We’ve heard it said before, right? “Christmas must be something more.” “All I want for Christmas is you.” “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” Shall I go on? Okay, you get the point. Christmas doesn’t have to be about presents, although there’s lots of fun that can come with that. Christmas can be about presence!

I don’t want you to think me Scrooge…presents can be fun, presents can bring people together, finding the perfect gift for someone can warm your heart. That being said, I’m guessing most people reading this are already overwhelmed with stuff, trying out being minimal-ish, or just wanting the things that come into their homes to have purpose. If you are set on doing some sort of gift exchange, I share a few Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas here as well as more sentimental-ish gifts for your spouse here! I also don’t want to take away from those in need who a gift would mean the absolute world to, whether it’s via a donation, a church group, or an anonymous charity gift drop off – having our kids learn and see the gift of giving, with getting nothing in return (except very full hearts), is enormously beneficial.

If you want to implement some of these ideas, it may not happen this year, as Christmas being only a month away means people probably already have gifts and you may not want to rain on their parade or cause a huge stir. But, now is the time to put the bug in everyone’s ear for next Christmas. The summer is when I talk to our family and friends about these ideas or changes for the following year. And when having the conversation, I recommend coming at it from a place of what you’re saying “yes” to, and why this will be more meaningful, rather than a conversation that makes the other person feel like they just heard a lot of, “no, no, no.” So, let me share some of the things we do, to hopefully bring in less, but in the end, receive so much more…cheesy and true!

Sibling Christmas

I’ve shared about My Sibling Christmas year after year, so this one may not be new to you. My siblings and our spouses do a ‘Christmas in July’ where we have a night out on the town – including a new restaurant for all, ice cream, and likely a pub (or home) for some extra drinks and fun after. This event has a price tag, but it’s such a special experience for all of us – we all look forward to it in the summer, and it takes a lot of the load out of thinking, planning, and buying (likely unnecessary) gifts around the holidays.

Cousin Day

Last summer I put this idea in my sibling in-laws ears. We are blessed with many, many kids in our families, so there are lots of nieces and nephews, and lots of cousins for our kiddos. It really can add up, for everyone. It’s a lot to be the gifter, and it’s a lot to be the getter. Last Christmas, my oldest felt so overwhelmed getting gifts from every aunt, uncle, grandparent, and cousin that it took away a little of the magic. Please don’t read this as ungrateful on anyone’s part. Afterwards, Jordan and I talked about how we want our children to have the space to appreciate the gifts they are given, and to truly know who they are from. And when you have one after another gift to open, there just isn’t that space. I love when we read a book and I can say to my kids, “This is from __________,” or we put on an outfit and I say “__________ got that for you.” If there are going to be material possessions, less is more. In comes, cousin day. Instead of all of the kids buying gifts for each other and aunts and uncles buying for the kids, we decided to implement a cousin day. Again it can be anything you’d like – a hike, an amusement park, a water park, a lake day, a zoo trip, but we all make it happen. Those will be the gifts the kids will remember.

Auntie & Niece Tradition

I have one niece who is already an adult…I know, I too feel old saying that. When she turned 18, I told her that since she was an adult, I planned on being done giving her Christmas gifts and wanted to create a tradition with her that we could do every year together instead. I got her to decide. These experiences don’t end up being zero dollars, even though they surely could be, but I do think the importance of them rings longer than any gift could. Of all the things my sweet niece chose, she chose a bake day. So, she finds a recipe, I get the ingredients, and we do our thing surrounded by the magic of Christmas music and decorations. Last year we made soft pretzels, and this year, stay tuned!

Adult Children

This talk of less is more and experiences over things is catching on and my husband and my parents have brought about experiences for us all from chef dining experiences, to cooking classes, and I can tell you, the adult children in our families (meaning, us…) could not appreciate those gifts more!

Experiences for Kids

Now, I know you may at this point be thinking that this is all adding up to a lot of time, and possibly money, but truly, if you take away all the gifts that are usually bought, you’re coming out ahead!! Plus, the time together is so beautiful. If grandparents, or other adults are looking to get an experience gift for kids, they can do so by purchasing a gift card – to the movie theatre, the zoo, a provincial or state park, a restaurant, a live performance, etc., or they could create a card that simply says what the experience will be – maybe they plan on taking the kid to one of those places on a particular day. Or hey, maybe they simply get them a colouring book and put it in the calendar to just sit down and spend quality time with them! Plan a hike, make lunch together, walk to the park – it doesn’t have to cost much.

Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Last Christmas, we went really minimal for our own kids, and I mean reallyyy minimal. Because of that, the Christmas gift opening ended very quickly. And that’s okay, because Collins was happy to play with her one gift and read her new book, while Deacon chilled, and Jordan and I drank our warm drinks by the fire, watching Collins in her glory. That being said, we wanted to think of a fun family tradition that may extend the experience out and follow us through for future years. This year, we are introducing a scavenger hunt for the kids to find their gifts. So although there is a material treasure at the end, we hope the experience finding that treasure is what sticks out the most!!

Hope this serves you this Christmas!