I was just scanning my Google Reader before getting ready for bed and as I read D's thoughts on being financially skinny during gift-giving times, I thought I'd post on the subject as well.
Not only do we not have the fundage for big parties and lots of gifts, but we don't have the room to house the said gifts. We keep our kids' birthdays simple with family parties and a couple of gifts from us. Sometimes we have a friend or two over, but we still keep it simple. Oh, and we don't do overly practical gifts, but we don't do frivolous stuff either. We try hard to keep all gifts we give meaningful & useful to the receiver.
Christmas is a bigger deal-not that we buy more for our kids, but that it's even more important for me to keep it scaled down. Two years ago I counted up how many people usually give our kids gifts. Then I multiplied that by how many children we had at the time (4) and the total was about 60 gifts. Sixty! All of which have to go in ONE bedroom!
After she picked her jaw off the floor, my mom thankfully responded very well and has worked hard at coming up with gifts the girls like that don't take up much space-their favorite magazine subscriptions, for example. Last year she bought them each a cool beach towels-which they needed, but again they didn't take up much room.
Other family hasn't been so responsive. They have the strong opinion that kids need the thrill of opening lots of gifts, even if the gifts aren't especially needed, age appropriate, or in line with the decor or themes of our home (especially their room). I struggle with this, but I know their hearts are pure...they love our kids and want to bless them. They struggle with our minimalist giving so I guess we're even :)
With 60 gifts pouring in for our kids-more this year since Audrey will get some-what do we buy for our kids? Next to nothing! Aren't we terrible?!
We do some stocking gifts, and about 3 gifts a piece under the tree. The three gifts are of good quality, they are probably something the girls have asked for like books, games, or movies. I also try to do something sentimental. One year I did homemade aprons for each one, sometimes it's matching clothes...and then there's the Daddy Gift-he picks out one great gift, something like what Santa might bring. That's it-which is fine since even the stuff we get them gets lost in the pile of presents from everyone else.
One thing we try not to skimp on is gifts to each other. I know there are different ideas on this topic, but Shane & I have always bought each other gifts. We don't buy ourselves a lot during the year, so we save up those special purchases for Christmas. We still keep it simple, just a few items but with much thought and awareness of what the other one would be blessed by. We see it as a tangible statement of our love for each other displayed in front of our children. We all open gifts one at a time (at our home, not everywhere we go, much to our regret). We savor it and it takes a LONG time to do our 3 or so gifts each. We love it this way! We really want to see if the receiver likes our gift, we tell the story of how we picked it out, simply enjoying the process of loving on each other through gift giving.
So, is that frugal? I don't know...we don't charge our gifts, we try to use cash only. We keep it within a budget and we shop sales. We do homemade gifts when appropriate. We don't buy our little babies much-they don't know!
So, how do you do frugal gifts? Do you throw caution to the wind and do a big Christmas no matter what?