How Do You Do Christmas?

(And if you do another holiday, feel free to chime in too!)

I have three kids aged 4, 7 and 10.  Growing up, my mom always made sure my brother and I had an equal number of gifts that were not necessarily equal in monetary value, but they were comparable in size and excitement value.  So when I became a mom, I instinctively began balancing out my gift giving in much the same way.

With three kids to buy for, I desperately try to keep track of who is getting what so that it works out evenly.  In addition to that, I have the added confusion of a Christmas birthday thrown in there.  Yes, my middle child was born on Christmas Eve — a whole four weeks ahead of schedule, I might add.  You know what they say about the best laid plans.  Ahem.

I also follow the tradition of my parents by leaving at least one “big present” unwrapped in front of the tree from Santa Claus along with their stockings and a few extras like crayons and coloring books and maybe a book for each child.  That way, they have something to see when they come downstairs on Christmas morning.  They get to play with their unwrapped toys and empty their stockings when they wake up.

Then I wrap another 3 or 4 gifts for each child and put them under the tree.  We open our wrapped gifts after a leisurely breakfast.

The older they get, the harder it is to keep track of what I’m getting whom, and the harder it is to keep things even.  Again, I don’t worry so much about monetary amounts as I do the significance of the gift.  But with three kids at three different stages, it gets complicated.  And of course the grandparents and aunts and uncles want ideas too.

I’m finding that the older they get, the harder it is to come up with ideas for gifts.  Last week I spent an hour in ToysRUs, walking around by myself, just to see what’s out there.  And now I’m trying to figure out what I have, what I need, and what I should return.  I posted a quick query on Twitter to find out that I am not the only mother struggling to make it all work out.  Several industrious moms said they actually create a spreadsheet to keep it all straight.

Well.

It didn’t take me long to open up my Google Docs and create a Christmas Gift Spreadsheet.  Now WHY have I never thought of this before??  It sure beats the scraps of paper I usually keep laying around.