Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It's time to start wrapping the presents.

I always enjoy sitting with Bret on the floor, the room lit by the Christmas tree, wrapping the kids presents.

Giggling and excited proclamations usually happen while we talk about how awesome it will be to see the kids faces on Christmas morning.

Some have asked how we do gifts in our house so I thought I would share."Brown paper packages tied up with strings" is always the theme I like to keep in mind.

I prefer the plain brown paper and usually buy a large roll and use it year round. I've also found in the past few years at the Dollar Store brown paper with beautiful prints on them.

I also get all the ribbon that I use from the Dollar store and use baker's twine in different colors as well.For the gifts we do four gifts per child. Each gift goes with the four categories: want, need, wear and read.

Having these categories really helps with the Christmas shopping and not spending money on things that they don't need or will be forgotten soon after the Christmas morning excitement has ended.

When it comes to how much we spend on each child we don't really set a limit per child. I do realize as they get older the things they might want or need will cost more but even then we won't worry about "being fair" with the spending amounts. If one kid needs three new dress and the other just need socks and underwear then that is what they get for their "need".

We really try and discourage the kids from counting how many present they have and comparing the amount or size to others (easier said then done). We've started putting the presents under the tree a lot closer to Christmas so that they aren't the focus.

The kids each get one unwrapped gift from Santa and things like chapstick, nail polish, mini flashlights, glow sticks, card games, candy and an orange in their stockings.

I stock up on little trinkets, bits and baubbles from the dollar store or the dollar section at Target (that section is awesome!) throughout the year and use a lot of that stash for stockings.

One gift is usually given to the whole family (for example the last 3 years have been Disneyland passes).

The kids do a homemade gift for each other which is my favorite part. It usually takes a few months of planning and deciding and gathering but seeing the kids make something for each other and the pure joy they get from giving is the best.

One last thing I wanted to share that we started doing when Ella was old enough to make a Christmas wish list was to make a Christmas service wish list first.

We have the kids list 2 ways they can serve each family member and 2 ways they can serve others who aren't in our family. We try and focus on that list first. We review the list on Monday each week (of December) and talk about how we felt serving.Now that I've shared what our house does I'm interested in what you do. I love hearing all the different ideas and traditions and get new ideas/traditions or revamp old ones.

Do you set a limit?

Special ways you wrap your gifts (different paper for each person)?

How do you do Santa gifts? or Do you even do Santa gifts?

How do you open gifts on Christmas morning? Each person takes a turn opening one at a time or just "have at it"?

What do you eat for breakfast on Christmas morning? Cereal? Candy from the stockings? Muffins? French toast?

Do you shop year round for Christmas gifts or wait until it gets closer to the holiday season?


Hays said...

i too love the simple wrapping. i'm planning on using old fabric strips to tie up our packages.

i can smell those christmas morning cinnamon rolls now.

{Erica} said...

Fabric strips!! Such a great idea! I love it!

mmmm...cinnamon rolls!

M Occasionally B said...

I have to admit. I totally love how you buy gifts for your family! I am swipping the idea this year now that our oldest is old enough to understand gift giving. I just dont want so much focus on just getting "stuff". And this is a fantastic way to do that!...and for breakfast, breakfast casserole! and hot chocolate and apple cider!

Sol said...

We also use brown paper, this is because we cant recycle anything with the foil or bits in it. And they wont take any of your rubbish here if you get it wrong. they just leave it at the side of the road. Bad Citizen looks from the neighbours.

But I use fabric ribbon and I have disco balls that were supposed to be for a tree, these are for cd's or itunes/amazon vouchers.

Little jingle bells go on the presents I dont want any one shaking. The bells ring I know to shout at someone.

And Felt reuseable labels that I made at a workshop.

{Erica} said...

Sol - tell me more about the felt tags!

Melissa - Breakfast casserole is so yummy!

Meg said...

In the past, we've givent he kids 2 gifts from us, and something from santa(no wrapping for santa), and little trinkets like yours for stockings that I stock up on all year long. I don't gift clothes for christmas, because my girls don't really get excited about them yet, so unless it is a special obnoxious character shirt or something, I just buy them clothes when they need them and leave christmas for other stuff.

this year, most of our extended family decided to not to do a gift exchange, but this year our oldest needs a bigger bike and I scored a leapster for $20 for our middle child, and we bought a Wii (I swore I'd never get a game system) on black friday for the family, and a friend of mine works for Leapfrog and traded a tag learning system and a ton of books and leapster games for her kid to be enrolled in my preschool for a month (sweet! love the barter system!)so it is going to be a big christmas for our kids this year. I'm kinda excited...and kind of nervous that we might be setting some kind of presedence that every year will be like this. No way, jose.

I really love your system, and want to use it in the future. A friend of mine was saying the other day that she's already blown her $3000 budget for christmas (they have a lot of kids and they have their kids do a lot of charity work during the holidays to feel the spirit of Christmas, but seriously,3K! wowza). I can't even imagine.

Do your kids already know what they are getting when you do your system? We don't do the whole, "I asked santa for abc and on christmas morning, it had better be under the tree" thing. We try to get the general idea of what they asked santa for, but I also have my kids list several things on their letter to santa, so usually they end up getting one thing they want and it isn't ever a problem.

My oldest is 7. I'm starting to worry about how many more years of christmas santa magic we have left. gotta squeeze every magical drop out of the few years we have left where everyone is a believer!

William said...

You have become very innovative as a mom! Especially since no matter what we did, you always seemed to find any presents we hid away. Have you had to hide the presents yet from your kids? I always enjoyed the Christmas wrapping...although mine never looked as good as yours and moms.

Jacky {The Sweetest Petunia} said...

Love the "want, need, wear, read" idea...definitely want to incorporate that in our family. :)

Sol said...

Hey Erica, this could be something that you do with the girls and maybe in a few years Jonah, if they are super careful and take good instruction.

My 4 year old Great niece gets a little too excited and we have to slow her down as you you use needles. they are closed in so you dont get close to them but she misses and stamps the table.

You could buy the felt to begin with and then later if you shrink any jumpers or go to charity shops this could be a craft that is cheapish, but it is very addictive!


a shrug that could be an elf waistcoat or Mrs Claus out fit?


You can watch you tube to see how to felt old jumpers.

I love it. I saw it on another blog a while ago and then had a try the tools can be bought on ebay cheaply. its just the hair brush mat (as it is known in out house) and the needles are called a clover. the needles are surrounded by a plastic tube.


I am sure that in CA there will be these tools in a normal craft shop.

P.s please tell Brett I am sorry for telling you about this! It has taken over a few times in our house.

Also could you email your home address to me. I have something you will love! Still on the same email

Hope you are all having a fantastic day.

Sarah UK.

Christi's Chirps said...

What a wonderful idea! I love the gift tags too! I'm sure that makes it even more fun when they are unwrapping up their gifts!

I wonder which one they usually open first? ;)

Happy holidays to you!

Mom and Dad said...

I love your blog! We have a baby boy who is 7 months old. This is his first Christmas, and we went a little crazy on the gifts. We want to focus on giving and have talked about how to do that. This idea is so great that I am going to use it!

Merry Christmas to you and your family. :)