Tales from My Christmas List

I hate buying gifts just to buy them.

I like when gifts have a meaning and a purpose.  I like when they fit the personality of the receiver.  I love when their potential impact is so much more than a casual glance on Christmas morning during the rush of wrapping paper ripping.

Dear Hubby and I braved the mall on Saturday and found some good deals on clothes for the kids on our list.  But my real shopping success came on Sunday when I found the neatest site EVER online.


I officially swear by it for finding unique gifts.  It’s like having your own personal shopper pointing you in all the right directions.  And much to my delight, many of the shops practice green giving with tons of recycled and handmade gifts that are as beautiful as they are functional.

So what did I get?

My Top 2011 Picks

  • Through Heifer International, my kids will learn that not all gifts are created equally.  If you have expendable cash–even a teeny bit–or your annual gift giving has hit a wall and you find yourself buying simply to buy, please consider this fabulous organization which strives to educate, not just donate.  The money we would typically spend on my extended family will go toward the purchase of animals.  Thanks, Mom, for this great idea.
  • National Geographic Magazine.  Whether you are an itty bitty or a moldy oldy, you can appreciate the beautiful pictures and the enlightening stories found within the covers of a variety of National Geographic choices.  And it’s cheap.  Seriously.  A year subscription to one of the most gorgeous and educational magazines out there is $15.   And you can order online. 
  • Step Into Reading books for beginners.  These amazing books cater to any literary taste and reading ability.  Nonfic is hugely popular with boys (sharks, bugs, whales, dinos) while the classic Biscuit books and Amelia Bedelia are great choices for girls.  And the best thing?  When you shop at Barnes and Noble, you can quickly add a Step Into Reading book to your purchase which then gets donated to local children in need.  How cool is that?  During the buying frenzy, you won’t even notice the missing $3.00, yet the child receiving a brand new book of their own will be eternally thankful for your generosity.
  • Teen Pics are a bit trickier, but I’ll share my purchases with you.  Both my big kids are rounding out trilogies this season or starting new ones based on beloved authors.  Dear Daughter: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, as well as Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick.  Eldest: The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.  Next up for him, the first novel in the Seven Realms series, also by Chima.
  • And if I haven’t mentioned it enough, Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman is the must have book for teens this season.  If you’ve never heard of it, check out my #WTGV tab for reviews and your chance to win a free copy.  Think it’s only for girls?  Think again.  I’ve had several boy readers tell me this was a great book and that everyone should read it.  “Everyone,” was the recommendation from a non-reader who just got snookered into it because I bug him so much about reading.  He finished it in three days.
  • Discovery Channel dot com is AWESOME for educational toys that challenge little brains while keeping them so busy they don’t realize they are learning.  Lots o’ great gifts were found there for the nieces and nephews.   Additionally, puzzles are known for their role in honing fine motor manipulation and practicing preliteracy skills.  Melissa and Doug (brand of nicely crafted wooden toys) make fabulous puzzles for tiny fingers while places like Discovery Channel and National Geographic have amazing educational puzzles for expanding minds.
  • Lastly, JC Penney’s online turned out to be a rockin’ place for finding unheard of deals.  For the little Rembrandt in the family, we found a fully loaded art desk for a fraction of the price.

Another online site I found, I liked, but didn’t buy from was Build A Dream Playhouse.  This ground floor business (started by a daddy and his posse of tiny testers) provides unique cardboard creations for hours of imaginative play.  Castles, snack shops, vehicles and more are all a click away.

All in all, I’m much more satisfied this year with our Christmas purchases than I usually am.

How goes your Christmas battle?  Are you finished or just getting started with your shopping?    Please share any fun, unique sites with the rest of us, as well as any gift buying tips you may have for those less jolly about commercialized Christmas giving.


10 responses to “Tales from My Christmas List

  1. Well, I guess the whole reason for my dicontent is that Christmas should not be a battle. And I dislike someone giving me a list of what they want. Doesn’t that take all the fun and spontaneity out of gift-giving? I highly recommend the National Geographic, especially for families. I would also recommend a subscription to The Sun for any writers on your list. Thanks for the link. I will check it out. We’ve scaled back our gift giving but there are still a few we like to buy.

  2. The unfortunate individuals who are related to me by blood or marriage will likely receive one of three things: books, food/drink, or small Amazon gift certificates. Everyone else gets a high-five and a card that says they’re great.

    When I realized that I wanted to simplify my life and not buy “stuff” I lost touch with the spendyness of the holidays. This is easy for us since we don’t have kids, though (I’m pretty sure if we had kids, they’d be pretty spoiled every year).

    • Christina, those are the best gifts.

      While I have four kids, we are very fortunate that they are not needy ones. I bought a book about two weeks ago for Eldest and he said, “Well, now you’re done Christmas shopping for me. Thanks.”

      It’s nice to have simplicity!

  3. Great ideas! I’ll check that website out. I usually leave my shopping to Christmas eve…but not this year!

    • Antigone, I’ve been known to be a last minute shopper on occasions. It only makes my dislike for sheer foolish buying worse because I had no choice but to get what was left over! I hope you enjoy gifts.com. I loved it for the uniqueness of the items they highlighted. Not your typical department store fare.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. When my daughter was younger I had a tendency to overshop (spoil her). I don’t know if it’s wisdom or age *yike*, but these days I tend to buy gifts closer to the heart. For example if I know Skye is saving up for something for her house I’ll give her a donation toward that item. Of course there are the favorites and holiday traditions. We always give each other an ornament that signifies something about that year ( Old World Christmas is great for variety).

    Gifts for me? I have my favorite causes that I love (rather) have someone donate to. I remember one year reading about an envelope that is placed in the tree, inside is a letter telling of something the giver did for the recipients cause – donate to a school team who can’t afford uniforms, food or bedding dropped off to a local womens or animal shelter. The list goes on…

    There is far more joy in the giving than there ever could be in the recieving. I agree with you, meaningful is so much better; it stays with you for far longer than a season. (Hugs) Indigo

    • I love your letter in the tree story. You are so right when you say giving is far better than receiving. It warms my heart to share happiness with others. What better gift is there to yourself than that?


  5. My goal for this year is to avoid the mall and so far I’ve succeeded (bear in mind I don’t have small children to buy toys for). I’m focusing on hand-made, consumable gifts. One thing I love about this flippin’ recession is how its making me rethinking things like gift giving.

    • Charlotte,

      Those are the best gifts by far. I love the kind that speak to the receiver personally, and it sounds like you have that down.

      Hope your holiday season was wonderful.

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