We are approximately 4 weeks from Christmas and the lists are being prepared in our household, as the kids flick through the local sport and toy catalogues. The exhaustive list of toys and sports equipment is wishfully prepared by our 7 & 11 year olds, and will be dutifully mailed to Santa in the coming week, as they did last year and the years before that.
The Spirit of Christmas, as a family celebration and for some, a religious occasion is for most in the West, also an occasion for giving. And giving. And giving. Christmas morning is always a joyous time when kids tear gifts open to the shrilling sounds of “Oh I asked for this!” and “Wow, look at this Mum!”. Within 30 minutes, the floor is covered in thin torn up santa, reindeer and snowflake paper. If you don’t watch out in our house, Dad will quickly snap up the paper, stuff it all in a big bag and potentially throw out your new robot. The Virgo likes a bit of order restored, relatively quickly, whilst the Libra in me is happy to sit amongst it for the day. I digress.
Last year, in anticipation of our move to France and the need to declutter the existing toys, we changed tact. One of the reasons why we adventured to France with the kids, was to show them other ways of living, to pare down a bit and simplify our lives. We knew time spent together, was more valued than the money we spent together or on each other. So Rob and I discussed ways we could gift but not give excessive toys and fill our cupboards with things the kids didn’t need and most certainly would forget about within weeks.
We reflected on what they loved doing – flying was one activity we knew our older boys loved. Travel was another and it had been about 2 years since we’d had a holiday away. So it was decided that we would give a holiday as their main gift, where we would make memories to last.
To pay for the holiday, we pooled money from Granddad (who always gave each child about $100) and our money (we usually spent $200 on a main present, followed by other small gifts). Together we bought 3 day passes at the Gold Coast theme parks (not a request of ours, definitely one of the boys) each for $100 and Rob & I bought the $89 flights to the Gold Coast.
The small gifts were subsequently wrapped up into HUGE boxes to make opening them dramatic, a brick in the bottom of each to increase the intrigue and they were a huge success! Some may think that’s a bit unfair to give a holiday – but the kids adored it and it made the holiday far more special, as it was a gift (not a given).
So we’ve had our thinking caps on again this year and are going function over fun but will certainly include some games and toys in the shape of sports games, balls, nets that the boys want. Here is a list of some gifts you might want to consider this year:
- A trip or holiday – book a weekend, week or special holiday home or weekend in the city and package it up in a fun way. Include homemade ‘gift certificates’ for things you can do, if budgets are tight and entertainment options are low. Remember, this is a gift – not just a kick back and relax for you and you want them to think it’s extra special. Put together a fun scavenger hunt for your walks and bring lollies (candies) to ‘hide’ along the way as if they were left by elves. This works a treat with our boys and they still go along with it, despite knowing that it’s us who are the elves! Make the trip special & memorable, even if it’s a day or weekend trip away. These can be some of the best.
- Gift an experience in your own city or town. Again, package this up nicely and think of a theme. A cooking class you can do together, a creative class or walk around the city (there are chocolate walks, art walks, grafiti walks in Melbourne – all of which kids would love). I’ve been on a laneways tour with Hidden Secret Tours which was great. I’m Free tours also run free tours in Sydney & Melbourne. I’m giving Aussie examples as a lot of our community are there but you could search for this in your town no matter where you live!
- Buy something functional but fun. Think about what they really need that also falls on their really ‘want’ list. Something that might encourage kids to play outside, a new jacket, thermals for skiing (that’s on our list), a soccer net, a cricket bat. The other functional but fun idea would be anything they need for school, kinder next year or even a new outfit. Buying stickers with their name on them are both useful and fun and www.tinyme.com make some beautiful ones. Kids love seeing their name in print and you’ll need them for any school or childcare they go to.
- We recently discovered Kiwico and are trying them this year (I’m updating this in 2018!). Each of the older boys will receive a crate each month for 3 months, to create, make and discover more about STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art & math). They have crates for every age starting at with babies and they go up to 104 years old! You can get a subscription here and they have 30% off your first month. You can also cancel at any time or of course extend if they love them.
- Find something that will hang on their wall in their room and make them think. There are so many beautiful quote prints and inspirational thought starters that can help build foundations for kids. I particularly love this poster that is of the constellation on a special night by The Night Sky– perhaps the night they were born. A print about them being unique would go along nicely with this and teach them that they are special beings and capable of anything. Sprout and Sparrow sell gorgeous motivational prints that you can find here.
- I always love the products that Aussie/UK brand Olli & Ella have as they encourage play and creativity with kids. They have Playpa (as below) and a lot of the cutest pretend play sets with wood playhouses and little wood furniture. Their new Play & Pack sets are perfect for kids travels as are the beautiful Oprah-approved See-ya Suitcases. Kids learn so much through pretend play and when you can support another small business like Olli & Ella, you win all around.
Find out more about Habitots here! We send out our inspirational emails every 2 weeks and you can sign up here or by clicking the image below. When you do, you’ll get a free Travel Activity Pack from us as well!
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