12 days of christmas

Giving gifts for the 12 days of Christmas is a tradition I have loved since I was 17. One reason is that it is a secret and we try not to let the person who is receiving the gifts know who they are coming from. The 13th of December is the first day of gift-giving and it goes until Christmas Eve. Our family chooses someone in our neighborhood and gives a gift on each of those 12 days. It would be fun to choose a new widow or widower’s family. Each day we also give them an inspirational story to read. It’s always fun for my kids to give gifts without letting the person know who it is from. It teaches more about the Christmas season- this is the season for giving- not just receiving.

12 days of Christmas

Our family usually chooses a neighbor and they decide who gets to run the gift to their home, ring the doorbell and run! After Jay passed away I felt that the people who needed my service and the 12 days of Christmas were my very own kids. So I started the tradition for them. It’s been nice to see my kids smile and get so excited to open a present each day before Christmas. Yes, even the college kids are excited to see what they get (yeah- food!).

This has been a bigger deal than I thought it was going to be because now we have 9 kids. Yes, that’s a lot of presents to figure out and wrap! (108!) So I had to get organized. I’m getting better at wrapping! I have figured out a system that works for me and I use it over and over each year. The presents don’t have to be expensive- it’s a memory I’m creating.

12 days of Christmas

I thought I would pass along the idea, so you could try it with someone in your neighborhood, a co-worker, your kids, grandkids, etc.

Create Awesome Memories With The 12 days of Christmas:

Some ideas Matt and I have done for the kid’s presents are-  their favorite cereal, gum, chapstick, gift cards for fast food, iTunes gift cards, portable phone chargers, tickets to a Christmas event, earrings, gloves, scarves, cash, etc. We have done some fun ones like they each got a letter in their gift box. They had no idea what it meant so they figured out to put all of their letters together to make a word- FLORIDA. That year we spent New Year’s in Florida and that was how they found out. That was unusual, though, it is usually a $5- $10 item.

For the neighbors, we have done things like hot cocoa, all the items to make cookies, a tree ornament, a Christmas decoration, or something that goes along with the story like oranges.

You can make this as easy or as elaborate as you want. I prefer easy. Some years I have tried to have the whole thing done and wrapped by the 13th so it’s not stressful every day, but usually, it’s stressful every day 🙂 Actually this year I highly suggested we go back to giving the 12 days of Christmas just to a neighbor. The kids and Matt didn’t agree. I got out-voted- imagine that?! So Matt is going to do it– this will be fun to see!

I created a page that has one person’s name 12 times- since there are 12 days of Christmas. I print one page for each child and they each get 12 presents. I print them on different colored card stock paper. I used InDesign, but you could do this on any Word program. I also use these name tags for their Christmas presents. (No handwriting to give away who the gift is from!)

Next, I made a page that has the day of Christmas. I print these off on different colored paper as well. Then I can mix and match the colors with the names. Remember the 1st day of Christmas is December 13th if you want it to end on Christmas Eve.

We usually make up a funny poem for each day as well. We put it in the present with a story. Something like…

On the first day of Christmas, my family gave to me… something for my tummy!

Here are the 12 stories I have used. There are so many other fantastic things you can use. We trade off who reads the story after we open the gifts and each year we find new ones to read.

Some pics from last year… Getting ready…

12 days of christmas

Happy kids…

kids opening presents

Merry Christmas!