Favorite Christmas traditions for family teams and I think that’s a good question. How do you actually have traditions that actually support the family team, not just disintegrate the family or turn into some type of consumeristic tradition? So Jeremy, how have you guys thought through this?
Yeah, so our favorite family tradition that I think we’ve enjoyed is around sibling gift giving. This is something we talk about in the 31 Creative Ways book. So just a little, if you want to see the rest of those different ways, but one of the things that we’ve loved about Christmas is when our kids were pretty young, we had this awesome sort of secondhand sort of toy store, had books, had clothes. And so one by one, we would take the kids in and they would spend 20 bucks or something, getting little gifts for all of their siblings. And so this just caused the kids that when Christmas day came, there was as much, and even for some of our kids even more excitement, as they anticipated watching their siblings open up the gifts that they had picked out, than they were feeling about opening their own gifts.
And that’s a huge win, right? Because they’re experiencing that a lot of the joy from Christmas at a very early age comes from giving. Their focus on Christmas day isn’t completely on themselves, but is on their siblings. There’s bonds going on. The siblings are communicating to each other, “Hey, I know you like this thing. So I thought about you and I got you something.” So there were just so many cool things that came out of that, that it became a bigger and bigger tradition. Now that our kids are older, they don’t just go to secondhand stores, they go to the mall, and they go to other places, and they go to Amazon like everybody else. But, they have carried on this tradition of buying gifts for one another, which has been super cool for our family. But yeah, Jeff, what about you guys?
I love that. Yeah. I’m going to cheat. I’m going to think of two. One’s a tip and one’s a tradition. The tip that I’ve found very helpful, if you have toddlers, is this one’s huge, is first of all, don’t be afraid to be ruthless about telling everyone around you that you don’t need that many toys. Like everyone freaks out about, just say, “We don’t want that much stuff. Do not give it. Or be practical. Give us pajamas. Give us books, whatever.” Well, this is by the way a really practical one. One thing we’ve done before is we’ve asked anyone who’s close family members, we kind of pick a theme. So one year it was pick your favorite childhood book that may be of sentimental value for you when you were a kid, so that’s some books from the seventies or eighties if it’s a grandparent or something, and then write a little note in it to the kid and then give it to them on Christmas.
So then we get eight really special sentimental books that have a story behind them, or have a theme, or something like that. But what I was going to say is we, because we’re really ruthless with that, we don’t get that many gifts, maybe like seven, eight, nine combined between us grandparents, whatever for the kids. And then one quick tip that we do, that’s really helpful for our family and extends the holidays, is really fun, and also creates a lot more thankfulness is however many toys you get, or how many presents you get back those presents up as many days as you have until Christmas. So like if we have seven toys, then we start opening presents on December 18th, right? And it’s one present a day. And what that does, is it doesn’t just create this, because I can’t stand the Christmas let’s open 17 things at once and there’s paper everywhere.
First of all, my OCD just hates how messy that is. Second of all, I just think it creates like a weird entitled consumeristic mentality when it’s like no, one gift that I then want to thank one person for giving it to me, and I want to enjoy that for what it is and extract the value from it. So that’s one tip. Tradition I would say is kind of go on fun, little missions with your kids. You know, one really fun tradition we do is we get our Christmas cards printed still, and so we’ll take a Christmas card and usually a treat, sometimes it’ll be candied nuts or whatever, and we maybe make up 10 batches or whatever, put them in mason jars with a nice little ribbon, so they look cute and we go around and give those to neighbors.
We just knock on their door, some neighbors where you’re friends with some neighbors we’re meeting for the first time, some neighbors are not nice. We’ve had that before. But you know, you just got to do it. And to us it’s really fun because it’s a really cool way to serve and love and kind of honor people around you. And by the way, it doesn’t have to be all homemade and crafty. There was one year, because I hate sweets, and so I try to get rid of them as soon as possible. There was one year where someone gave us these really pretty candied pretzels with all these sprinkles on it and Christmasy colors and all that, and chocolate dipped and all that, and I just don’t like that stuff.
So I usually just throw it away or give it away. And I was like, “You know what? This would be great to repackage this in mason jars to look like we made it for our neighbors.” So I literally just took out all the stuff and put it in cute packaging, and then we put a ribbon on it again with our Christmas card. And I didn’t say that we made it. I wasn’t lying, but it did make us look really impressive. And then we gave that to our neighbors. So I’m just saying. Sometimes it’s just like repurposing, recycling, redoing, but the main thing is, man, it’s a really good opportunity to serve your neighbors. And I think with toddlers, that’s such an easy little mission.