Let me confess this up front: I hate shopping!
My poor sisters used to tell me I was adopted as a child because I was so different from them. Well, here’s another genetic factor that didn’t get passed down to me! They are shopping fools…I would rather eat beets and octopus!
But, even with this genetic challenge in my make-up, we have been able to turn holiday shopping into a family tradition I can live with.
For years we didn’t buy our children gifts; we simply didn’t have any money for it. My parents sent us $30 per child and my siblings and I drew names. Those were the gifts they got. And, from our point of view, that was plenty! They did buy for one another from the Dollar Store; they got 1 gift for one another plus Kevin and me. After my parents died, we began to set aside throughout the year that same amount of money per child and continued the tradition of our family shopping.
The Big Day
After Kevin finishes with finals just before Christmas, we drive to the mall (a 1-2 hour drive as we are in farm country). Then one of the older children takes a notebook and pen and we go into every appropriate store where children say, “I like that,” or “That looks fun!” Each item of interest is written down under each child’s name (with the price and the store it is found in). After we hit all the stores, we go to the food court for an annual splurge of eating out.
During this time Kevin and I sit apart and brain storm over the ‘wish list’, figuring out items for a total price of $30 per child. Then we write a new list of items per store. When the children were young, one of us would then go and dash to the stores, purchasing what we needed per store while the other one took the children back to the van and waited. Now that the children are older, they go to the van themselves or continue to hang out in the food court (depending on how cold it is outside) and Kevin and I split the mall up and tackle the buying.
Generally, all the actual purchasing of gifts takes us 20-40 minutes. We have everything double bagged so no one can see inside and items are stored in the back under seats. At home, Kevin takes them all upstairs and spends the evening wrapping and listening to sermons or music while the children and I watch a Christmas movie downstairs.
Buying for one another.
The day before Christmas, we all go to the Dollar Store. Each child has $10 (used to be $9, but we now have a new brother/son-in-law) and a basket. Those with jobs pay their own way, those without, we supplement. They scour the store for gifts for each other. They check out themselves and are taken (younger ones) or go to the van and store their treasure under a seat. When we get home, everyone finds a place of solitude and wraps. For years, the younger ones were accompanied in the store and gently guided to appropriate gifts – but often those guidings were ignored so Dad got 2 glasses with nose and mustache or Mom got 3 giant candy cane lawn ornaments. One year, our then 18 month old got 4 dog chew toys!! That year was a hoot!!
And the wrapping and name tags attached are works of art! As much thought goes into the name tags for two of our daughters as ever went into the buying the gifts. “Mom squeals with delight when she opens Bekah’s gift!”
As they have gotten older, I assumed they didn’t want to continue this tradition, but everyone (including my 27 year old married daughter) find this one of our best traditions! Only my eldest son chooses to have everyone pool their dollars and buy him a book…but he doesn’t want to the drop the tradition. They LOVE buying their Dollar Store gifts!!
So, for us, shopping is an Event that is a huge part of our fun. And it is all done on one day so I can rest easy and stay out of the stores for most of the holiday season! What are YOUR family traditions for holiday shopping?