A Simplified Christmas

Don’t shoot me for saying the word “Christmas” in October, but blogging has taught me to look at each upcoming holiday far in advance.  Y’all don’t want my Halloween craft on October 30th, after all!

Anyway, can I share a couple of Christmas gift thoughts that I’ve found to be very helpful before everyone starts their Christmas shopping?

3 Wise Men = 3 Gifts

A wise woman told one of my mom’s groups last year that she always gave each child the same number of gifts as Jesus received from the wise men (gold, frankincense, and myrrh).  She kept three beautifully wrapped decorative gifts under the tree to represent the gifts from the wise men all December.  On Christmas morning, they were replaced with three gifts for each child.  I love how this keeps the focus on Jesus’ birth in a season that so often focuses on other things.


We’re so blessed here in America with abundance, and our families are so generous with our children.  I decided to adopt this approach last holiday season, and it was wonderful!  Three gifts from us to our children are plenty to produce excitement on Christmas morning.  For our children, I decided to break down the three gifts this way:

  • One gift from Santa (this is usually the “big” gift)
  • One gift from Mommy & Daddy
  • One gift from sister / brother

So as an example, last year my son received a balance bike from Santa, a tool bucket with play tools from Mommy & Daddy, and a Play Doh set from sister.  Santa also fills the kids’ stockings, which I don’t include in this count.  Three gifts per child keeps things in check for me while shopping, and it also cuts down on the excess.  And I like the chance to build goodwill between siblings by getting them involved in picking out a gift for their sister / brother.

I’m on the lookout for the three decorative “wise men” gifts to keep under the tree, so please let me know if you see any!

Tracking Gifts & Spending

Here I go being a Type A software consultant again, but I create a spreadsheet to keep track of all gifts and how much I spent on each gift.  The grand total at the bottom is the ultimate reality check, too.


This is only a sample of my spreadsheet.  It’s much longer (daunting when nothing is filled in like right now!) and lists all of the family members we give gifts to, white elephant gift exchanges, Christmas donations, etc.  I keep the spreadsheet on my Google Drive, so I can access it from my home computer or from my phone when I’m out shopping.  I also keep a printed version in my purse when I get into the final month of Christmas shopping, since I look at it so often.

If I have an idea for someone’s gift, I’ll write it in the gift column with some question marks after it.  That reminds me later when I’m shopping to look for it.  The best feeling is highlighting a line green once I’ve bought that person’s gift!

I hope you’ve found some helpful tips and ideas, and I’d love to hear your ideas too!  I’m all for enjoying Halloween and Thanksgiving before jumping into Christmas, but I also like to get a little ahead of the Christmas shopping curve whenever inspiration strikes!