You guys, this is my best idea ever. I take pride in knowing that when I thought of this about eight years ago, I couldn't find much else about it on the Internet. I like to call myself the Santa Bag pioneer. I'm probably not, but it makes me feel good. Just roll with it.
I don't know about you, but the thought of bringing more toys and trinkets into my house seriously makes me want to vomit. Once we had kids, it was like Santa's sleigh exploded in our living room and no other kids received toys, because I was sure we got them all.
While feeling super-grateful for all of the generous people who gave my kids gifts, I was also feeling the stress of "This isn't what Christmas is about" and "Where is all this $#%@ going to go?!" I felt as good parents, we could take on the battle of what Christmas is all about and, regardless of the number of gifts, we could be good stewards of that message. However, I still didn't know where the heck any of the gifts were going to go. That was the issue I chose to take on when I thought of Santa Bags.
I originally thought of Santa Bags as a way to help save the Earth ... and some hard-earned money. I started Santa Bags by buying large cloth gift sacks from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I bought one for each of my kids. On Christmas Eve, Santa (my hubby and I) tossed all of the new toys, trinkets and clothes into the Santa Bags and off Santa went to the next house, where he delivered perfectly wrapped presents topped with curly bows and gift tags to all of the other neighborhood kids. I'm not sure I've ever even purchased gift tags. My poor children.
It hit me one day that I could combine the idea of the Santa Bags with getting rid of some of the "sh-tuff." (Can we agree to call it that? Sh-tuff.) What if I had my kids fill the Santa Bags with old toys, trinkets, books, clothes, et cetera that they didn't want any more? We could leave them under the tree on Christmas Eve and Santa could take the old sh-tuff out and leave the new sh-tuff. Brilliant? I think so.
This has been the best tradition we have set. Ever. I have since handmade each of my kids their own Santa Bag, with their initial on it. It's so fun using the same bag every year. I usually haul the Santa Bags out a month or so before Christmas. I leave them in each of my kids' bedrooms and throughout the month, they sort through the things in their room. Our big Santa rule: If Santa sees there's no room to put it, he doesn't leave it under the tree! If there's room on the bookshelf, he might leave new books. If there's room in the toy box, he might leave new toys. If there's room in the closet, he might leave new clothes. If not, keep enjoying what you've got!
My kids fill those bags up, I tell you! And they love it. We tell the kids that Santa takes the toys in the bag back to the North Pole, he has his elves fix them up a bit, and then he gives them to kids around the world. So, you'll have to be prepared with a few large black trash bags to stash all the old sh-tuff in. I usually hide them in my garage until I find time to drop them to Goodwill, or I pawn that job off on one of the grandmas, who can complete the mission more easily without blowing the cover.
Go on: Jump on board. Gettin' rid of sh-tuff feels so darn good.
Written by Carrie TenBrink, a mom of three, kindergarten teacher by day, and mom/chauffeur/cook/housekeeper/blogger by night. Blogging is her therapy. Read more of her musings at mrsmiscellaneous.blogspot.com/.
Photos courtesy of Carrie TenBrink.