With four kids, Christmas may have the tendency to become a bit overwhelming, if by a bit you mean absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s not that the kids make lots of demands, as a matter of fact they don’t even send a list to Santa, as they’ve been pretty happy so far with the idea that presents just magically show up. But it may have something to do with all the planning, coordinating with family from out of town, the juggling of wants vs. needs… all within a limited time and multiplied several times over. Not only do I have to come up with ideas for Santa, but Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents and Friends all would like ideas as well. Add to that the social imperative “must have more, enough is never enough” and things started to spiral out of control.
And although we may not have found the perfect balance, we do have a better system in place now than we did in those very early years of parenting. Santa brings the kids four gifts a piece :: Something to Play with, Something to Wear, Something to Read, and then Something to Share, a communal gift they can all play with together. There are also stockings provided by us, the parental units, more than plenty of gifts from friends and family, and the sibling gifts.
Each one of the kids makes a gift for the others, with of course, helpful hand from me. It is something we’ve done for the past three years and has become, similar to the birthday shirts, a family practice that everyone looks forward to. We all get to spend some time thinking about those we love and what they might like, and I get to spend some one on one time with the kids while they make each present. The littlest one sat out from the making process this year, since she was busy learning how to sit up and feed herself, but the six, four, and two year old (who turned three during our preparations!) all had some crafty goodness to attend to.
The three year old decorated a shirt and a sweatshirt for the older two.
We cut up a potato into a star and rolled some silver acrylic paint on a pad, pressing the star potato into the paint before stamping it on the shirts.
Some of the stamps came out very clearly, and others I went over with a paintbrush after we were done.
It’s hard sometimes to step back and let the kids do it all themselves, isn’t it? I let her decide where she wanted to place the stamps, and only went back in for the touch ups after we had gotten her cleaned up and she was busy playing in the play room.
Our son made crowns for the older two girls using a bit of cotton lace, mod podge, peralescent acrylic paint, and a few rhinestones.
I found this tutorial on the Bitter Betty Blog while pottering around pinterest, and I have to say, these were a smash hit! It took a few days to complete, but it was well worth the effort spent.
And my oldest daughter? Oh be still my beating heart! Now that she’s six, with definite opinions, she in now starting to come up with her own ideas. So these two gifts were things she thought up on her own, that I helped implement.
It was a purple jewelry box for her little sister (since she really loves mine, Mama, and doesn’t have her own yet) and a book of word finds for her brother (I’ll use my best handwriting).
She put together eight word finds altogether, I believe, and I only stepped in to fill out the last two since I kept putting off printing out the sheets for her fill and and we ran out of time—yes, it is a common theme, this whole time business or lack there-of. The jewelry box was painted in her sister’s favorite color, purple, and the word find’s were all categories which were relevant to our little guy and our family like, favorite movies, or favorite foods. I am so thrilled that she has taken this idea—this concept that the time spent in making things for those we hold dear shows such caring and appreciation and love—and decided it was valuable thing and worth her effort. We all love making things in this house, and we all love giving the gifts we make. But seeing that little light turn on in her head, listening to her think out loud of what someone else might like and not just what might be fun for her, and then watching her make it with her own hands… I have to admit it was an incredible process to witness.
I hope there are more!