The Gift Giving Guide

I think I'll get Micah bubble wrap for Christmas this year. He loves it. In fact, when I get a package he'll toss aside the contents (at risk of breakage) and go straight for those magical plastic bubbles. I know they sell rolls of this at moving companies, so I should be all set. It can't cost that much in comparison to other gifts, so I could afford a few rolls and give him a foot or two of it per day. That way it should last way longer than any Christmas Day toy does.

If you have kids, you know that they need absolutely nothing for Christmas. They will tell you otherwise, but in reality they have everything. Especially if you have many kids. With our first we were so excited about the holidays and put a lot of thought into getting her something special and big. With the second it was just as easy because we could get him special, big BOY things. (We still have the tool bench we bought him that first Christmas. I think it's been played with a dozen times in the past 10 years.) But by the time the 4th kid comes around we literally have everything.

And then grandparents ask us what the kids need. Again, they need nothing. Seriously. Not even clothing this year. Josh asked for a lizard last year and I think we're going down that road out of desperation. We asked everyone to get him gift cards to the pet store to allow him to buy fun things for it. I don't know what fun things you can buy for a lizard, but I'm thinking the thing will have to eat and it may be cheap of us, but he can use the gift cards to buy crickets. Plus I have a plan that if he's in charge of buying it's food he'll realize there's a lot of responsibility involved, and step up. Just a plan. I'll let you know how it works for us.

And then there's Luke. The boy's birthday is Thursday and we don't know what to get him for Christmas let alone another occasion. He's an artist. That's what he does with his time. But he has everything one could possibly have in relation to art. Can we ask for reams of paper for him? Because he uses my copy paper by the handfuls. If I know him, he'd be thrilled that the paper is all his and not Mom's. He'd be happy, I wouldn't have more toys sitting around that we didn't need in the first place. It would all be good.

So, what do you buy kids that have everything? (Let me throw in a disclaimer here. Even though I tell my kids this, it is a lie. We will not subscribe to the gaming scheme so all that electronic stuff is way out of the question. They get brave every now and then and ask, but they know it won't happen. We're mean like that.) But back to the question at hand - what are you getting your kids for the holidays? Maybe that will inspire some suggestions for me to tell grandparents. They've taken to calling almost daily now, asking the same burning question. I have no answers. Maybe you do. Spill it.


Bia said...

I know, it's hard. And for us, too, gaming systems are out. The boys do have one system, but they've been bugging us about a new one, and to that my husband and I are in complete agreement: Uh, uh. No way. In the electronics world you can't keep up; what is new today is old tomorrow, and I don't want my boys learning that nothing has value, that it is okay to toss something out the window just for a newer version. Their gaming system still works great, they have lots of games for it, and they should be content with that. A new system just leads to more games and even more clutter. Maybe I'll suggest a Little House Christmas . . . a knitted scarf and an orange. Those were the days!

Aimee said...

Oh crud- I'm the wrong person to ask this question because I can offer tons of sympathy and zero suggestions. We don't even encourage the children to ask for anything, that's how mean we are. There are no letters/lists to Santa, and I even tell the kids that whatever they ask for (if they ask for anything at all), Santa has to call me and make sure Dad and I are ok with it before he drops it at our house. This precludes gifts like . . . gaming systems!
Francie has asked for nothing this year. Nada. I have no ideas because the girl has everything she wants - maybe I'll just tell her that she can have riding lessons in the spring, since all she wants to do is be around horses :)
Fiver has asked for one small thing, which we got him, and that was it.
Sally doesn't even know she can ask for anything. This is the girl who plays with cardboard tubes and ice cude trays. She's #3 so she plays with whatever is on the floor, with sometimes disastrous results, but oh well . .

We have some steamed grandparents and family members because we have not given them one idea of what to buy.

I'm with bia - let's go back to Christmas being an orange in your stocking and a tin cup.

FarmHouse Style said...

We only have one son and I admit we have spoiled him pretty your kids, there is nothing he needs. He loves anything he can "invent"~he was born with a scientific mind:) We are looking at chemistry sets and building sets so he can create to his imagination's content. But actually, he would be just as content with some old electronics from a thrift store that he can take them apart to see how they work.

BTW you are welcome to a brownie sundae anytime:)


Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Shhh . . . don't tell anyone, but I fully intend to buy Alexis absolutely nothing for Christmas. I'm serious. She will have lots of wrapped gifts, but not a single item will have been bought with the holiday intentions. Anything that I've bought her over the past month has been stashed and saved for the event. A box of crayons (Where the heck do those things go? I've bought her three boxes so far and there are like six crayons to show for it.), a few outfits that were super-cheap and therefore couldn't be ignored, a pile of books that I found on clearance at TJ Maxx, and some new Signing Time DVDs. All of it is just the stuff I would routinely buy for her. That probably won't work in the future when she starts paying attention, but then again, maybe it will. I fully intend to test the waters.

Madame Queen said...

My BIL and his wife just had their 6th child. When we visited back in August I've NEVER SEEN SO MANY TOYS! Good grief.

I think the paper idea is a great one. Bubba had been begging for ages for his own pair of scissors and I finally bought him some kid friendly ones. That child will sit for hours, HOURS, cutting and taping and drawing. It's heaven. He's also getting a guitar. Not an expensive one, but a guitar.

We don't have any video gaming systems, but Bubba does have the Leapfrog Leapster. I haven't yet made the decision about whether we'll do gaming systems down the road.

Karen said...

BB's Mom - I do that myself. Some of those Aero scores from the clearance rack will find their way under the tree. And a tip I learned was to buy crayons in August with all the back to school sales going on. They have the Crayola brand on sale for .25/pack. I get about 20 packs and hope they last through the year.

Bia & Aimee - I think the Little House Christmas is the way to go. I'm wondering how my kids will take it?

Rhonda - thanks for sharing! Mmmmmm

Madame Queen - those Leapfrog things are awesome! We did buy into that, but now it sits in our closet with perpetually dead batteries.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I just thought of something--have you ever gotten Micah a roll of butcher paper? I know Costco has it most of the time. 400 feet of coloring pleasure would probably send your little artist straight to his personal heaven.

A few years ago I painted table and chair sets for all of our nieces. Mr. Husband made himself useful by fashioning a curtain rod onto the underside of one end. We hung a roll of paper there and the girls were able to just keep pulling and pulling when they wanted more clean space to write on. They still really like sitting there to color.

Jennifer said...

I had to laugh at Madame Queen's post about her BIL who has 6 kids and so many toys. I now have 7, and everyone wants to know where the toys are. We dont have much at all. And its by choice. They are etremely happy with the little bit of toys that they have, and guess what. ALL the toys get played with, al lthe time, LOL.

This year I have instituted something new for the kids, and hope to be able to continue to do it as they grow. (plus it gets them ready for Christmas in Honduras, where it isn't so much about the presents anymore)

It is - something they want, something they need, something they wear, and somethign they read. I also decided I am going to throw in there somethign you listen to too.

So they get something they want (i.e. Jordan wants a poster) something they need, (shampoo, bath gel etc.) something they wear (an outfit from somewhere) and something they read (thats books obviously). Then the something they listen too will probably be a CD for each of them.


Karen said...

Jennifer - you are brilliant! I love the idea of those things. The only tricky one could be the thing they want.

BB's Mom - I love that idea. We did have a big roll somewhere, but installing onto the end of the craft table would be great. I never thought of that.

The Sports Mama said...

My boys are easy, actually.... anything sports related generally makes 'em happy.

We get them time at the batting cages, subscriptions to sports magazines, extra mouthpieces for football season (apparently, actually EATING the rubber has currently unknown health benefits??), stuff like that.

They've also (since mine are older now) stepped up their artsy things: instead of paper, we get them chunks of wood for homemade totem poles and sculptures. :)

Now, granted, these suggestions might not have helped YOU very much, but talking them through helped ME with some more ideas for my kids this year! Thanks! ;)

utmomof5 said...

I have told my parents and in-laws instead of buying things to plan a day with them. Take them to a museum or a movie and out to lunch. My kids love the time one on one with their grandparents and the grandparents love it too!

My kids are getting snowboards this year. We live 15 minutes from the greatest ski resorts and we have yet to take advantage of it. I don't have a little baby this year so I want to get back to slopes too.

Good Luck


Anonymous said...

I have some confessions to make:

1. For Cooper's 2nd birthday we bought him a plunger and 3 helium balloons. I thought his second birthday would be his last because he nearly died from the enjoyment of his presents. He shunned all the real presents (and I was secretly happy.)

2. We are not buying the kids presents this year, and I am not getting Maren anything for her birthday (January 4th.) They have everything that they need, and will be getting plenty from family.

3. I am not poetic by anymeans, but I am trying to write a poem to share with family and friends who ask what the children want for Christmas. It will say something to the effect that clothes and toys are quickly outgrown; if they must buy a physical object, a book to add to their library collection would be lovely, but that ultimately a contribution to their college savings accoutn would be wonderful - they won't know what they did or did not get for Christmas, and the gift of an education will last them their entire lifetime.

As for your kids, I am stumped. I actually dread the day when mine are old enough to understand that they get presents on Christmas!

Cecily R said...

I am a sucker when it comes to presents. I love LOVE to give them, so my kids always get them. I love shopping for them, finding fun stuff that they don't need but want, and seeing their faces when they open them. I've said this before, I am secretly about 10 at heart--especially during this season. It makes me a bad influence and an over indulgent mom, but it is what it is.

Did you know that the cardboard box was inducted into the toy hall of fame? It's one of the very few toys on the list (I think there are only about 12 and they are things like Legos and Lincoln Logs--no electronics I don't think), and I LOVE that! Gracie is still playing with moving boxes she made into houses, TVs and "Box Buddies" and we moved 6y months ago.

By the way, you can usually get rolls of paper from your newspaper for cheaper than butcher paper. Where we live they are usually about $2 a roll and they last forever.

I love the bubble wrap idea. I think Jon would love that as a present now!

Cecily R said...

Watching Gracie draw right now reminded me of something for Luke. Have you ever gotten him a wall paper book? You can usually get them at home improvement stores or wall paper stores once they are outdated. SOme will charge you but there are some that will just give them to you. Gracie has one and it is FABULOUS. She uses it everyday and since they are huge it has lasted quite a while, even with her draw like its your last day to live style.

Karen said...

Sports Mama - I passed on the curse of being non-athletic to my children. Sports things aren't all that, nor are they a bag of chips. Sadly.

UTMomof5 - I LOVE that idea. Maybe I should suggest that to grandparents. To me, spending time with someone making a memory is way better than any gift you can give. Thank you!

Driving - That's absolutely hysterical! Glad he loved it. For my daughter's 5th birthday party I made up a little rhyme to put in her invitations that said she didn't need toys, but books to help her learn to read would be great. Everyone loved the idea. We still have most of those books, and they're winners.

Cecily - my kids would love you. I know I do! I'll have to enquire about a wall paper book, I'm not sure what it is you're talking about. Sounds great. The newspaper print is great - we had a roll once upon a time. Gotta love the cardboard box!

Kellan said...

I agree - my kids have everything they could possibly need and yet they still write me long lists. We do ... give electronic gadgets and that is expensive, but it beats having to figure out what to get them. My kids are into art, music, taking pictures, taking videos ... and so that's what we get the older ones. Gift cards are the best gifts from friends and relatives to my kids - to the bookstore or Walmart or the video store. Good luck with your brood - I'm still struggling to find stuff for mine. See ya. Kellan

Zoe said...

i LOVE bubble wrap! i never know what to tell people to get my kids. i mean how do i know how much they want to gives me anxiety. i have 3 unanswered emails waiting for a list. ugg.

As We Sail... said...

I've always been into anything crafty since I got my first paint by number. I think it helps bring out the child's creativity that will come in handy all their life. Such as knitting, cross stitch, painting, sewing for the girls. Model building, simple wood working, science kits, electronic kits, painting, for the boys. Or see if any have music interest - get lessons and rent an instrument. If a child wants a pet, give it along with a to-do chart that they will get rewarded for not forgetting to fulfill responsibilities of takinng care of it every day.
I will be posting on frugal kids gifts later on as part of my continuing posts about Frugal Christmas.

KIDZMAMA said...

I wrote an entire post about this recently. I had no idea what the kids wanted. And we don't buy gifts for them, just the relatives do. We have no gaming systems here either so it's not easy.

I took all four of them to the toy store and we walked the entire store. Wrote everything down and emailed it to the appropriate relatives.

I looked on your blog but you don't specifically state you kids ages. My nine year old asked for speed stack cups. They are cheap and fun. She also asked for a movie. The seven year old boy asked for two board games, some lego, and a handheld Sudoku game.

We too have everything a child needs, but have to come up with "a list". Very frustrating.

Lisa said...

I also told our kids' grandparents not to buy any more toys. We'll so how that goes over. Our kids' stuff is over taking our house.
We are getting our kids each their own helmet for riding four-wheeler. Nobody likes to have to wait to ride 'til the helmet is available. And we told them that instead of presents we would take them to the science museum when the Star Wars exhibit gets here. They were all excited about that, so that'll make Christmas easier on us this year.
All the in-laws think we are cruel.... GASP!! No toys to unwrap?!?! How sad! lol whatever.
Oh in the past i would mostly get stuff that we could also use for school. I also HATE the video game stuff. My mil (bless her heart) bought the kids a playstation to years ago, I'd get rid of it if I knew my kids wouldn't tell on me. lol
Good luck on your quest for gifts.

Alicia said...

I know a mom that bought all of her children canned goods and the like for Christmas. Bit of a mood killer, but hey! It's different! Can you imagine opening a package brightly wrapped with beautiful ribbon and discovering it to be... green beans? But that's about all I've got. We're getting Lacy a Cabbage Patch newborn because she looks like one. I told my eleven year old brother that and he said (in that honest way of his), "Those things are the ugliest dolls made -ever." I pouted and told him to pick on someone his own size. Sheesh.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

One more thing I wanted to throw out . . . I'm making Alexis part with toys every year at Christmas and her birthday. I get to pick this year, but once she's old enough, she will have no choice but to select 10 to 12 toys she wants to donate to charity. If she's going to get anything new, something has got to go. And somebody else might as well benefit from her spoiling.

This year she's parting with the mountain of stuffed animals behind her toy chest. There are so many stashed there it is absolutely ridiculous.

(Good for you for staying away from electronics! Game systems are dreadfully annoying. (Why, yes, he is bowling again. Argh!))

Deb in OPKS said...

With only 3 kids we have the same problem. My little one's birthday is Jan. 11 so understand that problem, too. And especially for her, I am always looking for what the toy will teach her. My husband is a big electronics person and loves the gaming systems, so we have many here. Another one is coming this year. At least you can always get games. I like to get books and clothes. I've asked extended family members to give clothes.

I came from a family of 5 on a limited income, but we always had great Christmases. My dad loved Christmas and made a big deal out of it. I don't know how they always handled it, but I always remember them being special. Mom was very good at stretching a dollar. I want the same for my kids and although we stick to a budget, they will always get stuff. This year I had them clean out a lot of their old toys to make room for the new ones. But we also get a gift for a needy child because I want them to remember the real meaning of Christmas.

Kelly Malloy said...

Oooh! I really like the idea of a bubble wrap Christmas! I mean really -what kid doesn't like bubble wrap?

Shellie said...

You could ask for passes to someplace fun to go like a zoo or children's museum or whatever. Even gift certificates to a fun kid's place to eat, so they can go have fun. That's the best gift for someone who doesn't want more stuff, a memory. I am just getting each child one gift and then a few things like games and Veggie Tales that we can all enjoy together. If your kids like constructing things, there is a construction toy called Uberstix I just found out about, and it looks so cool. You can build things with them but they also hook onto things like straws, popsicle sticks, paper clips, and used pop bottles as well as all the major construction toys like Legos and K-nex. Hope that helps.