Thursday Thoughts: Christmas Shopping Already?

Did you know there are only 81 days left until Christmas? Because there are only 81 days left until Christmas. And I know it's frustrating every time we walk through stores that already have Christmas lights and ornaments and decorations out when it's not even Halloween yet (or even Thanksgiving!), but the fact is, there are only 81 days left until Christmas!

And if you have a big family, a lot of kids, a lot of friends, or even just a limited budget ... well, you really need to be getting ready early, otherwise your Christmas spirit is likely to be smothered by the sudden expense of gift-shopping!

I'm looking forward to our second simplified four-gift Christmas - I really loved using that concept last year, and it helped me to make sure that what my girls got for Christmas REALLY fit in with who they were and what sorts of things they were into. I'm already looking into how I'm going to pull off an equally special list of gifts for my daughters to enjoy this year, as well as looking into things that will be on the mom-approved list of gifts Santa might leave under our tree.

I've had a lot of different idea already, and since I'm starting early, I thought I'd share some of those idea with you so that you could start early with me!

Christmas comes in four categories for us, so I'm breaking down my gift suggestions into those same four categories: one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing you wear, and one thing you read. Here are some of the things I'm thinking of for Christmas this year:

It's not uncommon for my kids to want a lot of things! They're still learning to put quality over quantity, and some days the lesson slips. On those days, I pay attention - and sometimes I even take notes, because those are the days when I learn the most about the things my children love best when it comes to toys. My daughters are currently eight and thirteen, so here are some of the things they've been asking for - if your kids (or other kids you plan to be shopping for) are in the same age range, these ideas might also be good ones for you!
  •  I have always thought the best play for any kid is the kind of free play that's mostly unstructured. This allows for maximum creativity - and it also means that you can easily find toys appropriate for boys and girls of almost any age. Which is nice for me because I've got a five-year age gap to make up for! I really think this 130 Piece Set of Magnetic Building Sticks with Storage Bag from Amazon would be a great gift choice because they allow freedom of play for all ages while encouraging kids (and their moms?) to use their imaginations and create their own fun.
  • But if, like me, you have a sweet but dumb dog that'll eat just about anything, maybe you'd be a little nervous about having all those tiny pieces to keep track of. And if, like me, you have kids that frequently need to be reminded to clean up after themselves, you already know there's going to be an issue. So maybe this 40 Piece Set of Magnetic Blocks with Container Bag would be better - they come in at the same price point (both this kit and the one previously mentioned are under $25 on Amazon) and this kit has less pieces, but the pieces are bigger and easier to manage. And hopefully, harder for the dog to eat.
  • Then again, if you're like most families and you already have a collection of regular non-magnetic Lego blocks, then maybe you just want to extend your possibilities by beefing up your collection with these LEGO Classic Bricks - after which, you can work on accomplishing ... well, just about anything - together.

One thing my girls always need is clothes. They really do grow like weeds! So this year will be quite a lot like last year - they'll get boxes filled with underwear, socks, bras - whatever it is that they most need replenished in their wardrobe.

With clothing covered in the "need" category, I have to get creative with the "wear" category - otherwise, I'll be draining the magic of Christmas pretty fast, and my kids might just go into full mutiny! So with that in mind, here are some of the things I've been thinking my kids (and maybe yours) would like for Christmas this year:
  • For the last year, Josephine has been really into wearing chokers - her favorite one is a black one she made from the Rainbow Loom Crafting Kit she got from a family friend last Christmas. But the problem is, the little rubber bands are made of, well, rubber. They wear out quickly, then they break, and then she has to remake the choker all over again. And I have to keep buying black rubber bands because she won't put any other colors on it. So I've been thinking this year, I could talk into falling in love with something more durable: Macrame. Of course, she doesn't know how to do it though, and I'm not sure she'd make the swap even if she could learn how. So I found this great little shop on Etsy, where I could pick up something cute that I'm sure Joey (or any girl) would love! Prices here range from about $15 to as much as $80 (at the time of this writing), but the pieces offered have a great variety in color and style, and most pieces are mixed materials - there are beads interwoven with the string, and you can even order custom pieces to suit your style or budget. But if you're shopping for more of a DIY fan, there's always this Friendship Bracelet 101 Pattern Book - which would pair nicely with this gorgeous rainbow of embroidery floss to make a perfect DIY jewelry kit for any tween or teen.
  • If your kid is more into hair accessories (like Eden has been recently), or if they're too small to get into something as detailed as jewelry-making, then headbands might be a better bet, and these little Turban-style bands are so cute I think even the moms could love them! They come in solid colors or boho floral patterns, and they're just totally gorgeous!

  • One of the things I'm definitely hoping to find for Joey this year is a paperback version of her favorite book, The Killing Woods - she's loved this book since the first time she checked it out from our library's digital collection, and she's checked it out for her Kindle about a thousand times since. But she's a tactile sort of girl, and I know she would love being able to hold this book actually in her hands. I will say it's a little bit old for her though, with some content (some drug and alcohol use, making out, and heavy petting) that might have stopped me from letting her read it if I had known it was in there. Still, she's read it and she loved it, so if you're buying books for an older (or especially mature) teen who likes mystery/thrillers and has a budding interest in romance as a genre, then this would be an amazing choice - maybe not necessarily mom-approved, but definitely teen-recommended.
  • Another great book choice is the Septimus Heap series. These books are great for Harry Potter fans looking for another series to love - and with seven hefty books in the series, your little reader will be occupied for a while, even if they're as voracious as Eden (who devoured all seven books in about six month's time, then moved on to the ToddHunter series, which comes after Septimus Heap #7, and is still in the same world).

There's no "Featured Favorite Product" on this post, since most of the links included are affiliate links, but I hope you'll check out the ones that are listed here, as most of them are actually products that we've either tried/loved or are planning to buy/try. And if you do try any of these (or if you already have), make sure to come back and tell me what you think!

Quick Disclaimer: Even without the featured product, I am using affiliate links in this post - so remember that if you choose to click product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
What did you think of this little Christmas round-up? Are you an early shopper like me, or are you more of a last-minute gift-hunter? And whichever strategy you prefer for your Christmas gift-shopping, how do you make it work for you? What gift are you most looking forward to giving this year? Leave me your best gift-shopping tips and tricks in the comments!

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  1. What a great concept! I am going to try this year. As a mother of 2 teenage girls it is hard to keep up wi the expensive "want" list but asking these questions makes the list more manageable and makes the list of more diverse. I have one who is a reader and one who is not so I may replace this category with Something you can do - passes to swim,movies or another activity or hands on DIY project - something they can do. Thanks for this.

    1. Thanks! I loved how well it worked for us last year - I hope it works as well this year, too. And I like the idea of adjusting the categories a bit to fit your kids and their tastes!


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