We have, by some standards, a large family. I’m deviating from my normal postings of all-things-Meghan, or gluten-free food — and sharing my
brilliant lazy tips for simplifying Christmas.
I don’t do ribbons or bows. At all. I don’t do gift tags. Most of the gifts under our tree aren’t even labeled. I buy four rolls of reversible paper each year, tape, and a Sharpie. And I’m set.
Every single present for one child is wrapped in the same paper. And until Christmas morning, they have no idea which boxes are theirs. One lame reason? It saves me from having to make decisions. I over-think things. Which wrapping paper is best suited to this present? Do I have any scraps that would work for this tiny gift? Don’t have to think about any of that. Lego set? Easy – my son’s paper. Angelina Ballerina book? Easy – my daughter’s paper. Christmas morning sets them on a scavenger hunt to find clues to identify which wrapped presents are theirs. (One clue might say that our oldest has paper with green on it — which might eliminate 3 possibilities; another clue might say our middle child’s paper has circles, or reindeer, which might eliminate a couple options). They are horribly rhymed clues, hidden throughout the house. But the kids get a kick out of it. On lazy years past, we’ve just put a slip of their particular paper in their stockings. Anyhow – that uses up 5 of the 8 paper patterns. Another goes to the “family gifts.” And the remaining two papers? One for his entire side of the family, one for my entire side of the family. Labeled with Sharpie. When it’s time for gatherings with extended family, all I have to say is “Okay, grab all the packages wrapped in Martian-Santa paper!” and we
never almost never leave a present behind. As to the lack of bows and gift tags? I’ve had toddlers in my house for so long and bows are so tempting – that they inevitably get ripped off or smushed anyway. Gift tags can fall off, and Sharpie is just easier. To my extended family: sorry that I’m not more creative. Maybe someday you’ll get beautifully wrapped, stunning gifts. But… probably not.
For further simplicity, we limit each kids’ gifts to three — a book, a “big” item they want, and a skill-building or learning-gift related to their interests (anything from candy-making to crocheting, acrylic paints to woodcarving). We don’t have an equal budget per child *gasp*…. and so far, nobody has noticed or cared. We also do 5 “family gifts” (we have done four in years past, but now that we have a fifth child, this balances things out so each child can open a family gift). The family gifts — one game, one Christmas puzzle, one read-aloud book for the entire family to enjoy, one DVD, and our newest category — one ‘membership’ (ie art museum, zoo, science museum, whatever). Things the entire family can enjoy. Each kid gets to open one of the family gifts – but they understand that it’s a communal gift. My husband and I follow in his parents’ romantic footsteps, and generally give each other home improvement projects. This year we talked about a dining room ceiling devoid of popcorn texture. Super, duper, incredibly romantic. Don’t be jealous.
If the kids are giving and wrapping presents – they can use scraps from years’ past.
What I like best? I don’t have to think. I like formulas and plans so that I don’t have to think. It’s either lazy or brilliant, I haven’t yet decided. But it works for us – and that’s all that matters to me.