Our Simplified Christmas

I can’t really remember when the Christmas madness started in our house, but there’s one particular year that sticks out as the ‘what the hell were we thinking’ year. Armaan was almost 5 and Zara was about 16 months old, and Mr. T and I lost our minds shortly before Christmas, and bought one of everything at Toys R Us.

family christmas

It was the first year that we were shopping for boys toys and girls toys (I know that’s not a politically correct thing to say but I don’t care) and we got totally carried away in the excitement of wandering the Barbie section. Our little living room was flooded with toys and it took me days to get rid off all the wrapping paper and packaging. We added stress and clutter to our lives and set a horrible precedent.

Luckily our kids don’t really remember that year and we’ve been able to reign in our holiday shopping impulses since then. In recent years we’ve gotten two gifts for each kid, Santa has gotten them two, and sometimes we buy them a gift to share. Oh, and we fill their stockings with too much stuff they don’t need. The problem is; when you add in the gifts they get from family and all the stuff they bring home from school, it’s just too much stuff!

pink chai christmas

 Since I’ve spent so much time over the last few months purging extra stuff out of our house, I’m determined not to let clutter take over this Christmas, so we’ve made a radical change in how we do our gift exchange. Each family member will buy a present for one other person, and fill one other person’s stocking:

Dad – buys a gift for the boy, fills mom’s stocking
Mom – present for the princess, stocking filler for Mr. T
Armaan – splurges on a gift for mom, stocking stuffer for Z
Zara – official gift giver for Dad, and stocking elf for Armaan
{We are expecting Santa to bring the kids one gift each also}

I was totally expecting the kids to be disappointed about this new gift exchange set up, but they didn’t seem affected at all. We all went out last weekend and picked out all of our gifts on one day – I even had them wrapped at the mall! {I wasn’t kidding about simplifying Christmas!} It is such a relief to know our living room won’t be taken over by ‘stuff’ on Christmas morning. As an added bonus we were able to splurge on one special gift for everyone instead of lots of so-so gifts.

stocking partners 2

 The kids were so accepting of the new “gift rules” that I decided to take it one step further. I called my sisters last weekend {I have 3} and said – why don’t we just skip gifts and have a holiday dinner at Mom’s like always. They all agreed! In fact, I think my two sisters with kids were equally relieved that their houses won’t be filled with packaging and a bunch of new stuff after the annual family dinner. Once again I went back to the kids a little nervous to tell them that not only are they getting less gifts at home, but no gifts an Nani’s house. There was a moment of stress on their faces and then they just let it go. So simple!

Now we are taking some of the money we are saving and making a donation of much needed baby items to the food bank this holiday season {the kids are going shopping for the items with Dad}, and this mama is going to put her feet up and rest in a semi clean living room on Christmas morning. {I might even make Christmas paranthas!}

Are you doing anything to simplify Christmas this year? I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions, go ahead leave a comment and join the conversation.




  1. December 16, 2014 / 10:35 am

    Love these ideas, Raj! I think you struck the perfect balance of gift giving with what this holiday is really about – other people! 🙂

    I’m not a huge gift giver myself (my poor husband) but we are going to do a little shopping and create an experience out of it. I’m sure this will change a bit when we have kids, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the simplicity of it all!

    • December 17, 2014 / 9:21 am

      The older I get, the more I value simplicity in my life!

  2. December 16, 2014 / 11:22 pm

    I remember going through this when we were kids – my parents and aunts/uncles decided it was too much to buy presents for all the cousins, so we just stopped. I was old enough to understand what it meant, but it never impacted how awesome Christmas was every year. Later on we stopped with the endless platters of snacks/hors d’oeuvres before dinner, because again, it was just excess that no one needed. And now that I’m and adult, I honestly can’t even come up with Christmas wish lists very easily, because there is nothing I *need* and I’m so not into the clutter of “stuff” just for the sake of getting a present.

    • December 17, 2014 / 9:21 am

      Thank you for sharing your experience Marianne! It makes me feel so much better about my decision 🙂

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