The Aunt Trap (or, Christmas for Kids Who Aren’t Yours)

In the midst of all this packing, my husband and I have also been trying to figure out what to do for our families this Christmas – seeing as we’re trying to save money and get rid of more possessions than we’re comfortable with, it’s kind of nerve-wracking to go Christmas shopping.

However, here’s the situation (it’s most certainly not a problem, it’s actually quite a blessing): I inherited six small nephews when I married my husband. Like, small enough to not fully understand the impact of getting rid of all our “grown up” things and moving across the country. Small enough that we want to give them gifts that will awe them. All of them are under 11 years old, and precious as can be.

When my husband and I have kids, we’re definitely going to try and keep Christmas low-key and focus more on family time than on presents (this I say now, years away from having kids). But what do you do when you don’t want to force your lifestyle on half a dozen young children that aren’t yours?

I’ll admit, we caved. But it brought up some very interesting conversations.

What we did

Birthday Toy

Yep, that’s a Nerf gun for Zombies.

My husband’s godson just turned 4 this week, and we wanted to find something he’d be able to enjoy now. And we also wanted to start making more of an effort to recognize the nephews’ birthdays.

So, we spent an overwhelming amount of time at Target (which is anything more than 15 minutes for me these days), where I paced the aisles and wondered aloud, “how long will these toys even last? Junk! It’s all plastic junk! Why do we do this to ourselves?” I’m sure my husband was pleased with that…

After deciding on a Nerf gun for the little guy’s birthday, we decided on books for Christmas. I know books aren’t usually the “dream gift,” but they fit into our budget and I at least knew that they’d get something of value from it (let’s be honest: I enjoyed the heck out of my Captain Underpants book, and I still got a kick out of paging through the one we got for our nephew).

We’ve also been playing Where’s Waldo, another of the books we got for our younger nephew. Two “grown” people, loving the heck out of a book made for children. I love it.

What we’ll do next time

So next year, we’ve decided that we’re going to plan ahead. Books are still a viable option, especially if we’re still on a budget (and again, a moment of honesty: we’re going to be living in LA, so we’re most likely going to be watching our expenses). But hopefully, time and money restraints considered, we’ll be able to offer more “experience” gifts than material ones for Christmas.

I’d love to take the boys for a day of tobogganing and hot chocolate at a nearby state park. I’d love to get them games and learn with them. Maybe spend a day volunteering with them. Heck, I’d even take them to a movie. Something that gives us time with them, especially since they’re all starting to grow up so fast.

Plus, I want to be a cool aunt that’s present – get it? Present? – and memorable.

What we won’t do, though, is get super preachy about consumerism and waste and all that good stuff, because lifestyles should only be shared openly, not forced. Kind of like a vegetarian coming to Thanksgiving dinner and forcing everyone else to eat tofurky – don’t do it. It’s your choice, let them have theirs.

Holidays for minimalists

What the rest of our Christmas looks like

This year, we’re forgoing Christmas gifts for each other, with the intention that furnishing our new apartment will be our gift to each other! I’m getting overwhelmingly excited for our new adventure (which begins exactly one month from today).

For our parents and families, we’re making candles and getting wine. Who doesn’t love wine, and how fun/dangerous does first-time candlemaking sound?

When it comes to asking for gifts, we’re simply reminding everyone of our upcoming journey, and not requesting anything specific. Ultimately, we just want to go home and play games and spend quality time with everyone before we take off. And drink wine.

What does your Christmas look like? Do you have suggestions for us and our nephews for next year?

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5 thoughts on “The Aunt Trap (or, Christmas for Kids Who Aren’t Yours)

  1. I Spy books! I seriously loved doing them as a kid, and they were even more fun to do with a parent or other relative. I love your idea of having something special you do with them every year, a cool aunt tradition!

    • Oh my GOSH yes! We picked up one of those at the library the other day so Victor and I can go through it together. The boys would absolutely love those! We’ll have to swap aunt-tips 🙂

  2. E! What a nice experience (I have fond memories of Captain Underpants, too), although a difficult season to navigate for a minimalist. Have you thought of asking for Target gift cards for Christmas? It can be used later to buy furniture or food, which would always be nice.

    • Captain Underpants is so awesome, I had almost forgotten about it until I saw one of my nephews reading it earlier this year.

      It is a difficult season indeed! This year caught me off guard, so I hope I’ll be better prepared for the gift-giving season next year. I hadn’t thought of the gift card idea! That’s a great tip 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  3. Pingback: Our DIY Christmas Candles | Minimal Millennial

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