Thanks to everyone who added to the Blessed Nation discussion. If you haven’t read them, go check them out. Carrien’s comment was especially helpful to me.

I also got lots of helpful answers to last week’s Opinion Saturday -Affordable Family Outings question. There were two ideas that immediately went onto my to-do list, this one from Lifenut and this from Kate. These gals are my Very Interesting People this week.

Now, for a new question. Do you have rules at your house regarding Christmas gifts? We handle it by putting a master list on our fridge. Each person is allowed to suggest 5 items that they’d like. Our kids always get more than 5 gifts– I have ideas of my own for them too–and they don’t always get every single item on their wish list. But asking kids to narrow their lists down makes it more likely they’ll get something they really want. We don’t set specific dollar amounts, though if a computer or a car shows up on the list, we gently suggest that might be something to save their own money for. Obviously with 10 kids in the family, we can’t go totally crazy. But between us and grandparents, the kids always get way more than enough.

I’m curious — how do you handle Christmas lists at your house? Do your kids write wish-lists? Do you set dollar limits? Do you limit the number of items allowed on the list? Is there anything in particular you do that helps tame the gimmies in your kids at Christmas time?

You have all week to answer– I’d love to hear what your family does.

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  1. This is a sore subject in our house right now. When I married into my husband’s family they asked for a list. I gave them one like I would make as a kid, with about 20 suggestions some big, some small. Probably 6-10 CDs I’d like, 5-6 movies, 2-3 perfumes I liked, “sweater: black, gray, or blue”, you get the idea. I figured I’d get a cd and/or a dvd, and maybe a sweater or some perfume, but I’d be surprised by the details. That’s how we did it.

    Cut to a week later and my Mother-in-law comments to my husband that my list was just too long and they couldn’t get me everything and I needed to narrow it down. They didn’t want a wish list, they wanted a bill. “Get me these 4 items.” Seriously. That’s how they did it: write what you want, get what you write, within reason.”

    So we’re still sorting it out. Our daughter is only 2 so this year she won’t make her own list, but we have been hashing out how to let her identify her desires without turning into a giant “Gimme!!” list for the future. I look forward to hearing some good ideas!

  2. Growing up in a large family we drew names for which sibling we would buy a gift for that year. We were allowed to make a list with as many items as we wanted. I think we all made lists with mostly reasonable requests and expected that we would only get some of the items on our list because we were getting a gift from Santa, 1-2 from the parents, one from the person who picked our name and 2 from the grandparents.
    We still draw names among all the siblings, their spouses, nieces and nephews, and my parents this year too. We put a $25 limit on the gift for the person whose name you draw so everyone makes a list with plenty of reasonable requests.
    With my own children (3) they have one sibling to buy for and cousin or aunt or uncle to buy for. I let them make their own lists after spending time in the toy departmet of Target. By letting them see the cost of items, they all make pretty reasonable choices. I also let them know that they are allowed to put anything on their list but if something is pricey that they likely won’t get it.
    Remember a wish list is just that, a list of things you wish you had. The buyer can decide if anything on the list is something they are willing to spend money on.

  3. We do three presents for each child. We joke with them that Jesus only got three presents so why should they get more than Him? 🙂

    We keep the dollar totals about the same for each kid. This really cuts down on the stress of trying to keep track of number of gifts and how much we spent. Some years a kid will get one really big gift and a couple littler ones to even it out.

    This is what we do and it works for us.

  4. I grew up very far away from both sets of grandparents (we were missionaries in South America). Therefore, it was really important to them that we make lists saying what we wanted! My mom always told us, “Grandma likes to buy everything on your list so don’t make it too long.” I don’t know if she ever edited our lists before sending them on to Grandma, but I can tell you that there were things on there that I was disappointed to not get!

    With extended family (cousins, etc.), we drew names every year. That worked pretty well until we all got a little older. The year we were on furlough, we brought back to the States a bunch of what we thought were really cool cultural things. Unfortunately, my cousins didn’t appreciate that at all. I think that was the last year we had the gift exchange.

  5. We have decided that Jesus received three gifts from the Wise Men and so our kids receive three gifts for Christmas (from us). The grandparents are another story- but we are slowly convincing them that Christmas is not all about presents! We spend a lot of time thinking about what the perfect gifts would be and try to really find things that will be special to our kids but I refuse to make Christmas about an abundance of presents, especially in a world where so many children will go to bed hungry that day as well as many other days. We also make sure to involve our kids in projects that help others during this special time of year. A group of our friends always get together and sponsor a struggling family’s Christmas. Each of our friends buy presents for a different member of the family we are sponsoring and then we all get together to wrap the presents, sing Christmas carols and munch on goodies. It is an annual tradition we all look forward to and I think really helps our kids realize the importance of giving! It is a way we help them realize that they can be a part of helping those who are less fortunate.

    mom to TJ, Tye and Micah Ashenafee

  6. We tell our girls that they may ask Santa for one gift, and one gift only. It helps them to think carefully about what they really want. Then Santa brings them that one item, fills their stocking, and gives them a few extras, mostly things they can share (games, puzzles, craft supplies). Mom and Dad give them other fun things – one thing they might really want, books, DVDs, and other toys they can share.
    To help avoid the “gimmies”, we just don’t watch any commercial TV at all – just PBSKids and Noggin. And I get rid of all toy catalogs as they come in (I check them out for ideas and tear out pages to put in my Christmas file first). That really seems to help. Besides, they get plenty of ideas from visiting their friends’ homes (that’s a huge source of the “gimmies” in itself as many of their school friends are quite affluent and could stock a Toys R Us with the items in their play rooms!).
    Most of all, we really try hard to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus. That can be a challenge, with everyone asking our children, “What do you want for Christmas?”!

  7. Oh, yeah, and every year we take each child individually to the Dollar Store to choose gifts for family members. They enjoy the one-on-one shopping time with me, and since all items are $1, the focus is off the cost and rather on the thought and the giving!

  8. No suggestions – just wanted to say I love that Museum idea. When we lived near Toldedo, the art museum had a scavenger hunt that the kids could do. They had to find certain things in the paintings and then they would get to chose something from the prize box once they were finished.

    I will never forget when my eldest son was about 8 years old. He was looking for a certain kind of boat and we walked into a room with Renaissance painting – you know the kind of women that make me look in shape. My son said “Oh, great! Just a bunch of naked ladies. I’ll never find a boat in here!!” Gotta love him.

  9. we set a dollar amount (we know the amount they don’t!) we ask the kids to narrow their lists down to their top 10 items…..this also gets distributed to the grandma’s and aunts and uncles….the grandma’s also spend a set amount on each of our children- we ask them to pick one gift off of the list and then use the remainder of the money to buy a savings bond for college- this has worked out nicely…….our oldest sons birthday is also in Dec. so it is really hard for him to not get overwhelmed……..they also have to think of one community project that they’d like to do as a gift for Jesus (this year we are sponsoring a child- not sure where, we are still picking the country!)- this is always their idea and we just help make it happen……we also always donate toys to toys for tots and help sponser a family for Christmas…..I try to balance out the gifts they receive with a whole lot of giving…….

  10. I’ve just stumbled though your blog and your profile made me laugh 😉

    I don’t have kids yet, but when I was one, I would religiously collect all the brochures from Toys Stores and cut my favorite picks (i.e basically the whole brochure by Dec.).

  11. We also get each child three gifts to represent the gifts given to Jesus by the Wise Men. It takes a little more planning as we want to make sure that the three gifts are something they really want, but it’s so worth it! The adults in the family pick 1 other adults name to buy a gift for, and it can’t be your spouse. We have started a Christmas countdown with a shoe organizer that has 25 cubbies in it. Each day there is a scripture reading relating to the birth of Christ and a small gift (like a piece of candy or new crayons etc) in that day’s hole for each child. We also have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas. We involve our children in activities within our community to give Christmas to those in need.

  12. My children are still very young, 4, 2, and 9 months but with the older two, we’ve started a new tradition that I’ve picked up from a friend.

    For each new toy/gift that they ask for, they need to pick out one of their old toys to donate to Goodwill/Salvation Army/etc. We talk about sharing with other children that may not have many toys. This also helps with clutter!

  13. wow….what great ideas! We are still PAP’s but a great to get us thinking about next year. I love all these ideas!!!

  14. I budget out a certain amount to spend on each child ($75 for the 6 yr old and 4 yr old and $50 for the 2 yr old) and we are pretty good at sticking to it. We let them look through the books, and they tell us what they want. My oldest just decided that he wants a gameboy, but that isn’t going to happen so I hope to steer his wants towards something else! I love your idea of letting them each choose 5 want items.