The holiday season in our house is epic.

Everything about December is magical. We have hot chocolate, stockings, Christmas lights and so so very many gifts. We are beyond blessed to have so much family close by–Grandma, Grandma, Mimi, PawPaw, aunts, uncles, a ton of nieces, the works! This large tribe of people loves our kids dearly, consequently they shower them with gifts over the holiday. My husband and I have worked to try to scale back the gift receiving, but we haven’t found a way that wouldn’t be unkind to our kids. This has prompted us to try to think outside the box on how to balance this amazing time of gift getting with the message of a Savior who calls us to give.

So, last year, we started a new tradition: we began our first annual whole home holiday purge, and set a goal to donate 250 items from our home over Christmas break. We went through every room and made piles of things we no longer needed, used or wanted. I honestly thought 250 items would be a challenge; we don’t have a huge house and regularly make Goodwill runs. I was shocked to find how easy it was to meet our goal. This year we hope to up our goal to 350 items.

To add some meaning to this holiday purge for our kids, we researched to find a place to bring our items whose mission we felt excited about. We landed on a local organization that helped settle refugees in our area, and got the kids involved. We talked to them about the families who we were going to be giving our things to. We prompted them to help select toys and clothes that they wanted to pass along. They were reluctant at first, but with some encouragement, they came around.

It felt so good for us all to participate in a tangible way to give amidst the crazy holiday hype. A bonus is that it cleared space in our small home for the flood of new things coming in. Rather than letting toys and clothes pile on top of the already full toy bins, we made room. Our kids could welcome the new in with enthusiasm instead of it getting lost in the existing overwhelming multitude of toys.

I hope this inspires you to find ways to practice giving in your community in a time when many of us receive so much. Just these small practices of intentionality add a greater depth of compassion, grace and a special kind of magic to holiday fun. 


Amanda Idleman

I am a mother, wife, friend, home educator, lover of life and others. I'm passionate about cultivating joy in our home. It's my joy to share our struggles and successes with others. Follow me on instagram at rvahouseofjoy.