You see, we are having an ‘Experience Christmas’ this year.
If you follow my writings over at My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, I’ve had numerous articles published on the why’s and how’s of having such a holiday…. but the one thing I haven’t covered over there? The reality of quitting Christmas shopping cold turkey.
Ya’ll, we have FIVE children. Can you imagine the money we spend on Christmas over here? Let me just show you what our day typically looks like (and this was when there were only 3 of kids)
(This is not including gifts from grandparents and other extended family)
The amount of shit that I donate every year is in upwards of 2 truck beds full. THAT IS INSANE.
I was done. I still am done.
The truth is this: we are upper-middle class, as is the rest of our family. We have the only kids in the family thus far. We all enjoy shopping. (Yes, we donate, too.) But it had gotten out of hand.
This year, we are all heading to Winter Park, CO for a family mountain Christmas. We have some wonderful ‘experience gifts’ planned such as lift tickets, snow tubing, snow scooting (scooters on snow!), and ice-skating. We have broken the meals up by family to cook for each night, ordered cases of wine to be delivered, and made plans to buy a Christmas tree for the rental house.
This all sounds amazing… and it will be spectacular (after my anxiety attack is over), but the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the withdrawals of not shopping for 123,543,255 gifts. (A lot of which were for myself.) It wasn’t that bad until Black Friday rolled around. I am normally Amazon-deep on my shopping by Black Friday. But this year, I purchased a carpet cleaning vacuum because we needed it. That’s it. That’s the only thing I bought on Black Friday.
We had the kids make a list – and then narrow it down several times – and then a few more times…
I purchased all 11 items ( 2 per kid and 2 for the hubby) on Cyber Monday. It was ridiculously uneventful for someone who loves to shop. The same went for our extended family.
And now — now, there is absolutely nothing to do until our trip. It’s driving me MAD. I am deleting 100 emails a day about deals and Christmas coupons. I am avoiding Target like the plague. It just feels so strange. I can’t drink wine and shop at night because we have already spent all the money on reserving tickets for these experiences!
I know this is a good thing. Hell, I’m the one that suggested this whole thing. But hot damn, this is fucking hard.
I like buying random crap – and picking things out at the 11th hour as a last minute buy and crossing my fingers that it arrives on time! Maybe, this year is making me a better person? Probably not, but whatever – I’ll be over here drinking wine and NOT SHOPPING.
I know that my kids will have a blast this Christmas. This isn’t about them – I know that. It’s all about me. And holy shit these withdrawals are intense!
If anyone has (or is) experiencing this too – please come hold my hand….
A few things to note if you decide to plan this next year:
- Book your AirBnb or rental house early in the year so you can pick from all that are available. You want mountain views or shuttle service to the mountain within walking distance.
- Find out if your rental house will be decorated for the holiday (ours will not, and with 5 kids, that is NOT okay…).
- Don’t think you’ll save money. We assumed we could put the kids in ski school, but after seeing the $749 price tag for 3 hours, that quickly flew out of the window. Once you factor in rental, gas/flights, food, a few gifts, and everything you plan to do while on the trip, it’ll play out to be about the same (or more) than previous holidays.
- Having extended family is key to making it feel ‘homey.’ We have built up this trip like nothing else with the kids, but the biggest selling point was having ‘Uncle Willie’ there!
- Don’t forget that you are going to have to pack a SHIT ton of stuff. I am basically in panic mode right now. Packing 7 people’s worth of WINTER clothing, boots and snowboarding gear, an adult and kid’s snowboard, possibly a sled, gifts (only 2 per person!), food, tree decorations, and everything else… for an 8 hour drive…
- You will be away from home. This is a huge consideration! I didn’t think this through well. You have to explain to the kids that Santa will find you; you have to figure out if you are packing stockings or have them filled for when you return… and the of course you have to swallow the whole “Christmas in your own home” feeling because you’ll be somewhere else!
- Make sure that you book an experience for you and your partner. Having something to do for just the two of you will be exactly what you need. John and I reserved lift tickets and rentals at Winter Park Resort, CO and will be snowboarding together for as long as Baby Veda will allow!
- Piggy-backing on #7, make sure that your trip is full of Christmas activities for the kids. Winter Park, CO celebrates Christmas with fireworks and Santa sightings and more – so we are hoping that our kids will love it all!
If you are still reading, I wish you well. I’m not sure what we will do next year, but I am hoping that this experience trip will break me of the obsession I have with holiday shopping, so that next year I can go into the season with different feelings and expectations!