Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Standardized Christmas List

Hey I’ve been there. I was a young wife, mother of three, full-time teacher, and active in my church. I know the sound of the word “busy.” And the weeks before Christmas seem to be the worse. You have visions of sitting down and enjoying your child’s concert, but your mind is elsewhere. You would love to be able to buy a few gifts for that sweet child on the “Wish Tree” who wrote “All I want is a soccer ball and a coat, but you wonder when you’ll have the time and where you’ll get the money. 

I learned long ago the benefits of what I call The Standardized Christmas List. Here’s how it works and how it benefits you and your family:

1. Recognize that Christmas comes on December 25 every year.Because you know it is coming, you can plan ahead. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Maybe, but I personally know people who act as if Christmas came as a total surprise. One family takes out a loan every December to buy extravagant gifts for their kids. They count on their income tax return to pay back the loan. Buying gifts throughout the year takes stress off of you at Christmastime and helps with your budget.

2. Decide on four or five constant list items for each child you buy for at Christmas.For my girls, I always gave them a book, something musical, something artistic, a game, and something collectible.  With that “list” in mind, I could be on the lookout for those items throughout the year. Allison collected porcelain dolls, Danielle loved music globes, and Kendall collected Cherished Teddies. Since I knew what each collected, I watched for sales. If I met an author of children’s books, I would be able to not only give the girls each a book I could give them signed copies. Something musical could be anything from a harmonica for my oldest to a wind-up musical toy for the baby. You get the idea. With a list of constants in mind, I had at least four or five Christmas gifts for each child before school started in September.
Yep, that's a picture of me with Patricia Polacco. I bought her books for my girls for Christmas.

3. Pick and choose from the “needs list.”The needs list usually included items of clothing. If someone needed a new winter coat and could wear their old one until Christmas, fine. I wouldn’t make them struggle through ice and snow for a month, though, just to have another gift under the tree. But my girls always neededsome sort of clothing. Because they were growing so fast, I bought clothing as close to Christmas as I could. And… because I already had several gifts to put under the tree by then, I had the money I needed to purchase that new sweater or outfit for each of them.

4. Pick and choose from the “wants list.”Kids see it they want it. It’s a given. My children were never greedy but they certainly went through spells of wanting what was trendy or cute even though I knew the trend wouldn’t last or the “cuteness’ wouldn’t continue to hold their interest. Let’s face it, we think that stuffed hippo is adorable, too, but we know that unless the child can’t get to sleep at night without it, it will wind up in the bottom of the toy box or set aside in the corner of the bedroom. That said, if you already have gifts for them you purchased throughout the year, you can cheerfully choose something from the “want list.” Just not everythingthey want.

So why am I writing this now? So close to Christmas? I spoke with a woman at church this week who told me how much she did not like Christmas. She said it was stressful and she was exhausted. She almost didn’t come to the women’s event because she had so much shopping to do and she didn’t take a “wish tree” child this year because she couldn’t afford the time or money it took to shop for one more person.

It may not help you much this year, but January is right around the corner. Time to start planning for next year. I’m serious.

Let me know you're here...Leave a comment or your idea for a stress free holiday!


  1. Great suggestions! I use the needs and wants lists as well as a book and calendar every year. It definitely helps getting shopping done earlier.

    1. I knew I wasn't the only one out there! I actually learned some of this from my grandmother. Every man in the family always received a flannel shirt, a box of candy, and Old Spice. Every Man. Every Christmas.


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