A Sort Of Minimal Christmas

Just to warn you this isn’t a big pontificating blog about how you shouldn’t buy stuff for Christmas for your kids, or how my family is better than yours. Of course I’m going to think my family is awesomely flawed (like every other family) but I’m biased. 😉

I am one of the biggest Christmas nuts there are out there. I plan for the next Christmas from St Stephen’s Day, I start saving from 1st January; basically I blooming love Christmas. I love the lights, the family time, the music, the telly, the children’s awe and wonder. It’s blinking brilliant (not just the lights).

There are a few things that we do over the month of November/December though to make for minimal Christmas stress, in particular for the kids, but it’s a side benefit that the parents do well out of it too.


Letters are always written in advance of the Late Late Toy Show to avoid any last-minute change of plan. On which they can ask for 1 item, plus a surprise. That’s it. Santa knows what they like, and he never gets it wrong. If the item they ask for is expensive then they know that Santa might not bring it, although he always does his best.

While we do have 1 Santa visit, it’s the sole visit with the big man before Christmas. You’d think at this stage that Arnotts are paying me to say their Santa is the best. I assure you that they’re not. He is! We particularly like that he doesn’t give out a gift, that there is no pushy photographers but you can buy images if you really want to, and that there is no charge.

Easing Into Decorating

We try not to put all the decorations up at once. The idea is to ease the stress and get the kids get involved. It also slowly increases anticipation rather than a whole month of the house looking like a grotto. In saying that my husband had a half day in early December last year and got the tree up and decorated while I was working. I’m just grateful I didn’t have to do the biggest job that time around! Today he put up the outdoor lights but the rest of the house isn’t decorated yet; there’s still plenty of time.

Kris Kindle Instead of Individual Presents

Thankfully both our families have come on board with an annual Kris Kindle which significantly reduces the number of presents that have to be bought and also saves us money.

This year because there are so many nieces and nephews on my side of the family, we’ve decided to go out for a trip instead of buying the children presents. I’m really looking forward to the day out and all the mayhem it brings!

No Christmas Eve Box

This is a relatively new trend. It is very common amongst some of my neighbours who originally hail from Eastern Europe, but it has gained general popularity in recent years. The idea is that you fill up a box of treats, pj’s, and other things to keep your children occupied on Christmas Eve, before Santa arrives. There are enough presents at Christmas we feel. On Christmas Eve we’ll still do traditional stuff like leaving a tray out for Santa and Rudolf. We’ll pop a light in the window to show that there is room in our home, go to mass, read stories, and tuck the children into bed.

Look the thing is that we’ve found that our children get plenty of presents and spoiling around Christmas, and we’ve had to draw a line. This is what we decided to do for our family, we’re far from the gold standard but maybe it’s food for thought.

Speaking of food, I often get asked what food we buy in for Christmas, and I’ll have another post about that very soon.

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • Carol

    Sounds very much like our Christmas.. We do days out with both sides and maybe buy each other an ice cream. Lucky enough there aunty and uncle always forget there birthdays so for the last 2 years and again this year they bring us to the panto.. Which is a huge treat because panto for 4 kids And 2 adults is serious money..keep it all simple ?

    • Caitriona Redmond

      I love the Panto. I think this would be a brilliant trip to make with the kids. Definitely worth bearing in mind for next year. Keeping it simple is totally the way to go.

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