Have you read some minimalist Christmas ideas for children and felt a little sad? I know I did! It’s not that there weren’t great non-gift ideas, it’s just that, well…I absolutely love giving gifts to my children and watching them gleefully open them on Christmas morning!
I understand that this may be the opposite of how most simple living or minimalist post about Christmas are supposed to begin. Shouldn’t we be focusing on experiences rather than material goods? Shouldn’t we be content with what we already have and not greedy for our slice of consumerism for the season?
If you want to skip the wordy bits and scroll down to see the lists of ideas, just skitter on down there and have a look (they’re good!). But for those of you who want to hear me philosophize a bit more, stick around.
Why we shouldn’t dismiss the joy of giving and receiving gifts
The giving of gifts at Christmas time is actually very meaningful to me, and it truly matters why we give gifts to the people we love. You know that moment of glee when a gift is opened and both the giver and the receiver are filled with an anticipation of delight, each at the others enjoyment? That is no small thing, though it seems so commonplace.
To delight in the giving and receiving of gifts is not about consumerism, it’s not about keeping up with the Joneses, it’s not about feeling guilty if this year’s present is as big as last year’s present, and it’s certainly not about spending money on things we don’t need just so we can feel “normal” in this culture of excess.
Gifts tell a story…
The heartfelt giving and receiving of gifts tells a story. Now don’t lose me here, it’s not so lofty a thing. In fact it’s at the very heart of what makes us human.
As creations of God whose hearts are stamped with the image of our Maker, it’s only natural that we should express our love for each other through gift giving, just as God himself did for us. He gave us his only Son, his own child. A tiny, poor, seemingly insignificant baby boy, in him reflected a love strong enough to cure our aching hearts, to bring us back to the wholeness we lost at Eden. A love to make us God’s own children.
With a history like that in our hearts, OF COURSE we love to give and receive gifts! And while my pursuit of simplicity has inspired somewhat of a rejection of materialism and greed that can often overtake the holiday season, I don’t want to lose the significance and importance of the acts of giving and receiving. They are part of a retelling of a story that matters more than anything!
Now let’s integrate philosophy and practicality…
How do we give and receive without filling up our homes and lives with useless junk and clutter that will bring us stress rather than joy?
Here’s how I decide what to buy for my children for Christmas:
I buy things that can either be consumed (used up) right away, or things that can be enjoyed for a long time. I really try to avoid things that can only be enjoyed once or twice, or are prone to breaking or sitting around unused. I never buy a physical thing just to “bulk up” the Christmas presents under the tree.
Buy quality over quantity
I kinda rolled my eyes when I wrote the whole “quality over quantity” phrase, because I’ve seen that advice everywhere, but it’s actually much harder to stick to in real life than one thinks it could possibly be. Consumer habits die HARD, man. So I ask myself if it’s something I want in my home for 5 years. If not, it’s time to think hard about if I should really get it.
Consider making purchases online
I’m a recovering compulsive shopper. I absolutely love thrift shopping and browsing interesting things in general. This is one reason I now choose to do much of my purchasing online. I know my weakness to impulse buy, and to want something if I can physically see it.
It’s much easier for me to stay on track if I can just hop on my computer, buy the exact thing I need, and have it show up on my door step without having to think about it again.
Browsing online can be a problem for many people, but for me it’s just so much easier to close the laptop than it is to get myself out of shop.
I still do love thrift shopping, but I’m much more careful about it these days, and having the ability to make laser focused purchases online has been really helpful for me in owing the things I truly want and need rather than just things I spotted in a shop!
Keep a handwritten list handy!
I physically write down the gifts I want to buy when I think of them, otherwise it’s just to easy to give in to sloppy impulse purchases. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to keep a physical list of things, because I always think of super gifts then forget them when it’s time to buy.
So print this Joy of Giving Christmas Inspiration List, and keep it somewhere easy to get to! Don’t fall into the trap of buying a bunch of junk you don’t really want on Christmas Eve. Write it down!
One last quick note:
These lists look huge, so understand that not all these things will be under our tree this Christmas. Most of these things we already have and have stood the test of time in our home. These lists are designed to get you thinking about beautiful, functional gifts that aren’t bulky, plastic-y, gimmicky things that will junk up you life!
Each of my five kids gets 3-4 gifts, plus a few family gifts for everyone, and a stocking of consumables and small, fun items (not a bunch of candy or toys!) For me, that’s a Christmas that seems abundant and generous, but not greedy or materialistic.
Classics gifts to last for years:
These are the tried and true things that make great gifts to last for years! Most of these things we already have, and they are the staples of our children’s belongings. Our rocking horse, Chutney, has been in our family since Ruby our oldest was a baby, and every one of our kids has spent hours riding on his back.
Our outdoor trucks and tractors have had innumerable hours of play in our garden, and things like the a soccer ball and bike helmet are used until they completely wear our.
Our children only have a few special items, so a personal piggy bank, Bible, or Wallet are really meaningful to them. I hope these staples will get you thinking quality over quantity, and longevity over a quick thrill! (All the links to my Amazon picks are below.)
- Rocking Horse
- American Girl Dolls
- Schleich Animals
- Breyer Horses (for older kids)
- Outdoor Trucks and Tractors
- Tractor Swing
- Kickball/Soccer Ball
- Bow and Arrow play set
- Board Games
- Pop Up Books
- Bike helmets
- Piggy Bank
- Music Box
My Classic gifts Amazon picks to inspire you:
Things for their rooms:
When it comes to decorating my children’s room or personal spaces, I always go for things that have permanent places and can’t get scattered around to make a mess. We usually have these things anyway, so why not make they beautiful and special as well as functional. These are great gifts that won’t add stress or clutter to you home.
- New Bedding (for girls, for boys)
- Bedroom Decor
- Whimsical Hooks
- Awesome curtains
- Awesome lamps
- Play rug
- Night lights
My Kid’s Room Amazon picks to inspire you:
Books and Educational Gifts
Well, books are definitely my favorite category of gift. However, I’m careful to always get quality books that we can enjoy for years. In my post Raising Readers: Sharing the Love of Literature with my Children, I have more recommendations, but these favorites should get you started!
Since we homeschool and need a few basic resources for that, why not make them awesome gifts! Science experiment kits are not kept long term, however my kids do keep the knowledge and the experience forever!
- Coloring Books
- Science experiment kits
- Timer (if they have timed work)
- Posters and Charts
- Books for reading with the family
- Picture books
- Poetry books
- Educational books like Usborne or Eyewitness
- New supplies like pencils, pens, and, rulers and notebooks
My Educational and Book Amazon Picks to inspire you:
Gifts for the Arts:
Now, we love the arts here, but I do try to keep it pretty simple. We have basic art and craft supplies, but not a lot of specialty kits that can only be used for one thing. Here’s a few things we always have on hand, and it’s amazing the variety of art we can do with just the basic supplies.
- High quality paints
- Watercolor pencils
- Hight quality paper
- Inspirational books
- Instructional books
- Poetry Books
- Music to play along with
- Music books
Are you feeling inspired? Do you see how you can get you children quality, exciting gifts that aren’t just random toys or candy or things that are going to add stressful clutter?
If you have your own recommendations to add of things your family has loved, please share them with us in the comments below!