Christmas Gifts – Don’t Get Crazy

It’s time to start talking Christmas.   We probably should have started talking about this a few months ago but here we are.  By now, I hope your Christmas shopping is well underway.

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(FYI:  This is NOT my tree or gift pile!) 

I’ve made good progress on everyone – everyone that is, but the littles.  On one hand, they are super easy to buy for but on the other hand, what on earth could a two and one year-old possibly need?  If there was a year where we could probably get away with very small gifts, this might be the one.

Nonetheless, buying Christmas gifts for grandchildren is different than for your own children.  It seems that there might be some sensitivities surrounding it.  For example, grandpa found a “kitchen” that he thought would be a great gift for the littles.  It was huge!  It was expensive.  I said absolutely not!

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… and these two cuties are NOT my littles

I feel like it’s not our responsibility or our place to outdo the parents – which is an easy thing to do when the parents are just starting out and have a mountain in student loans.

I just might have some backup on this philosophy.  Here’s what I read over at Grandparents.com:

From the moment Dorothea Hover-Kramer’s oldest grandson asked her for a bike, she dreamed of Christmas morning — and the look on the boy’s face when he’d find the shiny two-wheeler under the tree. Still, she says, “it was kind of a big present, so I thought I’d run it by my daughter [the boy’s mother].” Her daydream was quickly dashed. “My daughter said, ‘No, we’ll get him the bike.’ I said, ‘He asked me for it,'” says Hover-Kramer.

Hover-Kramer was disappointed, but she backed off. “As a grandparent, I’ve learned to be the peacemaker and accommodator,” she says. Her daughter and son-in-law bought the bike while she chipped in for the accessories, including a helmet and a lock.

I totally understand this scenario.  I would definitely be the one wanting to buy the new bike.  But really – is it my place?  I think it’s good to ask permission to buy such a gift.

Here are some other ways gift giving can go – again from Grandparents.com:

  • They ask you to buy a big gift, but you can’t afford it
  • They demand you run your gift ideas by them
  • They forbid you from buying certain toys
  • They ask you to go easy, but you had big plans

Do any of those sound familiar?  I haven’t experienced this yet but with 5 children, their spouses, and any number of grandchildren, I’m anticipating every one of those scenarios at some point!

So grandmas tread carefully.  It is Christmas but take it easy.  Let mom and dad be the hero – unless they ask you to step in.

We’ll be keeping it simple this year.  Maybe a few books and some Hot Wheels cars. I am working on a fun project for them but shhhhh… it’s a secret.  Something from my own children’s childhood that I think they might enjoy.  This might be the only year I can get away with a sentimental gift as opposed to a gift from Target.

Grandmas – tell me what you think.  Is it tricky for you?

 

 

Sending Packages – PART II

Gosh, life gets so busy sometimes.  It’s a good kind of busy but it’s taking my time nonetheless.   I’m looking forward to the day when I can move from what has to be done to what I want to do.  Is there such a day?

Time to finish my thoughts on sending packages.  Mostly they center around gratitude. When we receive something in the mail, I’m sure our first thoughts are to thank the sender.  But life just somehow gets in the way despite our best intentions.

I mentioned in my last post that my littles used to get a lot of packages from their grandma.  They did outgrow the desire for candy-filled packages, but I also wonder if grandma got burned out from sending packages with no gratitude in return.  My fault – I got busy.  I had good intentions and I was grateful for her kind attention to my children.  It’s just that there were five of them and my husband was gone on business and it was … a lot.

So many thank you cards bought but not sent.  Cute notes made by the children that I never got around to mailing.  Phone calls that should have been placed but instead I put the kids to bed early so I could get those clothes washed or the dishwasher unloaded. ALISONHARDCASTLE105

I’ve heard mothers and mothers-in-law commenting that they “never get a thank-you” when they send gifts.  Well, grandmas, I don’t think those children are ungrateful – I just think they’re moms are darn busy and you’ve forgotten what that’s like.

It’s hard being a mom.  It’s exhausting.  You’re lucky to put a meal other than chicken nuggets on the table let alone pen another thank-you card.

Those daughters and daughters-in-law are not ungrateful but they kind of get a bad rap sometimes.  They’re trying hard.  Many of them have to work full-time and then come home and work full-time some more.  It's tough being a working mom

So let’s lay off the gratitude guilt.  Be grateful that they are spending the time reading bedtime stories to your littles and maybe even taking a little rejuvenation time for themselves.  They’re grateful.  They know you’ve spent time and money.  They appreciate it.  They’ll show you that gratitude as they lovingly care for your littles – for every waking moment of their day.

Sending Packages – Part I

I’m a self-declared expert at sending packages in the mail.  Four boys, four, 2-year missions for our church equates to 8 years of packages sent at least three times per year (Christmas, birthday, and just because).  Plus, they’ve all gone to college out of state which means they got a package or two then as well …. at least the first couple of kids did.  Anyhow,  that’s a bunch of packages.

My expert package preparation skills were put to work recently when I sent a package to my son at OCS.  

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(**follow the asterisk below for some how-to tips I learned decorating these boxes)

Truthfully, that might have been a bit over the top – at least on the decor part.  The contents were admittedly so-so.

Since I am so well-versed in package prep (ha ha!), I even made a spare just in case there was a soldier who wasn’t going to get a package from home: DC6F3113-C91B-4F3C-AEC1-234EBB15C153

That soldier did indeed get more than a flag from me, however the package itself is IMPRESSIVE!

Since packages are kind of “my thing”, I decided it was time to start sending packages to my littles.  They live far away now so they must NEED packages.  I sent my first “official” package a few weeks ago.  It was a Hallowe’en package with costumes and candy and pj’s.  I think I threw a few new little toys in there two.  The decor was BORING …  I could have done better.

My mom used to send packages to my children.  They were usually full of Canadian candy bars – which truly are so much better than their American counterparts.  Trust me on this.

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seriously … I’m drooling over this

I can foresee a number of packages in my future so I’m polling the grandmas on what goodies I should put in them.  I got a few ideas on this:

Martha L, MN:  There are books you can record yourself reading it to them. The kids love to hear your voice read to them.

It looks like Hallmark makes a whole series of these.  They look adorable:

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Another grandma had books on her mind too:

Pauline V., WI: Books and always a package of animal crackers or Mini Nilla wafers.

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I thought the Nilla Wafer and animal cracker idea was a great one – as an alternative to candy.

Andrea G., MN:  I have a drawer in my kitchen and it has crayons, silly putty, paper, card games and fun snacks.  Grandma essentials!

Oh Andrea, I am jealous!  It would be so nice to have the littles close enough to raid my snack drawer.  Those are great ideas to put in a package as well.

Still, I need more package ideas.   I consulted Pinterest which generally has the answer to any question.  I was not disappointed.  I can see now that my packages are lame.  I commit to doing better.

Grandmas – what are you putting in your packages to your littles.  Mommas – what kind of packages are your littles getting?

** I used the free flat-rate shipping boxes from USPS.  The large box is basically 12X12 so it works well with those 12X12 sheets of scrapbooking paper.  That and a little spray-glue makes life easy!  Also, I opened the box on one of the sides so I could lie it flat to decorate.  SOOOO much easier than trying to reach inside.   Then, when the decor was all done, I just taped it back together again.”

Making the MOST of a Quick Grandma Visit

We got some great advice this week on our topic – Making the Most of a Quick Visit.  Sometimes our grandchildren just live too darn far away so when we get to see them, we need to make it count!   Here’s what some of our followers had to say about that:

Lorri S, CANADA  – My trips to Ottawa are often for a long weekend only which means ALL granny time!  Sometimes the only thing we do is walk to the park, play Play Dough, snack, nap and REPEAT.  It’s GLORIOUS.

Perfect!  Sounds like when Lorri visits her littles, she plans on doing nothing else but play.

Martha L., MINNESOTA –  Soak it all in.  Love them until you and/or they drop, sleep and repeat.

I think Lorri and Martha are definitely my kind of grandma.  Play hard and nap harder!

Pauline has some great advice on being “present” with your littles:

Pauline V., MINNESOTA – Just listen, listen, listen.  They solve so many dilemmas on their own.  I picked up my 3 1/2 year old grandson from daycare a few weeks ago.  I asked if he wanted to come to my house or go home.  He said he would like to go to Disney World and see Jurassic Park again.   After some thought he responded with “oh, wait a minute – I think they’re closed today.”  So instead we enjoyed his favorite park and I didn’t have to disappoint him.

That is so adorable!

I also asked grandmas what their thoughts were on bringing gifts when they visit their littles.  I kind of thought the response would be mixed.  Like maybe you can overdo it with gifts or maybe the moms found the gifts to overwhelming BUT – I was completely wrong!

Claudia J., MINNESOTA – Gifts are always a good idea!

Andrea G., MINNESOTA – Why not?  I give gifts because it makes me happy.

Sandy C., CANADA – Gifts for sure.  I take something every now and then even if it’s small like sidewalk chalk.

Martha L., MINNESOTA – Of course gifts!  That’s part of the fun of being a grandma.  Spoil them!

Well, gifts it is then.  IMG_9045

Do you have any more tips for Making the Most of a Quick Visit?