It can be difficult and costly to buy individual gifts for a big family. And for the family receiving the gifts it can feel overwhelming to find a place for it all. This Christmas think outside the box and buy family gifts instead!
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A couple of years ago during the Christmas season, our youngest daughter had a week of doctor’s appointments and minor surgeries. We stayed in the Ronald McDonald house near the hospital and enjoyed all the festivities they provide to families during the season. However, when it came time to go to the basement and choose toys to take back to the siblings for Christmas, I had to put the brakes on. You see, the “rule” was 3 big presents and 3 small presents PER SIBLING. We’re talking over 50 presents! Not only could I not possibly carry that much, I couldn’t justify bringing that many toys into our home!
Many families have similar “rules” for Christmas gift giving, passed down through the ages, that start to become burdensome (financially and organizationally) when the number of family members reaches the “larger-than-average” point.
Grandparents, aunts, and uncles feel they must continue tradition and the children certainly enjoy opening presents, but everyone (children included) feel a little overwhelmed by the whole thing.
It’s time to think outside the box!
First of all, consider who you REALLY need to buy gifts for. Years ago, we stopped swapping gifts with the aunts and uncles. We all had children and didn’t need the hassle of coming up with gifts for nieces and nephews. For a few years we did a name draw, but eventually abandoned that as well. Now we share homemade jellies and pickles and call it good.
Secondly, we have to get into the “Family Gift” mindset. This is good for grandparents who feel overwhelmed by all the gifts they must buy for grandchildren. If they can learn to focus on the family instead of the individual, the gifts will be much less burdensome for all parties involved.
And this idea isn’t just for grandparents to give to their grandchildren! You can do Family Gifts for your brother’s family, your parents and grandparents, your pastor’s family, and even your own kids!
Family Gift Ideas for Christmas
A lot of families opt for experiences rather than gifts. Friends of ours took their kids on a cruise rather than giving gifts one year! But you wouldn’t need to think that big to make an experience worthwhile.
Here are a few ideas for fun and unique experiences:
- A Day with Grandma – Each child gets a day with the gift-giver or they all get to go together! My mom will have tea parties, take them to eat, drive around town looking at Christmas lights, go shopping, go to the park. Plus, I get a break too!
- Museum Trip – one year my mother-in-law took all the kids who were old enough down into a mine museum and then bought them t-shirts in the gift shop to commemorate the event.
- Overnight Trip – One year we took our kids to stay in a hotel (with an indoor swimming pool!) as a special treat.
- Christmas Event – Take them all to the Nutcracker, go ice skating, take a Polar Express ride on your local passenger train, go to a hockey game, a Christmas movie or theatrical production, a tour of historic homes. There are usually a myriad of fun activities this time of year that could be enjoyed instead of gifts!
Sights & Sounds
Every Christmas when my older kids were little we would give them the newest Jonathan Park CD set. In fact, I’m planning to give them one this year since they are being produced again!
These audio adventures are Creation Science based and full of fun and entertainment for the entire family! (Even Mom & Dad have learned a lot from these audios!) My older kids have gone on to college armed with the gospel message in the form of scientific research. It’s been so neat to see how they’ve carried Jonathan Park with them into adulthood! And now I have a new batch of little listeners enjoying the same series!
Other ideas for a sight & sound family gift:
- Concert tickets
- Buy an entire season (or more!) of a favorite show (we like to do this on Amazon)
- Musical instruments and lessons
- Movie theatre family pass
- Trip to the zoo
- An Amazon Alexa (we have this one)
- Registration for next year’s Homeschool Convention
- Gift Cards – everything from food to gas to theme parks can be put on a gift card!
This is a common family gift I see suggested, but I wanted to add it here just in case you forgot or needed some ideas of what kinds of subscriptions might be nice to have.
- Streaming music service
- Streaming video service
- Zoo membership
- Museum membership
- Essential oils kit or Oil of the Month Club (we like Plant Therapy!)
- KiwiCo (hands on science and art projects for kids)
- YMCA membership
Fun at Home
Sometimes it’s difficult to organize an outing – especially with a lot of kiddos! Instead, consider things that could be enjoyed IN your home!
- A Bath Basket – fill a basket with toys, soaps, bubble bath, bath bombs, bath paints, washcloths, etc.
- Puzzle Basket – gather puzzles for different age ranges, a puzzle mat, puzzle glue. You could even add a puzzle table to the mix! (this one has drawers!)
- Game Night Basket – games for different ages, popcorn and seasonings, and a gift certificate for pizza delivery.
- Kid-sitting Coupons – Wouldn’t it be nice to know you had several nights out with the kids well-cared for at home? And wouldn’t the kids be thrilled to have Gram come over and spoil them for the evening?! HINT: Make the coupons themed – One night is a Game Night with Grandpa, one night is a Candlelight Tea Party with Grandma, etc.
- Fun Food Basket – Gather all sorts of fun foods for the family to try! Items from other countries, treats they rarely get, new products you think sound yummy, etc!
- Craft Box – Pile all sorts of crafting supplies and instructions into a box and let everyone go to town with their crafty dreams!
- Appliances – One year, my mom bought me a Bosch mixer – 13 years later, it’s still going strong! We use our NutriBullet all the time to make smoothies for the family. Perhaps you need an Instant Pot (here’s an 8 qt one for those of us with big families!) or a griddle or a Roomba. Ask for it as a family gift!
Don’t think appliances make a good family gift? Think again! The way to turn these into family gifts is by doing something family-oriented with them!
Tell your kids you’ll do a cooking class with them in your own kitchen! (Or play CHOPPED as a family!) Help them make up smoothie bags for the new blender! (Here are a few recipes.) And trust me, a robotic vacuum provides hours of entertainment for the children!
This is a good place for me to discuss something not a lot of people talk about when it comes to family gifts…
The kids’ reaction.
Often the excitement over a family gift needs to be manufactured a bit because it isn’t as tangible as a toy.
This is one BIG reason grandparents WANT to give toys! They want to see their grandchildren’s eyes light up – no matter how momentary that joy is. They want to feel appreciated and loved, and they want their children and grandchildren to be happy…right now.
It would behoove us as parents to train our children to be grateful for every gift they are given, but kids are kids and sometimes they don’t see the merit in a gift that isn’t wrapped in shiny Christmas paper.
That’s where we as parents come in.
If you are able to find out what the gift is ahead of time, you can prep the children either by telling them exactly what they are getting and how you expect them to react OR by creating hype around how much fun it would be to have this opportunity, and when they get that opportunity, they already know what to do with it and they are already thrilled by it!
If you don’t know what the family gift will be, use your own powers of gratefulness and lead your children in that direction. It might also be a good idea to prep the grandparents that the initial reaction is only because they are children and don’t understand family gifts, but eventually it will be one of their favorite childhood memories and you’ll send lots of photos to prove it!
Children forget a lot of the toys they receive for Christmas (especially if there is an overload), but if it is something unique and meaningful, they will carry that with them for a lifetime! Family gifts are a perfect way to create these lifelong memories!
Remember those Jonathan Park CDs? Your kids might not realize they are the best gift under the tree, but when they have HOURS of listening enjoyment over the next year, they will quickly become a beloved part of their childhood – one they will remember long after their plastic toys are buried at the bottom of the toy box.
Learn more about Jonathan Park HERE >>
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