Minnesota Mamaleh: Holiday Gifts

small presentsMy kids have an obscene amount of toys. Seriously, an Obscene. Amount. Of. Toys. I’m not really sure how this happened. Maybe between holidays and birthdays and the fact that I never throw anything away, I shouldn’t be surprised. But I really was well, surprised when I finally figured this out.

After the third or fourth time hearing various guests say, “Wow! You have a lot of toys!” I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I looked around our play room and realized that they were…right. There’s not a single spot left in that play room. Not for a truck, a ball or even a space saving Rubbermaid tote. So several weeks ago, with Hanukah fast approaching, Jason and I were trying to set our gift-giving-plan-of-attack and came up…blank. What DO you give kids who already have so very much?

Now, not only do I absolutely LOVE holidays and relish in the days and days of doing it up that Hanukah provides, but I am also quite the routine type of person. So the whole candles-songs-latkes-dreidel-gelt-presents repeat times eight thing was simply MADE for me. So it seemed that we had quite the task on our hands: doing it up for Hanukah WITHOUT over-gifting our kids. And what we came up with ended up being just…well, lovely.

smalltianaAfter some thought, we decided to somehow incorporate quality family time together into each night and each gift. Now I’ll be honest with you, this was NOT necessarily a money saving gesture (sorry, Honey). For instance, one of the nights we took the girls to see the new Disney princess movie and after four tickets, popcorn and treats, we might as well have bought them each a doll and called it a day, right? Well, no because then we would have missed out on seeing their eyes light up at the thought of going out on the town with us. We would not have gotten to share popcorn, giggle and still talk about our “movie date.” It really was simply…lovely.

smallpianoMy favorite night was actually the very first one. My completely fab in-laws are letting our family use their piano (the same one that Jason and his siblings practiced on. Totally sweet, right?) and it happened to arrive at our house on the first night of Hanukah. That night, the girls got dressed up and had a one-on-one “Fancy Piano Lesson” with Daddy. My heart completely overflowed with joy as I heard music fill our home and saw the excitement in their eyes.

Once we got the ball rolling, the ideas came quickly and easily and we had to table some of them for another time. Sleds, sledding and hot chocolate: Check. A chapter book, cuddling up and reading as many chapters as they want: Check. A favorite CD and a dance party: Check. A new game and family game night: Check.

Gift: Mani & Pedi by Mom

Gift: Mani & Pedi by Mom

You get the idea. So. Much. Fun. One of the best parts was that by mid-week, when the kids tried to guess their gifts (by the way, why do they do that? It’s not like we’d really tell them, right?), they guessed things like a sleepover with Mommy and Daddy, going to “Daddy’s Downtown” for lunch and cooking with Mommy. Cute? Yes. Holiday spirit? Definitely.

I do believe that we brought a little bit of meaning into our gift giving process this year. Not a single gift was thrown aside without a second glance. There wasn’t a single moment where we saw that mad-present-opening-glint in their eyes. You know the one. It means, “Argh! Onto the next! I will conquer them all!” *Shudder.* Now, equally importantly of course is the fact that we didn’t add TOO much to the play room. All-in-all a win for everyone!

Today my head is already spinning with fun ideas for next year (again, sorry Honey). But the planner in me aside, I just feel so happy, blessed and lucky to have had eight days filled to the brim with yummy food (more latkes anyone?) and joyful moments as a family. THAT is what it’s all about.

smallfootballFriendly Note: Have no fear, we did not leave little Brody out of this! On a smaller scale, he got things like art supplies and Nerf balls and we spent time together each night playing with his gift. Incidentally, I have never seen a football get so much love before!

Gift: Sleeping Bags and Family Time - Books and Snacks in the Tent

Gift: Sleeping Bags and Family Time - Books and Snacks in the Tent