My goal is to have shopping done by Thanksgiving. At this stage of my life, unless I’m looking for a specialty item or gift certificate at a local restaurant, I don’t step foot in a physical store for the holidays. Nor most other times for that matter (with the exception of Costco, where we primarily purchase food items and various household items). The mall, Target, wherever is usually so stupidly busy after work or on the weekends, not to mention the throngs of black Friday shoppers, it is more stress than happiness. Plus, I’m really not much of a consumer.
Anyways, we’re buying a few things for our trip, so I started and mostly ended our holiday shopping today. We are so fortunate to have a nice home and a nice family, with most of our wants covered as well. We aren’t driving high-end cars, my kids don’t have their own room televisions, nor their own iPads or whatever. They have enough. We have enough. Which makes Christmas sometimes hard, or maybe easy, when you don’t feel so materialistic about getting things. Obviously, I’m not a Gift Language (as in The 5 Love Languages) so have a hard time both buying gifts and receiving them. I asked for some new workout socks for Christmas. That’s all I really want or need. Holly wants a new taller faucet for our kitchen sink. The kids want iPads (which they aren’t getting), but instead will get just a few things to supplement their existing stash of crafts and legos and video games.
We (I should say my wife) still makes gifts for people. She crochets hats, scarves, and blankets, and had a side hustle for awhile selling really nice beaded jewelry. Stuff like below. I’ve asked if she wanted to sell on a page linked to the AMD site and thus far she’s declined. She’s really talented and creative, even taking metal working classes and making things like silver chain-link bracelets. Don’t be afraid to use whatever talents (woodworking, card-making, knitting, vehicle repair [as in homemade gift certificates for oil changes or whatever) to give your time and efforts as gifts. People really appreciate this.
So here’s a few things we are getting this year (all 100% true), including some standard gifts for others like teachers and the like. No recommendations for novelty ideas or gifts. Though funny on occasion, I find the thrill fairly quick to wear off. If you’d like any ideas, MMSL Forum had a funny thread on Christmas Gift Ideas, some pretty good random ones for those that are struggling for that special someone. A quick note – any Amazon links are affiliate ones, meaning I get a small percentage just like others who run this program. It costs you nothing more, and last year I was able to make enough to pay for my webhosting service, so much appreciated.
Gifts For Others – We don’t buy too many gifts for others. Thankfully, we’ve talked our families into moving away from this tradition as we all have enough stuff. We just want to spend time with each other. So gifts for others consist usually of things for teachers and close friends that we just want to give something they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. Our “go to” gift is Penzeys spice gift boxes. My wife splurges on spices and buys them nearly exclusively from Penzeys. Their gift boxes are about $15-16 and are very well received, plus check out on-line coupons, you can often get free gift boxes or other stuff. We’ve even bought, or gone in with others, the big gift boxes for wedding presents which are almost always one of the most unique and well received gifts they receive (and you’re thought about every time they use them). My favorites are the Chicago and Chili 3000 for the griller in your family.
Video Library – Since we don’t have cable, we have a half-way decent family library. The adult side doesn’t get watched as much, but we still break out Fight Club or the Matrix or one of several romantic comedies on occasion. The kids’ library consists of mostly Pixar movies, and a few Dreamworks films (How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek), along with Star Wars box sets , key Disney movies like Frozen (must have watched that about 20 times the first month we had it) and Tangled, along with a few randoms like Annie and the Wizard of Oz. In the winter months, or as a come-down from crazy summer days (or rainy days), these get watched very, very frequently and we’ve found them to be well worth the money spent. I actually like every one of those films and am a big fan of the Pixar group. Shitty movies by the other studios (Turkey Run, Nut Job, etc.) are one and done, so find them at the library or Netflix instead of buying them – stick with the Majors. When we go to the movies, we usually bring our own snacks and try to see late first run movies at the discount place, but buying a movie can be more economical as an entertainment choice. Two of the best are on DVD this holiday season, and we’ll be buying them for family Christmas Gifts. If you have kids and haven’t seen the two below, they are great and receive the AMD highest recommendation for multiple watchings (we’ve seen the first Dragon film probably 20 times and I still get goose bumps watching the flight scenes – great musical score too, and the second one is just as good, though much different tenor). I’m not a big superhero movie guy (most are very ‘meh,’ though the Christopher Nolan Batman movies are very, very good), but GotG is way funnier and takes itself much less seriously than the other Marvel or DC films. A few older jokes you might think are slightly inappropriate will go over your kids’ head. My 7 year old loved the movie as much as me.
Educational stuff – I’m an enginerd and my kids have their own interests and abilities, but are both very smart. Birdsnest (9) is writing plays on the computer with dialogue and parts for her friends, so will be getting a few workshop sessions for the children’s theater group in town that has a class for kids K-5 on playwriting and acting. Loudboy is possibly a future engineer or something similar, his mind works similarly to mine at that age. He will be getting Snap Circuits Physics Kit. This is something I’ve had in my cart for 6 months, and will pull the trigger for this Christmas. Almost 1,500 reviews, mostly 5-star, at Amazon. Teaches basic electrical engineering/circuit concepts in a fun way. Recommended for ages 8-15, but younger may be possible if you help them. So excited for this, about $45.
Games – My kids got the D&D Boxed starter set ($12, includes dice), that we play with still (and love) earlier this year. We also found the Game of Life at the thrift shop for $1.50, which is a popular game in our home. We love board games at our house in general and are great times. For Christmas, after doing some board game research, we are buying Ticket To Ride
Intended for those aged 8-12, but again, 1,600 reviews, mostly 5-star, sounds awesome for both kids and grown-ups. When interested in something, I research a lot. The next boardgame I plan to buy when the kids get older is Galaxy Trucker (recommended for 10 and up, a little much for my 7-9 year olds even if they are playing chess already, but sounds awesome for the Star Wars/Sci-Fi geek I am, can’t wait to buy this one – a little pricey but sounds awesome and is highly rated). For video games this year, for under $20, we’re buying Minecraft for the console so the kids don’t hog my wife’s iPad. For the Grown-ups, we’re getting Cards Against Humanity which will be great with our frequent friends and neighbors gatherings (now that the kids take care of themselves).
For the Missus – Sorry, I have nothing for you here. My most difficult purchase every year. When I’ve bought lingerie, it has usually tanked as our tastes and comfort levels are so much different. Christmas sex toy shopping can be done together at sites like Adam and Eve, that can be fun and my wife and I have done that before for Christmas. Or you can try and surprise her with adult films, see my post here for ideas. Your results may vary. Me: I will get my wife a new faucet, and not sure what else I’m getting her, except this great swimsuit for our early December trip (for me, seriously, only $15 – gonna be both funny and awesome, since A) I don’t quite look like that, yet. and B) confidence is sexy). What more could she ask for? What are y’all getting your wife or husband? I need some more ideas as faucet doesn’t scream awesome to me.