It started innocently enough in Best Buy; going in for a new T.V. a couple weeks ago. Strolling through the recently enlarged electronics section full of enticing gadgets and tablets, my 7 year old asked if I would buy him one. When I mentioned that we didn’t really need anything new, he stated “that’s ok. I’ll just ask Santa for all the i-stuff.”

volunteering with children christmas presents He further clarified that he meant ALL of it: an ipad, iphone, ipod, and ipad mini and all the accessories that come with them. In my typical manner, I overreacted and dramatically informed my husband we had a monster for a child and that I needed us to cancel Christmas this year. To which, my husband laughed and said no way.

Before I lay out the compromise we eventually reached, I need to explain a bit more. See, our house is one divided during Christmas. I get all Grinch-y and have no interest in fake trees or seasonal décor and my husband is a full-blown Buddy the Elf/Clark Griswold composite. He adores the Christmas spirit and all it encompasses, glittering snowflakes inside the house and everything. Where I want to cut back and almost eliminate gifts, he wants to go big and get a pool or a pony or at least a really nice computer for the family. Truthfully, we don’t do that throughout the year and we’ve spent years with really tight budgets. Yet, neither of us wants a child who thinks Christmas is only about asking Santa for all the i-stuff.

So, the negotiation process involved finding a way to help our kids find REAL Christmas spirit without making them (or him) give up the other parts like decorations, a tree and yes, presents. Thanks to technology, we found multiple options with a few quick clicks. We plan to spend Christmas with our families as normal on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but then later we will do something a little different with the kids so we can share the day with others as well.

We found the right fit for our family, but I also found great suggestions from other parents around the world. Here are some of my favorites:christmas volunteer service family

  • Limit of 3 gifts per person to represent the 3 wise men and the gifts they brought
  • Draw names and agree to only make each other’s presents this year
  • Buy gifts at an Alternative Gift Market where all gifts purchases support fair trade and global awareness
  • Volunteering with kids – see Hands on Nashville, Graceworks, and VolunteerMatch for the multiple opportunities for both people and animals
  • Go caroling around nursing homes. Organize a large group of neighbors and friends who might want to join you
  • Share the day with others – open your doors to co-workers and acquaintances who live too far away to be with family that day
  • Make care packages for those in the military

While I might still have some Scrooge in me and my husband may still want to get a pool with that (undeclared) bonus, this year we’ve found a balanced way to experience Christmas as a family.