I love Christmas. I love the menagerie of gorgeous cards we collect from our friends and family. I even love taking our own photos (thanks to the fact that one of my best friends is a photographer), and I really love carefully picking the perfect card to showcase my favorite shot.
I've gotten picking the perfect tree down to an art form (Fraser fir, eight feet tall, very dense for optimum light and ornament-placement opportunities), and I love decorating that tree with all the sweet ornaments I've collected throughout the years. I light the tree and place my breakable Radko ornaments at the top, then let the kids decorate the bottom with tons of stuffed letter and animal ornaments I've collected from Anthropologie and The Land of Nod. Everyone wins.
I love the preschool programs that my daughter may or may not choose to participate in depending on her mood. I love the extra family time. I love the hot chocolate and candy canes and endless holiday music on the radio and constant holiday movies on television. (Last night I watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for the first time since I've been a parent. What a game changer. I totally get it now, and I might start calling my husband Clark.) I even love the Elf on the Shelf, mostly because it gives me a month-long behavior-manipulation device that on most days actually works with my 3-year-old! That fact alone makes it the most wonderful time of the year!
But there's one part of the Christmas season that I'm just not into this year: the presents. I'm definitely not a minimalist, but since I've become a parent, the amount of stuff that has entered my house has made me admire the position. Hundreds and hundreds of toys, big and small, have slowly overtaken my home, and frankly, I've had enough. I'm stuffed out. I may sound like a Grinch, but surely most of you can relate. Every family get-together, birthday, and insignificant holiday comes with packages for my children. Despite the excitement they bring my daughter (my 10-month-old is still in the "wow, a box" stage), I mostly just feel dread at the additional storage space they'll take up, and frankly, I can't afford any more of those gorgeous Serena & Lily storage baskets.
So I've devised a new strategy. This year the presents will not be in boxes; they'll be lived in the real world (OK, a few are in boxes). First step: book tickets to Florida, leaving Christmas Eve morning. This automatically limits the amount of gifts I can pack, so all the material goods will have to fit in each kids' stocking. They're getting new swimsuits and pajamas (which they need), travel-friendly craft supplies and coloring books, and a few little toys from Santa, who my daughter so heartily believes in that she gave him a two-minute-long hug at the mall last weekend, burying her face in his beard like he was her long-lost grandfather.
And then my daughter is going to lose her sh*t when we reveal her "real" present: a two-day side trip to Disney World, where she's going to meet Mickey, Minnie, Rapunzel, and her favorite, Sofia the First (aka the gang that keeps me sane before my morning coffee kicks in).
Is my new gift plan saving me a lot of money? Um, absolutely not. Have you looked at prices at on-property Disney hotels lately? Mickey must spend his nights swimming in a gold-filled money bin bigger than Scrooge McDuck's. But at the end of the day, I get to come home with a mere carry-on bag's worth of stuff, and that, to me, is priceless.