When we changed the way we do Christmas + printable tags

Six years ago we changed the way we did Christmas. We first began because we had recently brought home some of our adopted kids and felt burdened to just tone-down the excess in life. And in Christmas.

We wanted to be more intentional in our gift-giving with the kids, not simply buying something because they might like it…and then purchase something else because it was on sale and they'd mentioned it once…and then finding another little gift in the back of the closet, saying “Oh yah! I forgot I bought that last year.” You get the idea.

That's how we gave gifts to our kids before switching gears. Can you relate??

For several years in a row we've done the Four Gift Rule. You may have heard of it: Something you Want . Something to Read . Something to Wear .

And last year we switched from Something you Need (because, truly...they have all they need) to instead, Something we'll Do.

This particular gift is a favorite for our kids because we get to do fun one-on-one dates that are right up their alley.

Things like, dinner at a fancy restaurant, tickets to a monster truck rally, heading downtown for the Art Walk, having our nails painted at a nice spa, going to the theatre, or an afternoon at an arcade.

Every family has to be deliberate with dates with their children, and with a family of eight like we do, it takes major intentionality. It's important to us though, so we make one-on-one time happen throughout the year. These Christmastime dates are just a little bigger...a bit more special than simply having hot chocolate and croissants at Starbucks.

The Want gift is probably the hardest to purchase, believe it or not. I think it's because my husband Ben and I have to brainstorm together in finding hands-down, the one gift they want more than any others. It forces us to really know our children and their likes and interests at this exact moment in their lives.

Another of our Christmas traditions circles around giving to others.

One way the kids get excited about this is through World Vision. Right around Thanksgiving, a catalog arrives in our mailbox, each page filled with the possibility of enriching a family's life in a third-world country.

We have the opportunity to purchase animals, fruit trees, honeybees, or even fishing lessons that will not only better an individual, but will likely change an entire community (you can also do this via by clicking here).

We've done this for many years now (we also do it every birthday) and generally, our children decide on a goat because our son Ezekiel had one when he lived in Ethiopia. He often tells us how important that little animal's milk was for them...both for he and his sister, as well as using it as an additional source of income for his widowed mother. Now that we have teenaged Abreham however, he tries to sway his siblings toward one of his favorite animals, because his family owned a farm. So pigs, cows, and chickens are also thrown into the discussion.

Our children obviously love the idea of giving an animal or soccer balls for a school...but there are other opportunities that grip my heart even further.

Care for girls and women, safety for vulnerable children, an insect shield blanket, or building a Ger for a family who lives in 50 degree BELOW zero temperatures in Mongolia. It's so easy to forget all the need around us - both here in our own backyard, as well as abroad.

Our kids work together and decided together how they would like to make a difference in the lives of another family or community. It is them that make the final decision on whatever gift they want to bless others with. I love how empowered they feel by it.

We hope our kids understand that Christmas is about Jesus and not piles of presents, as well as seeing what an incredible impact they can have in the world…even long before they're grown.

Don’t let anyone belittle you because you are young. Instead, show the faithful, young and old, an example of how to live: set the standard for how to talk, act, love, and be faithful and pure.
— 1 Timothy 4:12

How do you keep from letting excess creep into your home during Christmas?

Take Joy,


P.S. if you want to use these tags for your own gift-giving, head to The Library to download them!

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