Six Tips for Relaxed Christmas Shopping

I love my family like crazy, and Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. There is only one problem, gift giving is not my love language – or maybe it is just that gift shopping is not my love language.  Watching my family open gifts I’ve selected makes me very happy, I just get overwhelmed by the planning, budgeting, and shopping.

These six tips help me tackle the challenge and make Christmas shopping more relaxed.

1.  Establish a System

In our family each child gets three gifts, and one of the three is a book.  I love choosing the books and already have ordered some on Amazon for this Christmas.  The other two gifts tend to be less obvious and more of a challenge.

I read of another family where each person receives: 1 want, 1 need, 1 wear, 1 read.  I like that – and it even rhymes.

2.  Make Wish Lists

Ask your children to make a list of suggestions.  These lists are actually quite adorable and I’ve saved many of them over the years.  Usually I can find a couple of things on their lists that are actually reasonable.  I won’t tell you how many of my children asked for a puppy this year — because they can’t have one.

3.  Start Early

I am definitely not one of those people who shops all year round for Christmas.  That sounds like a nightmare to me.  But I do like to start, and finish, early.  This year Hannah will be home on Dec. 1st for a visit and I would like to be as close to done as possible when she arrives so I’m not distracted by shopping. I just might rope her in to helping me wrap!

4.  Keep a Notebook

I use a notebook to keep track of all gifts I plan to purchase, and then mark them off as I buy them. My Christmas notebook also helps me keep track of  menus,  teacher gifts, past Christmas letters and cards, and things I want to remember the next year.

I wrote a post about it that you might like,  Help for My Christmas Brain.

5. Remember the Small Gifts

I make a list of teachers and other special people, so when I see something just right, and affordable, I buy it.  Some  years we make small gifts, which is nice when there is time.  I also try to have a few small hostess gifts ready to go, even if it is as simple as a box of tea or bottle of wine with a ribbon around it.

This year I am excited to support Isaiah’s new project, Claro Candles which just launched this week.  Every two weeks they support a new cause by giving an organization 50% of all proceeds.   Their first cause is Pencils of Promise which builds schools in developing nations.  How perfect is that for a teacher gift?

6.  Wrap Early

I make a valiant effort to get all wrapping done a little bit early.  I remember years when Russ I were up late wrapping on Christmas Eve before we could go to bed.  That is no way to spend Christmas Eve; it’s much more fun to snuggle in bed.

*****

If you haven’t seen it yet, you might enjoy my post, Top Twenty Toys 2012, which is packed with all kinds of gift ideas for kids.  I also have a post coming up titled, Twenty Real-life Tools for Gifts; you might find some good ideas there too.

Question:  How do you manage Christmas shopping for your family?

Lisa

 

 

 

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

22 Comments

  1. Mentor Mom
    November 14, 2012

    We do not have our children write Wish Lists. We want them to move away from the "I want . . . I want . . . I want . . ." mentality. We want them to be thankful for whatever they receive, big or small.

    I, too, love to finish my shopping early. The past few years I have tried to be done before Thanksgiving. However, this year I must wait for the December 5th paycheck. (We had a small paycheck in November and big expenses in October, due to our 30th Anniv. trip to Puerto Rico.) 🙂

    I actually LOVE to wrap presents late at night on Christmas Eve. After everyone has gone to bed, I put on some Christmas Music, spread all of the presents out on the living room floor, and enjoy the quiet of the early morning hours (midnight – 2:00 am).

    We haven't taken our younger kids shopping with us in November and December for many, many years. We want to keep them away from the commercialism that Christmas brings (and the "I want . . . I want . . . I want" mentality). However, after bringing home our adopted kids in 2008, we wanted them to also know the JOY of GIVING. Our Big Kids all draw names . . . and our Youngers all draw names. A week or so before Christmas, we surprise our kids with a midnight wake up . . . and take them shopping at Wal-Mart (when the crowds are small). We pair a big kid with a younger kid to help with the shopping. Mama takes pictures. The first year we did it, it was the first time our African children had even been to Wal-Mart (or any large department store). It was snowing hard as we drove the 30 minutes to The City (which created a magical type of feeling). It is a very special Christmas Shopping Tradition.

    Thanks for sharing Isaiah's new project. I'll have to go check it out.

    Laurel

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      Laurel, I hear you about the commercialism. One thing I like about Wish Lists is it makes my children, particularly those with difficult pasts, think about what they truly want. They will ask for every single thing they see, but when they have to write down what they would most enjoy, the list narrows considerably. This year Honeybee had a long list, but then she crossed off all but a pair of boots, a particular book, and an earring holder. She does not enjoy surprises, so we'll go shopping for the boots together.

      Reply
  2. blesseday
    November 14, 2012

    When I was growing up, my parents came up with the idea of giving each child three presents (because the baby Jesus received three gifts): something for our minds, something for our bodies, and something for our spirits. I really like this idea, and have used it as the basis for our own gift-giving. But our house is really teeny tiny, so I am no longer always buying individual presents, so the something for the mind might be a game given to the whole family. Or the spirit gift might be a family adventure (camping trip, for example). So you can get creative and make such ideas fit your actual family dynamic, space, values, etc.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      I like that! Thank you for sharing that idea – I may give it try.

      Reply
  3. Sharon
    November 14, 2012

    We also do 3 gifts per child with one being a book! 🙂 I was hoping to get all of my big shopping done before Thanksgiving (most of it online) but we're one week away and it's not even started. I love finding gifts for my kids, but I am really stretched at finding something nice and inexpensive for teachers that won't just become clutter for them.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      Sharon, I'm pretty excited about these candles for building schools in developing nations. My sister is a teacher and she loves Starbucks gift cards – you can never go wrong with that.

      Reply
      1. Sharon
        November 14, 2012

        Thanks, Lisa!

        Reply
  4. Jessica
    November 14, 2012

    Lisa, we do a "small" Christmas too–both of our kids came to us from poverty, and the old fashioned American piles of gifts under the tree thing would put them into meltdowns, and our oldest got terrible waves of survivor guilt-.

    We found that scaling back makes everyone more comfortable, keeps the budget more realistic and allows us to do something like sponsor a family at Christmas.

    We "wrap" all the kids' gifts in their Christmas stockings made by my grandmother before she passed away.

    The typical gifts total about $10-30 per kid. They get a DVD (often purchased used on Amazon) and then some things that they enjoy like hair bows/beads, novelty socks, and a printed photo album that shows their adventures for the past year. The kids treasure their photo albums, and each has a stack of photo albums–one for each year they've been with the family. They are very, very well cared-for, and I have to ask permission to use them when I speak at workshops about older child adoption–the kids always say yes, but they want me to be sure to take an inventory and make sure I've reclaimed EVERY book.

    Also, we always order the photo albums in duplicate–and one copy of the kids' photo albums goes on to their birth family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      I like the way you keep it simple, Jessica, and I'm impressed that you do a photo album every year. Do you have a favorite site for creating the albums?

      Reply
      1. Jessica
        November 14, 2012

        I have used Shutterfly every year so far. (watch for coupon codes/deals/sales). I upload photos through the year if I'm organized.. When I'm not, I search by kid and by date in Picasa, which searches my whole hard drive for digital photos. I can also pull over camera phone pictures from Facebook & Instagram. The photos go in folders for each kid, and then those folders get turned into a photo book.

        I typically ask the kids what their favorite parts of the year were–like a top ten list. Then I make myself a big pot of coffee and do the photo albums overnight around Thanksgiving. I also forgot to mention–I do one co mingled album which gets shipped to Grandparents in the Midwest. For what it's worth, I only have two kids. If there were more kids, I think this process would look very different… it's a HUGE project.

        Destiny was just asking me if I was going to hold off and wait until after Christmas this year because she wants the Hawaii photos in there (we're doing Christmas in Hawaii this year).

        Normally I wouldn't move the schedule around like that, but it's tempting to get the good tropical photos in there. But I think it would be disorienting to have two Christmases in one Album.

        Reply
  5. Michelle Byrne
    November 14, 2012

    We have 7 kids…each child gets a wishlist on Amazon.com. We divide up into girls and boys and the girls give everyone one gift, the boys give everyone one gift. Mom and dad give 2-3 gifts per kid and Santa brings 3 individual gifts and a couple of big family gifts.
    This year we did our Christmas shopping online last weekend at a KOA while we were roasting marshmallows and making s'mores.
    We have 2 birthday's near Christmas that we tackle on Christmas shopping day. I LOVE Amazon it has made Christmas shopping doable and fun!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      Michelle, Amazon has definitely made my shopping easier too!

      Reply
  6. Teresa
    November 14, 2012

    We do a small mini album for the kids each year as well. It's just a small album you can slip the pictures into that make a photo record of the activities and family events of the year. This goes into their stockings and are later kept in a place of easy access so they can pull them out and look at them whenever they want. It is time consuming to pick which photos to use, but not as time consuming as making an actual scrap booking album. When the kids move out they will be able to take their albums with them. It's become a tradition over the last 10 years or so and a highlight of their stockings.

    I appreciate everyone's input re: gift giving. With larger families it can become both costly and cumbersome, and sometimes we get lost in it all and don't experience the true spirit of giving.
    Our income is very limited this year and so I need to be wise in my spending, but also what to experience the joy that comes from giving to others.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      Great idea for a simple album, Teresa. When our budget has been very tight, we've focused more on family gifts rather than individual ones. I'm always thankful for grandparents whose gifts fill in the gaps. I agree about wanting to experience joy.

      Reply
  7. Heidi
    November 14, 2012

    Our kids each get one gift and a few stocking gifts. They always get an ornament and at least one book in their stockings (these and sometimes other gifts come from the local thrift store). This year they are each getting an ornament, three books, a puzzle, pjs in their upcoming sizes, and SmartWool socks off an outlet website. One child got a sleeping bag, our youngest is getting a large Rubbermaid full of cheap rice with kitchen utensils from the thrift store for an indoor sandbox activity, and another child is getting the electricity set you mentioned. They will all be thrilled, and none of it cost much.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      That sounds lovely, Heidi. My boys love their rice bin.

      Reply
  8. Emily
    November 14, 2012

    We celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas (Dec 25-Jan 5), and each person opens a gift each day. This can be overwhelming (and most people assume it's expensive–which isn't really true). My kids got very overwhelmed by the intensity of Christmas when they were young, and sometimes struggled with poor attitudes or disappointment. This was our solution–it includes receiving gifts, but also emphasizes giving gifts. Each child has to contribute a gift for each person to wrap and put under the tree on Christmas. They can be small things they've bought or made, or they can be something of their own that they give (old stuffed animals to younger siblings has been a hit in years past). Christmas day is from extended family, they always get a needed clothing gift, and a book gift, one day is for the kids to choose something from the Compassion gift catalog to give (this is often their favorite present day!) rather than receive that day, and then there are only a few days left to buy traditional gifts for each child. The fun part is that all the gifts are wrapped and placed under the tree, and aside from the day that we choose gifts from the Compassion catalog together, they don't know which is which. They choose one each day after dinner. It has been a fun way for us to take down the frenzied feeling from Christmas morning, allow time for extended family interaction on Christmas, and really emphasize both ends of the gift-giving relationship. (We also have never 'done Santa' which makes this system possible. When my oldest was four, he asked me why there was a fat red guy everywhere at Christmastime–LOL.)

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2012

      Emily, I can see how it would be fun to open something every day; and I love the idea of celebrating for all 12 days. My birthday is the Epiphany, and we always kept our tree up through the 12 days of Christmas.

      Reply
  9. Ann
    November 14, 2012

    Lisa, about two weeks ago I heard The Grinch in our house saying something about how she doesn't like Christmas! Can you imagine! And guess what? I horrified myself with those words! I used to love Christmas! I realized it was the shopping–especially shopping in the crowds and with all the stress. So, I am determined to have most of the shopping done by Dec 1–when I find something I know the kids will like (or better yet, those hard to buy for people like grandfathers), I buy it! I don't worry that I will find it cheaper later. I don't worry I might change my mind. I don't hee and haw over other possibilities. My goal this year is to ENJOY the holiday season. I already have about 1/3 of the shopping done which is a miracle for me! Thank you for sharing your strategies!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 15, 2012

      Ann, I ordered something the other day and began to do that very thing, "I wonder if it will go on sale on Black Friday?" "I wonder if I can find it for a lower price somewhere else?" Then I thought it was worth it just to be done and have it off my to-do list. I want to enjoy Christmas this year too. Honestly, there are many things that I won't be able to control, but shopping is one that I can.

      Reply
  10. Melodie
    November 15, 2012

    I do love Christmas but find it similar in that I get overwhelmed with all I feel I need to do. A few years ago, I changed how we do it. For the teachers, who invest so much in our kid’s lives, I make the Thanksgiving holiday the BIG one. I write a letter (handwritten) of all the things I’ve noticed and am thankful for them this year. I include a nice size Starbucks card or cash card (Having been a teacher, I do agree…this is the BEST gift) and homemade trail mix.

    Come Christmas, I make 8 – 10 different kinds of cookies/sweet treats and buy those cute 99cent decorated take out boxes. Family friends, co workers, teachers, etc. get a box of sweet treats and a Christmas letter from our family.

    For my kids and family, we do three gifts; Gold: A gift they really, really want, Frankincense:a coupon for a family experience together (one year it was the zoo, one year it was a trip to Disney as we lived super close), and Myrrh: something they need; a practical item.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 15, 2012

      Melodie, doing Thanksgiving gifts for teachers is a very nice idea. They get to enjoy the gift more and you get it off your list. And your gold, frankincense, myhrr idea is another great system for keeping it simple and joyful.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy