Large Family Gift Shopping: 4 Moms

The average American family, comprised of 3.14 people, spends $800-$900 on Christmas gifts each year.moms of many manage We don’t. We avoid much of the annual gift giving frenzy by keeping things a bit more simple.

Here are some of our reasons:

  • We don’t need all that stuff.
  • We wish for the focus of Christmas to be on serving others, giving of ourselves because He gave Himself to us.
  • We believe that we have been given an abundance so that we may, in the name of Christ, share with those who have need.
  • We simply can not justify spending hundreds of dollars on frivolous things we don’t need when there are so many who have true needs that remain unmet.
  • Remember Laura and Mary being excited over a piece of candy and a new tin cup? We desire that for our children. (And you know what? Our children are excited and grateful for things that most American children feel entitled to and/or take for granted.)

Gifts for kids

We have a plan.

Each year we purchase two gifts for each of our children.

  • a book or CD that we think they will particularly enjoy
  • a gift of something that they are passionate about – For example, last year Carter (8) received an army hat, boots and canteen, the two younger girls (5 and 7) received princess dresses and Alyssa (10) got a microscope.

Sibling gifts.

In addition, our children draw names and each child purchases a gift for one of their siblings.

Often our children  purchase gifts for more than just their one ‘assigned’ sibling because they know something that sister/brother would love. We love to see their excitement about giving to their siblings.

We shop online.

We do 95% of our shopping online.

  • We don’t have to drive around town, try to sneak gifts into the cart when the kids aren’t looking or have baby sitters available.
  • There is little temptation to purchase items not on your list.
  • You can actually find the items that you’re trying to find.

We don’t worry about money.

I’m not talking about spending more than we have budgeted, but rather not trying to keep what we spend on each child ‘even’.

Our one year old may fully appreciate a $5 set of stacking cups, but we might spend $20 on a pair of binoculars for the 8 year old. The goal is something that our child will use and enjoy, not that the price tag equates with what their sibling receives.

We pass it on.

Our three oldest girls had a fun play kitchen that they enjoyed for years. When they outgrew it, we put it into the attic. After a couple of years our two younger girls were old enough to enjoy a play kitchen, so we pulled it out of the attic, cleaned it up and gave it to them for Christmas.

Again, the goal is to give something that is beneficial and enjoyable, it’s age may or may not matter.

Shopping for others

Gift cards:

Especially useful for family and friends that you rarely see.

Homemade gifts:

Wonderful for kids or adults, homemade gifts have featured in our Christmas’s for years.

Here are some homemade gifts we’ve made:

You may also be interested in:

Here’s how the other Moms of Many manage gift giving:
Smockity Frocks
Life in a Shoe
The Common Room

How do you manage gift giving in your home?



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10 Responses to Large Family Gift Shopping: 4 Moms
  1. Lisa
    December 15, 2011 | 7:20 am

    We do pretty much the same thing. Our kids only get toys on their birthday and Christmas. My hubby still gives me a hard time about making things “even” and then we end up over spending. One thing we changed this year. Instead of the siblings buying gifts for each other, we are doing secret acts of kindness and small gifts(homemade or candy treats). We’ll see how it goes!


    Carolyn Reply:

    ooo, I like that idea, Lisa! Having siblings do something nice for each other as a gift. Gotta keep that one tucked away for next year!


  2. Colleen Walker
    December 15, 2011 | 7:59 am

    We do three gifts for each child…(In honor of Christ’s three gifts) One can be on the bigger size and usually something they need…for example our oldest is going off to college in the fall so she is getting a new laptop…we shop sales and way in advance..


  3. Nicole
    December 15, 2011 | 8:18 am

    We are the same way. I just posted about our children being excited about getting necessities or ‘learning’ stuff for Christmas. I love being able to meet what they need and they are just happy to get new things. I also don’t worry about spending the same on all. They are happy with what they get and I believe it’s from never being overindulged (for any holiday). So thankful to God for giving me appreciative children.


  4. Annie
    December 15, 2011 | 8:40 am

    In our family there are 5 of us and we tend to keep the gift giving at Christmas time down to a minimum and under a nice little budget. My husband and I will generally give 3 to 4 gifts (at most) a piece to each child as we usually get gifts from extended family. The gifts we buy for our children are going to be heavily played with since we buy based on what they REALLY like, not just what’s hot for the season.
    I don’t get caught up in the latest toy fads like the $50 Elmo thing for example just so I can say that we bought that for my child.
    We buy only what we know the kids are really into- our 10 year old son some loves all things military and he likes to build stuff, our 4 year daughter loves horses and dolls, and the 20 month old likes things that roll and toothbrushes.
    Now when it comes to gift giving between my husband and I- we really don’t get eachother stuff to unwrap at Christmas time. It’s mainly based off our personal, practical needs (I needed a new winter coat this year and my husband needed new work pants)So we go together and pick stuff out. We don’t do the whole Lexus or Kay jewelers thing! LOL!


  5. Rachel
    December 15, 2011 | 9:04 am

    Kimberly, I really enjoy your posts! We got several great ideas from your large family gift guide (Citiblocs, Oball, the movie Bella) and posts about helping others around the holidays.
    As a mother to 3 little ones(ages 4, 3 and 6 months), the internet has helped so much in gift shopping. We purchased all but one gift online for our children and although it definitely did not come out even, we got exactly what we knew they would truly enjoy. The only gift that was not purchased online is actually a set of train tracks and 22 train cars that I purchased for $25 from an individual the other day. The lady also gave me 6 brand new batteries to go with the set! Although the train set is used, I cannot wait to see the look on my 4-year-old’s face when he sees it.
    We also purchase gifts online and have them sent directly to my parents who live 600 miles away from us. We plan to visit them and my siblings for a few days before Christmas, but it really helps not to have to travel with a bunch of gifts in our van.
    Basically, we try to keep things as simple as possible. I would love to buy everyone a gift, but as that is not feasible, I plan to send many Christmas cards (I make sure they include the message of true meaning of Christmas) to let friends and family know that we are thinking about them.


  6. Ashley N
    December 15, 2011 | 10:09 am

    Thanks for this discussion! We are slowly downsizing Christmas and I can feel the Spirit in our house much more this year!
    One question: You all may not have to deal with this, but how do you politely ask (well meaning) family members to downsize?
    For example: my in-laws, with my FIL unemployed, are giving all adult couples (5 total) a $200 gift (we declined but shall see…) and being an only child, it comes from my side just as bad!
    So…for the children, how would you handle asking for something small for your child without ostracizing him from the other children who are receiving tablet computers, guitars, etc?
    I would greatly appreciate any advice!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Ashley,

    This is how it works in our home (and everyone’s home will be different). If the grandparents (aunts, uncles, etc.) want to give big to our kids, we let them.

    It is beautiful to give to others and we don’t wish to deprive them of the joy of giving to their grandchildren. We’ve been very thankful for their generosity over the years!

    Our family has been practicing relatively small Christmas’s from the beginning and so our parents often ask if there is something special that the kids would really like for Christmas and will get that for them.

    We have also been clear with them what types of items are unacceptable in our home (mini-skirts, certain DVDs, etc.) and they’ve respected our wishes.

    There have been a couple of years that gifts were over the top, but it was lovely to see our children’s gratitude for the generosity of those who love them.


  7. Christine
    December 15, 2011 | 2:02 pm

    I like the point about not worrying about making the giving “even” between children. That’s something I was thinking about this year, as I contemplated what gifts to give. Our 3-yr old has long outgrown her little toddler tricycle (but still says her little sister can’t have it!), and we were wanting to buy her a little girl’s bike for Christmas. That will definitely be the most expensive purchase we make this Christmas, but I couldn’t justify buying anything for my almost-2-yr-old for around the same price. Especially because she’s content with the smallest things! I desire a small Christmas, just like you described, with our focus being on Christ and serving others in much greater need.
    I think the main issue I have with the season is feeling like I have to perform when it comes to giving gifts to nieces & nephews. Not only are they living in two-income households with parents who love to shop & spend money, but they have far more than what they need. I often feel like I’m needing to spend more on them than I do my own children, and it still won’t be appreciated like it would be with my children.. But the Lord is working that out in me. 😉


  8. Anita Chamblee
    December 16, 2011 | 9:45 am

    We do three gifts for each of our 7 children and do 2-3 smaller gifts in a stocking for the 6 children who live at home. For the older children we generally spend about 100 dollars per year, but this year we are investing in Simple Nooks for three of them. For the younger ones we spend much less. We also have three grandchildren…this year we got them three gifts each…most were on clearance (some of our own kids were as well) and I have a huge box of school activities, books, stickers and fun things for them to explore with their mom. I generally try to shop clearance racks and online specials all year long.


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