It’s time to simplify Christmas. Here’s a Christmas gift guide that will make everyone happy, especially Mom and Dad.
Why We Simplified Christmas
If there is anything good about being part of a broken family (and I really use ‘good’ loosely here), it has always been that the big kids received so many presents and at least two Christmases. But over the years, the expectation of bigger and ‘more’ has started to take over for what Mr. B and I really wanted Christmas to focus on.
Okay, not the food. After all, the reason why we celebrate Christmas is to recognize the gift that God gave us through His son, Jesus Christ.
I always loved the idea of purchasing Christmas gifts and wrapping everything separately so it looked like my kids had a huge pile of gifts on Christmas morning. We aren’t a family that purchases gifts throughout the year. Birthdays and Christmas. That’s it. For everything, we give them opportunities to earn money toward purchasing what they want. Even the Munchkin is starting to realize that when we were at the grocery store. She spotted a mini gumball machine the other day and asked if she could do some laundry to earn money for it.
Mr. B and I determined that we would make Christmas a little more simple. Four gifts from us. That’s it. We split it up into four categories. Something You Want, Something You Need, Something To Wear and Something To Read. We are including (sort of) three family gifts this year: Something to Do, Something to Play and Something to Giveaway.
Something You Want
This is their big gift for Christmas. It’s the gift you give your kids at the last possible moment saying, “Oh, what’s this box all the way back here behind the Christmas tree?” You know what I’m talking about. Here are some ideas for your little ones (young and old).
Punkin just turned two so she doesn’t really have an idea of Christmas or how to ask for things she wants but she does love to destroy things right now. Melissa & Doug does have a Wooden Bowling Set but I already know that is going to end up with pieces in the wall or the TV (which Mr. B wouldn’t be too upset about since we’d need to get a new one). The Melissa & Doug Monster Bowling Skills-Builders Games bowling set is perfect for her though.
The Munchkin is really needing an outlet for when we are stuck inside the house during yucky weather. We have found kids yoga on YouTube but sometimes she needs more to get her “wiggles” out. We currently have Just Dance for our XBox 360 with Kinect but some of the songs are just not what I want for my 5-year-old. (It’s disturbing to see a little girl copy movements that have her practically doing hip thrusts). For those times when she needs get rid of extra energy, we ordered Just Dance Kids 2014. Sure it’s older but it has everything from kids songs (“Skip to my Lou”) to great classic 80s songs (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Walking on Sunshine”) and even songs by Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez. I am really looking forward to us doing this together on those cold rainy days this winter. If you don’t have XBox, they also have it for Wii. There is a newest Just Dance 2018 but it isn’t specifically for kids so you’ll want to read reviews on that first to see if you want your little one dancing to those songs.
Do you remember the Guess Who? Game from when you were a kid? I used to love that game! They have a wide variety now and even some easier versions for younger kids like the Munchkin (since she can’t read yet). We got her the Finding Dory edition.
For my older two, it can sometimes be difficult. They have expensive taste (didn’t we all at 13 and 15). My daughter loves the duck boots that are popular right now and has wanted Hunter rain boots for quite some time.
My son loves sports, particularly baseball. He is a catcher for his team and wants a new glove. More than anything though, he loves sneakers. He saves up his money to buy them and I bet he’s purchased half a dozen sneakers this year. He’s really liking the Nike Air VaporMax right now but it’s going to take awhile for him to save up for them.
I would normally put shoes in the “Something You Wear” category at Christmas but these are high ticket items (the Nike Air VaporMax for sure).
One other thing that your teenager may enjoy this Christmas – that is definitely more affordable – is either an Amazon Dot or a Google Home Mini for their rooms. Mr. B and I recently got a Google Home Mini and it’s great. We purchased Phillips Hue bulbs for our bedside lamps so we can use the mini to control how dim the lamps are, play lullaby music when I’m nursing Baby Mac or when I’m reading to the girls. We even ask Google to tell us Christmas jokes (boy, were we surprised when Google had a ‘surprise’ guest tell the joke!). More importantly, your teens can ask them to set an alarm to get up in the morning. Oh, happy day!
Something You Need
Can we just say that socks and underwear really shouldn’t count as ‘Something You Need’ unless they are higher end and something they normally wouldn’t get. My kids love Nike Elite socks. But our budget doesn’t really allow for their entire sock drawer to be full of them.
A toddler bed, new sheets with their favorite character or fun plates and silverware are great for your little toddler. This year, we are getting Punkin a couple of 360-degree toddler sippy cups. These are absolutely amazing! The top has small holes all the way around with a seal on top that keeps the drink from coming out. When your little one sips on the cup, the drink accumulates and comes out through the suction created from your little one drinking. Seriously, they are amazing! I know I already said that but they are!
Last year, the Munchkin really wanted an umbrella. She had been asking for months. We already have umbrellas and didn’t need anymore but we decided to get her a princess umbrella as her ‘Something You Need’ gift for Christmas. She loved it and tried to bring it everywhere! Princess rain boots would even be great to add to this.
This year, her booster seat is getting pretty dingy and she’s been asking for a new one. We decided to go ahead and upgrade her to a new one.
If you already have a ‘Something You Want’ gift for your teenagers, this may be a good place to get that Amazon Dot or Google Home Mini as the something they need. They can get music from Amazon Prime Music or Google Play Music, have an alarm set for their early mornings of school and even check the weather so they can determine for themselves the appropriate clothing for the weather. Am I the only one who has a teenage son who will try to wear short sleeves and shorts in 30-degree weather? (But he’s wearing long socks so that’s ok, right?)
Something You Wear
So I know I’m probably weird when it comes to clothing. I don’t mind getting cute sayings on clothes but not anything that encourages them to be little brats toward anyone. We got clothes for the girls from Target this year. They are so cute! They have sayings that are motivational or encourage the positive characteristics they have (exploring, discovery, and being brave).
I always get Bubba something from the local sporting goods store. He is a huge Florida State Seminoles fan and loves the New Orleans Saints so that’s always something easy. You would think you couldn’t possibly get anything else for him since he has everything FSU (from hat to shoes to an overnight bag). But he loves getting new stuff and will always wear it. He actually may even have enough to wear FSU clothes every day for a week without repeating an outfit.
For Bug, she loves high-end name brand clothes (Michael Kors, Tori Burch) and shoes (Sperry, Hunter). We have a soda budget for her champagne taste but I’m always on the lookout for great deals. In addition to clothes and shoes, Etsy has such great custom and handmade jewelry to purchase as well.
Something You Read
This is where I always feel like I come up short. My big kids really don’t like to read. I always tell them, “That’s impossible! You just haven’t found the types of books you like yet.” So I’ve been on a mission to try to find some. Bubba loves sports and history (not as taught in school but actual books about specific historical events). Last year, I bought him the book, Eight Men Out. Once he’s done reading it, I may even try to find the movie with John Cusack and Charlie Sheen.
Bug is so adamant about not reading the books I buy for her that she just flat out said, “Mom, I don’t want you to waste your money getting something I won’t read. I appreciate what you’re doing but no.” So, I suppose I’ll get some flack from some of you when I say that I’m still getting her a ‘Something to Read’ gift. I’m trying a different approach this year though. She has shown interest in so many things over the years. I’m hoping by getting a book that will help her explore one of these topics more in-depth and she will discover a gift she has. With only two and a half more years in high school, she is feeling pressure to figure out what she’s going to do with “the rest of her life.” I keep telling her she doesn’t need to but you know how teenagers are (Mom doesn’t know anything).
For the Munchkin and Punkin, I have resolved myself to only getting the classics (old or new) or great education books. Here are some books they absolutely love having read to them:
Winnie the Pooh
We have the first book as well as The House at Pooh Corner. They are so sweet. I come across quotes in these stories by A.A. Milne that convict this sometimes hard heart.
Books by Roald Dahl
I read James and the Giant Peach recently to the girls and they loved it. There is a little language in it (I was surprised, too) but I skipped over it.
For Christmas, I bought Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (the sequel). I always loved the movie with Gene Wilder when I was a child even though Johnny Depp does a great Willy Wonka in the most recent adaption.
I received the Counting Things and Opposite Things books by Anna Kovecses in exchange for a review. And I must say, they are great for us. We have been able to count and practice opposites while snuggling up together. If you are looking for a way to homeschool your littles but they enjoy reading more than doing worksheets, these are great.
As far as adding classic board books, Punkin’s favorite books are Olivia by Ian Falconer and Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle.
This year, we are adding Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. A sweet book about a giraffe who wants to dance so badly but finds it just isn’t his natural gifting. You’ll definitely want to add this to your family library for your littles.
Our family loves good storytelling and wind up spending much of our family time watching movies on Friday nights (and great TV the others). It’s the one thing we can (mostly) all agree on. Mr. B and I decided trying to find other things to do and play would be great to expand the things we do together as a family.
Something To Do
Since we live only 45 minutes northeast of Atlanta, we are pretty close to a number of great things to do. The Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, concerts at Phillips Arena as well as games to see Atlanta Braves and the Falcons (even though Bug and Bubba are Saints fans and despise the Falcons) and even plays at the Fox theatre.
Start looking around your hometown to see what kind of things you can all do as a family. If you are outdoorsy, look for places to hike and explore the outdoors. We find that to be a great way to escape the trap of being in front of screens. After all, if you don’t have signal, you can’t be on your phone right?
Something To Play
For our ‘Something To Play,’ I love to look for card games, board games and even stuff to do outdoors. Mr. B found an amazing Nerf gun when we were shopping last night but there’s no way we will escape injury with that around the house right now. In the ever famous words of Ralphie’s mom (from A Christmas Story), “You’ll shoot your eye out!” So we’re waiting until the littles are all a little older.
A great new board game, especially for a family who loves to ham it up, is Utter Nonsense! A judge referred to as the Nonsense Judge, is chosen according to the stinkiest feet. There is a family edition and a naughty edition. I opted for the family edition when getting the opportunity to review it. Each person gets seven cards that have silly phrases (like “It’s National Friendship, and frankly, I’m gonna need some volunteers”). The judge pulls an accent card (Pirate, Grandma, and Whisper to name a few). Each person chooses the silly phrases they can best say in that accent (improvisation and other impersonations are encouraged)! If the Nonsense judge chooses you as the favorite, you earn the Accent Card (and a point). The first to 5 points wins!
They even have a holiday pack you are going to want to get with Buddy the Elf and the Grinch as a couple of the accent cards and phrases like “Every Christmas I give myself 10 pounds.”
You will laugh until you pee your pants when you play this game so make sure to wear your Depends! And if you are looking for something to do to ring in the New Year, look for this game
Something To Giveaway
This gift is something you do as a family for someone else or another family. If you aren’t sure exactly how to go about doing that, I would encourage you to contact your church. They will surely have information on a family in need. One suggestion is to join with other families (or your small group) to adopt a family and purchase the gifts for their family or even cook their meal for Christmas.
There’s nothing that will help instill an attitude of gratitude like giving to others, especially complete strangers during the holiday season.
Whether you choose to use this gift guide to simplify your Christmas this year or not, I pray it’s a great day filled with lots of faith, family, food, and fun.