For weeks, I’ve been talking about battling materialism and consumerism for our children’s first Christmas. I’ve written about my plan to give them very few Christmas gifts and go as minimalist as possible. I’ve written about this plan across multiple sites on purpose so I would actually do it.
We went back and forth on our decision. We wavered. I had a very weak moment looking at a friends’ tree on Facebook chock full of gifts underneath it and cried.
Are we making a mistake? I wondered.
Then we slapped ourselves a bit. Our kids are 9 months old. They have no idea what’s going on. My son crawled around and chased the top to a tin can for most of the day today, giggling with glee. They need absolutely nothing except our love, attention, some food, and some diapers to live and be happy.
Everyone always says “Oh why buy kids toys? All they want to do is play with the box anyway!” So true. Except people keep buying excessive amounts of toys even though they know kids are absolutely happy with some tupperware and a whisk.
So, that was the challenge. How do we get our children and each other gifts that are fun and memorable without spending a fortune? How can we make it so the kids have an enjoyable Christmas without all the bells and whistles? How can we make it so they can look back at the pictures and not think we were the worst parents on Earth?
Were we strong enough to withstand the pressure of our culture, our friends, very smart marketing, and the mommy one-uppers?
Well, over time we developed a a plan, and I’m happy to say, we carried it through.
What the Beans Got For Christmas
I read about the “Four Gift Rule” several years ago and always liked it. It says to buy your kids only 4 gifts, something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. We thought this would be a good place to start.
Something They Want
What do 9 month olds want? There are so many toys out there. I can’t even begin to tell you about them. We decided to find them something very classic and timeless that they could enjoy for a while.
We settled on two things, one for each of them but really they are going to share.
1. Wooden Blocks ($12)
I like wooden toys and especially Melissa & Doug toys. I think they are nice and while they don’t have blinking lights and expensive switches and gadgets attached to them, I think the Beans will love them.
Something They Need
Well, these kids really have everything they need. We thought about adding to their cloth diaper stash because they always need those, but in the end, we decided to make a $75 deposit into their investment accounts for each.
These kids need to invest at an early age, and what better time to start than 9 months old?
They have money from their grandparents and great grandparents to add on top of this and two $5 bills they got for Halloween from one of their great grandmothers. It’s all going to be invested on their behalf in accounts under their names, not ours.
Something To Wear
The Beans have so many clothes already, so instead we got them each an ornament of a cow because they love watching the Baby Einstein farm episode. If you try to put on a different episode, they protest. So, we thought it would be funny to get them an ornament that sort of says something about their year every year, and for some reason, the cow just spoke to me because of that show haha.
Something to Read
This babies love books, especially my son. He really does sit there completely entranced every time I read to him. We foster this by reading to them for at least 10 minutes a day. We’ve actually been writing down the books we read to them every day in a notebook to keep us accountable and so they can see what we read to them when they’re older. We have about two months straight of notes in there currently, and it’s nice to have some variety so we bought them:
1. Good Night World (because their nursery is travel themed)
2. From Head to Toe (because they like Eric Carle’s Hungry Caterpillar book)
I recently read on Mint that parents spend on average $224 on each child for Christmas. We are happy that we are well under that average and that about 75% of what we spent on them will be invested instead of under the tree.
We know we might not be able to get away with this every Christmas especially as they get older, but we’ll reassess every year and see how it goes. And by the way, we totally don’t judge those who go all out for Christmas. More power to you. We’re just sharing what we do in case it interests or inspires someone else out there.
Merry Christmas to all.