It is easy for us to keep gifts minimal since our kids are still so young and they have no expectation of receiving pile after pile of presents. But I also strongly feel that we are laying the foundation of what they can expect for future years as well: a few thoughtful gifts and lots of time spent together as a family creating memories (here's more on some of our holiday traditions).
We have been minimizing our toys extensively and we've always liked to keep it simple, so whenever I would think of a gift idea for one of them I asked myself: "Will I want to donate this in a few months?" If the answer was yes, then I crossed it off the list. Here's what we've decided on for the kids this year:
HP (will be 3.5):
- Two wooden alphabet puzzles--one uppercase, one lowercase. He has been showing an interest in letters and likes to make them out of blocks and attempt to draw them on paper. I know he'll use the letters to stack, build, and make other creations in addition to actually working the puzzles.
- A thick board with nails started in it wrapped with a hammer so he can pound away (supervised, obviously). He enjoys helping Neil whenever he is working on a project around the house and is fascinated by tools. He will be able to pound to his heart's content!
- A roll of painters' tape--he loves the stuff! He likes to wrap up toys around the house and say they are for someone's birthday and fix things that are "broken." He will love having his very own tape instead of having to ask us for it constantly. No damage to the house and hours of entertainment.
- Toddler scissors--he likes to cut things and usually uses our scissors, but it would be safer and easier for him to have a pair his own.
- Dried mangoes (and maybe dates?)--a sweet treat we rarely have.
- Toothbrush. Because he needs a new one.
E (will be 14.5 months)
- A walker wagon we found used. She has taken a handful of steps, but is still mostly crawling. I have no doubt she'll love to put things in and out of the wagon and wheel it around the house. Bonus: HP will think it's fun, too.
- E is big into putting things into containers and taking them back out so I am going to make her a little box like I did for HP (we have since recycled his) so she can slide dominoes into the slot. Easy, free, and fun.
- Two snack packs and a set of metal containers. We already have one of each of these but we need more since we never have enough when it is time to pack snacks. Most of our containers are glass, which aren't ideal for toddlers at the park. Enter snack packs and metal containers--problem solved.
- Some sort of food treat. Maybe crackers since she loves them and we don't keep them around the house?
The kids will also get a few things from aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Our family is great about giving thoughtful gifts that the kids love without going overboard. I feel so thankful for their approach--I know that presents (how many, what kind, etc.) can be a source of stress for many families and that is not the case for us.
Gift-giving among the extended family adults has become more laid back over the years. We all buy for the nieces and nephews, but not for siblings. I would write more about our plans there, but don't want to spoil the surprise before the holiday since some family members read here.
Neil and I don't generally exchange gifts. I am getting him a couple of small, useful things for his stocking, but no big present. Gift-giving isn't our love language and we are fine with it. We have been contemplating a big purchase for the family (a Vitamix!), but haven't pulled the trigger yet.
It feels so good to be nearly done with presents in November!