Under the Tree

If you will be celebrating Christmas with small children this year, but you don’t want to place too big of an emphasis on the gifts, might I suggest something?

Don’t pile up the gifts too early under the tree for your little ones to gaze at all Christmas season.

What’s easy for an adult to ignore, a child will notice all the time. I want them to enjoy a sense of wonder this holiday, but not always wonder about what’s under that wrapping paper and bow?

I didn’t want it to be bare underneath the tree, so I arranged some blankets and books for them to curl up and read. We’ll bring the gifts out when it’s time to open them because I love giving gifts to my children, but I know if they saw them every day it’s all they would think about.

One of the Christmas books for children that I’m enjoying is Who Is Coming to Our House? The animals get ready for Mary and Joseph to arrive, and they tidy up the barn. I think about it when I’m tidying up the house for the holidays.

What classic Christmas books do you recommend for children? Another idea would be to set up a nativity under the tree, but I haven’t gotten ours out yet this year because I spent practically all of last December looking for the baby Jesus which the kids kept hiding in different places.
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. I love the idea of the books under the tree. So many times our kids did just snuggle under it to look up. The other thing under our tree, though, is a train set from their grandfather, just right for little hands.
    MemeGRL´s last post…MPM–Birthday Bonanza!

  2. What a wonderful idea! We don’t have any particular books read at Christmas time, but maybe it’s because I just don’t remember…my youngest is 15 now…

    We do have a train under the tree in lieu of presents…it’s fun.

    By the way, I’m loving the sneak pics of your new home! :)!
    Sharon´s last post…Christmas Fiscal Fast – Day One.

  3. Great idea! We generally try to slow down the holiday expectations because one of our core beliefs is that lowered material expectations equals greater gratitude and contentment.

    We have a vintage Little Golden Book version of The Night Before Christmas with the kind of charming illustrations that make me think, “Ahhh…” My husband used to read that to the kids before we tucked them into bed every Christmas eve.
    Lori´s last post…Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

  4. my grandmother-in-law has a tradition… she only puts baby jesus in the manger on christmas eve, because until then, he hasn’t been “born” yet. maybe a good way to put up your nativity scene but without the baby jesus hunt? happy holiday season!
    meg´s last post…mindful living thursday: changing the past.

    • I was just going to suggest the same thing…that was always the tradition in our house growing up!

  5. I think playing “where is baby Jesus?” perfectly captures the season of waiting. :)

    Thanks for making me smile.

  6. such a good idea! my parents would put a few gifts under the tree but save tha majority to displayon the coffee table for christmas morning, i love the idea of making it a cozy place to read! i just read The spirit of christmas by Nancy Tillman and loved the story with its subtle reference to Jesus.
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Travel, Tatum, Turkey and Timeless Love

  7. My children have enjoyed this idea. We also use left over Christmas cards and envelopes(not sealed so we can use them again) and put little notes inside with things to do like ” bake cookies and read a book” or “hot chocolate and go see lights”. One child gets to “open” one and that’s our family treat for the day. We started this tradition about 7 years ago when my husband lost his job right before Thanksgiving and we had just moved into our home. Money was extremely tight and buying gifts was going to be impossible. The kids never worried about the gifts under the tree. They were too excited about the envelopes. My oldest is now 17 and all four of them still ask if we are doing the envelopes under the tree before mentioning presents. This year the tree wasn’t even up…so the first envelope was handed to them-”getting the tree”. They loved it.

  8. Not as much to do with the tree, but more with the books. Instead of candy or a treat with an advent calender, she found 24 children’s books related to snow, winter and Christmas — one new one for each day. Sounded like such a great idea!

  9. The books are a great idea! I’ve spent a few years collecting decorative boxes either from gifts I’ve received or Target post-Christmas clearance and usually I put those under our tree. This year I didn’t because I suspect the 2 y/o would mess with them so maybe I’ll do books. I was trying to figure out a good place to store the holiday books anyway!

  10. This is a really interesting idea, Rachel. I’ll be pondering it today. Thanks.
    Shilo´s last post…Thankful for Yellow and Brown Swirl Carpet (and a special giveaway)

  11. I always loved ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. I don’t know who did the illustrations in the book I grew up with, but I can picture them in my mind right now, especially the one for the line ‘tore open the shutters and threw up the sash’. I was always enthralled with the idea that somebody’s house actually had shutters they closed, not to mention being so confused when I learned that a sash was not just something on my Sunday dresses, lol!
    Juliette´s last post…Our Advent Calendar 2011: It Shimmers and Shines

  12. I’ve loved Alabaster’s Song by Max Lucado. Mine have outgrown the story now, but it’s a lovely book! Great idea to place books under the tree. I love the subtle adjutment on the focus of what Christmas is really about.

  13. This is a great idea! We have a train (without the tracks, for my sanity) for my 15 month & 4 year old to play with, but I haven’t put presents due to the destructive powers of the cat & the 15 month old :)

  14. My kids have loved the book One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham. It tells the Christmas story, but starts at the garden of Eden, because if the world needed a Savior that means there must be something that needed to be saved. It sweeps through the Old Testament to lead up to the birth of Jesus. It’s a bit longer, so would probably need to be read over several days, but my kids sat through it when they were around 5. And the illustrations are just stunning. We read this together nearly every Christmas.

  15. We enjoy Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree and Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury a lot!
    Aimee´s last post…Healing and Rest

  16. We do this too! Every year when we get out the Christmas books the kids immediately start begging for “book time by the tree!” There is something about snuggling under the tree with the soft glow of Christmas lights and little wondering eyes!

    I find that packing all our best-loved Christmas books away and bringing them out only during Advent makes them all that much more special!
    Emily Cook´s last post…Prayer of a little lamb

  17. I thought the nativity was supposed to be babe-less until Christmas eve. It could then be part of the going to bed ritual that night. I grew up in a tiny place and the tree stood on a side table. I’m still a little unclear as what Mum did with the stuff that was on the table the rest of the year. There was no room for gifts under the tree and they didn’t come out until Christmas morning from the many nooks and crannies they were hidden in. Mum, however, says that this was because she never had time to wrap them until Christmas eve. Two favourite Christmas books at our house: A Child’s Christmas in Wales with the Edward Ardizonne pictures and Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs which answers the question “what does Santa wear under his red suit?”

  18. I love the books under the tree idea! Santa doesn’t come to our house until Christmas Eve, so the tree doesn’t have gifts for the kids under it, though I sometimes book boxes that come in the mail there, or gifts we have prepared for other people. I have given my kids a Christmas-related book each year since they were born, so we have a nice collection now. We only bring them out this time of year, when we start pulling out decorations, so they get re-discovered each year. One of my favorites is Ezra Jack Keats’ “Little Drummer Boy.” Beautiful illustrations, and I think my little boys can really relate to the boy in the story. (my youngest will often go get his toy drum and start walking and playing around the house). I also love the Polar Express, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and The Night Before Christmas.

  19. We put books under our tree this year too. It was more of an accident than an intentional thing. My grandma gave us several fabric Christmas books last year, and I just threw them under the tree for lack of a better place when I was unpacking the Christmas stuff. But now I kind of like it. And the gifts won’t make it under the tree until Christmas Eve, because I don’t want to test my toddler’s self-control that much.
    Amy´s last post…He asked, I said yes

  20. I love the books under the tree idea, and “Guess Who’s Coming to Our House” is one of our favorites (my 2yo son loves animals!). The only thing I’m doing differently is taking out one book a day rather than all at once. That way each one will get at least one read (instead of reading the same 3 over and over and over and over . . .)
    Victoria´s last post…Yarn Along: Sunshiny Disposition Scarf

  21. We love The Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman. We read one page every night beginning Dec 1. Jonathan looks forward to it every year. Some of our other winter favorites are by Jan Brett. Each year a put out a basket of Christmas/winter books by the couch so we can easily grab one throughout the day.

  22. What an insightful observation. I had never really thought about it but you’re absolutely right. We tend not to get the presents out early because I’m not that organized but now I’ve got another reason.

    My favorite kid Christmas book right now is “The Most Precious Gift” — it is shatteringly beautiful. It’s the story of a boy named Amir who is positioned as a servant in the entourage of one of the Magi. He has no possessions except his beloved dog, whom he (of course) ends up giving to baby Jesus. Makes me weep just typing it. My husband has to be the one to read it because I can’t get through it!
    Kate @ Green Around the Edges´s last post…Advent Unplugged: The Unbreakable Tree

  23. I love the intention behind this post! When I was a child, we didn’t have any presents under the tree until Christmas morning. And I try to do that now with my kids.

    There are too many Christmas books to name just one. When my kids were born, I started a tradition of giving each of them a Christmas book each year. We have a wooden advent calendar, and I put a slip of paper in each box with different activities and discussion questions. One thing we have is an appreciation day for each family member. (We all say what we appreciate about that family member on his/her day.) The person being appreciated gets a small gift, and that’s when the kids get their Christmas book. So, we have a great collection of Christmas books, collected over time. Now my babies are 13, and I love looking at the books and remembering them at those younger ages. I tried to find books that had some connection to who they were that year or what was engaging to them about the holidays at that time. My son–who’s too cool for so many things now–still loves his copy of Deck the Halls.
    Rita@thissortaoldlife.com´s last post…A good enough wall solution:An easy-peasy way to paint a stripe on a wall

  24. Lisa Jervis says:

    The new favorite book in our house is “Mortimer’s Christmas Manger” where a mouse tries to take over a Nativity display inside of a house since his own home is not as nice as the manger he finds. Very cute seeing how he learns who the baby is that he keeps kicking out each day. We will definitely be taking the suggestion of putting blankets and books under the tree this year. Right alongside our Little People Nativity set.
    Lisa Jervis´s last post…Avoiding a post-Christmas Meltdown…

  25. I LOVE the idea of putting a collection of seasonal and Christmas books under the tree rather than gifts! :)
    Heidi of Wonder Woman Wannabe´s last post…A Brief Breather…

  26. Love the idea. There couldn’t be a more warm place to read the books during the holiday season.
    Anu´s last post…Gupta Ji back in town (Right,& He is not in Bangalore)

  27. We just got our our Christmas books and are enjoying them again. A sweet little baby board book is Karen Katz’s Counting Christmas. My very favorite is Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree. Also, the Grinch and the Polar Express are enjoyable classics.
    Church Mouse´s last post…Trimming the Tree

  28. So funny you mention books under the tree: my husband did this last year. Just one day, he pulled some Christmas books from his childhood off the shelf and put them under the tree. So far, I’ve forgotten to do so this year, but as our daughter’s now a book-devouring (in the looking sense rather than eating…mostly) toddler, I really should get them out there!
    MK Jorgenson´s last post…Grumbles and Gratefuls

  29. This is a lovely idea. I would’ve loved to sit under the tree and read as a child.

    Also, a very good sentiment . . . as parents who’ve chosen not to perpetuate Santa Claus stories as anything but just that–a good story–it’s always tempting for us to put the presents out as soon as they’re purchased and wrapped. I’ve never considered how much more special it would seem if they remained hidden until Christmas Day. Thanks for the thoughts: )

  30. My parents never put gifts under the tree until Christmas morning. When we got up on Christmas morning and came into the living room, we would see the gifts under the tree for the first time and wonder whose was whose…there were four of us kids. My husband and I have continued with that and even though our son is in college now, I continue to get up early on Christmas morning to fill the stockings and place gifts under the tree. The trick now is to hide the gifts where they can’t be found. (Hiding gifts in suitcases work great, btw!)

    Judy :)
    Judy @ A Meek Perspective´s last post…How Blessed We Are

  31. That’s a wonderful idea! I remember as a kid it used to drive us crazy wondering what could be in the packages! :)
    Joy @ Artful Homemaking´s last post…Attention Canadians! A Giveaway for You!

  32. I love the idea of books under the tree and although I have never read Who is coming to our house I will be looking for it this Christmas. My son is now 20months so he still does not care about the gifts but next year I will be doing this. Thanks.

  33. http://www.amazon.com/Small-Miracle-Peter-Collington/dp/0375871500/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322854309&sr=8-1 – it was out of print for a long time but is joyfully available again. My handsdown favorite for the simple Christmas message of giving.

  34. Just love this idea…a nativity set it will be for us! No itty bitty ones to make every day a “hide and find” adventure!

  35. We put books under our tree this year as well. I was thinking of putting the girls wooden nativity under the tree as well in the hopes that it would encourage them to play near the tree, but help the littlest not to touch the ornaments.

    I just discovered this book for the first time this year. I really enjoyed reading it for the first time.
    Katie´s last post…leaves, leaves, and more leaves

  36. When I was young in the Netherlands, there were no gifts for Christmas. The children received gifts from Saint Nicholas on December 6th. When we grew up and didn’t believe in “Sinterklaas” anymore, everybody bought one present for one other person in the family.
    Christmas was special because of the midnight mass and the Christmas tree.
    We have left the nativity in the basement, just too much stress for me trying to keep them all together!
    Natacha´s last post…What I wore Wednesday 30/11

  37. Your tree looks so inviting. My parents did not put the tree up and decorate it until Christmas eve. Therefore, no presents to look at, no tree to look at. Our nativity was very old, and the baby Jesus was held by my mother in hiding until we came home from Christmas Mass and then we all 4 children were allowed to put him in the manger. Then we had to line up, oldest to youngest, (I was 3rd) and my Dad led us into the living room to see the tree and gifts. It was exciting for us, but I really missed having the tree for longer, so I put mine up and decorate on the 1st of December. Whatever you do, remember the reason for the gifts is our remembrance of the Gifts of the Magi that night long ago.

  38. Presents weren’t put out until after my Sis and I went to sleep Christmas Eve. I know it was to keep the Santa illusion alive, but even after we knew the truth, it didn’t change anything. Early on Christmas morning it was so amazing to go in and see the gifts under the lit tree and the stockings filled up.

    I love your idea of blankets and books under the tree and almost wish I was a kid again to experience it. It sounds really wonderful. While I’m not a kid anymore, I still love Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory… especially read out loud.
    Stephanie´s last post…I Love Olive Oil Cakes

  39. I like that idea of not putting the presents out until Christmas Eve. It helps keep down the anticipation and lets them just enjoy the moment.

    Putting books under the tree like that and letting them sit there to read is really a sweet idea that makes the decorations part of your everyday surroundings.

  40. vermontmommy says:

    We have a lot of seasonal books that I just put out on our coffee table. I love the idea of them around the tree but we have a puppy that would enjoy them all too much. :)

    This is what I have out within eye sight.

    Dream Snow by Eric Carle
    Snow by Uri Shulevitz
    Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Burton
    A Snowy Surprise by AMy HEst
    Winter Wonderland by DIck Smith
    If you take a mouse to the movies by L. Numeroff
    Christmas Puppy
    winter’s Tale by R. Sabuda
    Get Well Santa by J. Sykes
    Duck and Goose-It’s Time for Christmas
    Snowflake Bentley by J. Martin
    Jack Frost by K. Kohara
    Frosty The Snowman by Richard Cowdrey
    Winter Days in the Big Woods, Winter on the Farm and Santa Comes to Little House – L. I. Wilder

  41. I’m excited for all these great Christmas book recommendations! We only have one, a board book “The Story of Christmas” but I’m going to look for a lot of these at the library and/or find used for next year!

    And I’ve already found baby Jesus hidden IN the Christmas tree twice. :)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Seven Hobbies of a Bookworm

  42. I like your idea of books under the tree! That way they can enjoy the christmas tree without obsessing over presents. Afterall, Jesus IS the reason for the season!:)

  43. Our favorite books are:

    Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki where Santa tells the story of the first Christmas to the woodland animals and corrects them when they are concerned about getting the gifts out for Christmas and he tells them that Christmas isn’t about Santa it’s about Christ being born.

    We also love The Crippled Lamb buy Max Lucado.

    Under our tree are Christmas themed toys that only come out during the season and are put away with the Christmas decorations, like the Little people Santa village, Nativity and of course our huge collection of Christmas books.

  44. I have that book – Who Is Coming to Our House?; it’s a darling story and now that the kids are grown I have it out for the grandkids to read (or listen to). I pack my Christmas stories with my Christmas boxes each year so it’s fun to see them again each year during this time. Another favorite children’s book of mine is by M Scott Peck – The Friendly Snowflake.
    Natalie@OrganizedHabits´s last post…Sometimes We Just Need to Push “Reset”

  45. When my kids were little, I wrapped a quilt around the tree, and we would arrange all the stuffed animals around the tree. The kids also had a little Christmas tree of their own [usually just a branch of a tree]. It was “their” tree that they could decorate any way they wanted. My mom did that with me also !

  46. When I was a child, we would set up the tree with the classic family tree skirt and a porcelain Nativity that had been handed down from my great-grandmother Rose. Presents didn’t arrive until Santa put them under the tree on Christmas Eve! Thank you for the holiday reminder that I can pass on to my little one.
    Kate´s last post…Big life-changing announcements!

  47. Love this idea! I have plenty of Christmas books lined up to read with my toddler but hadn’t thought about putting a blanket and books out under the tree. Thank you SO much Rachel!My toddler will be very happy with this!
    Prerna´s last post…Green and Frugal Gifts for the {Un}Productive Person in Your Life

  48. hey, this is brilliant! I’m going to do this too (provided my inquisitive daughter doesn’t find the gifts in the closet).

    One of my childhood favorites, which my children now love too, is Robin Finds Christmas.
    Margo´s last post…My Newest Baby Step

  49. Great ideas! We love reading Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell. We’ve wrapped up 25 Christmas books, one to be opened each day and enjoyed. It keeps the books in rotation and gives us the anticipation of unwrapping a book treasure each day. Some of the books are gifts from previous years and some were purchased very inexpensively at a used book store. It’s a great way to enjoy some family reading time each day!
    Our Learning´s last post…Advent Book Countdown

  50. Great post! I had been pondering the idea of holding back gifts from under the tree this week–and love the addition of books to make it a cozy spot, too.

    The missing baby Jesus had me cracking up all day; I keep finding the people in my village scene turned in different directions from the way I originally put them–fortunately none of them have gone “missing” yet! :)
    Wendy´s last post…yarn along ~ november 30

  51. I love this idea of making the tree a wonderful place to hang out and spend time instead of making it all about consumerism for the kids. Christmas morning is perfect for the gifts to appear.
    And thank you for the idea of the blankets around the tree…it’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of having to buy a tree skirt!
    Christyn@StrivingforSimple´s last post…5 Reasons Why He Isn’t Proposing To You

  52. My kids always get so excited when I pull down the box of Christmas books! This morning we read “Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree” for the first time, and it’s quite a treat. This year I decided to have a “new” Christmas book (i.e. a great Goodwill find) waiting for them each Friday morning in December so they can unwrap a story and read it together. My kids are a bit older, so we’re also enjoying an illustrated version of “A Christmas Carol.”
    Julianna´s last post…{Our Favorite Christmas Traditions}

  53. huh. I’m used to the site of a bare tree skirt because we NEVER put gifts under the tree when I was younger. Because even when I was, say 15, I still had a hard time leaving the gifts alone. I liked waking up on Christmas morning to piles of gifts that had suddenly appeared under the tree. We never did the Santa thing either, so I knew my parents had put them out, but the suddenness was fun.

  54. We don’t put gifts under the tree until the day our little family celebrates Christmas at home, just to keep the temptation of opening at bay. I do put wrapped ones up on our plant shelves in our stairway as it adds a festive decoration which I don’t have to store all through the year. We’ve also put them on top of our kitchen cabinets. I like to enjoy the colorful paper. Because of such limited storage space and knowing that I would forget gifts hidden in nooks and crannies, I like to have them out as part of the background of our days at home in December.

  55. -The only exception to the ‘no presents under tree till Christmas morn’ rule in my family is gifts recieved from friends. If we see a friend in the week or so before Christmas and are given gifts then we will put those by the tree. It doesn’t seem fair to hide them somehow. Since my children are small and clumsy we still keep our tiny 4foot tree from our first Christmas as a couple. It lives on top of our sideboard to avoid accidents, though my 5year old has helped decorate it for the last few years. Since it’s so small we only need a skirt made of a few pieces of felt to cover the stand. I like the idea of making Christmas books special, I just need to find a way of differentiating an area for that.

  56. Another idea…hand them a bag of fiberfill, some blocks, and their dollhouse furniture or other wee animals, trees, a nativity set, etc., and watch them practically move in. I put all this out on Christmas Eve which can seem so long for kids.
    Sarah´s last post…Martinmas for Older Kids

  57. I so agree with this! I noticed when our children were young that holiday overload happened quickly. I started putting out one decoration a day while they weren’t looking. It was fun to search for what was new each day and instead of focusing on gifts under the tree, we focused on preparing our hearts and home throughout the Advent season.

  58. A great idea – and others have had some nice ones, too!
    There is never anything under our tree in the way of presents because in German-speaking countries, the tree doesn’t go up until the 24th!! When I was a child, the living room doors were locked and only my aunt and cousin were allowed to “help” the Christchild decorate the tree (always in silver!) and put the presents under it; I had to wait until we heard the bell as it flew away and to prove it, the window was always open when we were allowed in, with the church bells ringing… It was very impressive to me as a little girl!
    We didn’t make quite such a mystery with our children, though I often decorated the tree while the family were out on the 23rd or 24th and my eldest “graduated” to helping the grandparents with their tree, a great honour. There is usually some kind of nativity under the tree, an antique one at the grandparents’ but mostly just a Playmobil one under ours so that kids (and now grandkids) can play and understand the story without damaging anything and they enjoy that, along with a basket of seasonal books loved over the years. I never thought of a train but with our young grandson, that would be fantastic ;))
    Instead of having a tree up for months (we have real and it would be bare by Christmas with the central heating!), we celebrate the 24 days of Advent with a calendar and a special book: children from about the age of 6/7 love the daily chapters of Jostein Gaarders Christmas story, which travels both historically, backwards, and geographically in telling the Christmas story – it’s quite a tradition for us! With the younger ones, we have beautifully illustrated books of the nativity and with traditional illustrations of the season.
    MelD´s last post…Advent (3)

  59. What a clever idea! I actually just wrote a post talking about toddlers and trees/gifts and mentioned not teasing them with gifts…I LOVE the idea of substituting books though!
    Erin´s last post…Celebrating the holidays with a toddler, without losing your mind

  60. We don’t usually have our presents under the tree early either, but that’s mostly because we don’t get around to wrapping them until Christmas Eve. But I love the idea of not putting them there on purpose – and for a great reason!

    My favorite Christmas book for children is Mortimer’s Christmas Manger, by Karma Wilson. You must check it out – so sweet. We get it from our library.
    Elizabeth@ReadySetSimplify´s last post…Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway | Week 1

  61. Jo Cooper says:

    We read these books aloud every Christmas, and my sons are now 23, 19 and 17!

    During the holidays:
    Jan Brett, The Wild Christmas Reindeer
    Rumer Godden, The Story of Holly & Ivy

    The night before Christmas:
    Clement Moore, The Night Before Christmas, illus. by Anita Lobel
    The Story of Christmas from the Gospel According to Luke, illus. by Eleonore Schmid

    And speaking of books– a very special tradition of ours is to give each child a birthday book, with a special inscription– so now each child has their birthday library- one for each year of their lives. Sometimes they used to get them all out and line them up. So sweet.

  62. What a good idea to wait on the presents! Some of our favorites are Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree, Christmas Day in the Morning, The Last Straw (about the camel traveling with the 3 wise men),and our newest edition – The Carpenter’s Gift (about the Rockefeller Center Xmas tree). Enjoy!
    melanie´s last post…We Could Win! Happy Haul-idays from Chronicle Books

  63. I like the book idea a lot. We’re doing the same thing by not bringing gifts out until it’s time to open them. We also decided to limit the number of gifts to three per kid/person so we don’t get out of hand this year on gift-giving. Last year we gave our 2-year-old several smallish gifts and he was so overwhelmed by the number of presents that he barely enjoyed any one of them!

  64. This is brilliant. I think I’ll throw some throw pillows under there–the ones that always end up on the floor when we are sitting on the couch. There roughly present shaped, too! I really do want to try to deemphasize material gifts. I actually thought of making it a “FREE” Christmas–all gifts had to be either homemade, gently used, or no additional cost to the giver, or an experience.

    As for books, Santa Mouse is the jewel of my collection. Loved it as a kid!
    Catherine´s last post…Vacation–Canadian Rockies gluten, dairy and soy free!

  65. Love this idea and wish I had done it with my kids. They are too old now for this, but it would have been helpful in my constant struggle to balance the gift giving with keeping the focus on Christ. As for a favorite book it would be The Other Wise Man. I first heard it as an adult short story but found it in a children’s book. I could never get through it without crying!

    Merry Christmas!

  66. Great idea. So practical. I love how you simplify everything.
    Donna´s last post…I Am Seriously Thinking About Starting a Doll Line

  67. Terrific idea. I am dreading getting the tree out for that very reason, thanks for the thoughts.
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…100% Brew-Nique

  68. I love this idea, as a child I always loved coming down in the morning to see the presents under the lit tree, it made it magic for me. We always loved Santa Mouse growing up.

    When I read your first sentence, the first thing I thought of was a tradition my husband and I have started, we don’t exchange gifts with each other but get a membership to an art museum or other local place that we can enjoy all year. When we have kids we plan to do the same for a family gift (we will still do some other gifts as well but hope this will help extend the season a bit.)

  69. My favorite is Tasha Tudor’s rendering of The Night Before Christmas. Still a tradition at our house, now that we’re the grandparents.
    Kathryn Grace´s last post…Ordinary Hero: Teen Emma Sullivan who stood up for her right to free speech

  70. What a fantastic idea! Focusing on the story of Christmas and not the gifts. Love it!
    Bonita´s last post…Square Peg, Round Hole

  71. Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, Barbara Cooney– beautiful book!

    Growing up, we never put gifts under the tree early or made Christmas Lists of things we wanted… I have so many great memories of Christmas, and none of them have to do with gifts.

  72. We have all our holiday books set under the tree, including coloring books and crayons. Plus the assorted holiday related stuffed animals. When the decorations are put away so are they, that way the books and animals are like old friends coming to visit once a year!

  73. Thank you – such a good reinforcement of what’s important this season!