5 Days of Preparing for the Holidays: Gift-Giving

Today’s blog hop topic is “gift-giving”, which, can be both a source of joy and stress in this season. It seems like everyone I know has a different idea of how to give gifts, how much to give, when to do the giving…etc. etc. In our family, we try to go with a moderate approach, which is hard for me because I LOVE giving gifts to people!! Seriously, I love Christmas shopping for my family more than I love shopping for shoes!! (which is saying a lot, because I really, really love a cute pair of shoes! especially if they’re on sale 😉 ) There is something about searching for that gift you just know that person is going to love, and anticipating the look on their face when they open it!! To me, it’s one of the best parts of Christmas.

Of course, I don’t have an unlimited budget, so I have to be frugal when shopping for gifts. My hubby has a large family that is spread out all over the place. As a general rule, we all only buy gifts for the people we are actually going to see in person for the holiday. Everyone else gets a Christmas card with pictures. This works well for all the brothers and sisters in the family, as the out of state relatives don’t have to worry about squeezing extra people (and shipping costs) into the budget. Every few years or so, one of us will visit someone else for the holidays, and then we will buy gifts for them. This year, my cousin (who is in the Navy) is coming to visit for Christmas and we are really excited!! I am looking forward to shopping for him and my uncle this year.

I use the weekend after Thanksgiving as a chance to take my boys through all the “stuff” in their rooms to decide what they want to keep, what they want to get rid of or donate, and what they may need. This helps them to make decisions about what to ask for for Christmas, and also makes room for the new stuff.

In our immediate family, my hubby and I set a budget per person and that is what we spend. Usually, my boys write their “letter to Santa” after Thanksgiving and list three things they really want. From that list, we pick one for each boy to be their main gift (which comes from Santa) and then we let the grandmas know about the other two. We typically fill out the rest of the budget with books, smaller toys, clothes etc. My kids know that the number of presents they get won’t always be the same. As my oldest son grows, he asks for fewer things but they are, unfortunately, usually more tech-related and expensive. So he may only get two or three gifts. My younger son still loves action figures and legos, so he may end up with more gifts under the tree because they don’t cost as much!

On a side note, yes, we make Santa a part of our Christmas celebration. I know a lot of people don’t, and that’s fine, but for us, it just adds to the fun. I remember the first time my oldest was big enough to recognize what Santa represented (I think he was about 3). He woke up on Christmas morning, walked out to the living room, and came back to me all wide-eyed and excited saying “Mommy, he really came! Santa came!!”. The look on his face was just amazing. I am a huge fan of Santa, and every year we have fun checking out the NORAD Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve day and watching movies while we wait for presents to be delivered.  For my family, it’s an additional part of our celebration we look forward too. My boys are at the age where they may not “officially” believe anymore, but they play along because it’s just one more thing we all have fun doing together!

I am happy to say that my boys share my spirit for giving gifts as well. Now that they both regularly earn allowance, they set a budget for each other and both my husband and I and we take them to the store and allow them to pick out their own gifts for everyone. They really enjoy this, and will often spend a long time picking something out, then they come home and wrap it right away and put it under the tree. Usually, on Christmas morning, they want us to open their gifts as soon as we get done with the stockings, because they are so excited to give them to us!

Speaking of stockings, I have to say, that they are one area of gift-giving that always pose a problem for me. I usually hit the local dollar store looking for things to stuff them with, but I always seem to run out of ideas!! This year, I was looking on Pinterest (of course) and found two links that give a lot of great ideas for stocking stuffers. The first is a list of ideas for your hubby:

http://lovelylittlesnippets.blogspot.com/2011/11/25-stocking-stuffers-for-your-manly-man.html
I especially like the idea of the love letter, and I plan to use that one this year!!

And here is a general list for kids and adults:
http://theholidayhelper.blogspot.com/2012/10/stocking-stuffer-ideas.html

So, if you’re like me and have a hard time figuring out what to stuff the stockings with, check those lists out!

Of course, now after writing this post, I just realized how much work I have to do over the next couple of months. As much as I love the shopping, I am one of those “last minute, the week before Christmas” kind of girls. (LOL). Every year I SAY I’m going to get an early start, and every year I don’t. I’m going to try very hard to do it early this time, but I can’t make any guarantees. Are you an organized, early shopper who can give me some tips? Leave a comment and let me know! And be sure to check out what everyone else had to say about gift-giving!

PreparingfortheHolidays

I will see you on Friday when we talk about homeschooling for the holidays! Be sure to check out all the posts on holiday arts and crafts tomorrow (I definitely will, because I am SO not good at that stuff 🙂 )

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