Christmas Presents


Christmas Presents

  • We purchase Christmas gifts before Advent begins (mostly!!). This helps us to focus on the time of Advent and to avoid the busy shopping days. Stephanie W
  • When I’m out shopping during the year and my kids ask for certain items, I thank them for the suggestion and take note for birthdays and Christmas. That helps them stop nagging, gives me options and helps me make great choices when needed. I can then buy their Christmas gifts much earlier in the year. The trick is to hide them somewhere I can find them later. Good to jot down where they were placed so when the time comes, I can find them.  Irene
  • Make your list of family/friends to whom you are giving gifts. Try to get this done and even wrapped, if possible, before Advent. Stores are much quieter and sales seem to start even in early November. Greta D.
  • I always get my husband to go Christmas shopping with me. We take one or two Saturdays, find a friend, relative or babysitter to watch the kids, and make a date out of it. We go with a list, discuss options, stay within our budget and just enjoy holding hands, laughing, talking and sharing the time together. This has greatly decreased my resentment of previous years where I felt stuck doing it all. Now we have fun together and it really makes things easier and better for everyone. Mary S.
  • Before my father died he asked if we would all use the $ we would spend on each other to donate to research the cancer he was dying from as it is not funded by the Cancer Society. All agreed. The next year I was the only one who came without gifts but had made my donation. The good news; that year I told my young teens that I thought I would stop doing stockings but would like to do something for someone. The instant response from one of them was to pay someone’s oil bill. The others agreed. We went to our oil company to let them choose someone who needed it the most. They started to tell us about the family and we stopped them right away. It was supposed to be anonymous. The company asked us what they were supposed to tell the family. We thought for a second and then one kid just said “tell them Santa Clause came.” That felt like a real Christmas present. It was needed ,anonymous, freely given and all went to a family not administration. It made me really proud of my kids and their sense of Christmas.  MJ
  • We enjoy a simple gift for our relatives. We go on-line to COSTCO, Walmart or some other store that can prepare for us a family calendar. We choose great family photos to go with each month and give this special calendar to grandparents and relatives, either as a full size calendar or as a spiral bound table top calendar. They so enjoy seeing pictures of our children as the year progresses. With the table top calendar, I remove the calendar part at the end of the year, trim back the spiral, and have a flip photo summary of the past year. We have many now over the years that we enjoy displaying on various shelves around the house. The children love flipping through these photos. Stephanie
  • My married daughter recently sent to our family a package with an envelope for every day leading up to Christmas from the start of advent. Each envelope contained a verse from Scripture, a chocolate coin and something to color related to Christmas. My younger children so enjoyed this daily homemade advent activity. Suzanne
  • As kids get older, it is harder to get something that they really need. They usually have it already and have lots of other things as well. I don’t like spending for the sake of spending and don’t enjoy the high pre-Christmas prices either. Anyway we discussed and decided that all our high school and older kids would get a couple of books by their favorite authors (usually a cartoon book like Garfield, along with a great novel), and some money to go buy what they want during the boxing day sales. This alleviates a lot of headache and running around on my part. We put more focus on the conversations and activities we do together instead. We might go for a sleigh ride, family outing, or purchase a family gift, ie. a great board game or super DVD. In an age of abundance, we opt to highlight togetherness during Christmas rather than quantity of gifts. I.M.
  • Do you hide gifts so well in your home that you forget where you put them when it’s time to wrap the presents? Create a Word document on your computer (choose a title that won’t give it away to snooping family members) and list the hiding place of each gift. In addition, you may want to put sticky notes on gifts to remind you who it was bought for. . . . When you make your holiday gift list, get creative. Trust me – most people have way too much stuff! Instead of buying yet another toy for the kids (or grand kids), sponsor some of their lessons (music, dance, skating) or share an experience with them (zoo, concert, live theater). For adults, consider giving edible gifts that won’t clutter their home (homemade salsa, bottle of wine, a ‘secret recipe’ of yours with all the ingredients to make it). Parents with young children would appreciate offers of babysitting, home cooked meals they can freeze, a gift certificate for housekeeping services. Give seniors coupons to shovel their snow, weed their garden or get groceries delivered. For independent teenagers, how about gas cards, grocery gift cards or movie passes. For your significant other: massages, a candlelight dinner you prepare with love, a CD you’ve created with all their favorite songs. It’s also helpful to ask for wish lists from others, so you can give them things they need and will use. Dianne W. (she got it from We Organize U Ezine which she has a free subscription to. Visit
  • I never give presents to my children’s teachers. What I do, which they greatly appreciate, is give them a Christmas card. What makes that so special is what I put on the inside. I wish them a great Christmas and tell them what my child really enjoys about being in their class. I highlight their talents and their strengths of character, as well as my appreciation for all the sacrifice and effort they put into teaching. Every teacher I have ever done this for has personally thanked me and commented on how much it meant to them. One even said years later that it stays in her nightstand where she can read it anytime she is having a bad day. Think about it. Little time, no money, hardly any work—yet what a gift! Marian F.
  • With regards to Christmas shopping, I have found it immensely helpful if I keep a list handy all year on which I can jot down gift ideas for family and friends as they come up. That way, when its time to shop for gifts, I don’t need to brainstorm for ideas and I don’t end up getting things people don’t want. I refer to my list and see who mentioned what they wanted/needed. Another great thing about keeping a gift list is when something from the list is on sale, be it any time of year, I can purchase it and hide it away until Christmas. Angela Y.
  • We asked grandparents to buy our children a child friendly manger scene. Fisher Price has some excellent ones that are unbreakable and Veggie Tales also sells products. Regardless of what you choose, its a gift that children spend countless hours playing with, re-enacting and enjoying. A great way to make the story of Christmas come alive for your young children. Chantal
  • I try to collect inexpensive things for younger kids throughout the year. Like activity books- packages of practical things like pencils, hair things, with a theme like cartoon characters or hockey teams etc. So you can build a presents around your stash. I also sew- so I make pillow cases and library bags with cute fabrics, have also made pajama envelopes. They are like empty pillows with openings that kids can stuff PJ’s in- and they double as throw pillow on their bed. This year Walmart had all these licensed fabrics like Winnie the Pooh, Thomas tank engine, Tweety, Tinkerbell. I will make bags and aprons and pillow cases for my nieces- and add a coloring book on the same theme. I find that gift cards related to food are wonderful presents for teenagers. Subway, Tim’s, Second Cup, McDonald’s. They love going out to socialize and eat- and it’s an easy thing to mail. ”Finding books” are great crowd pleasers. You can get the I Spy series- or other kinds of cartoon ones. I often find them at Winners for 5.99, or in publisher clearing piles at grocery stores. They are great as gifts- and helpful on car trips too. Lists are very helpful. I try to make an ideas list in mid Nov. And make one big shopping trip in late Nov to break the back of the shopping. The rest of Dec, I pick up all the little additions. I try to put my Christmas shopping budget of cash into an envelope, and decide on monetary limits per child/ per person- and use that money instead of VISA. It really makes you think about how to spend. I try to do the wrapping in the last week before Christmas- slowly in little batches so it’s not a huge deal at the end. Chris M.
  • I asked grandparents to buy tickets for our children to cultural events that they could take them to, ie. play, concert, museum, art show etc. as a way to expose our kids to culture and have special moments with their grandparents. Joanna
  • I try to do all my shopping over the course of the year and then just grab some final items early December. I stash them in places. Then a week before Christmas, I sit up with my sister or husband and wrap all the gifts while we either watch a great late night movie, or lock ourselves in my bedroom and listen to great tunes. I feel so wonderful knowing that I don’t have to panic shop or panic wrap in the last few days. Irene F.
  • When we get together over the holidays with all our relatives whose kids are all grown, we are each responsible to buy only one $20 useful item. We wrap them in crazy ways and the come together for an evening of fun. We draw numbers to decide the order of opening. The first person picks one from the pile. Opens it and keeps it. The person who draws #2 can choose to take #1’s gift or open a new gift. We go through all the presents systematically, with much taking along the way. The one who “loses” his gift, gets to pick one to open. By the time we end, everyone has something different but useful. We so enjoy this. One year we made a last minute rule that everyone had to open their gift while wearing oven mitts. Did we ever laugh a lot!!!  A lot of fun for everyone and a great way to enjoy gift giving without much expense or worry.  Anne H.
  • A tradition that when our kids were teenagers was to pick names and make a gift for that person.We also gave other gifts but the “home-made” gift was most memorable, like a crocheted afghan, a sewn blouse, painted Nativity set with the animals, shepherds, knitted mitts and toque, home-made mailbox, bird feeders,picnic tables, placemats etc.  It is surprising how creative some get. My daughter designed a cook book more than once.  She took a binder, covered with cloth over padding with two ribbons to tie shut.  On the computer she made title pages and put in a variety of recipes.Another daughter did a small cross stitch when she was fairly young and the list goes on, some big gifts and some small.They were the best Christmases.  It was exciting on Christmas day to start opening these special gifts one by one. We were always surprised by the creative ideas that appeared. Mary O.
  • I asked grandparents to invest in a family library for ourselves by purchasing classic children literature each year. Mary C.
  • What we started as a family a couple of years ago, since our kids are grown up, is the tradition of no Christmas shopping for wrapped gifts under the tree.  Instead, we all jointly contribute to a charity that we take turn picking each year, and hang the certificate on the tree.  We still buy for the little ones (anyone under 18).  This eliminates the hassle and stress for our kids of having to spend money and keep thinking of things to buy us–things that we don’t need anyway!!! We still do our stockings (and we have big ones) cause they are fun and Mom wants to buy her kids stuff still.  But it eliminates spending $$ on big ticket items (when we want to buy our kids something we did it at any time through the year so they don’t feel obligated to give back a present). Karen K.
  • Instead of Xmas wrapping paper, I use the Christmas gift bags you can get at a dollar store. I punch a couple of holes along the edge with a hole punch and thread pretty ribbon through it and tie it in a bow. That prevents kids from peeking and also allows us to easily re-use them time and time again. Another idea I saw recently is to make a kind of “pillowcase” out of nice Xmas fabric with a pull string at the opening to tie it closed. That makes for an environmentally friendly and re-usable “wrap” for all kinds of things, year after year. Anne S.
  • I collect the comic strips of newspapers and use them to wrap gifts with. My kids enjoy reading it, I incur no expense and it’s ready for all occasions. I add a nice bow or some ribbon and voila. Ready to go. Delores G.
  • I asked grandparents to record their reading of  great kids’ books and present it to my kids for Christmas. This gave them something invaluable to present at Christmas though it cost little. Over the years each of my children have heard grandma and grandpa read Harry Potter, Silver Wing and other stories to them over audio, with fun commentaries in between. This has been priceless, especially after my grandma passed away. Nicole
  • This is my way of helping the environment and keeping my wrapping chores a minimum. I use dollar store gift bags or wicker/metal /wood baskets with cellophane or cling wrap that can be reused by the recipient at home for storage or passed on to someone else. This way there is no hassle of gift wrapping. Liza H.
  • We have the habit of trying keeping our belongings to a certain number. We don’t want our home to turn into a toy store. As kids receive gifts, we ask them also to look at what they have and donate a portion of their good condition toys to children who would appreciate them through a local charity.   Kathy
  • Rationalizing all family gift giving. Having a large family, 3 generations, we decided about 5 years ago to simply cut back on gift giving. This is what we have done:  1) For Christmas give grand kids only token gifts (seeing as kids get lots of gifts from their parents) and give one nice gift to the parents. Token gifts (under $10) would include for example an electronic toothbrush, jazzy socks, fancy scarf, cute mitts, hair clasps, trendy ballpoint pen, art supplies that are super good quality, not a poor quality kit (ie. get a good quality paint brush/watercolors/pad). Also a token gift would be a gift certificate from a record shop, electronic supply shop, concert hall, book store, museum, upcoming star’s concert, ferry ride, tickets to a sports event etc.  2) For birthdays, a birthday card and birthday party for each of the parents and for each grandchild’s birthday a nice gift. For example gift certificate for a scrap-booking workshop (you can go with them) or for ceramic painting, maybe buy some neat picnic stuff like a really good thermos bag, jug, or maybe get a nice scarf, city map-book, travel items (destination city’s history), classical music CD, biography of their favorite composer, a high quality umbrella . . . This way, once a year each family member receives a nice gift from us. We are 29 in the family, all told, so it became necessary to “rationalize”. No one is miffed at all and it sure saves hassle for Grandma. To me, the most important thing is to keep up a very good relationship with each one all year long. Jackie M.
  • I’ve asked the grandparents to consider channelling their gift-giving to buying classic movies our family will watch over and over again. Marian
  • No special tips on gift buying.  They get one special thing they “want”, clothes they need, Stockings are filled with hats, mitts and underwear and a sweet treat.  A new family game is bought and it is used to keep them busy Christmas evening with their cousins.  Last year we got the electronic Monopoly which was a real hit.  It comes with credit cards instead of money and an electronic adding machine so the game is really sped up.  Very simple is how our Christmas goes.  Always the same schedule and plan.  We go to Midnight Mass, come home and open the gifts, go to bed and we host our family for dinner, whoever wants to come. Dianne W.
  • We pick names for our grown siblings and their families.Each person/family provides ideas on what would be appreciated. That way we have to buy only one gift for a person/family from my side of the family and one for my husband’s side of the family. All the siblings chip in some money and buy tickets to a cultural event for our parents who are now older and have all that they need. That way, when we all come together at Christmas there is a gift exchange, but it’s kept to a minimum and we all are not financially stressed or shopped out over it. Everyone buys only for their own children. It’s taken awhile to get around to this system, but it works for us as we grow and begin our own families. B.J.
  • Rather than buy gifts for all your neighbors and friends why not give a gift to a charity in all of their names and just send them a Christmas saying that a donation has been made in their name to this organization for —- ? That way – they spread their wealth through many borders and help people WHO REALLY need it. I saw this in this mornings paper — The gifts of hope catalog from Plan Canada — $25 buys a beekeeping micro-finance project in Egypt $40 buys a fuel-efficient stove that reduces time women and girls in Darfur spend in search of cooking fuel $55 buys 3 hens and 1 rooster to provide a source of income and food for a family in Mozambique In Canada there is the for all local charities Then there are the $10 net programs to protect whole families from bites from infected mosquitoes. Anyway, its not the norm in gift giving, but when you think about it – it’s definitely the spirit of Christmas and what a real difference you are making in someone’s life instead of a toy that gets added to an already large pile. Heidi
  • We have our grandparents buy snowsuits for our kids and present them at Thanksgiving so that we are set for the cold temperatures in advance of Christmas day. This saves me time and money, ensuring my kids are warmly dressed each winter.    Caroline
  • Unfortunately these days people are sooooo focused on the material world. People know that Christmas is a time when Christ was born but the problem is they are so focused on the physical part that they have lost the priority of their values. I decided with my mom years ago that we would stop Christmas presents all together. We are grown women, have what we need and don’t need anything really. We get what we need when we need to and decided to stop the Christmas craziness of giving just for the sake of it. We do give to charities, but do that individually, with generosity and not for recognition by anyone. We mutually agreed to spend the time together over a simple great meal and put the focus on going to Christmas Mass, praying for our friends and relatives, making phone calls to our loved ones and just relaxing and enjoying the birth of Christ.We don’t buy anymore for my siblings who have children. They have so much as it is. Since my dad died, we realize even more, the greatest gift we give each other is our presence, our life, our being there and not what we provide. Unfortunately this has met with a lot of criticism from people who put the priority on material gifts. What, you didn’t receive a Christmas gift from ANYONE? You don’t buy for your family? I realize more and more that I definitely have to be brave and strong to deal with all those egos and attitudes out there.We have to stop and think what our priorities are. There’s so much more to Christmas! Diane J.
  • We have asked grandparents to help our children enjoy a greater appreciation for great music.  They can thereby buy great CDs, pay for lessons on the piano or some other instrument, buy music sheets or take them to Christmas choral concerts, pageants or theatre productions over the holidays.  This helps us out a lot as we are unable to navigate all of this. Grandparents thereby share their joy of music with their grandchildren and great memories are made.   Krista
  • Because our kids don’t need a lot at Christmas and we don’t want them being beseiged by gifts from relatives, we ask for money put into a lumped Registered Educations Savings Plan for all our children. This is a great investment in their future education and a big help since the Canadian government will also contribute a % share into it.   Helen
  • We started to get the kids to draw names among each other when they were older so they received 1 gift and gave a gift. The married couples were considered 1 in this exchange. That simplified it a lot. They would give us a wish list which we sent out to whoever had their name. This was kept a great secret form the other siblings. These gifts were $30 but over the last several years we increased it to $50. Joanne
  • With our grown children we decide everyone would contribute $20 and we would send it to a charity , like Chalice, that would buy animals for families in the third world who could thereby provide food and income for their families. This has been a big hit, with chicks, roosters, goats, etc providing important help to families who so need the help.


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