Insider: Lessons From Celebrating Christmas In An RV

Dec 15, 2021

With the holiday season upon us, journalist Kelly Burch describes her experience celebrating Christmas during her family's RV trip last year. Read on to find out how Kelly and her children got into the holiday spirit on the road and the strategies she recommends for an RV-friendly Christmas.

Last year, Christmas fell in the middle of a seven-month road trip that my family was taking across the US. Since having kids, I've tried not to go overboard with presents, but living in a 32-foot RV with my husband and our girls, 6 and 2, forced me to reevaluate our holiday traditions, especially around gift-giving.

There was no tree, only homemade decorations, and a much smaller pile of presents. As we celebrated Christmas near Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona, we realized that the holiday was one of the best we'd had as a family.

This year we're back in our home, but we're still focused on implementing these lessons from our RV Christmas.

Focus on consumable and practical gifts

In an RV, space is at a premium. I knew I couldn't get my girls lots of toys, so instead I focused on consumable gifts. For us this mostly meant craft supplies like new crayons and sketchbooks.

The rest of their gifts were items they needed anyway. I wrapped up new helmets, bike lights, headlamps, and even sneakers. They were delighted. For them, the joy is in getting to unwrap a surprise, even if that surprise is something relatively mundane.

Emphasize experiences

I had plenty of smaller gifts, but I still wanted to give my girls at least one thing that would wow them. For my toddler, that was a new bike so she could keep up with her sister. For my older child, I decided to try an experience gift: Santa delivered her a box with a ticket for a horse ride.

I didn't know what her reaction would be, since an experience gift is a bit abstract. When my daughter opened the box, she was thrilled. Later in the day, she had a few little moments of disappointment that she had no "big" present, but when she did the trail ride she was on cloud nine.

This year we're looking at doing an experience present again — probably a ski lesson.

Use little moments to build holiday magic

When we set out on our RV journey, we packed only essentials. Those didn't include any Christmas decorations. When we realized we would be on the road for the holiday, we still didn't want to buy much and clutter our already full tiny home. Instead, my 6-year-old made paper decorations to hang around.

One day, on a whim, I bought a string of Christmas lights. While the girls were out playing by the Colorado River, I strung the lights on their bunk. Their looks of delight when they came in were picture-perfect holiday magic. It was a great reminder that holiday celebrations don't have to be Instagram-worthy — they can be as simple as a sweet surprise that makes your kid smile.

Read the full article from Insider here.