Building Simple Holiday Traditions


It’s a magical time of year isn’t it?

It’s the month that marks the end of one year and the gateway to a whole new year full of new and interesting possibilities.  It’s a time to reflect on the last 12 months and to make goals and resolutions moving forward. It’s really a time of personal reflection for me where I can look back and go-over both the ups and downs 2016 handed us.

This time of year is also marked with established holiday traditions for many people. We’ve got a few  such as not eating meat on Christmas eve and going to midnight mass but above and beyond that we’ve really haven’t built any solid family traditions – especially kid friendly ones. Now that Margs is here, Mer and I feel compelled to start establishing some – things that Margs can look forward to as she grows up.

We’re not big on gift giving in this house. We tend to buy each other a small something or other just so that we can have something to open on Christmas morning – I think last year we set a 10$ maximum. Mer got me a new electric toothbrush and I bought him a set of drill bits. We were both super excited about our gifts because we geek out on stuff like that.

But, how do you find a balance between wanting to give your kid a magical Christmas and not giving in to materialism and sticking to your minimalist goals? The idea of my kid growing up and going to school and telling her friends that Santa brought her nothing because momma doesn’t like to clutter the house makes me anxious. A discussion ensued between Mer and I and I think we’ve come up with a compromise that we’re comfortable with.

This is what we’re planning to do:

  • Santa will bring Me, Margs and Mer one gift each on Christmas morning. The gifts will be found on the front porch in a family Santa bag that I’m working on. I have some real issues with the notion we feed our kids about Santa (technically a complete stranger) wiggling down the fireplace (we don’t have one anyway) and dropping off presents in the middle of the night. In our house, Santa will leave presents on the front porch.  Mer and I will buy for Margs while Mer and I will buy for each other.
  • We’ll buy each other 2 stocking stuffers each which will be the “presents” from mom to baby and dad to baby and baby to mom and dad. Confusing right? We figure that we want Margs to understand that Christmas is a time of gift giving beyond what Santa brings you and to keep costs down and because none of us really needs anything we’ll keep things simple and gift each other stocking stuffers. Edible goodies are on my wish list this year!
  • Preparing a large bag of non-perishables to donate to a local food bank. Last week food basket collection bags were delivered to each home in our neighborhood (this is new to us – where we used to live this didn’t happen) and we’re really exited to make Margs part of the process and to continue donating yearly. We have until the 14th of December to load up our bag with food items, hygiene products and any baby stuff we have laying around. I’m excited to make this an ongoing part of our holiday traditions.

How do you manage to stick to your minimalist beliefs during the holiday season? If you’ve got kids, how do you handle Christmas and gift giving?


Author: Jenny

I'm Jenny, a 30-something mama to 1 living child and 5 angels. I live in a tiny blue cottage in a small suburb outside a major Canadian city. I live here with my miracle baby Margs, my husband Mer, my pup and my 2 cats. I blog about a bunch of different things including parenting, frugal living and minimalism. Feel free to subscribe to my blog and follow me on instagram, twitter or bloglovin.

19 thoughts on “Building Simple Holiday Traditions”

  1. This list is great. I picked up some good ideas. I would say my biggest challenge and what surprised me most after having children is how mine and my husband’s childhood holiday experiences shaped each of us in vastly different ways. He and i see eye to eye on most aspects
    Of parenting, but this one is still a bit of a challenge and something we work through every holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mer and I don’t always agree either. For one, he doesn’t really “get” my issue with Santa. I grew up in a house where Santa was said to drop presents off at night on Christmas Eve. Well, some of my earliest memories are of me eating Christmas Eve dinner with my family and peering down the long hallway to see if Santa had arrived. It made me nervous somehow and for the time being I think it’s best if Margs thinks he drops the presents off at the door. If she questions this or shows any interest in having Santa come into the house then we will reevaluate.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this approach.

    As our ‘baby’ is now a teenager, we buy only the things that she needs or would like (notably, consumables such as make-up or something nice to wear). She will have a watch this year, never having had one before. So, everything will be used and appreciated. I should add that a Terry’s Chocolate Orange always features!

    We have no plans to buy anything for each other, but will probably end up getting a token gift to be able to give each other something to unwrap on Christmas morning. For our grown-up family members, I have bought a small box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates per couple (quality over quantity) and will give the children some money to choose something they would like for themselves. Happy Christmas to you xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you.

      It’s not easy to balance my belief system while also providing my kid with a normalish childhood. I would hate for her to feel “othered” by my choices ya know? So, this is what we came up and we home it works out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I read an article today on the BBC website about how some (British) families are looking to implement the ‘four gift’ rule – with children receiving ‘one you want, one you need, one to wear and one to read’. And I thought – that sounds like a lot of gifts per child, especially if you then add stocking fillers…;)

    In any case it sounds like you’re building traditions around peace and quiet and togetherness. People often associate Christmas with bustle, noise and excess (culinary, familial, commercial, etc) but switching off in the middle of winter and turning inwards is just as lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That does sound like a lot of gifts. Having said that they probably wouldn’t all be want gifts which is by too bad I suppose!

      Do you have the link to the article? I’d like to read it.


  4. I love your ideas, it has become ridiculous at the amount of presents some kids ‘expect’ these days. It is all about how you raise your kids not to be greedy, and to also give back. I like your thinking…

    XOXO DaiseyDropper


  5. I like the donating tradition! I wish I knew more of what goes on in our community like that, but unfortunately I don’t know! I love the idea of being together as a family and making it about love and not materials. I feel like my family usually makes it a lot about gift-giving, at least that’s how my mom has made it out to be. This year we have taken on a new tradition from my aunt-in-law. At Thanksgiving while we were all gathered, we drew a name out from a basket and whomever we picked we buy a gift(s) for that person. The basket only consisted of the adult children, though, so leaving the grandchildren and grandparents out. I’m excited to see how it goes, but I wish it would still be more about being together. The connection in our family seems distant…


    1. Have you tried calling local charitable organization to see if they do a local pick up?

      I also love your new tradition. Hopefully the secret Santa will help shift from the focus from gifts to spending time together.

      Liked by 1 person

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