Buying and wrapping Christmas presents for eight kids sounds like a job that would require the help of a team of elves, but Kate Gosselin is doing it solo this year. Ever since she split from husband Jon Gosselin in June 2009, she's been doing most of the everyday work herself — since she has primary custody of 12-year-old twins Mady and Cara and 8-year-old sextuplets Aaden, Alexis, Colin, Hannah, Joel, and Leah — and this holiday season will be no different. Although the brood typically spends Christmas Eve with their father who lives nearby in Reading, Pennsylvania, "They're at the age now where we ask them," Kate tells omg!. "So they basically dictate it and they want to be home Christmas and the days surrounding it."
Now that the kids — who grew up before our eyes on TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" and then the spin-off "Kate Plus 8" for seven seasons — are older, they're much more into the holiday spirit and what it truly means. Kate, 37, got a lot of help decorating from her eldest girls, who even put up a Christmas tree in their shared bedroom. "Mady and Cara are so cute; they shop for each other with their own money and they hide in the store from each other," she says proudly. "They're so fun just to take shopping because they genuinely really think through what the other wants."
As for the younger six, their eyes seem to be bigger than Kate's wallet. "We don't do Santa," she explains, "but they give me the list, and they have really really big requests and I really really work really hard to honor them. The littlest ones want iPods and all this stuff, and I'm just like, 'Oh my gosh.' All that electronic equipment is so expensive. I'm trying to explain to them, 'If that's on your list then please understand there's not going to be, like, a two-hour [Christmas present] opening session.' They're at the age where you have to explain that. You really have to do a disclaimer at the beginning before opening [gifts]."
And the Gosselin kids are just as excited to play Santa for children who aren't as fortunate. This year, just like years past, they will take part in the Toys for Tots charity, which collects Christmas presents for the underprivileged. "They cannot imagine kids that don't have Christmas," shares Kate.
Though it's been over a year since the Gosselins have been on TV, they could all be coming back very soon — whether it's as another family series or Kate all on her own. So does that mean it will be a dating show, as reported? "Well, all I can say to that is you're just going to have to wait," teases the usually chatty mom. Regardless if that happens, the kids really want to go back to having the cameras document their adventures. "We definitely have fond memories of those days," Kate says. "The kids decide now, they have voices. If they're not into it, it's not happening, but I happen to know they honestly miss it, and they still talk about it and think it's exciting."
Until then, Kate is keeping busy raising her eight kids out of the spotlight. And although that can be extremely stressful at times, she finds a way to burn off the tension: running. Last December, she completed her first marathon in just under five hours, and this coming Sunday, she's returning to the same Rock 'n' Roll race in Las Vegas, except, "I'm doing a half [marathon] this time around," she explains.
But she does want to one day run another 26.2-miler and improve her time, although working in practice runs when you're raising eight kids is nearly impossible. "[My trainer] understood finally that I just can't … if someone's sick tomorrow morning and they can't go to school, then there went my whatever-mile run," says Kate. "So I literally fitted in the amount of time on my own, I'm my own trainer in my head. It takes out a lot of stress. I have a lot of stress in life and it gets all of that out in a healthy way. I always say looking good is a side benefit."
And when she runs 13 miles on Sunday, her kids will all be cheering for her, even if they won't be standing on the sidelines in Vegas (because of school). Still, "I have a lofty goal of running the New York City Marathon and having them at the finish line — that just gave me chills thinking about it," Kate tells omg!. "They are lined up to get the text notifications [with the runners' times], and that's really exciting for them. They're really, really proud of me. They're my biggest encouragers."