With a title like that can you tell what has been bothering me lately this week? You guessed it the toys! It is hardly the middle of January and I feel like the toys in this house are closing in on me. No matter what I try to do they just seem to keep coming back. Since the holidays ended I’ve even gone so far to sort out a few lost and forgottens into boxes for donation (that’s right I clean out the gifts not played with!), well of course the second they get spotted they instantly become a favorite they never were. So a few of those souls have made their way back into the house. Every room and floor it seems has been taken over by them. My living and dining room have now become one giant play room for the boys where the couch has been caged in. Anyone who sits it on it looks like they are being punished behind all the gates. Reason behind the gates is Mark, he learned to climb up the couch and then up the back of the couch into our bay window. So what used to be a place of rest and comfort for me now feels like the ball pit at Chuckie Cheese, without the fun and more pain in your feet. We try to keep some toys packed up and put away but I swear they are mating at night and multiplying. The girls birthday’s are not for a few months and I’m already hyperventilating over the mountains they will inherit. I will not move to create more space, for more toys! Thankfully my kids do clean up each night, sometimes it is the easy way sometimes it is the hard way, but it gets done. Dave and I have also learned to scale back over the last few years. It took about 2 Christmas’s with the Diana to realize that we didn’t need to buy much because kids would always get way too much. Now before I start getting a grinch or scrooge label here I want to assure that I do enjoy toys and the joy on my kids faces when they get them. Dave and I are learning to be more creative with our gift giving to the kids. This year the girls got a gift we would not have normally bought them, a beautiful daisy doll house, not to mention the biggest and most detailed one they sold either. But it wasn’t from just us, my sister chipped in and bought the furniture that came with it, and I knew I could count on a some of our grandparents to send the kids each some pocket-money. We used that to help balance out the cost to us as well. In the end what we spent on the doll house was around what we would have spent on the girls. They each received new pajamas and then one gift from Santa each. Last year the only thing we bought the boys was a plate, cup and bowl set each. Spring past we took the money we had tucked away from Christmas the kids got and their birthdays and bought them all a giant swing set with a playhouse on it. Again something we wouldn’t normally buy or so big but with the generosity of our families it was made possible.
Enough of my ramblings though and onto the ideas for gifts for kids. I hope this inspires ideas of your own that I would love to hear.
- Zoo & Museum passes – Kids love the zoo. For us these are great because as our family gets bigger admission costs to things like this do too. Sadly family rates don’t always include 4 kids. We try to avoid places where that happens, but a pass or two to such a place may help bring a wonderful day full of excitement.
- Water Park & Theme attraction Passes – Again same as above. Always a wonderful treat.
- Day Camps – For any Spring or Summer babies this is great. What kid wouldn’t love to have the stories from camp to share with you. Going to camp is like a right of passage for some kids. For little kids a day camp is all that is needed. Plus it is a help to parents at home who then have one less child to worry about for a part of the summer.
- Lessons – Is it me or are things like Dance lessons getting crazy expensive. You have to take out a mortgage just to see little Betty stand on stage, attempt not to pick her nose all while trying to shuffle ball change to a song, not to mention in a dress you paid way to much only to rent or find itself buried in the bottom of your dress up bin. Needless to say lots of kids dream of the chance to take ballet, or piano lesson, even swimming lessons. Finding a way to help mom and dad make little Betty’s dream come true could be a life saver. Last spring my mom made each of the girls a new swimsuit and paid for them to take lessons in the summer. Both loved it! I told my mom that was all she was ever allowed to get them now 🙂
- A skill – Treasured skills and family recipes seem to be becoming extinct. Why not share a day and something special you are good at. Again lately during my moms visits she has been trying to teach Diana sewing, by doing some hand stitching to patterns on pillow cases. I know in her heart of hearts she hopes to pass on her talents to her grandchildren as she learned from her grandma herself. Gifts that hold value more precious that gold.
- Something handmade – Going along with the skills, why not make something. I asked my sister this Christmas to sew the boys some stockings. Something they can grow up to cherish each Christmas. I myself am hoping to make each of my kids a large knitted blanket for their hope chests (something else I think we need to bring back), so that they can always feel warm and cozy when they leave home. My grandma made me one and it is one of my most treasured things.
- Your time – nothing is more precious than the gift of time. In a day and age where everyone seems to be running low on it, it seems like the perfect thing. A picnic in the park, movie and dinner out, even a weekend sleepover. All we are ever left with are our memories. Why not gift that? We don’t remember what we get from each person every birthday or holiday, but we do remember moments. Like the times my Aunt Diane would pack up Aja and I and head off for a hike at Camp Samac followed by and ice cream at Dairy Queen. Or when Aunt Brenda started belting out french rhymes in the kitchen while we washed dishes at the cottage. The endless boat rides Uncle Scott gave us. For me the weekend Uncle Mike & Aunt Diane took me to my first coed camp! These are things I won’t ever forget.
- RESPs – Sure they sound boring but when the time comes for college they will be thankful the money is there, especially if they want to be a doctor or even for our kids where mom and dad will have 4 kids to help out and money has to be shared and may not be plenty. Jesus may have been able to take a fish and a loaf of bread and feed all those people sitting with him that day, but money still doesn’t grow on trees.
I hope these have helped inspire some creative gift giving. As the Barenaked Ladies say, “Think outside the box a little bit
Box with an “r”
Yeah, well, no, box with a b-a-l-k-s, like a pitcher.
Ahh, as opposed to b-a-c-h-s,
Right, think outside the “balks”.