No Gifts for Christmas: Things to Do with Family Instead of Buying and Giving Gifts

Last night I finished all of my Christmas gift preparation! Gifts have been wrapped and are just waiting for Christmas day. However, although it’s fun to give and receive gifts at Christmas–you don’t need gifts to have a wonderful Christmas. As my siblings and I have grown up, some being married and have children now, we have changed the ways in which we approach gift-giving at Christmas. We all seem to agree that Christmas is less and less about presents and more about quality, special time together. My whole family is probably all together only about once a year and so our time together has become one of the most precious gifts.

Today I’m giving you some ideas for how to celebrate Christmas with your family (and/or friends)–without having to have gifts involved.

Go on a trip together

The Christmas before my oldest sister was married, my family went on a skiing vacation to North Carolina. We rented a huge van and road-tripped all the way from Oklahoma. That was also the year that we each had portable, personal DVD players (anyone remember those?). Although the majority of the road trip was probably spent watching 5 seasons of Gilmore Girls, I still remember that experience and it was so much fun. Once we arrived at our destination, we checked into our cabin rental that overlooked the mountains and the ski lodge. We cooked food, watched movies, and prepared to go skiing the next day. The weather was so warm that the ski resort had to create fake snow–that was interesting to watch! Once there was enough “snow,” we headed out and had a great time. Who knew skiing in t-shirts wouldn’t be so bad? Haha! I’m so thankful for that time we had together before the dynamic of our family changed. We have been on trips together with my brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephew since then–and it just keeps getting better. Why not save and invest in a family vacation instead of buying gifts? I highly recommend it!

Make and serve a meal to a family in need

Last year my family and I made some meals for the families of patients at our local hospice house, instead of doing gifts. I loved being able to do that for some of our local families who were experiencing grief, loss, and sadness during what should be one of the happiest times of the year. We weren’t able to personally meet any of the families, but it was an awesome experience to know that we helped to take care of them in a small way during Christmas. There are so many other ways you can help others during Christmas and it doesn’t have to even be a grand gesture–anything, no matter how big/small, helps!

Have a family night

Instead of gift exchanging, have a day/night just for family fun! You could bake cookies, make hot cider, play board/card games, watch Christmas movies, drive around and look at Christmas lights, make a bunch of Dubsmash videos, etc, and just focus on spending time together. My most favorite memories are definitely of my parents, siblings, grandchildren, and pets all housed up together and it being just wild!

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Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas

Only 20 more shopping days until Christmas! If you’re done shopping–way to go! If you aren’t done yet–remain calm and have no fear! Over the last few years, my family has changed the way we exchange gifts and, to be honest, it’s actually taken a lot of the stress away. However, I always like stocking stuffer gifts and the process of filling the stockings. If you are doing stocking stuffer gifts this year, I have a list of gift ideas in case you need some inspiration. I also have a blog post coming out on Friday with alternatives for gift-giving, so make sure to read that one.

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For Kids

-Socks (I think silly socks or fun patterned socks are way better)
-Books
-Subscription services (ie. Highlights magazine)
-Chapstick
-Gloves
-Lego
-Hot Wheels
-Games
-On-the-go cups
-Fun patterned Band-Aids
-Rubber duck
-Milk straws (you can find these on Amazon but they are straws with flavor pods inside and they turn milk into different flavors)
-Silly drinking straws
-Gift cards
-Candy

For Her

-Essential oil blends
-Candles
-Tea
-Coffee
-Socks
-Nail polish
-Subscriptions (i.e. Birchbox, magazine, etc)
-Jewelry
-Wallet
-Hand cream
-Mug
-Chocolate
-Gift Cards

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For Him

-Pen
-Graphic print t-shirt
-Shaving kit
-Beard oil
-Movie
-Coffee
-Yeti (or similar insulated coffee mug)
-Socks
-Gloves
-Gift cards
-Beef jerky
-Candy
-Watch

For Friends

-Passport cover
-Sunglasses
-Coffee mugs
-Coffee
-Novelty print socks
-Gift cards
-Candles
-Snacks
-Photo gifts

Basically, I don’t think you can go wrong with getting anyone socks, haha! These are the main things that I think would be great to gift as stocking stuffers. I hope this list was helpful to you if you are trying to figure out stocking stuffer gift ideas! If I am forgetting any ideas that you like, make sure to comment below what they are. I hope you are having great December and that you’re enjoying the Christmas spirit!

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For the Thankful Heart

Happy Thanksgiving week my friends! Today I am sharing some scripture with you and giving thanks to the Lord for the blessings in my life. God is so good and it’s my prayer that you know that and Him. I am thankful for each of you who read these posts and support my blog. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

I am thankful for my parents–their love for each other, their love for God, and how they love their children. I am thankful for my sisters and my brother–they truly are my best friends and we love each other so much. I am thankful for my brothers-in-law–they are each different but they hold very special/specific places in our family and have been supportive in so many ways. I am thankful for my nephews and nieces–they have completely changed my life and have taught me so much about love. I am thankful for my extended family and opportunities to re-connect with cousins–they are some of the most special people in my life and I am so glad they are family.

Psalm 30: 4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.

I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for the ones who live far away and how wonderful it is to pick up right where we left off. It’s really hard to be so far from some friends–but I am thankful for times to be together. I am thankful for my local friends and how they are a part of every day life. I am thankful for friends to laugh with, cry with, pray with, celebrate with, travel with, and simply go through life with.

Psalm 1:9 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I am thankful for the small moments when I feel God’s presence. I am thankful for the big moments when God reminds me that He’s in control. I am thankful for the ways this year that God worked in my life and my family’s life. I am thankful that God never leaves me alone. I am thankful that God is so much more powerful and loving than I can ever fathom. I am thankful that God wants to know me.

Psalm 86:12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Your name forever.

I am thankful for technology and the abilities we have to work, create, and communicate through the internet and devices. I am thankful that technology connects us to people who live far away. I am thankful for work and the skills God has given me. I am thankful that God has called me to my specific field and that He sustains and directs me through my career.

Psalm 118:28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to You; You are my God; I will extol You.

I am thankful for food. I am thankful for the ability to travel. I am thankful for Celiac Disease research. I am thankful for days that I can sleep in. I am thankful for safety. I am thankful for design and art. I am thankful for memories.

Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.

What are you thankful for?

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Black Friday Traditions

Black Friday is next week and I’m really excited for that day. I’m not excited because of shopping and sales, but because of a Black Friday tradition my family and I have done for probably close to 15 years. Each Black Friday morning, we sleep in a little bit, throw on comfy clothes, and then meet up at Utica Square in Tulsa for coffee and shopping. Utica Square is located in mid-town Tulsa, OK and it’s such a gem to the community. The Square is an outdoor shopping center that houses stores like Madewell, Gap, Loft, Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Kendra Scott, Starbucks, etc. It is so beautiful there around the fall and the holidays! On Thanksgiving night, the Square has the tradition of gathering people there to watch as they turn on the Christmas lights–that is such a fun event to go to also. Utica Square just holds a special place in my heart because of the memories, it’s a great place to take a walk, it’s where I take the majority of my blog photos, and because it always makes me so excited for the holidays.

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Maybe I’ll see you there on Black Friday! What are some of your Black Friday traditions?

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How to Enjoy the Holidays: Savoring vs. Stressing

I can definitely tell that the holiday season is upon us. How do I know that? Because I feel like people are already going crazy. I went to run some basic errands over the weekend and happened to be in the vicinity of a shopping center–it was already packed and people were driving around like crazy people! So to that I say–“everyone can we please just calm down.” The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year and I really want to enjoy them instead of dreading them. I have some tips to share with you today about how to savor the holidays and not stress over them. These tips are just as much for me as they are for you and I hope they help in some way.

Make your plans early

Have a general idea of where you’re going to be spending the holidays and who you will be spending them with. I know this one of probably a no-brainer but I think having a plan early helps so that you’re not trying to figure it out last-minute.

Make this the year you get all your shopping done early

I think last year was the first year in a while that I had my Christmas shopping done before the week of Christmas. This year I have set a goal to have all my shopping done by December 1st–that way I can just enjoy the rest of the month and be prepared.

Watch all of the holiday movies

One tradition that I have, with my mom, is to watch all of the Christmas movies available. This means Hallmark, ABC Family, old classics, etc.–we watch them all, even if they’re dorky. I think this is a fun tradition to have and it’s something that I enjoy during the holidays.

Enjoy the company of others

I love doing festive things with people during the holiday seasons! If you do too–go ice skating, drive around and look at Christmas lights, have a “Friends-giving,” have a holiday movie night, bake together or make Christmas cookies, dress up fancy and go see the ballet, etc. There are so many things you can do this time of year to enjoy the company of others around you.

Reflect on what the holidays are all about

I think that this point gets missed a lot because of the crazy and business of the holidays. But seriously, take some time to reflect. As much as we tend to think this, the holidays are not about us. Be thankful for so many things in your life and count your blessings. Reflect on the meaning of Christmas and savor the truth of Christ’s birth. I think this tip might be the most important thing to take to heart during the holidays–I know I’m going to try to be better at it this year.

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks and months of celebration and I hope you are too!

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