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.
Hmmm...now that I'm Christmas shopping, does that give me permission to open up my box of Christmas music yet? I'm thinking yes...