Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

Well, no kid has everything, but let me pose the following scenario to you. I have no doubt that many readers will be familiar with it–

Dick and Jane get lots of presents at Christmas.  Their parents go all out, as do both sets of grandparents along with assorted aunts and uncles. There’s not room for everything under the tree; presents have to be piled on the kitchen table as well. Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning, the unwrapping gets underway, and two or three hours after starting, Dick and Jane are still at it. Paper and ribbon and bows everywhere; the place looks like it’s been hit by a hurricane.

It’s hard to buy for kids like this. First of all, there’s the risk of duplication, especially if you go after this year’s “trendy” toys.  But on a deeper plane, suppose that you feel like you want to get them something that’s special, amongst all those other “special” things (read: special junk)….

Answer: Books. When the toys have lost their novelty a few months down the road, and joined the vast array of rarely-played-with toys that populate Dick and Jane’s rooms, the books will still be there, beckoning. Well, maybe. This strategy probably works better with younger kids who are just learning to read, than it will with older kids who have discovered the allure of the video game. But even if the books go neglected, you will know that you gave it your best shot, bestowing upon them a time-honored, non-passive form of entertainment that enriches both mind and spirit. As opposed to glitzy crap made in Chinese sweatshops.

There’s the added advantage here that you can, with some judicious shopping around in used bookstores, pick up like-new kids books at a substantial savings over the big retailers. Unless you think that spending more money on brand new books means you love Dick and Jane more, that God abhors Christmas thrift, or some other crazy idea along those general lines.

Another idea is art supplies. Most kids like to draw and color, so getting them crayons, colored pens and pencils, art paper, etc., is never a waste.


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  • What: One of largest holiday gift shows in the United States, with more than 600 displays and exhibits: arts and crafts, gifts, gourmet food and live entertainment. Limited daycare  is available, courtesy of Child’s Time, Inc., daily at no charge. Convenient, on-site parking at the Tacoma Dome.
  • Where: Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, WA [map]
  • When: Wednesday, October 22, 11:00am – 7:00 pm
    • Thursday, October 23, 10:00am – 7:00 pm
    • Friday, October 24,  10:00am – 9:00 pm
    • Saturday, October 25, 10:00am – 9:00 pm
    • Sunday, October 26,  10:00am – 6:00 pm

For more information, see the official website.

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Over the next couple of months visitors to Simplify Christmas (yes, visits have remained consistently high, even through the spring and summer months of 2008) will notice some fairly dramatic changes in the organization and appearance of the site as I prepare for the official start-up date of November 1st. The first big change is this new theme – which will be modified as needed before the official start-up. Update: 09/27/2208: I’ve decided to stick with last year’s theme – better features, overall.

Do not be alarmed by the changes – Christmas 2007 is past, and Simplify Xmas 2008 is going to be even bigger and better than last year!

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Aunty Emm, it’s a twister, it’s a twister!Well, Christmas party games aren’t everyone’s bag, and some people even consider it a form of torture, but for those who don’t, here’s a site with 43 different games, for adults, kids, or both.

Party Game Central Christmas Games

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Angry Santabot

I came across a pointed article by Carey Keavy, over at Associated Content, on the subject of taking back the holidays–

One Weird Christmas: Ditching Holiday Traditions That Bog Us Down

by Carey Keavy

“Did I remember to lock the door? Have you seen my kids lately? What color hair does my husband have? What was my name again?” What do all of these questions have in common? They all signify the ringing in of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, of course!

Along with the wholesome family traditions of the season comes the negative traditions we’ve come to know and expect…worry, busyness, stress and anxiety. Some of these traditions we’ve inherited from the examples of our parents. Some we’ve conjured up anew and all on our own. Wouldn’t attempting to shed some of these negative holiday traditions this year be the best gift to give both to yourself and those around you? (read more)

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Here are several ways you can make your Christmas shopping for the adults in your life a whole lot simpler, giving you time (and peace of mind) for doing other things:

  • Get all the adults on your list the same thing, more or less. Some suggestions: Books of movie tickets, gift certificates, bottle of wine in a gift bag. Trader Joe’s, I’ve noted, has gift certificates. I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy about getting a Trader Joe’s gift certificate. Most regional malls, as well, offer generic gift certificates, which can be used at any store. That could be your one and only (imagine that!) trip to the mall during the Christmas season – to buy gift certificates for everyone on your list. Some people consider this tacky, but I, personally, think it’s thoughtful, because you are giving them whatever their little heart desires, and at the same time taking some pressure off of yourself, giving you time to focus more on experiences during the holidays. Because, as you grow old and wise, the experiences are what are going to really matter. Not the merchandise.
  • Food baskets: Some people hate getting food baskets, some like it. Myself, I like it, a lot. If someone were to give me a basket full of tastefully arranged goodies that I enjoy: marinated artichoke hearts, smoked salmon, good cheese, crackers, English toffees, a pint of brandy–I’d be in 7th heaven. So, if you know (or can find out) what foods various family members really like, this is an excellent way to simplify. There are lots of places to get nice baskets at a reasonable price. Couple those with some fancy red cellophane, ribbon, and nice cards, then go food shopping. Do it all in an afternoon, and then prepare the gifts while watching a Christmas movie, or listening to Christmas music in the evening. Make it a family affair, if you have a spouse and kids. And remember – you can throw in other things besides food. Votive candles, sachets, incense, soaps, lip balm, etc., etc.
  • Consider giving someone something they can do, rather than just things they can keep (to gather dust, sometimes). Know a golfer? Buy him/her “x” number of games at a local course, and throw in some golfing gear to go with the certificate. The same applies to a bowler. My guess is that if you’re at the bowling alley with cash in hand, even if they technically don’t offer gift certificates, they’ll work something out. All you have to do is ask.
  • Along the lines of giving people things they can do, season passes for various venues can be a great present. Season tickets to the local symphony, or the local theater company. An annual membership to the Seattle Art Museum is only $35 for a senior, $30 for a student, and $75 for a dual membership. Or an annual membership to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. Once you start looking around, you’ll find a surprising number of gift opportunities like this, many of which can be purchased online.
  • motorcyclelarge.jpgWhat about getting adults “gifts for the soul?” Replicas of antique toys, for example. Generally speaking, something quaint and colorful will please, just for the emotions it evokes. You also might find some real antique toys at antique stores or thrift shops. For Western Washingtonians, the city of Snohomish has some excellent antique stores.

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