Family Life

Why I’m Reconsidering Our Christmas Day Traditions

All that work, planning, buying and wrapping, came to a head a couple of days ago, where the majority of the excitement was over in a matter of minutes and my thoroughly spoilt children discarded most of their gifts, without a second glance and played in cardboard boxes for the rest of the day! We have always let them open everything on Christmas morning but in the past, when they were younger, this was fairly self-regulating as they would open something, play with it for a while and then need to be actively encouraged to open something else by us, eagerly awaiting, bystanders! Now, it’s like watching Velociraptors at feeding time, it’s absolute carnage, so much so that I’m seriously considering a major rethink about how we do it next year. When I was growing up, we opened the presents in our pillow-cases (we didn’t have stockings) that we had left by the fire-place and had to wait until after dinner to open the remaining gifts, under the tree. J opened everything in the morning, as a child and we chose, rightly or wrongly, to follow that tradition.

Buzymum - Why I'm Reconsidering Our Christmas Day Traditions

The kids didn’t actually get loads of toys or extravagant gifts, they had a main present each with the rest made up of clothes, books and practical items, things that I would have bought them anyway like new lunch boxes, drink bottles, stationary and toiletries. Other family members were also given specific ideas for presents to lessen the need for returning and exchanging. Gifting in the Urie house is organised, efficient and budgeted, boring yet effective! I simply despise waste and would hate a close family member to spend money on something for my kids that they wouldn’t use or like.

The Boy’s main present this year was a bike. We put it under a huge box, requiring us to lift and reveal the bike inside. The Boy loves his current bike and we expected a ‘wow’ moment when his new one was revealed, but he was so excited with the shear number of presents and madness of Christmas morning, he ran back to find his next present under the tree without even checking who the bike was from. J and I just looked at each other thinking ‘What have we created?’!! Don’t get me wrong, after the paper ripping frenzy, ‘thankyous’ were said, roller-skates were matched with PJ’s and appreciation was more apparent, but the question still remained – were the sheer number of presents really necessary? If I just stick to a few each next year, would the drop in number be really noticed, considered or remembered?

Buzymum - Lou wearing her roller-skates on Christmas morning

One thing that we have done for several years now, is to wrap up any joint gifts (arts and crafts, stationary, confectionary) and put them in a large box with balloons and then wrap the box. Not only is this gift cheap to do, it’s size has a real wow factor and the box provides hours of entertainment! We went one step further this year and got three boxes (one each) that fit inside each other like Russian dolls for easier storage. Our lounge has now been re-named ‘Boxtropolis’! Much to to children’s disappointment though, come the New Year, they will find their way to the recycling point, I’m afraid boxes really are not for life, just for Christmas!

Buzymum - Boxtropolis!

I guess there is an element of expectation and a desire to make Christmas special, memorable and magical for our children but what do they really remember? Thinking about my own childhood, I couldn’t tell you what I got each year except for maybe some main presents. The memories are mainly of who we spent it with, where we went, what we did and funny situations that arose. No matter how I look at it however, there still  seems to be a pressure to go crazy with presents at Christmas, even if that pressure is put on us voluntarily. It’s that one time of year where everyone is discussing what they are doing, buying and spending, how they are celebrating and we all want our family to have the best Christmas possible. While there’s nothing wrong with any of that, is it really necessary?

How was your Christmas? Do your children open everything on Christmas morning or do you spread it throughout the day? Do you go crazy with presents and regret it or is that what it’s all about? What are your Christmas day traditions?

Rhyming with Wine
Diary of an imperfect mum
ethannevelyn

12 thoughts on “Why I’m Reconsidering Our Christmas Day Traditions

  1. We follow my tradition in our house. Spread the present opening throughout the day. Hoping we can continue this as they grow older. Obviously baby didn’t give a t** about the presents, and loved the paper/ boxes/whatever his big brother had. Oscar got his ‘main present’ and played with it for at least 1 HR before opening another. They’re young.. and this may all change as they grow. But, as my brother and I always had a race to see who could drag the present opening out the longest (think our record was 8pm last present opened one year) I hope my boys follow suit…. we’ll see!!

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    1. That sounds like a better way of doing things! As long as we are at home for Christmas next year, I think we might try to spread it out. The problem will come if we are visiting family during the day, whether we take it all with us!
      Hope you have a great new year! Xx

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  2. We don’t celebrate Christmas, but my children are often on the receiving end of presents, and over Chanukah they have received several money gifts from relatives. Teaching them to appreciate what they are given and not have a sense of entitlement is really hard, especially when they constantly being given things by extended family. It’s a really hard one.
    I love your box pictures too. My kids can be entertained by boxes for much longer than regular toys also.

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  3. I agree it is not so much the gifts we remember once we grow up. Although I will always remember when I got my Enid Blyton books which my children now read. My children open all their gifts Christmas Day, but very slowly. We have breakfast first and we gradually open gifts enjoying watching one another and playing along the way. #dreamteam

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  4. I know exactly what you mean Sonia. Up until this year the opening of presents has taken hours as the kids have been little and so fascinated with just the wrapping paper that we have actually had to hurry them on! This year was different though and we experienced our first “velociraptor” unwrapping, and I felt like you! I wondered if it was really all worth it and really all that necessary. We went to my mums this year and she has a tradition of an extra gift each to remain under the tree until after lunch. Usually just a token gift, for example for Miss Tot she had filled a big box with plastic bottle tops and stickers and glue, and wrapped it. This will have only cost a couple of pound, but Miss Tot was over the moon with it and it comes out most days for some sticking and crafting fun. It’s true that kids don’t have a clue what things cost and I think we spend so much because we feel we should when it really probably isn’t all that necessary at all. Thank you for sharing this with #DreamTeam. Dawn x

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  5. Every sympathy with this post! Our Christmas follows the pattern of my childhood which like yours is pillow cases in the morning and presents from relatives in the afternoon / evening. Nearly all the presents are practical ones #rightdowntothesocks. Even so we have some of the behaviour you describe and at around 11 years reality dawns that Christmas is not all about heaps of presents, they won’t get an x box and that’s life. Christmases past this point become enjoyable again when expectations are realigned. Good luck with next year. #FabFridayPost

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  6. I totally feel your pain. We did something new this year. For the month of Dec. leading up to Christmas day we did a random act of kindness everyday. We delivered cookies to the police station and to paramedics and left candy canes on cars and donated food to the food bank. We had an act to for 24 days and it really taught the boys to be grateful. Christmas morning they take turns opening presents making sure to see who it’s from before they open it. It takes about an hour this way.

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  7. A very interesting post. We did went crazy in 2015 but 2016 Christmas we reeled it in. Having said that it was still quite a lot as family and friends also gave the kids some presents too. We spread it out opening the presents through the day and even two days in actually fact. Same with you – the kids just went for the boxes. This year I think I’ll just give them empty boxes for Christmas! lol!

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost x

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