I know that I should shop locally, support small businesses, try to buy items with less or even better, no packaging, buy natural and organic items, buy fair trade and only buy gifts they will really need and use. Yet, every year as hard as I try to get my holiday shopping done early, I end up running out at the last minute and buying anything I can find that I think they will like well-enough. In these frantic moments, thoughts of packaging, mounds of plastic and local shopping are far from my mind. It is all about buying the latest fad, cheapest item, most convenient thing and hoping that they like it enough to play with it for a couple of weeks. Well, I promised myself that this year will be different, this year all 56+ gifts that I buy for kids (8 nights of Chanukah x 7 kids) plus a few extras for special friends, will be well thought out and will truly reflect the values that I find so important the rest of the year. So here is how I intend to shop for my Chanukah gifts this year:
1. One gift for each child will be a donation to charity. This is so great for a couple of reasons; now I only have 7 more gifts to buy and I really value donations and think that even the youngest kids can understand the concept of giving to others. My plan is to buy mango trees through Plan Canada ($12 each, or 10 trees for $100). The trees will be planted in school grounds for kids to eat - how amazing is that! No kid should be hungry and my kids love mangos, so if I do a good job of explaining it, they will understand that this is a really special gift.
2. I'm going to buy quality wooden toys that I'll know they will love. Anamalz and PlanToys and ImagiPlay toys are amazing. They are all made from eco-friendly wood and they are all heirloom quality toys that will last and last. I also like that they lead to imaginative play and kids of all ages can use them in different ways. Kids are bombarded with plastic and technology - to me, wooden toys are a beautiful and simple reminder of what it means to be a kid.
3. At least one item for each child will be handmade. Ideally, they would be handmade by me, but it is not likely that will happen this year. Instead, I am thinking that I will buy each of them something that is locally handmade. I am going to be at Portobello West with Giving Gifts on Nov. 27th and 28th and Dec. 10th and 11th, so I'm hoping that I will have time to pick something great up there. I think it is so special to shop for something handmade and get to meet the artist in person. The gift comes with a story that way.
4. One gift for each of them will be an article of organic clothing. Most of the year, I buy clothes for my kids wherever is the most convenient which usually ends up being the mall. But the holidays should be different. I am going to take time to seek out great deals on organic clothing made by smaller local retailers. The best part is that I already bought 4 new organic tops from Apricot Culotte for 50% off! That leaves only 3 more left to track down.
5. I am giving every kid that doesn't already have one, a reusable snackbag! A reusable snackbag is the gift ever! My kids love each having their own bag they can recognize by the design. I know the kids will love them - my son even made a video on why he loves his snackbag so much! The best part is, that this is a gift for the parents too. Anything to make the rush out the door easier, is such a great gift. The kids that already have a snackbag will get an Envirosax bag. Why? because every child should have their own bag to use for swimming or to take the beach with them or to throw dirty clothes in or just to carry toys around the house. Envirosax bags are the perfect gift for kids. Also, they might even help carry the groceries if they have their own bag to grab! I think I'll use the snackbags and Envirosax bags to wrap other items. I'm not a huge fan of wrapping paper and this way it is two gifts in one!
6. Every girl is getting a Piggy Paint Natural Nail Polish - or two :) You can never have enough colours of Piggy Paint! My girls (and son too) love it when I paint their toe nails. It is a cute and fun activity we do when I can't think of anything else to entertain them. They love being able to pick out their own colour (or colours - my daughter is determined to build our collection to 10 colours so she can paint each of her nails a different colour!) The best part, this is a fun gift for moms too! If we have to buy a new Forever Fancy this year, it is because I keep sneaking into their stash and painting my nails - sh...don't tell them :)
7. Every child will receive at least one, most likely two books. Why? Because I love books! I've already started stocking up on great books. To me, books are a gift that will last forever. They will get passed down to siblings, passed on to friends, donated to charities and traded at book swaps and the best ones will stay in the bookshelf for year and years, waiting to get read to grandchildren (or at least that is my hope, but seeing as my kids are barely out of diapers, I shouldn't really be thinking about their kids yet!) Books are truly something to treasure and I can't think of a better gift to keep kids occupied over the winter break, than a few good books.
8. The 8th gift this year will be something bigger - something just a little more special that the other 7 gifts. It isn't going to be giant, because they have already gotten 7 other gifts, but it will be a personal gift for each child based on what I think they would really like. This gift is going to take some time to figure out. Two have already been purchased - both wood toys from PlanToys. The rest I'm going to have to think about a little harder. For my own kids, I'm leaning towards an experience or class. My son loves hockey and has been bugging me to sign him up for floor hockey again, my middle daughter loves art and my youngest loves music, so they might get a new hockey stick (or game), art supplies and musical instruments, along with the class they'd love. I think experiences are often more meaningful than more toys to play with. Don't worry too much about my kids and their lack of toys, two of them have birthdays in December and I've had my eye on a really cool marketplace with wooden play food and a cash register, so we might be opening a store in our home too!
If you are wondering what else I'll be gifting this year (yes there are 8 points and 8 nights, but Piggy Paint doesn't really work for a baby and there are a few other people and pets that deserve gifts too!) Top on my list are: Blabla Rattles, Cup Sleeves (more will be in stock at the end of November), MiniSax Bags, Waterbottles and Boom Boom Cards. My dog and cat friends are receiving toys from West Paw Designs.
I'll be wrapping gifts in Reusable Snackbags, Envirosax Bags, MiniSax Bags, Lyziwraps, Gift Bags and wrapping paper my kids make. They scribble and draw and add stickers to a roll of plain recycled paper. It's an art project and wrapping paper in one - a 2 for 1 deal!
Do you have any confessions of Christmas' and Chanukah's past? What are top on your list of gifts to give this year?