I have to say I LOVE Christmas, but I also DREAD it. The season of giving is wonderful and overwhelming and I’ve found that only to be more so as I’ve had children. My family loves to give… STUFF! And more stuff! When it was just myself and my partner in our tiny home that was, somewhat, okay. We can decide for ourselves what fits, what is junk, what aren’t items we will feasibly use. Now there are two more bodies in this home. And Everyone wants so much to give to them.
Every year since my first child was born I have become increasingly more strict about giving both “to” and “from”. My To list gets shorter and my gifts are simpler, home-made, and eminently useful. I like to make people gifts that they can comsume in some way, leaving nothing to store or find room for in their space.
On the From side I’ve had to become, what some feel is, a Grinch. I claim that if you can’t slide it under our front door it’s too big for this house! Giving us all loads of Stuff just means I have to sort through it later, give toys away to charity, and upset my children. They cannot discern what is worth keeping… they love it all and want it all.
This year I felt I was fairly successful in managing the influx however. I sent out a note well in advance of Christmas to all of the Usual Suspects. The note reminded everyone of our space constraints and then went on to say that I understood thinking of presents was hard so I was sending suggestions. I suggested clothing they needed, gift cards to specific stores, outings and experiences they would enjoy, paying for classes, art supplies, and books. No toys.
Did we still get toys? Yes, of course. But we did also get much more of the requested items and much fewer toys than usual. And I also followed my own advice. My children only received one toy each from Santa and us with the rest being classes, interesting books, and useful items such as the bed canopies pictured below. My older child has been having trouble sleeping in their bed, so I sewed the canopy for the top and made a string of “amulets” to hang inside of it. (They were small glass craft bottles filled with “clouds”/cotton ball, “moon beams”/glitter, “stars”/glow-in-the-dark plastic pieces, etc.) And my younger was just about to move from crib to bed so I made them a curtain for the bottom bed.
People get this idea that children won’t love their gift if it isn’t a toy, but they use these curtains every night and think of who made them with love and it improved our daily lives. I have two kids who sleep in their own beds without tantrums! Huzzah! Those classes you pay for can later become a passion in life that they think back and thank Grandma for giving them that gift of piano/skating/painting lessons that got it all started. But beyond that we should be giving with love and the best of intentions instead of trying to “win” Christmas with the most loved gift.
The struggle against Stuff is real. I hope you all enjoyed your holiday season and are having a Happy and clutter-free New Year.
Fabrics are from my favourite site, Spoonflower.