Preparing (or not) for the holiday season

I’m having a hard time believing that tomorrow is December 1st. After my sister’s passing at the end of October, November was literally a blur for me and it’s amazing my husband and I were able to get it together enough to get Julian something for his fourth birthday which we celebrated in Michigan last week. Now we have to focus on Christmas — getting a tree (or not), making our own ornaments (or not), decorating the front of the house (or not), buying presents (or not).

After much discussion online last year (was it on my blog or on Facebook?) about the merits of a real Christmas tree versus an artificial tree (lots of good information on the subject here), we’ve decided to ditch the pre-lit artificial tree we acquired on Craigslist a few years ago, and buy our first real tree. I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a tree with a rootball so we can plant it afterwards, but I’m not there yet — maybe if we lived on a few acres.

I have no idea what I’m going to do for presents for the kids this year. I want to keep it simple.

I didn’t partake in Black Friday or Cyber Monday and just don’t feel motivated to do any shopping until I know what I am looking for. Otherwise I feel like I’ll just wander aimlessly around the stores, which really might not be such a bad thing after all.

Tell me what you are buying for your kids this year. Did you score any good deals online or in the stores? I want Christmas this year to be simple, yet I also want it to be magical (I don’t ask for much, do I? *wink*). Do you have any ideas for simple, magical gifts for a 4 and 6 year old? What about a 30-something year old man? 😉

Speaking of gifts, I’m still hoping you all will do me a favor and give the Earth a gift by checking out One Million Acts of Green. We are nowhere reaching the goal of a million acts of green completed in the United States yet. You can Give The Gift of Green by checking out the One Million Acts of Green Facebook Application, which allows you to pledge to complete an act of green like Turning Off Your Computer When Not In Use or Run Your Dishwasher Only When It’s Full or Turn Off Your Lights When Not In Use and posts a cute, humorous e-card to your Facebook friend’s wall.

Disclosure: Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with Cisco, is compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation. See what the other ambassadors have to say about One Million Acts of Green: Green and Clean Mom, Green Your Décor and Condo Blues.

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20 thoughts on “Preparing (or not) for the holiday season”

  1. Hi

    My little man is nearly three so we’re getting him a bike. There are also a few books, dvds and toys to be wrapped.

    My Hubby is also 30 something and wants the new EA Sports Trainer for the Wii.

    For the rest of my family I got hampers delivered across the globe!

    I wish you and yours a happy Christmas filled with happy memories! And a healing 2011!


  2. we will be repurposing a toy chest into a “dress up chest” and I have a call out to friends and family to send any fancy but no longer used items of clothes/hats/shoes/jewels to include in it.

    for my son we are converting an old coffee table into a train/play table something like this
    and we will be getting hims a few new accessories to go with.

  3. I got my kids a Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kit so they can make their own robots. I also got my son some Lincoln Logs. I think my daughter would like a brunette barbie since she has 2 blondies… or there are these pink or blue “fairy style” barbie brand barbies at Target that I saw. I bet a 37 year old man would want a new Macbook Pro 15″ with 250 GB SSD, though maybe an iPad or Samsung Tab. But thats just my feedback.

    Anonymous Blog Reader.

  4. My kids are 2 and 4, and I nabbed an awesome Pottery Barn activity table (that we’ll use as a train table) that retails for $350 for $125 for a lightly used one on Craig’s List. I’m super excited about it.

    I also picked up two 80-piece wooden train sets (trains, tracks, signs) from ALDI (grocery store) for $20 each. GREAT deal! I’ve been picking up Thomas trains and Toy Story characters as I see them on sale at various places.

    My husband just told me last night a few different ideas. He’s the hardest person to shop for. I’m going to try to get him a Kindle if I can squeeze it in the budget. If not, then I’m probably going to get him clothes.

    BTW, I’m a first time commenter on your blog, and I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope for some peace during this Christmas season for you and your family.

  5. Hi Amy. You are always on my mind these days. We celebrate Hanukkah, which starts tomorrow. My kids will each get a homemade gift from me (blanket, hat and mittens, respectively), a group gift of a Dutch dollhouse with accessories we acquired from a friend last summer and a new family wii game (Club Penguin). The tradition of 3 gifts comes from nowhere but works well. I saw some adorable footed pjs at Target that are Xmas themed – those would be a sweet addition to any Xmas gifts I think. Hugs to you – good luck! Oh, and my husband is getting slippers!

  6. I did my shopping online at Nova Natural – their gifts totally fit the ‘simple and magical’ bill for me. Plus, they’re all fairly easy on the earth and me, with no plastic or batteries or beeping noises.

    And I just decided today that the adults are getting charitable donations in their name. I’m tired of struggling over gifts for adults that they don’t even want anyway. I would rather spend my money where it’s really needed.

  7. Other than some food gifts I’m going to make as stocking stuffer (gingerbread cookies, sugar scrubs, peppermint bark, and dried sweet potato chewies for the dogs) I’m done with my Christmas shopping. I am on the lookout for ideas and items when I see them year round. I keep a spreadsheet of ideas/items to purchase so I was able to take advantage of Black Friday deals like the tub of 400 Legos I scored for 50% off ($15) for 2 Lego Maniac kids.

    As for your husband, is there something that he would like for your new house? Like tools or garden stuff? I made my husband, nephews, and in laws,fleece pajama pants that they live in during the winter.

  8. I have a tradition of making a big family photo album on shutterfly every year. I work on it once a month all year and it comes to 100 pages. I get a copy for my family and for the grandparents. Each kid gets his/her own little story and picture book about him/herself. That’s all.

  9. When my daughter was little, I made here a fairy dollhouse out of paper-mache,complete with furniture made from twigs,an air fern,and little fairy dolls made from wire and cloth.I think she still has it,20 years later.

  10. My only advise concerning Christmas is to make sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and remember what is important about the holiday to you and your family. That’s going to be different for everyone, though.

    I just want to add that I am sorry for your loss. I lost my brother almost ten years ago, and I know how you feel. It’s hard to express (for me) but it’s like a darkness is covering you and it won’t go away. It does, though- slowly, but it does. But I know you’re probably getting an onslaught of dealing with grief advice, so I’ll leave it at that, because everyone does it in their own way. Just know that a lot of people are thinking of you and your family.

  11. Owning several online retail stores ourselves, the Christmas holidays never sneak up… but, yet, I’m always a little lost in the shuffle until Chrismas eve, when it’s too late for any orders to be shipped in time, so we can “close down” customer service for the next day and I can actually breathe. And, then get my own self prepared for our own Christmas. Whew.

    This year, I bought a little advent calendar (cheapo cheapo) that has bits of poetry or silly pictures beneath each door – for my children. They were SO excited yesterday to open the first door & this morning, they couldn’t wait!

    We try to grab a minute here & there over the next few weeks to take a family photo, to put up a tree, and to put lights out.

    For my children, I’m planning on ordering a mini steel drum instrument and some Magformers (they have been the biggest hit for the last two years – we keep adding on to the collection) and for my husband… I’m never good at deciding. We own a puzzle shop, so I have to shop our “competitors” to find a cool brain teaser for him.

    Whatever you do though, try to take this year in stride. Breathe. Sending peace & strength to you.

  12. Amy,
    It seems you could be totally excused from celebrating Christmas in any pre-conceived way this year. I am so sorry for your loss.

    As for gifts for my kids, we’re trying to give them experiences more than gifts this year (cutting down a tree together, lighting the menorah, meals with friends). They really don’t have much expectation of Christmas so we’re trying to create our own traditions of a low-key, family-filled season.

  13. Doodlebug always gets three toys plus some stocking stuffers. We had to get really creative about gifts this year because we live in an RV, so they can’t take up too much space. She’s getting a book, Lincoln Logs, and a Tonka truck. Pretty simple, imaginative, and multi-function toys.

  14. I know what you mean about keeping it simple but magical. This time of the year is so magical for little ones. I don’t have kids myself but I have 5 neices and nephews I buy for. Every year they get lots of toys, so this year I am getting everyone books. I became that aunt (grin). I love to read, and I want them to think books are amazing. I found good deals on amazon for kids books. I am all about creative gifts (art, clay, dress up). I lost my mom last year and the first every things with out her were tough. My heart is with you and your family.

  15. My daughter asked Santa (at our local tree lighting event) for a fire truck. A wooden one, like the one she saw in Nova Natural. That thing costs like $139, so we were alarmed. Luckily we found a German-made one on Amazon that is beautiful for $95. We figured if we were going to spend $40 or more on a plastic one, we might as well go ahead and get one we’ll really enjoy having around for the next ten years or more. It’s lovely. We are making nearly all the rest of our gifts, because we want a simple Christmas too. I am really into crafting with felted reclaimed wool right now, and you can do so many different things with it–things that are cute 🙂

  16. I have no idea. I had a list that was too expensive cause it was full of lego sets my son wanted. While they are plastic, he loves them and the creativity with them is awesome. I thought about a shared Waldorf style gift but then the parts that go with it are super expensive. I give up on Christmas for the kids. It has become a stress filled mess for me trying to figure out what they might actually play with for the long haul. Even when I think I come up with something great…in my eyes…it isn’t as great in theirs.


  17. I started doing my black friday research a couple weeks before, and I found that this year a lot of the stores were having the same deals earlier. Like ToysRus had the new Creepy Crawlers on sale for 19.99 on black Friday.. a couple weeks before they had them on sale for 24.99 with a free five dollar refill kit. Basically the same thing, the refill kit will of course be used, and I didnt have to worry about whether or not it would still be there on black friday. My son is three and asked for them specifically, so I’m quite excited. His big gift is an Imaginarium train table that I got on sale right before black friday. He will be surprised. He’ll love it, yet he doesnt even know he wants one. hehe Another one of the big things I got him was an Imaginarium Easel. I got it on black Friday for 49.99 with a free 20 dollar easel starter kit. I’m excited about the easel but the starter kit was basically the same stuff we already had, only cheaper looking. I seen that a couple weeks after black friday, they had the same easel on sale for 25 dollars, which is a really great deal. Blocks were on sale at ToysRus the weekend before.. for the same price as on black Friday and we got him some of those. This year we really tried to get him things that would let him use his imagination.

    Oh, and I understand about the legos. Congrats to anyone that found good deals on those. My son (and husband!) would love legos, but they are so expensive.

    I also wanted to say that I’m sorry for your loss. I hope that the magic of this season can help you through the season. I’m sure that everyone that knows and loves you will understand if you have a difficult time this year, or years to follow. Like a previous poster, I hope that 2011 is a year of healing and happiness for you and your family.

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