I don’t know if it is my main one, but GIFTS is definitely one of my love languages. I enjoy receiving a thoughtful gift, of course, but I absolutely LOVE putting together and giving someone the “perfect thing.” Christmas shopping isn’t stressful for me, it is SO SO fun. I’m not one of those crazy people that shops all year or way early either… Jeff and I make a list and a budget in early November, and I really get into the challenge of sticking to it. I never start shopping until Black Friday weekend, and I’m usually done with plenty of time to spare. (Now, the wrapping, that’s another story – not.a.fan.)
I know you’re totally inundated with gift guides on the internet right now, but I just can’t help myself… Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my very favorite gifts to give and ideas to help you finish up your shopping. Today, I’m starting with my favorite – and, I think, the easiest – group to buy for : KIDS.
This year, I was 100% done shopping for Sam and Nora after about an hour of online ordering. Below is exactly what each of them is getting, plus some details about my personal “Santa Strategy” and some ideas for your own littles’ lists… Shall we?!?!
Sam (Age 5)
Santa*: 3-Piece Jr. Drum Set / Microscope Kit / The Game of Life Jr.
Stocking: Honeybee Tee Bird Dog PJs / Toothbrush / Bandaids / Hat & Gloves
Books: Last Stop on Market Street & The 50 States
*Yes, I’m giving my five-year-old a drum set. I know, I know. I’ve truly gone back and forth about it; but, ultimately, it’s the ONLY thing he’s been asking for/talking about and, call me a sucker, but my years of “Christmas Magic” with him are limited. In fact, I figure I only have one or two left before he’s just going through the motions of Santa and asking for lame things like expensive Nikes. In the end, I threw my senses to the wind and snagged a good deal on a highly-recommended junior-sized drum set. The two minutes of pure joy on Christmas morning will be well worth the weeks of *torture* and the eventual waste of money when the set gets moved to the basement after that – at least that’s what I’m telling myself. 😉
Nora (Almost 2)
Santa*: Play All Day Elmo / Melissa & Doug Wooden Cutting Fruit Set / Melissa & Doug Puzzles
Stocking: Honeybee Tee Bird Dog PJs / Electric Toothbrush / Bandaids / Hair Accessories / Tights / Bag Tags
Books: Ada Twist, Scientist & HappyLand: Big Berry
*My girl loooooves Elmo. You can’t really tell from the photo, but the one we got her is pretty big, and she is going to be obsessed. I just can’t wait!!
We limit gifts for the kids to THREE (+ stockings & books)
While, in our house, we joyfully celebrate Christmas with Jesus and Santa, it is really important to me that the season doesn’t become consumed with the “gimmes” for my kids. I want them to have the excitement of coming down the steps to presents left on Christmas morning, but I don’t want them to spend the whole month making lists and thinking about things they “want.” In other words, I want gifts from Santa to be just a small part of Christmas – not the whole point. (Read more about my Jesus/Santa thoughts here.)
When Sam was about two years old, Jeff and I decided to set the precedence that, for our family, Santa delivers THREE gifts. Our reasoning behind this is really just that three seems like a reasonable amount, it isn’t as complicated or restrictive as the “Want/Need/Wear/Read” strategy that’s so popular, and – my favorite reason – the Wisemen brought Jesus three gifts in the Christmas story, so if it’s enough for Jesus, it’s certainly enough for Sam and Nora. 😉
Admittedly, we aren’t always 100% successful at striking the balance we want to surrounding the holiday, but we try. Also, this whole “system” could get more difficult once Sam goes to school next year and realizes (maybe?) that Santa brings more than three gifts to some kids, but I’m not particularly worried about him thinking things are “unfair.” (Some kids get way less than three gifts too!) So far, it’s worked really well for us. This year, in fact, Sam’s only “asking for” two items, so I don’t know that he’s even fully caught on to any of this!
Now, within those three gifts, I usually follow a very general guide as I’m thinking about what to get each kid:
One “WOW” gift —
This is the gift they REALLY want, the thing they will be super excited about, and – usually physically bigger too – will be the most obvious/stand-out gift when the kids run down the stairs on Christmas morning. This, obviously, doesn’t have to be expensive – but it does tend to be the one I use the biggest portion of my budget on.
Two smaller gifts —
I still want these to be fun and exciting, but they are smaller/usually less expensive things. Also, as a general rule, I try to make one of them somewhat educational and/or focused on the arts/creativity, and I like to include something that encourages time together as a family (like a board game or puzzle).
Practical stockings —
In addition to the three gifts, I typically fill stockings for both kids from Santa with more practical “needed” items – always pajamas, bandaids, and new toothbrushes for example. It’s funny because about 90% of what goes in the stocking are things I would have bought anyway, but the kids still really love opening them and seeing all their “stuff” on Christmas morning. (The year Sam was 3 his electric StarWars toothbrush was, by far, the favorite gift!)
Books from Mom & Dad —
Finally, I do like having something for the kids to actually unwrap from Jeff and I, so I’ve started buying them a couple of nice hardcover books to add to our “family library” each year and putting Mom & Dad on the card. Books are important to us as a family, and – again – something we’d probably spend our money on regardless, so this is a perfect thing to give as a gift + I love writing special little notes to each child inside their books and having them to look back on for years to come!
Bonus: More gift ideas for kids:
Here are some of my favorite things I’ve given in the past (or just found and have “bookmarked” for some day) that span a wide range of prices and “Wow”-ness.
Indoor Snowballs (a family friend gave these to Sam a couple of years ago, and they’ve been well-loved)
Pinhole Press Faces Sticker Books (these would make awesome stocking stuffers or gifts for out of town nieces and nephews, etc. – there are TONS of other fun custom ideas here too!)
KidKraft Kitchen (our “wow gift” to the kids last year, and STILL a favorite for both of them)
Hape Early Explorer Wooden Workbench (we gave Sam the Ikea version when he was 2, but I don’t think they make it anymore… I’m giving this one to my nephew this year instead)
Cardboard Castle (Sam’s “wow gift” @ 3 years old – a less expensive “fort” option than some of the teepees etc. out there and something I didn’t feel terrible throwing out after a few months of play, but it still had great “wow” factor.)
Tablecloth Playhouse (I just saw this this year and think it’s so cute and a great alternative to the above if you are short on space)
Melissa & Doug Puppet Theater (a big hit from my aunt and uncle last year)
4-1 Convertible Tricycle (We’ve actually never had one of these, but I think it’s a GREAT concept – I wish we had!)
Well, there you go!! I’d love to hear how your family handles gifts at Christmas and what your little ones are getting this year!! What’s been your favorite gift to give?!? Please share in the comments!
P.S. Past posts with gift ideas:
21 Children’s Books to Empower and Educate
15 Great Board Games for Preschoolers
“What My Kids are Getting for Christmas” (2015)
“December 2015 Favorites: Gift Buying Edition” – many of my go-to gifts are listed here!
[…] P.S. Check out my favorite gifts I gave and received last year here + our “Santa strategy” (that’s still going strong) explained here. […]