A Large Family Christmas

Large Family Christmas {tips and tricks for keep the peace and focus amidst the chaos} | RaisingArrows.netIt was Christmas that made me want to have children.

And it was Christmas that made me want to have a lot of children.

OK, so it wasn’t totally Christmas all by itself that put these ideas in my heart and mind, but isn’t it grand how God changed my world using the celebration of an event that changed the whole world?!

The Christmas after Ty and I were married, we visited Ty’s cousin on Christmas Eve as he and his wife were wrapping presents for their 3 sleeping girls and readying themselves for the Christmas Day festivities.  Ty’s cousin’s enthusiasm was contagious.  He was talking excitedly about Christ’s birth and his precious children, and I could not help but want to recreate that in my own home with my own wonderful husband.

Years later, we would meet a family whose Christmas celebrations with their 5 children made me long for the clamor and excitement and fellowship of a large family Christmas.  I was convinced large families had more fun (and frankly, I still think that is true!).

So, here we are today with the Christmas season being my most favorite time of year and my family being such a wonderful part of our celebrating of Christ’s birth.  I truly enjoy this time of year and feel a sense of peace surrounding the entire month of December.    But, I know not all of you feel this way.  Many of you are stressed beyond belief and really do not enjoy Christmas.  So, while this post is aimed at cutting the chaos for a large family, even a small family can benefit from the tips I’m about to share.  Time to put on the Christmas music, grab a mug of my festive hot punch, and let an attitude of peace wash over you as I share with you SIMPLE and SPECIAL ways to truly enjoy your large family Christmas celebrations.
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Simple Activities
When it comes to large families, LESS is always MORE.  The more children you have and the older they get, the greater the potential to keep cramming your schedule fuller and fuller of activities during the holidays.  Do your very best to limit the number of actual activities you HAVE to go to and allow yourself the luxury of saying NO, even if you have to do so last minute.

And keep the activities themselves simple.  Sure, you can fill your Christmas Pinterest board full of fun crafts and expeditions for the season, but don’t go overboard!  Don’t pick out elaborate crafts you are never actually going to complete or that will totally stress you out as you do them.  Simple crafts are just as fun and a drive around the neighborhood looking at lights is just as exciting as the fancier projects and events.

Special Activities
Do choose a few special activities you really want to do with your family.  Ask for your children’s input.  You might be surprised by the things that really stand out in their minds as important.

Ideas:
Jesse Tree devotions
A themed night based on a special movie
Candy-making (and giving some away)
Cookie-making (and giving some away)
Visiting a nursing home
Buying a family gift from Compassion International
Taking a trip to a Christmas Tree farm
Attending a Christmas concert
Simple Christmas crafts (<–ebook full of ideas from another large family mom!)

Easy Christmas Crafts ebook

Simple Shopping
Almost all of my Christmas shopping is done online these days.  We have Amazon Prime so I know I can shop in snippets and have it here in 2 days with free shipping.  While avoiding lines and chaos has proven to be a tremendous sanity saver, I want to spend more time talking about the actual gifts themselves.

When you have a large family, it doesn’t take much to overrun a house with too much stuff.  Let’s be honest, you can suggest and try to persuade extended family members to not buy a lot of stuff for your children, but ultimately, you cannot control what they do.  However, you can control how you handle gifts for your children, so keep it simple!

There are several methods for keeping it simple including setting a limit on how many gifts you will buy, a price limit on what you will spend per child, or even choosing one big family gift and only one individual gift.  Every family will need a different method to avoid the clutter and craziness, but whatever method you choose, be sure to make it as easy as you can on yourself.

This time of year is NOT about the presents, but the more time you spend stressing over gifts, the more your children will begin to believe it IS about presents.  Do not let gift-giving steal your joy.  It is representative of the gift of Jesus and the gifts brought to Jesus by the wise men.  So, with that in mind…

Special Shopping
We do not set gift limits or price limits.  We are not looking to make things “fair” and we are not planning to make their every wish come true.  We choose to use this opportunity to truly bless our children.  We give things that are specific to each child and their uniqueness, but still promote family unity.  For instance, we combine many gifts between children (like these wooden blocks for my little guys), we look for gifts that will help to further individual aspirations while benefiting the family (like this digital camera lens for my photographer daughter), and we tend toward family gifts (like this projector for Family Movie Night).

When you purchase gifts for your children keep in mind WHY we give gifts at Christmas.  Honor the one true GIFT with your purchases.

manger-69225_640

Simple Rules
Sometimes the chaos of a large family Christmas happens when there aren’t any rules to regulate the chaos.  Where are your trouble areas?  Where does craziness reign supreme?  Those are the places that need rules.  But always keep the rules simple so everyone can remember them.

Maybe you need a rule for WHEN the children are allowed to get up (I once heard of a family who required the children to wait until the digital clock looked like a “snowman” – 8 o’clock – before they were allowed to come down from their rooms.)

Perhaps you need a rule for the opening of presents.  (We hand out one gift at a time and open that one gift before handing out the next one.  And only Mommy gets to hand out gifts while Daddy is in charge of helping with any unwrapping needs.)

You might even need a rule for clean-up.  (Many large families find it helpful to require a quick tidy and trash run before breakfast is served.)

Special Rules
Sometimes we need to make special rules based on special needs within the family.  Rules are great, but they should never replace common sense and attentiveness to the needs of others.  It is difficult for little ones to wait, so you might need to consider letting them open presents first.  Children with sensory issues may need a break in opening of gifts, so consider having a mid-gift breakfast.  One large family “rule” that has come about for our family in the last several years is needing to stay home for Christmas morning.  It is just too much for all the children and for myself to be somewhere else on Christmas morning.

Simple Gatherings
Throughout the season and especially as we draw near to Christmas Day itself, keep your gatherings as simple as possible.  If you must do a meal, gather for dessert or soup or finger foods.  If you have a busy week, don’t hesitate to pick up something pre-made from your local grocery store.  Use paper products to make clean up simpler.  Utilize your crock pot.  Get your children in on the action too with planning, cleaning and cooking!

We’ve also gone to streamlining our gift-wrapping by only having two kinds of wrapping paper (we buy quality paper from Hobby Lobby!) and raffia as ribbon.  And rather than tags, I use a gold paint pen to write the names on the packages.

Special Gatherings
I’d encourage you to do one simple thing that makes each gathering special.  Perhaps you have the children create unique place cards, or you put together a bag of goodies in a brown paper sack with ribbon to secure it, or you simply light yummy candles and turn the lights down, or sing Christmas hymns on your way to the gathering.  Even just talking about what you are doing in a way that is positive and peaceful can make an event feel special.

Simple {and Special} Hearts
As we go into the final stretch of the Christmas season, now is the time to focus your hearts on Christ and the culmination of this blessed Christmas Day in simple and special ways.

Every Christmas Eve our family celebrates with a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service I put together several years ago.  I offer that service free to subscribers of Raising Arrows, so if you would like to print a copy for yourself to share the Christmas story in Scripture and song, all you need to do is sign up here:

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Be blessed and be a blessing this Christmas. Don’t let chaos take over, but rather let peace reign.  You never know who might be watching you and how God might use your family and your Christmas celebrations to prick the hearts of others!

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3 thoughts on “A Large Family Christmas

  1. I have started serving hard boiled eggs, dried fruit, and nuts for Christmas breakfast. Serving an easy breakfast makes it easier to focus on preparing food for our big Christmas lunch, it makes lunch that much more special after a “spartan” breakfast, and it’s more like what Mary and Joseph would have eaten on their journey. I want to remind the family that Mary and Joseph weren’t given a feast and fancy presents and weren’t surrounded by family and friends on that first Christmas. Thanks for the reminder to keep it simple so we can focus on Jesus and our blessings.

  2. I miss the days of being able to require everyone to be home for christmas morning–it’s just not possible when they get older and get jobs! :(