Before we get to the good stuff (i.e., the gift ideas), let’s spend a few minutes detailing my new Christmas philosophy.
The Christmas craziness has always rubbed me the wrong way. I was never able to place my finger on why, and the only thing I could point to was that I didn’t like getting (or giving!) all kinds of junk for Christmas – or my kids getting all kinds of junk – when we already have so much. Don’t get me wrong: as a kid, I loved that part of Christmas. But as an adult – and especially as a parent – I bristle at all the STUFF. December flat out Wears. Me. Out! It should be a holy time, but it’s crammed full of activities (Visiting Santa! Christmas concerts! Television specials!) and super-mega-To-Do-Lists (Shopping! Cooking! Wrapping! What-are-you-bringing-to-Christmas-dinner-emails!) on top of an already hectic daily life. Dude. I’m worn out just thinking about it. I’m sure you are too!
I never really considered any other way to DO Christmas. Until I heard about Advent Conspiracy at church. Watch this video. It still gives me goosebumps to watch it!
Isn’t that BEAUTIFUL?! A way to worship Christ, bring relationships back into Christmas, and help others? SIGN ME UP!
With that philosophy in mind, I want to do Christmas differently. I am putting much more thought into the gifts I’m giving AND the gifts I’m asking for (for my kids and myself). Some are handmade, some are store-bought, and some aren’t even tangible. Want to see what I’ve been working on? Here goes!
First up, I made this notebook for my niece Peyton. She L-O-V-E-S Justin Bieber. For her birthday in September, she told me she wanted a life-size Justin Bieber. I found a full body image of him online, uploaded it to blockposters.com, and sent her a life-size Justin. It cost hardly anything, and she LOVED it. For Christmas, I decided to go the Bieber route again. I found images of him online and copied them into a Word document. I inserted lines to make it look like a notebook, and also added text boxes that say things like “Justin loves Peyton” and “Mrs. Justin Bieber.” I picked out a photo of Justin for the cover, which shows him pointing at the camera. I added a word bubble that says, “I love you, Peyton!” Then I went to the copy store and had it spiral bound for $4. I’d estimate the paper and ink cost another $2, so the total cost was about $6. I added a pack of Justin Bieber stickers that I found for about $3 at Walmart to complete the package. I think she’s going to LOVE it!
Next up, I’m giving my kids and our nephew a Year of Books. I saw a pack of 12 books in a Scholastic order form that Jackson brought home from school. There is a book for every month of the year. The entire set cost $25, and I bought two sets: one for Jackson, one for our nephew Adam. Then I went to Leftovers and looked at their used books and selected 12 chapter books for Katie. (I spent $7.) I am going to wrap each book separately in its own 10x13 manila envelope (easier to wrap!) and label it with the month it should be opened. Then I’ll tie a big ribbon around the entire set of books and give it to the recipient. On the first day of each month in 2011, we will Skype Adam so everyone can open their books at the same time. I think this gift will be awesome because it is a gift of time (someone has to sit and read the books to the little ones, you know!), it’s pretty inexpensive, and it’s educational. The trifecta of gift-giving!
Katie isn’t asking Santa for much this Christmas. She wants a salon chair for her doll and a microscope. There are two other gifts on her list that I’m excited about: sewing lessons and art classes. Grandma and Poppy have agreed to buy the sewing lessons for her, which she’ll get to take with a friend. Dan and I will buy the art classes for her. It’s an after school class by Young Rembrandts, once a week for six weeks. I’m thrilled to give her gifts which will help her learn.
Dan is giving his dad a gift of time. Our pastor gives this example every year when we talk about Advent Conspiracy: there was a son who gave his dad a bag of coffee beans. That’s it. But the catch was the dad wasn’t allowed to drink the coffee unless the son was with him. And when they drank the coffee, the son asked the dad to share stories of his life. Wow! As a parent, can you imagine getting a gift like that from your child? So Dan is going to give his dad a bag of coffee with the same stipulation. We are going to pick a day each month (like the second Monday every month in 2011) and Dan will go to his parents’ house for dinner and coffee.
I’ve been bitten by the genealogy bug in years past, and love researching my family tree. Dan’s mom has gotten the genealogy bug this year too. She calls me with questions I don’t quite know how to answer. So for Christmas, we’re paying for her to take genealogy classes at our city’s recreation center. The classes are very inexpensive and cost only $7 per person. I’m going to sign up for the classes too, so it’s a gift of spending time and learning together.
The other big gift for the grandparents actually took place in October. We had a family photo taken with all 11 family members, and it turned out awesome. (Thanks, Michael!) I saw a Groupon for a $45 16x20 photo canvas at CanvasOnDemand.com, so I snatched it up and ordered it for the grandparents. We haven’t had a family photo taken since 2003, so I’m pretty excited about this gift.
Each year, we also give the grandparents a Shutterfly photo album with all the photos from the year. I’ll blog about that separately, because I have a big Shutterfly post coming up!
Lastly, my friend Carrie gave me a fantastic idea for teacher gifts this year: a gift wrap “ensemble.” She’s a Stampin’ Up consultant and is being WAY more creative than me (she’s hand-stamping a lot of the items in her ensemble), but her idea is to give teachers a set of gift wrap, gift bags, coordinating stamped tissue papers, die cuts, and gift tags to wrap their own gifts. I went to the Target dollar spot and found all kinds of cute gift wrap items to give to Katie’s teacher, and included some Scotch tape too.
Katie also made a mosaic glass monogram for her teacher. We found the directions here at FamilyFun.
So, tell me what other inspiring gifts have you found? Gifts that are personal, and not just more STUFF to add to someone’s house? I’d love to hear about them!
P.S. Want some more ideas? Check out this website: rethinkingchristmas.com.