I’m getting all jazzed for Christmas. If you follow on Facebook, you saw I posted the forecast the other day and it was 67 degrees here in Shreveport – SIXTY SEVEN!! That’s practically blizzard weather. Let’s just skip the Pumpkin Spice and go straight for Peppermint Mochas. This girl is all set for decking the halls and keeping my tradition of making decadent Polar Express hot cocoa. Bing Crosby. Nat King Cole. Needlepoint stockings and clunky wooden ornaments. Jesus picked a fantastic time of year to be born because absolutely everything about the season is enchanting.
Though we keep our kids’ gifts pretty simple, giving only 3-4 each, still the house gets overrun with toys over the course of their collective lifetimes. Holy moly. If we’re not very intentional about how we use our 1200 square-feet, we’d be up to our eyes in STUFF; all of which sparked bliss at some point, but are quickly demoted to Dust Collectors.
Don’t get me wrong, toys are necessary for kids’ education and I’m a big fan of cultivating imagination and creativity in my Fantastic Four; but I also like investing in things that will enhance their little lives, or in experiences that give sweet memories, closeness in our family, and timeless joy. After polling the Facebook crowd and offering my own ideas, we’ve come up with a knockout list of non-toy gifts.
My general formula for presents involves offering a gift of time along with an accompanying item. If you go with any of these, consider how time together could go along with them. Do you have another fantastic non-toy idea? Let me know!
- BOOKS – always at the top of my list. Make ’em Catholic. Make ’em classics, but most important, make a point to read ’em together. And here’s a tip – buy children’s books that you’ll enjoy reading, so reading aloud won’t be pain to you, even if you’ve read The Little House a million times before.
- Wheels – a bike, a trike, a scooter, or any ol’ way to get around is thrilling for kids, especially those with the need for speed.
- Bed sheets! Superheroes, rainbows, flannel or cool knit, there’s a real giddiness in snuggling into some fresh linens that are too cool for school.
- An area rug – Our 4 year old received a big gift card for his birthday a year ago and you know what he picked out?? A new rug! We brought home a solid navy rug, vacuumed it, laid it out and all three fellas were on it like white on rice. They took out previously boring toys just so they could sit and play for hours. Do you hear me?? Hours. Thank you Grandma, for the rock-star, flexible birthday present 😉
- Binoculars – Jolly Ol’ St. Nick stuffs stockings around here (Andrew and I retain credit for big gifts.) and last year the Catholic Kids were BESIDE themselves when they found their hip binocular-magnifying glass combos at the mantle.
- A Family trip! Patricia said, “We have decided we would rather give our kids memories…” Love it, girl!!
- Money for tuition – Christen said “This year I’m going to open up a fund for [toddlers] to help with tuition for Catholic school.” Great gift for little ones who may or may not notice presents at all.
- Memberships to the zoo, science museum, or amusement parks! Several write-ins of this idea. Give your kids some adventure 😉
- “CAKE (or other deliciousness)” – Mary Walker (bloggress extraordinaire) said her little boy’s favorite part of his birthday this year was his cake. Throw some chocolate in the stockings, make a birthday cake for Jesus, add candy canes to your cocoa; Christmas is oh so fun when it’s tasty!
- Audiobooks! This suggestion came from all sorts of directions – it’s a popular, educational hit! Fun for parents AND kiddos to listen and ideal for drives, long or short. Check out the amazing Glory Stories! Our oldest asks for the St. Juan Diego repeatedly.
- Go practical – socks, undies, and hair ties are fantastic stocking stuffers.
- Fro Yo!! A gift card for a tasty treat promises sweetness coupled with quality time. Priceless no matter the dollar amount.
- Hooded towel and bubble bath – one of the best (and lasting!) gifts we’ve ever received. My friend Katie made one for Catholic Kid #2 and it’s still his favorite after a good wash down 🙂
- Magazine subscriptions – Kids feel so important when they get mail, and when that mail is FUN to read over and over and more is coming?? Well – win, win, win.
- Shoes – New kicks are exciting because any little boy will tell you he’s faster in them. And girls feel hip and sparkly when their shoes are bright with newness.
PLUS ONE MORE
Every person in this world has been given time and unlike money or stuff, we can never get more of it; but we can give plenty of our own away, gaining joy in return. While I’m sure I’ll write to this effect over the holidays, the best gift you can give your sweetheart and babies is your time with undivided attention. Take it slow. Keep it simple. And begin to welcome the season with peace.