Thursday, 14 December 2017

On the Second Day of Parenting - The Perfect Family Gift Guide

Hello and thank you for hopping over from The Butterfly Mother and welcome to the 2nd day of #12DaysOfParenting. Today's sponsor is Wonderbly who are offering a My Golden Ticket book and the theme is the perfect family gift guide! 

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If you’re anything like me, you’re filled with a mild sense of dread when Christmas approaches. 

Oh, the excitement, the lights, the glitter, the food all serve to cover it up, but you know, deep down, that Christmas means clutter. 
So many presents!

So many toys that you will be responsible for finding a home for. Toys that need batteries. Toys that have tiny pieces for the baby to consume. Toys that are too big for your lounge. 

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the ‘Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read’ idea for gift giving. We subscribed to that for a while, but I found it quite restricting. 

I like the idea of having lots of presents to open, even though I hate having to find homes for everything. I don’t mean spending great amounts of money though. 

When I was a child our Christmas sacks were filled with gifts. My mum and dad would wrap up component parts separately, and give us lots of books from charity shops. It was exciting to see the gifts piling up as we opened them one by one around the room. Present unwrapping took a long time in our house - 4 children and 2 parents opening a present at a time and waiting for the turn to come back around the circle to you was fun, and helped with instilling patience and gratitude. 

Most of our presents would be a surprise, with only one or two being what we’d asked Father Christmas for, and yet none of them were disappointing, because there were so many and they each had thought put into them. 

I have been forced to come up with a system for gift giving that both allows for lots of presents - both fun and useful -whilst still preventing the overwhelming clutter. 

So I offer to you my Perfect Family Gift Guide, in the hope that it might save your sanity:

Something to Eat
Something to Grow 
Something to Read
Somewhere to Go
Something you Want 
Something to Wear
Something to Do 
Something to Share

Not me!
Ah, food! The perfect consumable gift. My kids usually ask for a chocolate Santa, though this year they’re upgrading to a Chocolate Orange, apparently. 
Once B asked for olives, and last M wanted fish fingers. They were both granted their Christmas wishes!
It’s a great opportunity to gift a food that isn’t normally found in your home, or to make use of a seasonal treat that you would be buying anyway. I love a gift that serves two purposes!

What better gift to give at Christmas than the gift of new life! Christmas comes at the time of year when the light begins to return and we look ahead to Spring. 
The Gift of Hope
Packets of seeds are full of hope, and once they’re sprinkled, you get to watch them grow outside. No clutter in your house; a gift that’s also for the bees; and an opportunity for the whole family to take some responsibility for life and beauty. 

It's not a gift without a book!
As a once - and future - avid reader (I barely find the time these days!) who is on a mission to ensure the family grow up loving books, I view every gift giving as an opportunity to provide more reading matter. There should always be books! Yes, we’re beginning to run out of bookshelf space, but that’s a wonderful problem to have. And I don’t consider books to be clutter! Everyone in the family gets at least one new book at Christmas. There will be a new Christmas book each for the children; a fiction book or two; and some non-fiction to top up our Finding Out Shelves with whatever topic they’re currently interested in. The Hubby will get a book, regardless of the fact that he never finds time to read either. And I insist on books being in my gift pile, so that I’ve got something to look forward to when the children leave home!

We love family days out. It’s so important to find time to spend together, and I look forward to being able to get out with another adult in the mix. We have various places that we mention throughout the year and I pop them down on a list of places we’d like to go. Then a little homemade voucher or some prebooked tickets to one or more of the venues makes its way into Father Christmas’s delivery. Even better, a year’s membership to National Trust or English Heritage provides places to go for the whole year ahead. Museums, train rides, zoos, exciting play areas, castles - whatever we choose, the real gift is the chance to get out of the house and spend quality time with each other. And the bonus: if we’re out of the house, we can’t make it even more untidy!

Let’s face it - we can’t avoid this category, even in the pursuit of a clutter free home. It’s Christmas and there would be nothing worse than seeing the faces of family members who have been given only useful gifts and nothing that they actually asked Father Christmas for. This is the very reason we do a pre-Christmas clear out to make sure there are homes for new gifts. And when the rest of the gifts are useful and/or clutter free, then giving something that I wouldn’t necessarily choose myself isn’t such a chore after all. The big smiles and ‘thank yous’ on Christmas Day are the real gift here. 

Children ALWAYS need clothes
Children grow like weeds. Clothing is one of those things that we can’t avoid providing. So something to wear is another useful and clutter free gift. We use it as an opportunity to provide a new party outfit that can be worn on Christmas Day, as well as new vests or socks. The Hubby likes getting new socks every year. I request jewellery or clothes vouchers, personally. Knowing how difficult I find it to buy for myself, I wouldn’t expect anyone else to be able to do it for me. We also get the kids’ feet measured a week or so before Christmas in the hopes that new shoes can be delivered by Father Christmas. A is on the brink of walking, so he’ll definitely be getting some. 

Baking together is the gift of time
I’m always on the hunt for activities to keep the children occupied and learning. Craft sets come in handy, especially through the cold and dark of January. Sticker and colouring books are always well received. Baking ingredients are perfect for covering the Eat and Share categories too, providing an activity that is both consumable and an opportunity to spend one on one time with a parent. Experience gifts are fun too - in the past we’ve given a Fairy photo shoot to the girls and tickets for us all to see a play or go to the cinema. Something to Do doesn’t usually need to find a home for long, if at all, fulfilling my love of clutter free. 

Board Games are great for sharing
In recent years I’ve started to give sharing gifts to the children. One present between two of three reduces the number of gifts and gives opportunities for cooperation. It’s not always easy, especially when the age gap is wide, but it is possible to find gifts to suit a range of ages at once. This year they’re getting a Grimm’s Rainbow, which I am assured is perfect for kids of all ages. When writing letters to Father Christmas, the girls have asked for board games, DVDs and gingerbread men to share with the family. I like that this gets them thinking about what other people might like, rather than just about their own demands. 

In changing up our Family Gift List, I’m hoping to see less clutter, more generosity, and a lot more time together as a family. 

What is on your perfect family gift list?

Today’s Codeword is: FRANKINCENSE

If you would like to read another post and gain another entry, then head over to We Made This Life for their take on Preparing to survive the holidays.

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