Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our Family's Christmas Gifts

My husband and I have a $50 budget for each other and a $10 budget for each kid. The reason that ours is much higher is that we are the only ones who buy gifts for each other. We get money and gift cards from the rest of our family and that mostly goes into savings or general funds. My kids get a ton of toys from everyone else. Not wanting to add to the clutter, I don't spend much on them.



Daniel loves Lightning McQueen. I bought him a Lightning McQueen tambourine and a Lightning McQueen block puzzle, each $1.


Bobby is obsessed with wallets. So, for a few months, I've been saving those cards that come in the mail for him, along with my expired AAA card and used gift cards. I got him a $1 wallet that was distinctively different from mine and Dan's so he learns the difference.


Traditionally, we have bought nothing for our babies on their first Christmas. That may sound harsh, but if you are spending money on a two-month old baby at Christmas, you are buying yourself a gift-giving memory. The baby doesn't know the difference. However, I wanted to make these super-cute booties. I enjoyed making the craft and I think they are cute. They don't really affect Thomas' quality of life.

Collective Gifts

I got four Lightning McQueen toothbrushes on sale for $0.75 each. Daniel was with me when I got them. He is really excited about these. He's only seen the "Cars" movie once, but he loved Lightning McQueen even before the movie because it was everywhere and he loves cars.

I got this pan for $24 at Target. I also bought a box of crayons from the Dollar Tree. The first thing we will make will be car-shaped crayons. I found the idea from Organized Everyday. Having a car shaped mold allows us to make an infinite quantity of cars. We can make clay cars and paper mache cars to paint and color. I am excited about the various crafts this will create for my boys over the years, along with some fun baked goods from time to time.



Dan and I pick out our own gifts. With a small budget, we find this is the best way for us to get what we actually want. He picked out a book, some DVDs, a CD, and an iPod accessory for his iPod, which was a gift from years ago.


I'm the toughest person to buy for. My birthday was a month ago, and I still feel quite satisfied with the gift of the Wonderwash. I have wanted a kitchen thermometer so I can start making cheese, and a black dish drainer that would look nicer in my kitchen than our gawdy red one. Between those two, I have spent only $10 on myself. I am thinking of buying a coffee grinder to grind sprouted wheat berries into flour, but I'm not sure that is what I want. Another possibility is a metal pasta strainer instead of our plastic white one that never quite looks clean or a cast iron skillet instead of our aluminum one. I could probably buy all of these things with the remainder of the money, but I'm not sure if any of them are what I really want. I'll have a standing "IOU" until I figure it out, which won't be by Christmas.


Linda said...

You are very smart about the gifts for your children! I think having too much overwhelms them and they don't really enjoy everything. Good luck with deciding your own gifts....

Patty said...

Sounds good. I love the car pan and all the possibilities there. My mom made teddy bear crayons when I was a kid.
The coffee grinder sounds uni-purposeful. I have this little (yes, mini) chopper/food processor that has been great for grinding oatmeal and flax seeds. I'm not sure how fine of a powder it goes to but I've used it for making salsas and whipped cream as well. We 'won' it at an arcade but I've seen it at Target/Walmarts too for probably similar to coffee grinder pricing. Watch the store sales, I've seen it in many adds this holiday season. It seems dinky but its been working great for me for two years now. There are a few brands but I think this is the one I have. Probably doesn't help to tell you it is dishwasher safe but there are just 3 little parts to wash. Hope this helps.

oceans5 said...

I love the idea with the crayons. Very cute mold. I have heard a lot of people saying that the crayons tend to stick so be aware of that so you can use lots of spray or whatever to make sure they don't ruin your pan.

This Christmas we were anything but frugal. We just don't tend to stick to a budget for Christmas. My budget for our 3 kids was $300 but that got blown. I was at about $400 and then my husband suggested we go ahead and get them a Wii. So then it was really blown. We don't spend more than we can afford each year though. This year just happened to be a good year to spend more on Christmas. The reason our budget is so high is because our kids get gifts from us under the tree waiting and then on Christmas Eve Santa drops off the mother load.

Emily, do you guys do Santa? We are basically shopping for 2 different sets of gifts which is why it gets expensive. Santa is a big deal around here.

Anonymous said...

So, am I getting this right, you buy yourself your own Christmas gifts?

My husband and I sort of do the same thing. Oh, we might each each other a little suprise gift, but for the most part, we pick out something we REALLY want for ourselves.

We find this much more cost efficient and practical. My husband and I are both very practial people, though. I can see where some other couples would find this practice boring and not fun, but not us! We know we are getting things we want:)

Emily said...

ocean5, we don't do Santa, but my mom give gifts to my kids saying they are from Santa. I'm writing a post about it for next week.

Anon, we find it more practical to buy, or at least pick out our own gifts, too. Sometimes we do a small surprise, but it is not expected.

Treva said...

We got my DD 3 gifts and we have stuff for her stocking. Even if she only gets 2 gifts from each of the individual or coupled family members, she would get at least 8 more items. But most of them are going to get her 4 things -- some are small, some are large, some are clothes. Any which way, it's a lot of stuff so I don't feel compelled at all to buy DD lots of stuff. I say good for you for not buying tons of stuff!

Jessica said...

We thought about wrapping an existing toy for our daughter who will be seven months by Christmas (just in case she would enjoy unwrapping something), but we found something we liked for her and ended up buying a gift anyway. Our future plans are to buy one or two gifts in advance (preferably at garage sales) per kid. We know they'll still get plenty from other relatives (we can't stop that).
May I suggest that you take a hint from your husband's gifts for himself and buy at least one "frivolous" thing like a book or something? I know it's hard to do when there are practical things you can get for around the house...but you might enjoy it.

Clisby said...

My husband and I almost never buy each other gifts (Christmas or any other time.) We'd rather go out together and get something we'll both enjoy. Maybe this is the year for the charcoal grill.

I can't imagine why anyone would think it was harsh to skip gifts for an infant. My children were probably 3 before they got more than a few small gifts, like what you describe for your older children. When they were younger, they loved opening presents, but likely as not they'd rather play with the box than what came in it.

Anonymous said...

It makes me sad that your husband gets fun gifts like movies and books for Christmas, and you have to get household stuff as a present. It seems a little unfair.

Emily said...

Jessica and anon, I think my gifts are both fun and frivolous. None are things I NEED, but things I want for my own pleasure. Yes, they are household items, but they are fun for me. I get to choose what I want and a black dish drainer is what I want more than a movie. (:

Katie said...

We're finding ways to simplify Christmas here, too. Each kid gets three stocking-sized gifts (one from mom, one from dad, one handmade). The budget is $50 per kid, which feels a bit high to me, but my husband loves the gesture of a big (pricey) gift while I prefer something a little tamer. This gives us each a bit of wiggle room. Ultimately, though, he loves to go big, while I like to go small, which makes it hard to buy for each other. The Christmas after we got engaged he bought me a brand new Mac lap top. I wanted a mug warmer. :) Still working it out.

Scottish Twins said...

Anon - "It makes me sad that your husband gets fun gifts like movies and books for Christmas, and you have to get household stuff as a present. It seems a little unfair."

What if the household stuff makes her happy? New kitchen items would make me much happier than CDs and movies!!

Anonymous said...

You're not harsh, you're practical rather than stupidly sentimental.

My best buddy, last year, spent $400 on her 8 month old. She makes $1300/month for mortgage, bills, everything. She bought custom made plush toys, engraved baby cups, things the baby never touched, but looked cute in pictures. Then she complained for 3 months about how little food money she had... sigh. What a waste.

frugalredneck said...

We too pick out our own gifts, The first 5 years we were together, (15 years this march) I would get him a robe, or some other thing he did not want, He would get me some odd thing, Then about year 6, HE said(thank goodness) we never really use or want what eachother gets, lets pick our own, Has worked out every year. I would never have known that this year he realllly wants a circ saw, For building things for the house. He said he would never have known that I want although not necessary, fun for me, An apple slicer peeler corer. I too bought xmas gifts for the first 3 kids, who were 2-6 months old their first christmas, Before I thought, This is rediculous. The last 3 I did not. I do only buy my kids 3 gifts each, and other that one gift each from my father in law, We have no other family members to purchase gifts for them, but they never seem let down or like they have been shorted. It probably helps that the 14 year old's birthday is dec. 5th, The twins birthday is dec. 6th, and the 18 year old's birthday is jan 7th. They either get a gift right before or right after too !!

Deana said...

That car pan is nice! My two boys would love that. You are doing a great job with your blog, how about a post telling us how you got so many readers so fast?

Natballs said...

I would never be able to keep it to $10 for my kids...

Kari said...


We're doing a four gift plan for Christmas this year.

We buy everyone in our family (2 adults, 1 teen, 2 girls) gifts that fit into these categories:

1. Something you want
2. Something you need
3. Something to wear
4. Something to read

We saved some money in our Christmas club account this year and had a budget of $60 per person to use. (we didn't use it all because it's so easy to buy for less for the girls)

By doing only 4 gifts per person we found that we really had to put a lot of thought into the gifts because each gift is more significant.

We're also looking forward to not overwhelming the girls! They'll each have some clothing (pjs for the big girl and pants for the baby girl) and a book to enjoy. Then they'll each have two toys each. Not too overwhelming!

I also have to chime in and say that I LOVE the car pan!!! It's so multi-purpose. :)

Margaret said...

Hi Emily,

I LOVE your blog and look forward to reading each day's posts, and the comments too. Last year I asked for a cast iron frying pan for Christmas. I am so happy with it, and was glad to get rid of the old peeling non-stick frying pan. I think I would be happier to receive a gift that is more practical and something that I can enjoy using, especially to prepare better, healthier food for my family. My kids are getting a few small gifts from us, some of them are new and some are used.

Keep up the wonderful job you are doing on this blog. I am especially fascinated on your posts of how you earn money doing this. I thinking up ideas to start my own blog soon!!!

crabcakes said...


A fun thing I've done with molds like that is to wet some single ply sheets of toilet paper then drape them over the outside of the mold. With a very soft toothbrush, press a couple of layers into the mold so that it takes the shape of it. When it dries it will be hard, and you can trim the edges and hang them up for a nice ornament.

We also usually give the least to the baby each year. Some people have argued with me that "oh the others will know that the baby was treated unfairly!"

That's bull, honestly. The others are so engrossed in their own stuff that they don't notice at all. We got the baby one thing from us and that's it.

Clisby said...

With all the cooking you do, have you thought of an immersion blender? I bought one when our regular blender broke, and I've never looked back.

Anonymous said...

I think you can buy something for an under 1 child without being "stupidly sentimental". Teething toys, jammies, tree decoration or holiday decoration if you don't have a tree or something very practical like a coat. My budget for my children is $250 each for Christmas: practical items which might be more for the summer like swimsuit; summer toys like sand pails, stocking stuff which is lipgloss, hair things, candy; seasonal books not just Christmas; craft items; jammies; tree decoration; and one big "santa" gift.

Captain Cleavage said...


I have a cast iron pan and I love it. Next to my dutch oven....most used thing in the kitchen~

Also a gift idea that is relitivly frugal and would be great for your kiddos.

magazine subcriptions. Especially when they are little. Highlights or any other educational childrens magazine. My grandmother would get us this every year and we looooved it. it is somewhere along the lines of 15 dollars but you get between 12 and 14 mags through out the year :)

Blessed said...

I really like Kari's family tradition of how they choose gifts. My parents always did something similar as they got us kids Christmas gifts, which I have tended to follow:
Something for the body
Something for the mind
Something for the spirit

But I have been just making sure we get these bases covered--which is different than limiting the gifts to these three things. My husband and I REALLY don't get the kids a lot of gifts--BUT we do use Christmas as an opportunity to get them things they need. Like, hey, if we are going to be spending money on new jeans, slippers, etc. might as well wrap them up and put them under the tree. Because of this they get more than just three gifts from us, usually, although not by much.

But since we are purposefully moving the family away from gift-giving as the focus of Christmas, maybe we SHOULD limit the gifts to three. . . after all, the number of things under the tree does set an expectation and makes a focus we might not be intending. . .

great food for thought in the comments today!

word verification: defying--as in, defying what our culture tells us looks like love under the Christmas tree!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you... I love "practical" gifts. For my birthday (early Dec.)I was showered with gifts! I got an immersion blender, new steaming basket, an electronic dictionary and a Sara Groves CD. I have been wanting all of them for a few years -I love my husbands ability to find good gifts (I do drop hints as well :) Most people just buy these items when they desire but then what is left for gift giving? ...Things you don't want, need or use.
My 4 kids will each get two gifts, stockings, and their annual pj's. We also have a couple of games for a family gift. All of that totals $175. Many people will pay that per child. One thing I won't have is an ulcer and debt on December 26th.
Other good gifts are new sheets, pillows, bedroom lamp, or fun bathroom decor or fun towels. Our next venture is a homemade climbing rock wall for the boys' room- okay, so that one isn't real practical!! -Cori

R said...

I have to second Patty's suggestion. I have the exact same mini-processor. It's awesome. I really like to make hummus in it. Do ya'll eat any hummus? It's really cheap to make (especially if you leave out the tahini), very healthy, and delicious.

Anonymous said...

One easy gift for toddlers is a package of bows. When my son was younger, he used to grab them all and stick them everywhere and have so much fun.

Anonymous said...

"Many people will pay that per child. One thing I won't have is an ulcer and debt on December 26th."

I don't either and I'm the above poster who spends $250/child. I save during the year for holidays, birthdays ect. No debt.

Roxanna said...

Emily on Amazons lighting deals they are gonig to have a Star trek Tricorder and it probably will be 1/2 off the $26 list price it is orgrinaly $49.99 but is 1/2 and is going to go lower :)

I tried to post the link but it wont let me.

heather said...

sounds like you all have a great christmas that works for you.

we have big christmas's with lots of gifts...but our family is small so we don't have gifts from aunts, uncles, etc. i don't have a budget, i just buy, buy, buy and really never add it up to tell you how much i spent.'s bought with cash, never credit.

this year my husband and i decided to not give gifts to each other and instead do a family gift of satellite television with DVR's. i'd really like a nice chair and table set for our screened porch as well. really throughout the year if we want something, we get it. within reason of course. being an only child, we'll get spoiled by my parents.

i guess i was kind of thinking like others that your gift ideas for yourself didn't seem really "fun". but if that's what makes you happy then it's all good! if it were me, i'd be wanting a nice purse cause you just can't have too many purses! =) or books, or music, etc. i admit it...i like stuff.

now i'm wondering about things i can do with a butterfly/dragonfly/ladybug cake pan i have. the girls are a bit old for crayons and i'm not much of a baker. so i guess i need to put on the creativity cap and do something with it.

Bee said...

So why is Dan ok with getting a gift but not with getting a tree? What does it say in the Bible about getting gifts to celebrate Jesus' birth?

My husband and I don't exchange gifts because we'd rather spend our budget on the children. I know kids don't need a million toys but there's always books, puzzles, clothing and other neccesties or educational items.

No one else buys for us either, they buy for our kids. So yes, Christmas goes by and we get nothing - nothing, that is, but seeing the joy on our children's faces when they get their gifts. And that is gift enough for us.

Anonymous said...

OMG, you spend $50 on each other and $10 on the kids? You are pathetic assholes. I don't hate a lot of people in life but you two are worthy of such level of disdain. I feel SO awful for your children. You are both horribly selfish people.

Anonymous said...

You are both selfish.Plain and simple.Use the money you are spending on yourselves and give those kids a decent Christmas.
An empty wallet for what? The kid will never know what money is because you are so damn tight with it. And a toothbrush?Oh Emm Gee.Whoopity Doo
Only thing I agree on is the baby.He wont know.But I am sure those boys do.
I just wasted my time typing this because
A.You wont post it
B.In one ear and out the other

Heather said...

I can't believe the above comment. I'm truly shocked by it, in fact.

We have a budget per child for Christmas, and we don't exceed it. This is our choice. Our children are bombarded with gifts at Christmas from grandparents and other relatives. They certainly don't feel deprived.

I agree with much of what Emily said in this post. Even if I didn't, I would never call her names. She is raising her children as she sees fit, they are loved and cared for, and she spends much quality time with them. That's far more important than material things.

Snork Maiden said...

Wow. WOW. "Pathetic assholes"? The person above has hit the bottle a little too early on a weekday.

While I'm also curious to hear about this gift/christmas tree dealy, I see it's been asked. Meanwhile, I vote cast iron skillet. Once you get it you're going to love it. It's better for you than other metals/coatings, it is almost indesctructable, they are cheap anywhere, and dirt cheap when thrifted, they cook evenly, they require less heat (!), and you can serve stuff in them, they retain heat for a while. I'm slightly obsessed with cast iron (if it isnt' obvious) and currently working on a blog post, but that aside, it is magical.

Anonymous said...

I think you should get a cast iron pan. They last forever and are much healthier than aluminum and non-stick, which some people think can be linked to alzheimers and cancer. The only downside is that cast iron is harder to clean because you're not supposed to use dish soaps or the diswasher on them.

Eileen said...

I think it is awesome that you keep things so simple! Kudos to you!

Bubblej said...


I do feel a little sorry for the baby of the family. Could you not just put a toy they already have in a box and let them unwrap that? I don't remember my first christmas but I still have 2 of the toys I got for it!

Anonymous said...

I wish my step daughter would take some lessons from you ladies. Doesn't matter what we buy for her, her husband or the boys who are 2 and 6 months she is never happy. we could give them the moon and she still would be mad. this year she told us to not even bother coming to see them for Christmas this year because we give such pathetic gifts. We are donating to a charity in their name this year. probably still be ticked off but at least we are not wasting our money and the charity will be more than happy to get it! (I still have something for the boys for next time we see them though)

Anonymous said...

WOW! I almost never agree with Emily about anything on her blog but calling her names is not cool.

Emily said...

BubbleJ, my two month old baby cannot open presents. He could maybe cling to the paper as we pull the object away, but it's not the same as unwrapping. He'll probaby unwrap one of the collective gifts with help from a parent or brother, though.

To those who asked about the tree, it's not because there aren't Christmas trees in the Bible, but that there are verses that appear to DENOUNCE Christmas trees in the Bible. Gift-giving is not denounced in the Bible.

Amber said...

I'm going to try this again since it wasn't posted the first time (though I'm really, really not sure why!)

I think that it is selfish to spend 50.00 on yourself and Dan to spend 50.00 on himself when you're only spending 3.00 on your children, total. Give your kids a little bit of luxury on Christmas! I mean, they don't NEED anything, but you and Dan don't, either, and the kids should still be able to enjoy the magic of Christmas.

I can't believe that you and Dan are okay with him buying cds and dvds and an accessory for his ipod when your kids aren't getting anything, really, for Christmas. He doesn't NEED that stuff, and since you base most of your thinking off of what people NEED in your family, he shouldn't be entitled to that.

Parenting is about sacrifice. It really, truly is. If we only had 100.00 to spend for Christmas then you'd better believe that every dime would go towards making it magical for my kids. And since you are quite crafty I know that you, for one, would be able to stretch that 100.00 to make a wonderful Christmas for your little ones.

Good luck, and I don't believe for a second that you are at fault in this.. I think that someone else decided on the 50.00 for each of your budget and you are forced to go along with it. Remember that biblical submission means that your husband should be following the verses that tell him how to treat his wife, too. And treating his wife like Christ loved the church extends to his children, too.

Anonymous said...

The first Christmas tree was in the 1500's, well after the bible was penned. So the bible is not denouncing Christmas trees but a different tradition.

Adrienne said...

Emily, I really feel you are trying to do right by your family. I think you have great intentions and you should be commended. Our family shares many of the same beliefs in terms of religion. I'm fearful that your husband is not holding to these same beliefs. His choices of movies and music are far from Scriptural. In fact, they are actually quite worldly. It is one thing to be a submissive wife, but be careful not to let Dan take the place of your true Lord. Worshipping false idols is definitely a sin.

Emily said...

Amber, parenting is about doing right for your children. Flooding them with materialism is NOT right, whether we have a lot of money or not. If I had wanted a higher budget for them, I would have taken on more mystery shopping jobs and made more money, but I didn't. We had the same budget for kids even when we've had a higher income. Also, if you did the math, we spent $30 on the kids, $10 each. Your first comment was not published because it was rude toward my husband. You guys can say what you want about him on your forums, but not here.

Anon, the Bible has a lot of prophecies, where God talks about things that will happen in the future.

Blessed said...

Dear Mean Anonymouses:

Oh, just for once it would be so refreshing if all of you proved you have even a smidgen of the guts and self-respect Emily has, by actually giving your opinion from a user-name.

You realize by commenting anonymously its like you are throwing bricks at her windows, and running away in the dark when she has the guts to open the front door to face you.

Yes, really. What prominent church member or otherwise "nice" person are you in real life? Would you be ashamed if your pastor, or your husband, or your best friend read what you wrote?

If you disagree with her so much, why are you even HERE?

Your postings say so much more about YOU and your own very small-mind and grinchy heart than they do about Emily. Why don't you go wrap up some more expensive plastic crap under your tree and then sit back and congratulate yourself on how much more you love your family than Emily does.

Emily, I understand if you choose not to post this. I am feeling a mite sassy at the moment, and am saying what I have been thinking for quite a while!

As always, bravo for thinking and living outside the box, and challenging what the world tells you makes sense, esp, in what love and quality of life look like. If only more (anonymous) people did this, the (virtual) world would be a better place. ; )

Nota said...

I really wish people would read more of the blog before they judge the whole childrens' budget. It's been addressed. There is a legitimate reason why she & Dan don't feel a need to spend all $130 on the kids - namely because other relatives go way overboard in supplying the material gifts. The kids will not be without a good xmas.

Captain Cleavage said...

wow...anon...emily I am surprised you published those comments.

Srsly people lets look at this from outside the box.

Are her kids getting deprived of gifts? no. she has on many occasions stated the fact that they get a ton of stuff from family.

Next year at christmas my husband and I will have our daughter and she will be 11 months old. Will we do a family gift exchange? yes. Will we spend 100 dollars on her? no.

I also have a large family (8 grandparents and 4 aunts and uncles and 4 ggrandparents)and she alread has a ton of stuff and she isnt even here yet.

My husband and I do not want her to become so enthralled with material iteams that the actul reason for the celebration (for us) is overlooked.

everyone needs to simmer!

Anonymous said...

I rarely agree with you in philosophy Emily although I think you have great ideas sometimes, but I am so sorry someone called you a "pathetic asshole". That's just uncalled for.

amulbunny said...

Emily, it would have been nice if you could have spent some of your Amazon bucks on a subscription to a kids magazine. When my kids were young, they'd know about the time of month a new one would come and we'd spend an afternoon reading it.

Books can be given to babies, cloth books help them with their color and tactile learning. There are tons of books out there that kids can learn from.

Paula said...

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I made the choice that we would only give 3 gifts to our children each Christmas, because after all if 3 gift was good enough for our savior well then it must be good enough for me and my children.

And as for those people making nasty comments, you all should be ashamed of yourselves, every family is different and im sure that Emily's children well grow up to be more thoughtful caring giving people unlike your children who will most likely grow up to be very selfish people that expect everything to be handed to them.

Blessed said...

Good rationale, Paula. I think I may limit to 3 gifts next year too. . .

And just because I am surprised the amount of money they spend has been an issue at all:

more $ spend on gifts does NOT = more love

more gifts do NOT = more love

So, yes, it is fine that they get lots of toys from their extended family and so don't buy them for their sons. Unless you are like me, and already have too many toys, and your children don't need or want any more! Kids do NOT need toys at Christmas. Our culture has taught us that kids need toys and parent who love their kids buy them toys, esp. at Christmas. This is simply not true.

The fewer gifts we give one another, we find, the more thought we put into them, and the more we appreciate them, and the less emphasis on "stuff" we have. What could be wrong with that?

Also, the mom and dad of a family are bigger people, with logically more expensive things they could use. Why does anyone have issue with the parents getting more $ for presents than the kids? This just does not make sense. Think about the things grownups buy for themselves--furniture, electronics, cars. etc. Or just comare the prices of clothes between children and adults. No one spends more on their kids than they spend on themselves. Why is it considered suddenly considered selfish to stick to the same principle at Christmas?

If anything my gripe with the dollar amount set would be this: any amount spend on something you don't really want or need is a complete waste. So if Emily spent $10 on something for one son just because she felt she had to have something under the tree, but it was a gift she neither wanted to really give him or that he really wanted, then it would have been better if she had spent NOTHING. SO it is better to spend more than $10 getting a gift that is right for your child than just seeing what you can get for $10.

But since Emily is clearly a creative thinker, she has undoubtedly already worked this all out and will not spend good money on things of no value in the name of gift-giving.

Some of the best gifts I remember as a child were not things, but memories of time spent with an adult I loved. So I really wish people would stop equating MONEY with LOVE in their comments to this blog.

Amber said...

"im sure that Emily's children well grow up to be more thoughtful caring giving people unlike your children who will most likely grow up to be very selfish people that expect everything to be handed to them."

What a mean spirited thing to say. Just because someone gives their child a magical Christmas doesn't mean that the child will grow up as a selfish person expecting to be handed everything in life!

Anonymous said...

Speaking for myself as an Anonymous poster who has strongly disagreed with Emily, I do not have any accounts that are accepted to be used as "comment as". The only way I can post to blogs is under Anonymous.
Oh and I don't think having a budget of over $10/child for my children means my children will grow up to be "very selfish people that expect everything to be handed to them". There is a balance.

Anonymous said...

I completely dissagree with the idea that kids who get a lot of gifts will end of spoiled. My parents always gave tons of gifts (about a $200 budget each) to my two siblings and I. They could afford it, but they never allowed us to take it for granted. We were always reminded how fortunate we were, and to this day I am so greatful for any little gift I get.
I don't even accept gifts from friends anymore. I'd rather have them give to a charity than buy me stuff I don't need. I also donate about $100 a year to a good charity (and I'm a poor college student). So no. Not all kids who get gifts become spoiled little brats.

In the long run Christmas is all about Jesus, not presents/decorations/whatever. So I believe there is nothing wrong with Mrs. Emily limiting what she gets for her kids and spouse, she's getting them gifts still. So she still values and loves them. I also don't think spending a lot is bad either. Neither scenerio loves their family any more than the other.


Emily said...

Anon on being anonymous, you can put your name in the Name/URL box and leave the URL blank. It will tell you you can't do that, but you really can. Or, you can just put any URL you want in the URL box. Also, some anonymous commenters put their name at the end of their message, like Courtney above.

Guinevere said...

I think your kids might at some point come to realize they aren't getting much for Christmas from their parents, with potentially negative ramifications, but I certainly don't think it's a bad thing now. They're little -- small inexpensive gifts satisfy small children perfectly well. And I think the cars pan is a fun idea!

A lot of things can breed materialism -- one of them is having too much and feeling entitled, and another is feeling want. But I'm sure if there ever is a point where your kids are disappointed in their Christmas, that you'll be able to adapt and respond to their needs.

I am also really curious about the Christmas tree thing. What are these Bible verses?

Jennifer said...

I do the 3 gifts for my DD at Christmas too- one to represnt each gift Jesus received. Also, another way to look at it, as a Christian, is, "When was the last time you went to another person's birthday celebration and received all the gifts?" Just something to think about.

It also helps that my DD's birthday is just a week after Christmas (she was born on New Year's Day!! What a great way to start our year!!) so I've always had to keep Christmas smaller, in order to adequately afford her birthday celebration. I make her birthday all about HER (especially with it so close to Christmas and being on a holiday) and she usually gets a ton of gifts on HER birthday- but not on the day we celebrate our Saviors birthday.

Amber said...

Emily I would have no problem with you not wanting to have a materialized Christmas... if that meant that your husband wasn't getting a ton of stuff, you know? It doesn't make sense to tell your kids one thing and then do something completely different.

Devon said...

I guess I'm still curious about the tree as well...are you not having a tree because you are afraid you will worship it? Anything can be an idol if you worship it, so you probably shouldn't have anything at all. The idol spoken of in the Bible that Dan is referencing was no doubt set up to be an idol...seems to me it's all in the intent of the heart. I don't know...I just don't understand the reasoning. I am interested in a further explanation, if there is one.

Organizing Mommy said...

Hey! Thanks for the link. The pattern from "sewing green" is a great bootie pattern also. The rest I have made up myself. We have done gifts like you have. The past couple of years Will and I enjoy getting each other "nothing". We are both happy with that, but we've been married for almost 20? years I think.

crabcakes said...

PP, define "proper Christmas", please.

Is there a dollar value on "proper Christmases"? Is my Christmas inproper if I spend $15.00, $50.00, $500.00?

Please do tell on what monetary value is assigned to make Christmas "proper". I'm dying to know.

If people choose to celebrate Christ's birth (as would seem Emily's reason for celebrating) on December 25th, that's their right (regardless of the fact that he wasn't born that day at all). But what on earth does that have to do with spending an amount of money on each other that someone else deems proper?

I celebrate closer to the original, Pagan roots of Christmas. I don't think that this version of the holiday has a designated "proper" amount to give either.

Anonymous said...

since you put so much of yourself out there, why can you not address everyone's comments about the budget you've set aside for your kids vs. your husband? HOW can you justify that to yourself? Do you ever ask yourself how that is fair? And it has nothing to do with showering your kids with material things for Christmas! No one would try to say kids need to be spoiled but for a grown man to allot more for himself than his children at Christmas is wrong.

Cee said...

How about buying your kids some decent food or health insurance?

Jen said...

Emily, you rock! GOOD FOR YOU for standing against what is "expected" from others.

As a newlywed, I attended a birthday party for our nieces with my husband. The girls were 5 and 8 years old at the time. I was seriously SHOCKED at the RIDICULOUS number of gifts there. We brought A gift for each child(as in one). However, the parents and grandparents must have each purchased about 50, because there weren't enough people there to account for the RIDICULOUS number of gifts, otherwise.

It was sad because both girls were obviously overwhelmed. They would open a gift, throw it to the side, and move on to the next without comment. It's like they were just trying to get through them all. It took about 20-30 minutes of simultaneous opening. I remember distinctly telling my husband after we left that we were never going to do that to our children.

I tend to agree with Blessed... if you overwhelm your children with material things like this often, they not only start to expect it, but they learn to appreciate nothing. You rob them of the pleasure of receiving just a few things they truly love, and the anticipation of waiting for what they truly desire. I'm still sad thinking about that party.

Our son is almost two now, and we have been so fortunate to receive hand me downs for 99% of his needs, from my sister, since his birth. The one thing we have to buy for him is toys.

His birthday is right after Christmas (Jan. 7th), and we don't want him to ever feel cheated since it's so close to Christmas. Even so, we are so careful not to go overboard for either event. He is getting a few wooden puzzles, several books, a few Duplo sets, an art easel, a small wooden play kitchen, a rhythm music set, and a cleaning set (he is obsessed with my mop, broom and vacuum cleaner!). He wouldn't be getting this much, except I came across a few excellent deals recently. It will be split between his birthday and Christmas. I did my best to purchase open ended toys that would encourage imaginative play (no plastic, battery operated crap :) It's likely that we will purchase almost nothing else for him until next year, when he will be ready for the next level (age wise) of toys.

I agree that you should get a cast iron pan! I have a few skillets and love them. And I think you list IS fun. Mine is almost always 100% kitchen stuff. :)

maeve said...

I have been reading without commenting or some months, and I just have to say that it is pretty much shameful that your husband is getting luxury items, but you are giving the kids near nothing. ten dollars at the clearance rack of the used bookstore would cover at least having a couple nice things from you for each kid, even the baby. I can respect making it not be about the gifts, but it's only not about the gifts for the kids, if the husband and you are still spending 50 on each other.

it makes me sad, thinking of your husband getting dvd's and such when you aren't getting the baby anything

Tara Maureen said...

I normally disagree with Emily and her philosiphies. I mostly come here for her recipes to see what I can use and "jerry rigg" to call my own. However this post I can somewhat agree with as she has stated that her children recieve many gifts from other family members. Children don't "need" gifts at Christmas time. It's something fun. We also have set a budget for our son at $100. All his gifts are things that will be enriching to him. However he does not get gifts at any other time during the year except his birthday (and an occasional Ball when he pops his). Setting this precednet for her children's lives that Christmas time is not just for gifts is a good one.

BTW Emily, I like the car pan thingy. Where did you get it? I think my son would enjoy some of the projects you have suggested involving it.

Tara Maureen said...

ignore my last question about where you got the pan. I wasn't paying attention after reading all the comments LOL

Emily said...

Guinevere, Jeremiah 10

Amber, all together, my husband will get far less than my kids, who will be bombarded with toys from all family members.

Anon, on adressing questions, I don't answer questions that people ask because they didn't read the post. I explained IN THE POST that my kids get a ton of gifts from relatives, which we can't control, so we don't like to add to that.

Clisby said...

I'm going to throw in a recommendation for cast-iron cookware. I currently have 4 cast-iron frying pans and a cast-iron dutch oven. They're great. Also, someone mentioned that they were harder to clean - that's true, if you follow the recommendations about not using soap. I don't - I scrub them well with soap, and periodically re-oil them. It works fine. I wouldn't put them in a dishwasher, but don't feel like you can't scour them. You just have to be alert to signs of rust.

Me said...

Living in today's, modern, over-priced, "give me, give me" society, it does not suprise me that people are getting all up in arms about how you choose to spend your money. As you previously stated in your blog, your children get enough presents from others. I have two children and we limit their presents because they receive so much unwanted stuff from others. We also do not buy over-priced junk that, in the ends, has little-to-no "value". (i.e. education, etc.) I also tend to make some of their presents (a dress & jewelry for my daughter this year!), buy books used, and copy our own cds for music. There are plenty of ways to provide a nice CHRISTmas without breaking the bank.

Besides all this obvious ranting, the point of Christmas is a celebration of religion, family, and friends... not the latest electronic gadget purchased for an obscene amount of money.

Anyhow, keep on rockin' with your bad self.

A Sybermoms member (see, we're not all bad!)

heather said...

wow! this really headed in a negative direction. we each have our lives and can live them however we want.

do i agree with the gifts for the children? no, but it works for this family.

my views? kids come first. they get the big magical christmas. where as my husband and i decided to not exchange gifts this year. but as i've mentioned earlier we get things we want throughout the year and will be getting a family "luxury".

why do i put the kids first? it's simple...childhood lasts for just a short time and then they become grown ups with the responsibilities, etc. because they are little only once i want to make the best of it. it warms my heart to see their excitement on christmas morning. i want them to have mountains of presents and i will put them first to be able to make that happen.

are they spoiled brats? absolutely not. i wouldn't tolerate that. they are loving and giving. from donating things to offering things to homeless people to wanting to "adopt" a child in a poverty stricken nation. they are sensitive to those with cancer since they had to experience my cancer so one of them is growing her hair out to donate for locks of love.

we also celebrate the true season of christmas...Jesus. the girls are members of the church. the older one acolytes. they pray daily and love Jesus with all their heart. santa has never taken away from that.

they do well in school.

i could go on and on about their virtues. but i will stop here. just wanted to point out that spoiling my children makes me happy and does not make them brats. =)

Anonymous said...

Wow0_o now I see why you screen comments and seem a little ticked at times. -Cris

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Just a warning about clay in the pans--don't do it! Unless it is something like playdough that comes out.

I don't like playdough or make homemade dough (they both dry and leave lots of crumbs). I prefer clay that doesn't dry out. My children tried putting some in a metal cupcake pan, and it doesn't come out--and I have tried.

I do think it will be interesting for crayons. I've read a lot of people who have done this; they've always lined the pans first with metal cupacke liners. For this I think I would look at lining it well with aluminum foil first. This way you can be certain to get them all the way out--easily--without damaging the shapes of the cars, by having to melt them a little to get them back out, or try to scrape them out when they cool.

I have melted wax stuff before and it pretty much ruins the pan you're using, so by lining it you could keep using it.

Something fun to go with the crayons would be some printable coloring pages. You could print on both sides and give them to the boys to go with their crayons. This site:

has free coloring book pages to print, including 106 "Cars" (from the movie) pictures. My boys have been having a ton of fun coloring from this site.

I guest posted last month about Christmas on a Zero-Budget here:
The last few years there really hasn't been a budget for us at all, but we've still had Christmas. We also have parents who like to buy our children lots of gifts, so we know what it's like to be overwhelmed with presents from family.

I like practical gifts--clothing bought at garage sales has been saved for Christmas before, for instance.

This year, we are able to do a bit more. I am getting 3 children new shoes--no small cost, as they have wide feet, and there are very few wide shoe makers out there, all of whom are quite pricy. One pair I bought through Amazon with credit from my website.

Last year I made my children each theirown handkerchief with their initial emroidered in the corner (made with an old sheet). This year they all want more of them! It cuts the asking for tissues at church as they each can keep one with them. I am also making them dress-up crowns with fabric scraps that I have (some leftover from projects and some were given to me from others--I take leftovers!) I am making pajamas for a few children as well as an apron for one child (each child hashis own apron, and they wear them to help cook).

One of the comments above suggested food. I think it's a treat to have nuts and clementines in our stockings when we are able to. It might be a treat for your children to have some cheddar cheese (I hope that Sam's Club cheese worked out for you! It has been going up in price since then and I just read on Bloomberg that milk and dairy products are expected to rise quite a bit next year).

My oldest daughter is getting some new dresses that I am making.

I read two interesting things recently about Christmas trees and I thought of you when I read both.

One was about St. Boniface and the origin of the Christmas tree, and how it is supposed to point to Christ. I wrote to the blog owner and asked her where she read about it so that I could share it with you. She said: "We read about St. Boniface in Mystery of History Volume 2. You can find him on Wikipedia, but the story was much more fun to read in our home school book."

The other was this German celebration of Christmas from 1855:

It is very Christ-centered.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

I also wanted to tell you about some printable paper toys (if you wanted something else to go in your Star Trek stockings).

I have links to several here:
The ones from The Toymaker are the simplest. I am doing this in my childrens stockings, with some printable paper dolls for my girls. There is a car the boys can color and put together from them.

Also, the dress-up crown I mentioned is linked on my page of free sewing links here:

My girls are getting those quick headbands (super easy!)

There are some free baby patterns on there, too, including some shoes like you were mentioning that you wanted to make for a gift for a niece.

I think you'll like them!

Bubblej said...

Emily, I was 11 days old at my first christmas. I couldn't upwrap anything either but I got a toy called Bobble Wobble. I am 21 and I still have that toy. I know you aren't going to change your mind but I can't help but think that the firsts are important. I disagree with people throwing huge first birthdays for their one year olds (What a waste) but I think it would be neat for your children to have something they could look at in 20 years and say 'I got that for my first christmas"

Just my opinion, but I don't think you are going to spoil your baby or break the bank if you buy him a $2 toy for his first christmas

Mary said...

Heather, you sound like my mom. :-)

She is proud of how she raised us. We always had lots of gifts at birthdays and Christmases, yet have not turned out to be "brats." My brother and I are both hard-working, intelligent, and respected and appreciated by our peers and elders alike. We have cousins who had an almost identical material upbringing and who are now spoiled brats (whining that they don't want any car if it can't be a BMW, for example), and some who had less and behave similarly (complainers and whiners also). Child-rearing is so much more than how many presents are under the tree!

(Emily, I'm sure you know that, so don't think I'm directing it at you!)

As much as I tend to disagree with opinions expressed here, I don't see anything wrong with giving children a few small gifts rather than an extravagant Christmas. I personally think your reasoning (that they will get many gifts from others) is sound. It may not be how others choose to do Christmas with their children, but it's certainly not the travesty some commenters are making it out to be!

W and S Morris said...

I don't think having a budget for the kids is what makes you selfish. It's a very smart thing to have a budget and stick to it. What makes you selfish is that your entire Christmas budget is $120 and you're spending 83% of that on you and your husband. We are on an extremely tight budget this year, as I think most people are. I told H that I wanted what would be alotted for my gifts to go toward more for DS. Like someone earlier said, parenting is partly about sacrifice. Seeing the huge smile on DS's face is more than enough for me!

qsaver704 said...

oh, boy! What a chore it is to read all these comments some times. I just wanted to warn you. I made the homemade crayons once. I suggest you splurge a little and get name brand crayons. When you use the cheap ones they barely write once melted. You can still get cheap crayons that are quality. I always pick up a box or two at back to school sales even though my DH is not in school.

Also, I would love to know the verse reguarding the Christmas tree as well. I have heard two sides. A) Martin Luther made it to celebrate God;s ever lasting love for us and B) it is a phallic symbol. I would love to at least explore the possible Biblical arguement.

I understand about a kid getting excited over an empty wallet or toothbrushes. Every time we go to the drugstore my son asks for a new toothbrush. It is a little confusing to outsiders seeing such cheap toys, but if that is what makes the kids happy, congrats!

Emily said...

W and S, someone needs a calculator for Christmas. We have a $130 budget my husband gets 38% of it.

qsaver, my husband has been studying Jeremiah 10 about the Christmas trees. Thanks for the crayon tip. (:

ANGELA said...

To the posters, including myself, that disagree with Emily's budget for her children; no matter what we say or suggest, those kids will still have very little from their parents for Christmas. We are just wasting our time. However, Emily, I must ask - what if your family does not come through for your kids like you expect them to. Is it not YOUR responsibility to have Christmas for your children without the mindset that "oh, it doesn't matter that I only spent $10 on my TWO boys (baby gets nothing), because I know my family will make up the difference." Maybe your family makes up the difference because they know your kids would do without if they didn't. Perhaps you could take up the slack a little and then they wouldn't have to feel obligated to buy a lot of gifts for kids that aren't their responsibility anyway. My dd is the only grandchild on both sides and my family ALWAYS knew how we felt about too many presents from them. Her father and I would provide Christmas, as it is OUR child, and they could buy a few small gifts. You can set limits with your family, I just think you prefer them to spend their HARD-EARNED, not BLOG EARNED money on YOUR kids. Yes, I find your blog interesting, but being ten years older than you, I feel I can safely say that you have a lot to learn about parenting and life in general. To your kids: sorry boys, we tried.

Anonymous said...

I've had two babies born shortly before Christmas, so I understand where you coming from in not doing much for your littlest guy.

Just to put an idea out there, for mine, I chose a hardcover book that I thought could withstand the test of time and be passed on to their children one day. I wrote them each a letter on the inside and included a picture. I went with Shel Silverstein, but I'm sure there are many religious options as well. I often order from sortfloorbooks and that makes for a bargain.


Meesh said...

Okay, I am a long time lurker and have never posted. Emily, W & S's comment was that the majority of your Christmas budget is spent on you AND your husband. Of course, you had to come back with a defensive comment that doesn't even accurately reflect the original comment. I think the person who called you names on here was very rude. I also think the booties are darling and a perfectly appropriate gift for a 2 month old. However, as to the two older boys, you should take the money you would spend on yourself and spend it on them. If it were me, there is no way I would spend $50 on myself while my toddlers got next to nothing from their parents for Christmas. It just would. not. happen. Before you know it, your boys will be old enough to realize their parents spend more on each other for Christmas than on them. How do think that will make them feel? I also agree with the other poster that family members probably give to your kids because they know that otherwise, they would go without.

Emily said...

Meesh, I scaled back what we did for our kids in RESPONSE to our family giving too much. They DID NOT give too much in response to my not doing enough. It's simple cause and effect. I've made it clear in both this post and in others that that is what happened. If that ceased to happen in the future, I would evaluate what my kids needed and what would enhance their lives and might increase their budget accordingly.

As far as feeling bad about the budgets, I don't see that as an issue. My kids are getting stuff that they will love. I could have spent $100 on a single gift, or $30 on several gifts, they don't know the difference. They only know how much they enjoy it.

heather said...

i was just talking with my husband about all of this. and we agreed that the wallet with the cards is a neat idea and definitely will be enjoyed by your son. in fact, i wish i had thought of that for my youngest when she was younger, she totally would have loved that!

still we all have different views, and i hope that some of our thoughts will resonate with you. insults are not right, but there are jewels of wisdom in a lot of comments. not that you are doing things wrong per say, but i truly believe and think others do too, that maybe you could open your mind just a bit. i know i've mentioned and seen others mention that you are quite a bit younger than a lot of us. and just as we have learned over the will too.

a couple thoughts come to mind...i have a stepson (we don't get to see him often). his mother is completely selfish. in addition to the $500 she receives monthly from my husband in support she milks everything she can for *her*. one year her christmas gift to her son was a wooden paddle with the rubber ball attached by a stretchy string-that was it. another year it was a pack of "mighty beans" (not sure what those were my girls were much younger then) and the price tag was left on it $1.98-again that was it. we were so fortunate those 2 years to be able see him for christmas and also actually give him gifts. (we don't usually send gifts for him when we don't see him and instead hold them until we do see him. she rewraps things and puts her name to it. shouldn't matter in the end...but she is so selfish that it does bother us). so i guess this situation is one that makes me sensitive to kids during the holidays. they deserve so much more simply for the joy they bring to us!

another thought was about the stacked totes in the other post. i hope that you will think about what was suggested as other options. you were a bit defensive with your response about teaching kids boundaries. my heart kind of sank. when my oldest was 3 she pulled a dresser, tv and vcr on top of her self. it wasn't her fault, it was ours for arranging the tv the way we did and not tethering it. she only tried to watch a movie and opened a bottom drawer to be able to reach the tv/vcr. with the exception of some broken teeth thank God she was ok. but the "what ifs" still go through my mind over 7 years later. it wasn't about her lack of boundaries or discipline, it was about our stupidity in that situation. and i own it. just wanted to share this to maybe have you realize that even though we think we know what's best, we are imperfect. we continue to learn each and every day and even then will never know it all. and our children are precious. that's all...

Meesh said...

But Emily, your second son is getting a toothbrush and a $1 wallet, and that's it! The car pan is a good idea, and I'm glad you're getting them something you will all be able to enjoy for a long time, but it will be, uh, empty when they open it. What fun is that? I think the wallet is a good idea, too, I know kids love things like that, but seriously, go buy them a $5.00 Candyland game, a few books at the dollar store, something!

Also, I know you have explained the cause/effect thing before, but I suspect that your family went "overboard" in buying for your kids to start with because they know you are so frugal with them throughout the entire year.

Finally, you didn't really address the fact that at some point, not this Christmas and not the one after, but at SOME POINT, your children will realize that you are spending more on gifts for yourselves than on them, bless their hearts. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Emily, I am a Christian, raised in the Church (my Dad is a pastor), and Jeremiah 10 is quite obviously talking about carved idols.

I have read your blog, many times, there is nothing on your blog I haven't read, and I say this kindly, you never, ever take constructive criticism. Please don't let your pride in being "Right" become your idol.

About the Christmas budget. I must agree,I do not see anything except selfishness in your husband getting $50 worth of luxury items, and your kids getting essentially nothing . (from their parents)I still , at age 43, have my very first Christmas toy, and treasure it with my whole heart. My husband, who can by no means be considered sentimental, also has his.

Don't you think your kids are going to look back one day and wonder why your husband got nice gifts at home on Christmas, yet they didn't? Young children can definitely remember ! Kids at the age of yours don't know costs of items, get them some things from Dollar Tree: puzzles, play dough, fingerpaints, small craft sets, those tiny little thingies that when put in the tub expand to make a dinosaur.

You keep saying "But we won't GET any other gifts if we don't spend the $50 on ourselves!" Being a parent is giving up everything for your children.

Maybe spend at least SOME of the $50 each on a Highlights supscription as suggested ( a wonderful idea!!), and one specail toy per child (even the baby!!) that that child can keep forever, not a tothbrush, and say, when he is 43, "I remember this Christmas! It was so wonderful !"

Emily said...

Anon, We could easily not spend any of our own money on ourselves and spend some of the money we get as gifts on ourselves. Instead, we spend our own money and put the gift money into savings or general funds. I think that is reasonable and people just aren't thinking it through. They are shocked at the $50/$10 and react accordingly.

I have nothing from my first Christmas, my husband has nothing from his. It's not a tradition that is important to us. I'm glad that it is meaningful to you, but that doesn't mean it has to be for us.

As far as taking constructive criticism, that shows that you haven't read the whole blog, or are not considering blog posts dedicated to my response to constructive criticism. I've got a new source of cheese, have reconsidered housing goals, and have a dynamic winter garden, among many other things because I have taken CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. It is all documented in this blog. I write something, someone else responds THOUGHTFULLY, and I respond with change.

What I think a lot of my regular readers fail to understand is that I have many readers who come here from forum threads dedicated to insulting me. Maybe I could be a little more patient with those people, but it's not always the most fun situation to be in.

W and S Morris said...

I'm sorry. I failed to miss the extra $10 somewhere. The calculator comment was uncalled for, however.
So, to correct myself. Your Christmas budget is $130. 38.4% is being spent on your husband. 38.4% is being spent on you. That leaves 23.2% to be split between 3 children AND "family" gifts. When you look at it that way, it seems very selfish on you and your husband's part.

Jen said...

I just read this article ( ) and it made me think of this post. I'm Jen WAY up there, with the overwhelmed nieces at their birthday party. The article articulates my thoughts EXACTLY. Stay strong, Emily! :)

Emily said...

Jen, thanks for that link! The article articulates my thoughts EXACTLY as well.

finding my purpose in the 2nd half said...

Wow - I'm surprised this posting caused such an uproar!

When my oldest was about 11 (he's 29 now), we realized the kids were getting way too much when they opened their Christmas gifts so fast they couldn't remember what they got or who gave it to them! This occured at birthdays, and just in general too. Alot of this excess spending came from our guilt of working too much! So we also went with the 3 gift rule. The first year they all complained a little (which just reinforced our opinion of excess materialism) but never again! And now that they are adults, the tradition continues. My husband & I only do stockings for each other. Special treats such as books, special teas, gourmet coffee, can of crab, etc.

Last year we went to a Christmas party and the hostess had 26 gifts each for her grandchildren! How ridiculous is that? And how do the parents begin to compete?

Another thing I wanted to remind parents: young children have no long term memory. If you are trying to provide a "magical" experience and your kids are under 5, they just aren't going to remember it. So the memory is just yours. And buying a gift for a baby is also silly. How about starting a journal for them or writing them a letter?

Just my opinions and observations. Keep up the good work Emily!

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