A couple of years ago it started to feel like Christmas was all about the hustle, the perfect decorations, big parties, lavish gifts; So when the holidays stopped being about family and spending time together and started to come across as the commercialized "Hurry up to beat the Joneses", we decided we needed to put an end to it.
We began following the 4 gift rule:
1. Something they Want
2. Something they Need
3. Something to Wear
4. Something to Read
Something they want- this was pretty self-explanatory, it was an item that they really expressed an interest in, something that they'd mentioned several times that we knew would really bring a smile to their face. One year our eldest sincerely wanted Fuzzy Dice for his car, sometimes it's the simple things.
Something they need- for our oldest, as they get older their needs change considerably. Our kids are in college now, they're figuring out life as young adults, they might need a gift card for groceries or a phone card. They might need some household goods like towels or a set of dishes.
Something to wear- perhaps they need decent boots or shoes, a new jacket, or they might be like our youngest, who loves to wear suits and sharp dress shoes.
Something to read- forgo the digital stuff, every once in awhile you need to lay your hands on an actual book, smell the pages, revel in the feel of its weight in your lap as you delve into it. Okay, I'm a book nerd, but there really isn't anything that compares to a well-written book on a subject that piques your interest. I wondered how well this would go-over with my family, but it turns out that they absolutely loved it, even my husband who received a book on Home Brewing Beer.
Of course, there were a few (extended) family members who weren't overly impressed with this new, less lavish way of enjoying the holidays and that's fine too.
It was amazing how much stress that instantly eliminated from our lives. As a family during the holidays, we cook together, we play games together and we savor the fact that we get to enjoy our time with our kids right now because it won't be long before they have their own careers, spouses, and children and might not have the means to come home for the holidays.