The Art of Gift Giving

Around this time of year it’s easy to get caught up in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and the “stuff” surrounding Christmas, I don’t know about you but I love a good impulse buy and am all about saving a buck or two! I also love good merchandising and anything in pretty packaging gets me… the more the merrier??? Or maybe not. This time of year we have a big influx of new “toys” come into our house as we celebrate two birthdays (Rowen and Grace) and Christmas. It’s a lot in a short period of time.

Our year round “policy” around toys and stuff is less is more, and for the most part I follow this and try to encourage everyone in the house to follow this principle. We aim for experiences over stuff and try to focus on getting out and going places (near or far). We love to spend time and money on vacations, outdoor activities and even seasonal experiences like boating in the summer or mountains and snow in the winter (who am I kidding, more like Maui and beaches in the winter 😉). However we sometimes need to keep each other in check and Birthday/Christmas season seems to be when we start to slip. So, here are some of my favourite gifts as well as tips and ideas to stay on track… also some of the traditions I am trying to start with our family.

First, we are through one of two birthdays and I wanted to share some of my favourite gifts!

I love love love when people give books. My kids all enjoy them and I feel like its a gift that will be enjoyed for a long time. Plus I love giving books! I think they encourage imagination, can be part of good habits like bedtime routines or spending quality time just reading with your kids and I also love that they can be such learning and teaching tools. I know my kiddos have learnt new words and I am hoping even a bit about emotions and feelings from books. Top two favourites that are new Birthday gifts in our house are I am Yoga and I am Peace, A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde. They are so perfect for kids with busy minds and bodies ( Rowen & Grace!!!). I love these so much that they will definitely be ones I give as gifts. Plus I know they are well suited to my kiddos because they received them from their auntie but their Nan came over and saw them and said “I saw this and was going to buy it for the kids”.

A surprise favourite is a toy I had never seen or heard of but it came from Rowens Aunt who runs a preschool so she knows all the best toys. They are magnetic shapes you can use to build all sorts of things. The kids love them and there is so many different ways they can and do use them. Plus they definitely encourage imagination!

Finally a gift I never get tired of is art supplies and Rowen received all sorts of great supplies including paint brushes, paint, sketch pads and canvases, plus stickers and stamps. My kids love to paint and we go through supplies quickly so its always nice to get new stuff!

Next tip to avoid over indulging is to try giving more than receiving. We have an annual kids Christmas Party with a group of our friends who all have kids now. It is pretty special as the parents are all childhood friends raising the next generation of friends.

We used to do a gift exchange and it was loved by all the kids but the last few years we have transitioned to ” adopting” a family or individual kids through different organizations like Delta Assist. I love this. Nothing feels better than teaching your kids how to give to those who are less fortunate or maybe have fallen on hard times. I know my kiddos are still very young and might not grasp the idea but I am so proud of what we are able to do as a group and the values this will ins-till in our kids.

Tonight I hit up West 49th as my recipient of the gift I was buying was a 13-16 year old boy. The boy at the store that helped me was this age. He was so helpful and didn’t really get what I was asking for at first, so he helped pick out a reasonably priced sweater that he said was “good”. I didn’t recognize the brand and didn’t think it looked very fun but I don’t have much experience with shopping for boys especially this age. Then I asked him would you like to receive this (he didn’t really say much but I could tell it was a no). SO, I said we have no budget just show me what you would like. It was like a different kid started to talk. He said this is “wicked” and he didn’t even know Vans Spitfire made these hoodies. It would be so cool. Being a practical and boring mom I was sceptical of white, but he was so animated and excited I bought it and can’t wait for whatever boy gets this on Christmas. *** I made sure it came with a gift receipt, #1 RULE to good gift giving always include a gift receipt.

The idea here is that sometimes we have so much in our lives that we loose sight of those who maybe aren’t as fortunate. Why not use these opportunities to teach our kids about giving to others. Christmas can be a hard time for lots of people and we aren’t even aware of it. I cant imagine not being able to spoil our kids and feel so blessed everyday with all the things we can give them. OF course I know kids can survive and need very little but knowing and doing are two very different things and it is really nice to be able to spoil your kids, but why can’t we spoil and share! DO both.

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y for some traditions I am going to start in our house this year, I love the idea of a little goody box on December 1st. So this year my kiddos will be getting their new Christmas Jammie's and their advent calendars plus I think maybe a book and a tree ornament for each of them. I love this idea and think it is nice to have something to start of December with. We always got new PJs on Christmas Eve and I used to totally look forward to it but figured why not spread out some of the giving to make it last over a longer period of time. I would like to also include the Elf on The Shelf as part of this tradition but am on the fence mainly because I cant decide if the kids are too little to leave him alone or if they will just want to play with him. Any feedback from veteran households who have had the elf visit?

Of course, Christmas morning my kiddos will get some fun things (not pictured here) like dolls, trucks, games and such but I also am using Christmas as a time to stock up on some of the essentials (like socks and sweaters, etc). Another thing I am trying to do more of is find local handmade gifts. The little hula dolls are a special gift I had made for the girls, they are to signify our trip to Hawaii which is a big part of the families Christmas gift, they were handmade by The Little Honey Bee & Me. I love the idea of giving gifts with meaning and supporting local.

I hope these tips have helped you with your Christmas lists and reminded you of what’s important to your family! Would love to hear any tips or advice you have when shopping for your family.

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