Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Managing Expectations Around Gifts

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Managing expectations around giftsAh, the holidays are upon us. There are the classic songs, colorful décor, and tasty treats. Let us not forget the coupon cutting, sale searching, and line waiting. We buy a handful of gifts for our kiddos. Hubby and I discuss a budget and gift ideas, which I try to follow through with before Thanksgiving comes so gifts are not on my mind during the holiday season. We live in a smaller home. I say that not to say we don’t have enough space but simply that we do not crave many toys in our home. We live somewhat simply, by choice.

When I was young, I enjoyed people asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I even flat out made a list and sent it to the man in red, without request. Now I anticipate the inevitable question from a variety of spots (grandmas, aunts, and more!) for my young kiddos. I went through phases. First I felt like I shouldn’t be giving ideas, almost telling people, what to get for my children. It felt selfish. Then I was annoyed that some people felt such need to buy, even when I knew they didn’t have a lot to spend. We’ve settled this last year on what we think is a more realistic, respectful way of balancing other people’s wants for our children and what we hope for them as well.

Keep Perspective

You can’t make other people give gifts the way you want. Everyone understands giving and chooses to do so in different ways. Share how you gift if you’d like, but don’t expect people to suddenly change years of their own beliefs around traditions, giving, and the holidays.

Recognize what you can and can’t control

You can control what you say to your children about gifts and giving. If grandma goes overboard for your children, consider encouraging them to share with others by giving some away or storing some toys away to take out throughout the year. If you receive inexpensive, easily breakable toys with a million small pieces because auntie doesn’t share your love for local, wooden toys, play with them until they break and then throw them away without guilt or donate them to begin with, encouraging a child’s giving heart. If you don’t want grandpa’s extravagant gift to upstage your smaller, hard-earned gift, focus on your giving heart and remind your child that money comes to different people in different ways and amounts. Money does not equal love. Recognize time may teach them this lesson once they grow up and reflect back on childhood, understanding it with an adult’s perspective.

Choose a different centerpiece

Don’t let gifts become the center point. If you stress so much about what others are gifting that it keeps you up at night, figure out what is underneath such a strong attachment to gifting for you. For example, if your concern is keeping up with what other families are providing for their families, remember that love is a far more valuable commodity than a bin full of toys. Perhaps you want children to focus on other aspects of the holiday season or the importance of giving, not money. Know that one day of gifts will not overshadow the other 364 days of the year that you guide them in life.

Lynette shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Fun Gifts for Toddlers at Christmas

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Fun Holiday Gifts for ToddlersIf your child is like mine, she has plenty of toys. My daughter, Johanna, has a dollhouse, kitchen, play purse, jewelry, etc. Her favorite toys right now are her “Frozen” figurines. Kids are so much fun to shop for at the holidays. Here are some of my favorite fun gifts to give.

1. Toys for Imaginative Play

Toys that toddlers can use their imaginations with are the best.  If you have a play kitchen in your house, why not invest in some more fun items to go with it like play food. Take play food to another level and check out these cute Melissa and Doug play foods that your child can actually cut. Let your child pretend they have their own indoor garden and purchase these play gardening tools.  My daughter loves her baby dolls. For awhile, they went everywhere with us, along with their stroller. Get your little one a baby doll and also a baby carrier for their doll. They can be just like mommy! Toys that toddlers can for imaginative play will provide hours of fun and entertainment for you and your little ones.

2. Gifts You Make

The most heartfelt holiday gifts are the ones we spend time creating for our children. Take the time this year and create some fun gifts. If you are crafty and can sew, make your toddler their very own sleeping bag. If your little one likes to read, create your very own family board book.  Use words like “mom” and “dad” and put your own photos in the book. How fun! Use cardboard boxes to create fun, new toys. Try making a ice cream shop for your toddler out of a box you have and some other craft supplies. It doesn’t get much more creative than that! Your toddler will see the love behind any gift you take the time to make them.

3. Gifts Your Toddler is Into Now

I can’t help it. I am a sucker for the trendy holiday gifts of the season. My daughter is all about the movie “Frozen,” so this year, we had to go find Sno Glo Elsa before she sold out.  Another hot item to have is a cute little table with chairs for your little one. I am planning on finding one of these on sale this Black Friday. My daughter also loves puzzles right now, so I plan on buying her a few more. Whatever your child is really into right now, go ahead and get them something related to that. I’m not saying buy every “Frozen” toy you see, but it’s okay to get a gift or two that will create a priceless response.

The great thing about toddlers is that they are excited by the smallest things. Any holiday gift you give will create awe and wonder that is sure to last longer than the holiday season.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana who is all about “Frozen” gifts this year. She needs to “let it go!”

When Your Child’s Birthday is on a Holiday

Friday, December 5th, 2014

I am sure you all remember having a childhood friend whose birthday fell on a major holiday. The upside is that it was easy to remember what day their birthday was! The downside was that perhaps their birthday got less attention because it was on a holiday.

My son’s birthday, December 5, happens to fall on Sinterklass, or Saint Nicolas Day. We live in the Netherlands, so this is the equivalent of having your birthday fall on Christmas Day in the States. It was hard enough having his birthday in the same month as Christmas, but now it’s on the very same day as a major holiday.

Here are a few things we plan to do to keep his birthday a special day even though it is shared with a major holiday.

1. Celebrate the birthday on a different day. Generally a birthday party occurs around the time of one’s birthday but rarely (due to scheduling and/or other logistics) on one’s actual birthday. In other words, it’s common to celebrate a birthday on a different day than one’s actual date of birth.20141126_202313

2. Give separate gifts. We have a birthday gift planned and a Sinterklass gift planned. One will be an obvious birthday present, wrapped in distinctively festive birthday paper while the other will be an obvious Sinterklass present wrapped in distinctive Sinterklass paper. Young children are quite concrete, so keeping the gifts separate will help them feel like that they got to enjoy celebrating both their birthday and the holiday.

3. Do at least one special “birthday thing” on the actual birthday. Even if a majority of the day will be filled with holiday-related events, doing just one special birthday activity will honor the day as your child’s day of birth. It could be making a special breakfast or going out for an ice cream cone. I plan to take my son on a lunch date for his birthday.

4. Tell his/her birth story. I have a tradition of telling my children their birth story on their birthdays. Again, this helps recognize and honor their special day.

What are some things you have done to celebrate your child’s birthday that falls on or during the holiday season?

Sarah Johnson is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer.