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!
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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: Neena and the Warburton Family
1. Tell us about your family!
2. Tell us a favorite memory of Christmas past!
Honestly ever since we started implementing our three-present Christmas rule our Christmases have been amazing! I’d say being able to focus on the relationships, the true joy of giving, and remember the true reason for the season–our relationship and love for Jesus Christ–our Christmases have been so much more rich! I LOVE seeing my little children shop and give meaningful gifts each Christmas!
3. How do gifts work in your home?
We have a unique way of celebrating Christmas and it’s brought so much simplicity, more focus on giving, and less clutter to this season (and our lives)! We have a three gift rule, specifically that each person in our household gets one gift that is meaningful, one gift that is needful, and one gift that is joyful. We don’t assign specific people to each kind of gift, we just talk together often as a family and if an opportunity for one particular child to buy one gift for another, we do that. Since my children are still little, often this looks like Mom and Dad choosing the gifts with the children (separately), having them help wrap, and then on Christmas morning the child giving the gift is the one to give it to the child receiving the gift.
On Christmas morning we do not separate the gifts according to who is receiving the gift, but instead divide them in piles according to who is giving the gift. We find this helps the children feel more invested in their siblings or parent, and specifically brings the focus on the relationships, and feeling of sacrifice and love between family members. After our prayer (see question 8) on Christmas morning, we go around in age order and GIVE gifts to another person. We all watch as each person opens their gift and celebrate together in excitement over what they got.
We do not do gifts in stockings besides consumables, (like candy and an orange) and this helps reduce trinkets and junk toys in our home as well!
We have an extended family Christmas party where Santa comes, so my children also get one gift from that party even though we don’t do Santa Claus otherwise.
Beginning this year we also decided to add in a Sub for Santa project that will now be included in our gift giving experience. This year we had the opportunity to sponsor a local refugee family with a few gifts and gift cards this Christmas, and it was an incredible way for us to use our money this Christmas season. My children shopped with me for the gifts and we also all hand-delivered the gifts to the family a few days before Christmas, which was a very meaningful activity and experience for our family. We plan to include it every year now!
4. If married, do you and your spouse exchange gifts? What about sibling gifts?
We do not exchange specific gifts as spouses, but of the three gifts we each get, we make sure one of those is from the other spouse.
5. What special Christmas Eve traditions does your family have?
We love driving around and looking at our neighborhood Christmas lights! So many homes have now designed light shows orchestrated to music, so we use our community websites to design a route to visit them. Even more than entertaining my children, I LOVE to see these amazing light shows! People make Christmas time so much fun for others!
We also love to watch a few short Christmas movies in our pajamas cuddled up on the couch as a family. One tradition we have perpetuated from my own childhood is watching “A Claymation Christmas”, and acting out the Christmas story from the Bible.
7. Do you have any favorite holiday recipes that make an appearance each year?
I am not much of a baker, but we love to make sugar cookies for our neighbors sometimes, or something else simple like Rice Krispie Treats with sprinkles.
8. Do you have any Christ-centered Christmas traditions you want to share?
On Christmas morning before any of the celebrations begin, we start the day with a word of prayer. We kneel together by the Christmas tree and share a prayer of Thanksgiving for the great gift of our Savior Jesus Christ. It sets the tone for the whole day and more importantly, reminds us that all that we have is a gift from the Lord.
9. What are some ways you have simplified Christmas to keep stress lower?
Three gifts at Christmas has been a very effective way to reduce clutter and stress for us during the holiday season! We make sure they truly are only three gifts; for a few years starting out I would put several items in a box and call it the whole package “needful” but I’ve since made sure that the gifts truly are only one item. With six people in our family it’s still quite a bit of things, but it’s enough that we are happy with our new prizes and can be excited over every thing we receive!
We love to send Christmas cards and make neighbor gifts, so we clear other things out so we can keep those in our holiday preparations.
10. Any other favorite Christmas memories/ideas/tips you want to share? We love hearing how others make their season magical but not overwhelming!
One specific gift of our three has really made some amazing memories for us, and that is the meaningful gift. For example one year my husband filled a multi-picture frame with pictures of me from my various musical productions. This is a new hobby for me–something I’ve invested a lot of time and heart in to–and really didn’t’ have much to show for it. My husband took some of the best pictures from those shows and wrote a sweet note about how he admired my dedication to something new. It hangs in our hallway and I am continually reminded of how thoughtful that gift was because it was just that: meaningful. We try to make that gift something unexpected and often homemade, and it has done its job to strengthen our family relationships, which I am truly grateful for.
Thanks so much Neena for sharing!
Want more? You can find all the other “How We Celebrate” posts right here! There are so many real, good ideas you’ll love!