As inspiration for you Christmas slackers, I am sharing our family’s way of keeping the gift-giving season sane. For the first 10 years of our kid’s lives, Christmas was an event. I strove to fill to overflowing the space under the tree. My husband had memories of mounds of presents from his childhood and I wanted to recreate that for our children. Before you are horrified at our decadence, you must know that until our kids hit double digits in age, they had no experience with store packaging for any gifts, including birthdays. I bought everything for them from garage sales, an easily accomplished feat outside of Utah. So we are not talking about cash value, we are discussing sheer volume.

How much is too much? Too much for us was the Christmas our children attacked the gifts, ripping the paper off, glancing at the present and tossing it aside looking for the next package. There was so much loot that in the end it cheapened all of it. I was horrified at the mini-monsters I created. It wasn’t they were selfish, materialistic kids whinnying about not getting a particular brand of something. It was just that Christmas was a game of excess.

I pondered our Christmas situation for few months, trying to figure out how to change the focus from piles of stuff to valuing the individual gifts. I don’t remember if someone gave me the idea or I read it somewhere. This was pre-internet years, so there wasn’t instant solutions to life’s problems at my fingertips. Since I can’t recall who/how I came up with the game-changing idea, I am giving myself full credit for this spark of brilliance.

Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus was given gifts to celebrate His birth. That is the why of gift-giving at Christmas. But how much was Christ given? The bible tells us that three wise men each gave Him a precious gift. Three gifts. Why would we expect to get more at Christmas than Jesus got? So, to my children’s dismay, we instituted the Jesus Three Gifts Rule. What changed was that I no longer wrapped socks, underwear and little trinkets as gifts. I made sure the three gifts were meaningful. The trinkets were put in their Christmas stockings, and they still got gifts from grandparents and others. It is just that Santa brought only three gifts per child and that was enough.

The change made the whole Christmas season less stressful for me. I could focus on buying things people really wanted, not just stuff that was at a good price and might do. I became excited at finding one awesome thing, instead of trying to fill a room.

I’m sure this is not a new idea. I am positive I stole it from someone else. But in terms of ideas that really work, I have to say this one is at the top of my list.

What has worked to keep your Christmas sane?