This post is part of the "How We Celebrate Christmas" -- a mini series showing how other families "do" Christmas. I hope you enjoy learning from other families as much as I have!
As always, this is not meant to stress us out or make us feel like we are doing Christmas wrong. Rather, my hope with this series is we can see that there are many RIGHT ways of celebrating. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you start your own meaningful family Christmas traditions.
Meet: Danyelle and the Mathews Family
1. Tell us about your family!
My husband Ryan and I have seven children. Our oldest and our youngest share a birthday 15 years apart so in a couple weeks they will be 18 (!!!) and 3. Our other children are 16,13,10,8, and 4. Four boys and three girls. Our lives are full in every sense of the word. Full laundry baskets, full grocery carts, full house, full hearts.
2. Tell us a favorite memory of Christmas past!
For the past several years I’ve been wishing I would have started gifting the children an ornament every year starting when Easton, our oldest, was a baby. I convinced myself it was too late to start that tradition. Then a few weeks ago I realized how silly that was. It’s never too late to begin a tradition so I ordered an ornament for each of the kids. Easton’s is a little Empire State Building to remind him of our first trip to NYC this fall. Abby’s is a cute car because she started driving this year. Each of the ornaments are meaningful to the children individually and they LOVED opening them. It was a really sweet experience seeing how excited they were to open their ornaments but also how equally excited they were to see what their siblings would open.
3. How do gifts work in your home?
Years ago we adopted the WANT NEED WEAR READ gift giving philosophy and haven’t turned back. Each of the children get something they WANT, something they NEED, something to WEAR and something to READ. Santa brings one gift per child (their big gift) which is left unwrapped near their stocking. This has helped me immensely when shopping for the kids. I don’t get distracted and buy too much. It also helps keep things pretty equal.
4. If married, do you and your spouse exchange gifts? What about sibling gifts?
Ryan and I do exchange gifts. In the past we’ve also done WANT NEED WEAR READ for each other. This year we are only buying things for one another that will fit in our stockings. It’s been a fun challenge!
The children draw names for sibling gifts. I love to see the things they choose for one another.
5. What special Christmas Eve traditions does your family have?
Christmas Eve all the children sleep in the same room. They blow up air mattresses and spread them out on the floor with blankets and duvets from every corner of the house. It’s so fun to see the big kids get as excited as the little kids for Christmas morning.
6. What special Christmas Morning traditions does your family have?
Christmas morning the children know they aren’t allowed to come downstairs until Ryan’s turned on the tree lights and some Christmas music. They all wait at the top of the stairs until we give them the ok to come down. Those few moments of anticipation are so magical.
7. Do you have any favorite holiday recipes that make an appearance each year?
8. Do you have any Christ-centered Christmas traditions you want to share?
We’ve been participating in the Light the World campaign and love the daily prompts to follow Christ. It’s so wonderful to see the children focus on how they can help others.
9. What are some ways you have simplified Christmas to keep stress lower?
One of the ways I lower stress this time of year is simply keeping expectations low. Having lofty expectations of things we want to do/see/bake/buy won’t make us happier and will often times leave us feeling dissatisfied. Our family has a handful of seasonal must do’s. Everything else is optional.
10. Any other favorite Christmas memories/ideas/tips you want to share? We love hearing how others make their season magical but not overwhelming!
I love this quote so much and it has really helped keep me focused on the Savior this Christmas. “I think it’s appropriate this time of year to just think about that baby in the manger. Don’t be too overwhelmed or occupied with what is to come; just think about that little baby. Take a quiet, peaceful moment to ponder the beginning of His life—the culmination of heavenly prophecy but the earthly beginning for Him. Take time to relax, be at peace, and see this little child in your mind. Don’t be too concerned or overwhelmed with what is coming in His life or in yours. Instead, take a peaceful moment to contemplate perhaps the most serene moment in the history of the world—when all of heaven rejoiced with the message “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
You can follow Danyelle on Instagram @dandeedesigns
Thanks so much Danyelle for sharing your Christmas thoughts with us!!
Want more? You can find all the other "How We Celebrate" posts right here! There are so many real, good ideas you'll love!