I vowed to go simple this year. Last year the kids were spoilt rotten by us, by Santa and by our families and they went a tiny bit feral. It felt like they were opening presents, every hour, on the hour, for three weeks straight. With Pop’s birthday just a few days before Christmas, it was excessive. And I don’t think they really appreciated anything because it was so overwhelming.
So this year I promised I’d cut right down on gifts so they’d be able to appreciate the things they were given instead of drowning in toys. I wanted to stick to the rule: “one thing you want, one thing you need, something to wear and something to read.”
Good theory Lauren! Turns out I have a problem. You see, gift giving is my love language. For some people, it’s kind words, for others it’s acts of love. For me, it’s gifts. Small or big, I love, love, love giving gifts. It’s how I show I love you.
So going to the shops becomes an exercise in self-restraint (which I don’t have) because every time I see something I know the kids would love, I struggle to not pick it up. I tell myself it’s only small, or that it’s so long until they’ll get presents again (I try not to give my kids toys for no reason. They get stuff for their birthday, for Christmas and if they’ve done something special or brave).
Anyway, this below, is me being restrained. And, to be honest, I’m only going to tell you the main gifts because I’ve got lots of other little bits and pieces that don’t really rate a mention (which is probably a sign I shouldn’t have bought them in the first place). I’m also going to show you some of the things we got Pop for her birthday because they were cool too.
My five-year-old boy wonder
Something he wants: HOT WHEELS*
One thing that’ll keep him occupied for ages, without any sort of intervention, is Hot Wheels. The boy can set up a race track and be lost for what feels like hours (but is probably about 40 minutes). We’ve already got dozens of cars and a whole heap of track pieces but these stunt pieces will blow his mind. Anything that can crash and explode is right up his alley.
This would be his “want”. He will LOVE LOVE this stuff.
BTW – They now have this kick-arse GoPro kit which Sarge tells me he would’ve died for as a kid. What’s cooler than filming your race from the car’s point of view? Next, we’ll have a Youtube channel set up with dozens of clips of cars crashing in our loungeroom.
Something he needs: LEGO
Thud is obsessed with Lego so we got him this roller coaster 3 in 1. We usually get one of the 3-in-1 sets because, well, you can make three different things out of the one set. I’ve never really understood the appeal of Lego sets because once you’ve made it, what do you do with it? Turn your house into a Lego shrine? No thanks. Plus, I’m not overly keen on spending up to 100 bucks for a one-time deal. At least with the 3-in-1 sets, he’ll get to dismantle it and start all over again. This is a bit above his age range but he’s a gun at Lego so that doesn’t concern me. We found it at Big W.
This sort of counts as his “need” because *I* need him to play with his LEGO because he’s so damn quiet when he does.
Something to wear
Literally bought him undies. I think it’s nice to remind kids it’s not all bells and whistles at Christmas. Sometimes, you just need something to cover your whistle. Boom tish!
Side-note: I buy a lot of the kids’ clothes from Next and Boden. They’re both UK companies which means you have to buy your gear months in advance because the seasons are off, but I find the quality is excellent, the prices are reasonable (Boden is affordable when you get the stuff on sale, which I almost always do because it’s off-season). I should probably recommend an Aussie company, but I’m still waiting for Aussie clothing manufacturers to make clothes that don’t fall apart and clothes that are actually warm for winter (we don’t all live in the tropics, people! If you’re south of Sydney, you need warm winter clothes in Australia. You can only get them from European companies like Next, Boden and H&M). Anyway, this is not sponsored, I just thought I’d share where I get a lot of their everyday clothes.
Something to read
I think all kids need books. As many books as you can buy, borrow or steal (actually, don’t steal, that’s a bad idea). Books aren’t usually considered “gifts” in our house. They’re just things that turn up every couple of weeks. They’re not a luxury item for me, they’re a necessity. However, they’ll always get a book or two at Christmas or birthdays – mainly because I’ve bought I book I want but in the lead up to Christmas you don’t get anything. It all becomes a gift. New drink bottle? GIFT. Pack of socks? Merry Christmas! Bottle of shampoo? Wrap that baby UP.
This book has been recommended to me by countless people. Thud has anxiety and I love finding books that help us discuss his emotions and give him the tools to manage them.
The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade by Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys, is simply beautiful. It doesn’t try to explain anxiety, or even address it explicitly, it simply tells the story of a little boy who has a funny feeling in his tummy about getting dressed up for a parade at school. It’s a lovely, shame-free way of talking about how sometimes we might not feel comfortable doing some things, but that’s ok, you might feel braver next time.
Side-note: If you’re looking for more books for kids with anxiety, I highly recommend Hey Warrior by Karen Young. It’s a book that explains what anxiety is and why your body feels the way it does when you’re anxious or scared. I found the book really simple, but it doesn’t dumb the content down for kids, it speaks to them with respect. It explains how their brain works and what the amygdala does when you’re in danger. The best part of this book is how it gives control back to kids by explaining how they’re in charge of their brain and their emotions; not their amygdala. To be honest, I found that info pretty handy to hear myself! We already have this book, but I love it so much I wanted to share it here as well.
He’s also going to get a few other small things like a couple of Transformers he’s been asking for and some headphones. My parents are giving him a Glow-in-the-dark Wubble Ball which is like massive bubble they can play on and throw and sit on… it’s weird but cool.
They’re both getting these very special lunch bags and lunch boxes from The Three Darlings. Thud is going to big school next year so he’s going to need a big boy lunch box and bag and I want him to feel like it’s a bit special. And of course, Pop can’t miss out because she’s a big girl too you know? You don’t know? She hasn’t told you 85 times today? Oh, that must be just me.
These insulated bags will keep their lunch and snacks cool and the bento style lunch boxes are pretty popular with my two because it feels more “fun” if things are in sections. Don’t ask me to explain their logic, I only care that they’re eating.
And hey, lucky you! If you’d like to check out any of the Three Darling‘s range, just use the discount code Mistletoe15 and you’ll get 15% off! Score!
My just turned three-year-old diva
Something she wants – dolls
Technically she doesn’t want or need ANYTHING because she’s just had her birthday which SUCKS that she gets her yearly allocation of gifts all in one hit. Poor little punk.
But, the one thing she always wants is baby dolls. She’s obsessed with babies and dolls (and Thud’s pretty fond of them too) so we got her this thing from Kmart.
Ok, if I’m honest, this is not what she wanted. She’s been asking for a different doll which costs $125 and there was no way in hell I was paying that much for a toy I’m pretty sure is going to kill us all in our sleep. So I got her the $30 version instead. I mean, I guess it won’t matter if we’re all dead, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Something she needs – LIL’ GLEEMERZ*
Or maybe do *I* need this? This is seriously the cutest little critter I’ve seen and it has SO MANY LIGHTS. You can play games with its tail and it talks to you and everything. I’m a bit keen on this myself. This is from Mattel and is available at Big W.
my her list: POLLY POCKETS*. Can you even believe they’re back? I adored these as a little girl and I’m so excited Pop will get to play with them too. Isn’t that the best part of being a parent? Being able to relive your own childhood through your kids? I just want her to open it right now so I can play. Polly Pocket sets are available at Myer, Kmart and Big W and there are lots of different ones to collect.
Also – LEGO!
It’s Pop’s first LEGO! Of course, it had to be Ariel because she IS Ariel, but I’m hoping she grows to love LEGO as much as her brother. Mainly so she’ll stop destroying his because I simply can’t cope with the screaming that ensues.
Something to wear – Skechers Twinkle Toes
Once upon a time, I would have gagged at the thought of putting these monstrosities on my child’s feet. But I know that she will think they’re the most beautiful pieces of clothing she’s ever owned. And so, I guess I’ll put her happiness before my own #annoying.
They do remind me of a pair of LA Gears I had as a kid. They were hightops with crystals and flowers on the side and the laces were pink chiffon. Oh my God, even now I look back and think how breathtaking they were. Just the thought of them makes me misty-eyed for the joy they brought me.
She’s also getting undies. Just to be fair.
Something to read – The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin.
Well, this book made me cry. It’s like a little love letter to your children, wondering what wonderful things they’ll grow up to be. It’s basically just a list of things they might achieve in life, set to the unbearably sweet illustrations, but it made me a tad weepy. They’re GROWING SO FAAAST.
I buy most of our books from a local bookshop in Canberra called Book Face. They always stock the most amazing kids’ books.
For both of them
SPRINGFREE TRAMPOLINE *
If you’re looking to really blow your kids away, you can’t beat a trampoline. The bonus of this gift is: it’ll keep them occupied for hours at a time, all year round and it’ll exhaust them every day they use it. Exhaustion leads to sleep. This is my main goal in life.
We chose the medium oval Springfree Trampoline because it had to fit in quite a tight spot at the side of our house but it’s amazing how huge it feels because it doesn’t have the border of springs taking up space. Certainly big enough for my kids. We got the sunshade so there’s never any excuse not to jump and we also got the basketball hoop which I wasn’t sure would be all that useful just yet but Thud is obsessed. It’s seriously the most adorable thing to watch him try and get that ball in.
What I love about Springfree is that it’s the only trampoline on the Australian market that has received the tick of approval from CHOICE®. Australian safety standards for trampolines are voluntary (seriously!?) which means there are a lot of unsafe products out there on the market. Springfree is the only CHOICE® recommended trampoline, being the only one out of 8 leading market brands to pass all Australian safety standards as tested by CHOICE®. So basically, it’s the safest one there is and honestly, that’s my main priority. It’s also backed by a ten-year warranty which is a bonus.
A trampoline is a big purchase but it’s one that pays off over the years of use you get out of it. If you’re going to invest in something like this, you want to get the safest one on the market and one that’s built to last.
Some other ideas based on things we’ve previously given to the kids and they’ve loved:
Board games. Always a winner in our house and I’m keen on anything that will entertain them and keep them occupied. I bought a little game at Melbourne Airport recently called Kids On Stage which is a really simple version of charades. I was blown away with how much the kids loved it.
Fun plates/ cups/ cutlery. I will buy the most horrendous cartoon character plates if it makes them even slightly more interested in eating.
Sheets/ doona covers. Same theory as the plates. If it makes them want to get into bed, I’m buying it.
Dress ups. A box of costumes and accessories is my saviour, some days. I don’t know a kid who doesn’t love to put on a cape or a mask and pretend for a little while. I’d also add in things like a doctor’s kit for imaginary play. My kids have always loved that stuff.
Art supplies. Not paint or glitter, of course. That’s just stupid. But pencils and paper and scissors and stuff. A whole kit of gear to keep them occupied. You might have sensed a theme here. I’m into things that will take up time. Or things that will save me time. I don’t want to mess around with things that are going to be time neutral. Like decor and things to look at on the wall. It’s all lovely, but is it going to make the afternoon go by? Probably not.
I should add: time neutral is ok for ME. Like a diamond necklace isn’t going to save me time or take up time, but I’ve got lots of other things to occupy me so that’s ok.
Things that save me time? Also, hit me up. (A cleaner. I’m talking about a cleaner. Because I want a cleaner who will save me time).
So that’s all for now. If you have any great ideas for go-to gifts, leave a comment below! It’s always helpful for aunties and uncles and grandparents who need ideas.
*denotes an item that was generously gifted to us.