to the Epiphany. Who doesn’t want to celebrate a day called Epiphany? Religious or not!
Growing up my mom always extended the season all the way to The Epiphany, a.k.a. Three Kings Day and the original meaning behind the 12 days of Christmas. On the Epiphany, we would receive boxes of Cracker Jacks, wrapped up in tin foil, and left on the back porch. As if they were actually left by the three kings. Forget Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. How about Cracker Jacks?
Over the years that kind of fell out of my own family traditions. But this year again I am embracing the full on season, from December 1 all the way to January 6th. This has taken a lot of the pressure off to get things out on time. We are creating our family packages to be shipped knowing full well they won’t arrive by Christmas, but they just might make it to their destinations before January 6th. We’re doing a community book drive in January and not worrying that it’s not before Christmas. We’re making our holiday crafts this week and next. I may even wrap up some Cracker Jacks in tin foil too while we’re at it!
I’m loving the feeling of extending the season. I’m loving the pressure being off, not that there really was any true pressure, but still. I’m loving also the realization that traditions can come and go and even come back again and morph along the way to suit each family’s needs.
There’s a lot happening this time of year. Lots of parties and plans and presents and people and possibly travel and more. Last year Carrie and I were sitting around with a circle of friends and talking about the holiday season that was about to begin. There were some moans from the crowd about the obligations, the shoulds, the shopping, and the have-to’s and the like. And we all realized something had to change.
We shifted the conversation towards what we wanted this time of year to look and feel like. How did we want it to go. What were the things we were seeking from this holiday season that came to us every year without fail.
We wanted connection with friends and family. We wanted rituals and traditions with meaning to us and to our families. We wanted the chance to celebrate life and to ring in the new year with joy and celebration – as opposed to dread and dissatisfaction.
From that conversation we created the Slow Family class called Creating YOUR Slow Holiday. It’s a great class and we’ve since run it a few times as both an in-person class and a teleclass. It’s gotten rave reviews and reports have come back that it is truly an effective tool for evoking change and creating holidays that feel full, joyful and satisfying too.
From that class we’ve created the Creating YOUR Slow Holiday e*book which you can now download from our shop. It’s 15 pages packed with questions, ideas, inspiration and suggestions for ways to shift your holidays from fear and loathing to true and meaningful comfort and joy.
But don’t just take our word for it. (although our word is pretty darn good) You can read here what folks are saying.
We had a great teleclass last night with folks calling in from several different points. We discussed what’s working. What’s not. And perhaps the most resounding, what’s the feeling you’re going for this holiday season. All callers left with some good nugget to take with them into their holiday season. Thanks to all who called in.
We talked a bit about gift giving too and how to keep it in check and fill it with the spirit we are seeking this season. In our house what works for us is to focus on handmade and homemade and on the rituals that allow the whole season to be celebrated.
At Future Craft Collective, my other collaborative endeavor, we just finished up a great round of advent calendar making and each calendar made is so unique – not just in its look but in its purpose too. Some countdown to Christmas, others to New Year’s and still others to solstice or Three Kings Day.
Two sweet creations by Clair. The tree and the child.
The season is here. And it is ready to be celebrated. In any way, shape or form that you so choose. Make it yours. Make it work for you and your family. And make it something to be enjoyed, not merely endured.