Not even Halloween and already my Facebook and Twitter feeds are seeing many posts about alternative Christmas gift ideas and suggestions for keeping Christmas gifts from piling up in our homes. If you haven’t read any of the posts or pins out there about the desire for a simpler, crap-free holiday, I suggest you take some time to catch up on this trend.
Parents and other gift-givers who jump on this bandwagon are not scrooges, or cruel, or robbing their kids of the fun of the holiday season. These are the kinds of parents I want to have in my “it takes a village” scenario. They walk the balance between giving their kids material possessions that bring them joy, and teaching them to value what they have without being greedy.
I loved Christmas as a kid, and I would never strip presents under the tree from Ben’s life. His birthday is 10 days before Christmas and I am very aware of celebrating both, because kids who have December birthdays are easy to overlook in the holiday craziness.
But if we’re being honest here, Ben’s first birthday is a big deal for us and not so much for him. He won’t remember it save for looking at pictures. His first (second really, but a NICU Christmas a month before your due date is really forgettable don’t you think?) Christmas will be the same story – he won’t remember or notice the presents he does or doesn’t get.
Ben is a lucky, loved little boy. He has grandparents and many adopted family members that I think it’s safe to assume will want to send him some sort of birthday and/or Christmas gift. We would just like to encourage the start of Ben’s gift receiving life to be meaningful and helpful and not something that turns his expectations and our home into this:
As Ben gets older and can understand charity, one tradition we will involve him with is making care packages for his NICU. We received a stocking last Christmas from a 2012 graduate and it was not only useful but a much needed reminder that we wouldn’t be there forever. That photo above is the opposite of charity, it screams MORE STUFF MORE STUFF I NEED TO HAVE LOTS OF STUFF! That’s not how we want to bring up our son. Period.
So without further adieu, here is a sample of what our almost 1-year-old would like for his birthday and Christmas this year. Feel free to borrow and modify these ideas for your own little ones.
Diapers and wipes. I still go through a lot of diapers, and I really love playing with the big card board box they come in so it’s a win-win on the fun AND functional scale! I’m in size 3 Costco diapers for daytime and size 3 Pampers Extra Protection nighttime diapers for bedtime. I use the bulk Costco wipes too.
Formula. My doctors think I’ll be on bottles for a few months past my first birthday. I eat the Target brand infant formula with iron (it’s the orange container). Just like diapers, I love to play with the empty containers!
Family pass to the MN Zoo. One of my first family outings after months of isolation was to the zoo, and I sure would love to have our membership renewed for 2015. My recent favorite animal were the baby pigs in the farm exhibit. Couldn’t stop giggling at them. If you want to make this a really awesome gift, plan a day where you can come with me to the zoo! Experience with you mean so much more to me than a toy.
Family pass to the Edina Aquatic Center. I spent a lot of time splashing in the zero depth pool with my momma, and I bet it will be even more fun next summer when I can walk! I would love for you to join me for a day at the pool (I really don’t care what you look like in a swim suit).
Tuition. My momma and daddy would love to keep me involved in things like baby swim classes, music classes, ECFE and Parent Morning Out. At these activities I get to engage in sensory play, meet other babies, and break up the monotony of an indoor Minnesota winter.
Books. My parents agree that spoiling me in books is always acceptable. I hear that I’m growing up in a world full of screen time, and my parents know that the more they read to me the more likely I am to choose reading over iPad games or TV. I love used books (15 for $3 at Goodwill!) and, if I can be really greedy here, it would be wonderful if you brought me books and then spent time reading them to me. I love the sound of your voice and the comfort of your lap much more than an iPad or the TV.
Your time! Come over and play with me! You can even send momma and daddy away for a few hours so I can have you all to myself. I missed out on a lot of visitors last year and have a lot of catching up to do.
There’s some things that I really don’t need. I don’t need toys. Maybe when I’m older and I’m really interested in legos or cars I’ll appreciate some toys for my birthday or Christmas, but right now I am happiest playing with you and the buckets of toys I already have. I also don’t need clothes. Between garage sales and hand-me-downs, my parents have a well stocked closet. I know buying baby clothes can be fun because they’re so cute, but my momma has packed away lots of clothes with tags on that I never even got to wear.
Are you trying a minimalist approach to raising your kids? To the holidays? Have you tried the “something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need” technique?