Wednesday, 14 October 2009

It's that time of year...

Actually, I may even be a little late, but I'm wasting no time as I jump into the Christmas spirit. I like to have lots of time to settle into Christmas gift ideas, choosing just the right thing for each friend and family member. It's a good thing I decided to get going, because I didn't realize how difficult this year was going to be!

My first stop is the boys...and this proved to be a great roadblock. Our playroom is currently stuffed with toys. Every few months I go through and cull out the things that aren't favourites, just to keep the amount of things manageable. But last month I only came up with two small, rinky toys that weren't used on a regular basis! And so when I started considering adding more toys to the piles, I started getting concerned about what would get the boot to make way for the new additions.

My boys are too young for collecting (ie: action figures or play sets). Truly - some weeks their absolutely favourite thing is Happy Meal toy or Dollar Store buy. Imagination through acting is much more common here than imagination through toys. Toys seem to be a secondary prop rather than a primary tool. Add to that the fact that their interests in toys come and go so quickly, I felt a little hesitant to "invest" in some of the playsets out there.

So I sat up in bed one evening, flipped on the laptop and began to do some preliminary searching online for gift ideas. An hour later, I was still nowhere. I posed the question to James, and he came up with nothing either. Over the next few days I started talking with friends who have boys older than mine, to find out what the toys with staying power really are. I got a few good suggestions, but nothing quite right for my little guys. Up until at least the age of 5, there was nothing that was really going to have the kind of staying power I wanted to spend money on.

Eventually I did decide on one thing - I wasn't going to buy everything brand new. Although our budget could certainly handle the expense, I just couldn't see the point in spending that much money on toys that wouldn't hold their interest for more than a year or two. And so, with much trepidation, I hit the "online garage sales" of Craig's List and Kijiji. Personally, I can't stand these sites. There is so much sifting through garbage, so many "hits" for each search, so few people close enough to make it worth the drive, and so many items listed for way more than they are worth second hand! Nevertheless, in the spirit of the old tale "long walk part of gift," I dove into the murky online world and started searching.

So far, I have had a bit of success. I've figured out a few things to get: a couple of toys, a couple of movies, a couple of more practical things. Again, even with a budget that would allow a little more extravagance, a mountain of presents is not what we want our focus of Christmas to be, and so as parents we are practicing a good amount of restraint. The ideas are finally starting to cement in my mind, and the first few items have been purchased already. My favourite part of this whole process is storing the gifts in bags in the basement, wandering down every so often to "take stock" of what I have, thinking about each person who will recieve the gift and what it will mean to them.

With our baby on the way, I will be certain to have most of the shopping down in the next month or so. Gratefully most of our family members feel much the same as we do, and so there isn't a huge amount of gift shopping to be done; just a few thoughtful presents to show our love of those near and dear to us, something that will truly be appreciated as more than a gift card or an envelope full of cash. that I'm Christmas shopping, does that give me permission to open up my box of Christmas music yet? I'm thinking yes...


Kevin said...

Dude, we haven't even hit Halloween yet. You're killing me over here...

heather80 said...

Don't listen to Kevin, I'm done Shea's presents but for stocking stuffers (though I will, undoubtedly, buy more stuff), and both my parents and in-laws' presents were bought months ago.

I love browsing kijiji and craigslist. It's true, I don't want most of it, but I have found some really good finds on there (again, $5 for a like-new play kitchen). I've also bought strollers, etc., on there. And I've sold Shea's baby stuff that's taking up too much
space to store (like his swing), since we don't plan to have another baby for 2 more years at least.

I, like you, and finding myself having to restrain myself this year. Last Christmas, given circumstances, was so horrible, that while before it all happened, I'd excitedly gotten Shea Christmas presents, I didn't buy a single thing once everything went down, and did not enjoy Christmas even a little bit.

This year, with things a little better, I've gotten more into it. And now Shea's closet is full of new and used toys, books, etc., and I've painted his ornament and started painting his other cars. His quilt is ready to be sewn, once I learn to use the sewing machine.

What I have done, though, is not just bought toys just to buy them. I've stopped myself there. I've started to think, "Will he really enjoy this, or is this just another one of something he has 6 of?" generally, it's just another car, or something he already has, so I've tried to get him different things this year, things he doesn't have, like music sets (he has the little guitars and drums and stuff, but they're electronic, and he has a few shakers, I like this true music set that is all instruments), and plastic animals, and dramatic play stuff.

I've already decided we're going to get him a children's guitar for his birthday. He LOVES playing the guitar with my dad, we're going to get him a real guitar, child-sized, like I had as a kid, that he can use until he outgrows it, and plays along with Grandpa (just randomly plucking strings now, but eventually learning to play it). I was surprised to find out they are only $100 at Long and McQuade, so that is likely his birthday gift. Last year, I got him a rocking horse. Toys are fun, but I like trying to think of things that are different too.

Terri-Ann said...

Kevin - Thanksgiving is over, so I figure at least I made it through that major holiday before starting!

Heather - I totally agree about the "will he really like this?" question in regards to presents. And I also think it's a great idea to pick up the child guitar - although plastic toys are fun, nothing can replace the experience of a real (though smaller!) item.

I'm still on the fence about Kijiji. My biggest problem is sorting through to find stuff local enough to Orangeville to make it worth the drive to pick up. I backed out of an item last week because once I added in gas plus email money transfer cost I was only a few dollars shy of the in-store price! All the major cities are at least 35-40 minutes or more away. But you're right about the big ticket items - I got my double stroller for $40 and it was the best thing I've ever bought! It likely has more kilometers on it than I put on my van!

heather80 said...

When I search Craigslist, I look only in Brampton for the same reason. Kijiji doesn't have that option, it lumps Brampton in with Mississauga and gives me everything, but I may be missing something.