Christmas Gift Ideas

On Friday, Mary and I were having our weekly chat and both had the same question…What on earth are you getting your kids for Christmas that doesn’t involve LEGOs or plastic toys made in China?  Now I have to preface this with neither of us have anything against LEGOs or plastic toys, but we are both inundated by them.  Admittedly the Grinch sneaks into my heart this time of year as I threaten to either throw out all the toys or tell everyone I know that there is a toy ban on our household.  Truth be told some of each will end up at both of our houses this Christmas no matter how hard we try to avoid them.  That being said, we are both looking for creative gift ideas.   We spent an hour mulling over this topic (at least that is what we told our kids so we could have some uninterrupted mom chat time) and here is what we came up with. 

1. A Basket of Treats

A couple of years ago I started filling a basket full of food and putting it under the Christmas tree.  Things like fancy crackers, granola bars, boxed cereal, hot cocoa, and specialty chocolates all made it into the basket.  Basically I just go to Trader Joe’s and pick out all of the really cool food that I NEVER buy. I also put in food that I can’t seem to keep in the house.  For instance, I have a kid “The Laid Back One” that is crazy about condiments.  His siblings chide him mercilessly about how much ketchup and mayonnaise he uses.  So I buy a bottle of his favorite condiments and add them to the basket.   I thought they would boycott this gift, but instead they had additional requests for this year.  The bonus is my January grocery bills are cheaper!

2. Fancy mugs

Last year Mary sent pictures of each of her kids to Snapfish and had a mug made for everyone.  I see many benefits to this.  It will limit fighting over mugs.  They can reuse them, because clearly they are labeled.  Finally, it is really special for each kid to have something personalized.

3.  Think practical!

I am the queen of practical gifts.   I love to give and receive gifts that will be used.  For example, my teenage daughter is getting a new pair of boots, my boys are getting tennis shoes, and my youngest is getting leggings.   One year the boys received leaf rakes.  They actually asked for them mainly because they needed them for their leaf raking business and didn’t want to surrender any of their profits. Socks, clothing, and tools make an annual appearance under our Christmas tree.

4.  Restaurant Gift Cards

I have an aunt that sends my kids restaurant gift cards for their birthdays and Christmas.  I LOVE these!  It gives me a night off from cooking, and I don’t end up with more plastic toys!  Plus, it is really nice for the kids to be able to “treat” the family to a night out.  Finally, when it is “their money” they are spending, they are much more apt to make smart menu choices.  Even $10 at Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera, or Chick Fil-A may not cover the bill but at least will help to defray the costs.

5.  Start a tradition

Another one of my aunts (I have a LOT of aunts) buys each kid a Christmas ornament every year.  There are so many beautiful ornaments out there, and she always finds something special for each one.  When they leave our house to live on their own, I will gather up their ornaments and send them along as a start to their own collection.  Alternatively, consider Fontanini Nativity figures.  One of Mary’s sons is my Godson and every year I send him a character to add to their Nativity set.  The figures are plastic resin and very durable.  We have a set as well, and both families spend hours playing with the characters and acting out the Christmas story over and over again. Sometimes it isn’t quite Biblical, but it is always entertaining! 

6. Fancy School Supplies

At this point in the school year, we have run out of several school supplies.  Scotch tape and glue sticks being among them.  I am absolutely appalled at how much tape we go through! So I fill another basket with school supplies: tape, glue sticks, fun pencils, dry erase markers, sketch pads, colorful card stock, sharpies, twisting colored pencils and crayons, art supplies, etc.  This replenishes our stock, and I don’t have to buy as much in September.

7. Homeschool Curriculum

I am not ashamed to admit that occasionally curriculum shows up under our Christmas tree.  Now I would never put a Physics or Geometry book in someone’s pile (unless they were on the Naughty List), but do you know that “Nice-to-Have” curriculum that you have to pass on in order to buy those pricey science and math books? That is the stuff that I get for Christmas.   Check back next week for a post on some ideas for curriculum that you can put under your tree without guilt!

8. Catholic Stuff

You can never go wrong with pictures, statues, books, or movies on the Saints, our Blessed Mother, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for whom we are celebrating this wonderful season.   Here are a few of my favorites:

Portraits of Saints – an Etsy shop where the owner creates the most beautiful Saint pictures!

Glory Stories – Great stories about the Saints on CD’s for listening in the car

Pauline Media – My favorite source for the Encounter the Saints Books

2017 Catholic Holiday Gift Guide from Catholic Women-Owned Business – Here is an entire listing of different online shops with great Catholic merchandise all owned by Catholic Mamas who are trying to do the same things that we are: raise a holy, Catholic Family.

9. Audio Books and CDs

One year Mary got my daughter (her Goddaughter), the Narnia series on CD.  We have so enjoyed this series as well as others.  If you spend a lot of time in the car, this is a great gift.  We have also enjoyed the Classical Kids series of CD’s (another gift from Mary).  These tell a story about a composer’s life, intertwined with the Composer’s music.  Our favorites are Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, Beethoven Lives Upstairs, and A Classical Kids Christmas.

10.  Books!

Finally, who doesn’t love a good book?  If you have spent any time at all on this blog, you will know that Mary and I are both crazy for books.   Here are several great previous posts for book ideas:

Treasure Seeking: How to Find the Best Children’s Literature

Books by Carolyn Cooney

Books to Give Your Kids this Christmas

Girls with Grit: Ten Books About Strong, Courageous Girls

12 Books My Boys Couldn’t Put Down

Our Favorite Books for Little Ones

Hopefully we have given you some great gift ideas for your kids!  Do you have any suggestions for us???  May you have a blessed Advent season!

Sue

 

 

 

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