On a dreary, drizzly weekend, a friend of mine and I went shopping. We took just my baby with us, making us relatively kid-free for this trip. Christmas shopping without kids and with friends is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
Deciding what to get
You know how the old song says “… making a list, checking it twice?” That’s what I do at Christmas. I start in September, usually, and take stock of things I’ve gotten all year round. Yes, I Christmas shop year-round, as I see things I know my kids would love, or may need to have in the future. I keep them in boxes (one box per child) in a section of my storage room, declared off limits to my kids.
Once I have an idea of what I already have on hand, I make a list of potential gift ideas. Given that I have 6 children, I try to stay away from new toys. We have “sets” of things that I will add to, depending on what interests my kids at the moment. For example, I have a wooden train set that I bought my oldest child several years ago one Christmas. I have since bought other related sets and expansion packs for subsequent children, over the years. They all go with that “set” of toys. Other sets we have include baby dolls, our kitchen playset, our car mat and cars, wooden blocks, and lego.
Speaking of sets, have you seen my set of cookie recipes? Just in time for the holidays. Fill your Christmas Cookie Jar!
What kinds of gifts to get
Generally, I try for the rhyme:
Something they want, something they need,
Something to wear, something to read.
Something they want is easy. This is the toy, game or device they have been asking for. They each get to make their own lists. It makes it easy in stores, when they see something they want. They don’t ask me to get it right then. Instead, I tell them, we’ll put that on your birthday or Christmas list (whichever is coming next). Yes, I make notes of what my kids tell me they want — I have a little notebook I keep on hand just for that reason!
Something they need is a little trickier. Sometimes it’s obvious. For example, when my 2nd daughter needed more interactive media to practice her vocabulary and reading, I got her a tablet for her birthday. Another year, I got each of my girls a blanket in their own color, since we needed more blankets. This is where I can budget for necessary items, and still make them personal.
Something to wear is obvious. Sometimes this is a new Christmas dress for everyone. Sometimes it’s just a nice outfit. Though I don’t always do clothes — sometimes it’s bedding, room decor, jewelry or hair things. But it’s usually not socks or mittens. Those go in the stockings anyway!
Something to read is new for me this year. I love books. My kids repeat my saying often. “There’s no such thing as ‘too many books’. There’s just not enough shelves!” This year I’ve gotten my kids each a series of books suited to their reading level and ability. But this is the first year, as well, that every one of my children (except the baby of course) is reading at some level.
Budgeting for gifts
I love Christmas, and I love giving presents. But with six of them, and only one of me, it can get pricey! My budget has to stretch a lot for gift giving at the holidays.
That’s one reason why I shop all year round. Shopping for Christmas year-round reduces the one-time impact on my budget. It spreads out the expense over several months’ income.
I also have no issue giving my children quality used items. Nearly new clothes from a children’s consignment store are just as good as brand new clothes from a retail store. And many people practically give away nearly new toys, electronics and games in online classifieds. Often the only difference is the lack of packaging. And that’s just less to dispose of for me!
Shopping trips galore
One of the hardest things about Christmas shopping is actually getting to do it alone. I have to get really creative sometimes about getting those gifts home without the recipient noticing it. Once, I picked up a toy I knew my middle daughter would adore, and I hid it under my front car seat for about two weeks. That’s how I got it home, and finally got it in my house without her seeing.
That’s why I value the shopping trips I can get with my friends so much. Not only do I get that needed adult time, but I get uninterrupted alone time to be able to surprise my children. But I live in Canada, so sometimes it’s go shopping even in the worst of winter storms.
**Christmas shopping seem scary? Always forgetting something? You need the From Stress to Bliss Holiday Planner! Take care of the overwhelm and get your shopping lists under control. Then you can sit back and enjoy your holidays!**