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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

56 Days till Christmas

Can you believe that in just 56 days Christmas will be here? Now, Richie and I don't have children like many of you do, but Christmas is still a pretty big thing for us. And this year it will be spent in a new house...or will it? If you know something...shhh.

Richie and I for years have had problems when it comes to "What do you want for Christmas?" This year is easy though...gift cards. Money. Hello, unless you want to buy us a new dishwasher, a gift card will do perfectly! Thank God Richie agrees on the joint gift card idea. Our families tend to start asking that question early, so we've decided early. Now, what I ask for from Richie is another story. The baker in me is DYING for a real mixer to add to my kitchen stuff. My poor hand mixer is getting tired. Other than that....I don't want for anything. The things that we'd have on a list, I'm sure, would be all house related!

In years past we've had interesting present situations pop up. We have always made sure that my family and his family have each other's emails so that there is no doubling up on presents. Yeah, well, that does not always work. One year 80% of our gifts were dups...each. It was uncomfortable to say the least. Another year we were given bizzare gifts because we wouldn't give definitive answers to the dreaded question listed above. So many people think that gift cards are impersonal, detached, lazy and distant. I love them! I hate getting clothes that are hideous or too small. It is difficult to buy me movies or music. I'm too picky for anyone to buy me jewelry. (sorry Richie) I'd rather have coloring books and crayons than any of those other things. Yes, i said we do NOT have children... they would be for me! What I'd love to have is a gift card and a day shopping with the person who got it for me!

We've not started shopping for our 5 nephews and 1 neice, or parents and siblings yet. So it will all have to wait until Dec. after we're moved and settled--somewhat. There are a couple things that kill us each year: #1--2 of the 5 boys are teenages who won't tell what they want, #2--3 kids are young andtrying to ship toys, #3--shipping in general is so expensive. Do the math, only 1 of 5 is easy to buy for, but only for another couple of years till he's a teen too. So usually, and unfortunately we buy gift cards for them all. The older boys get them directly in cards, and for the younger ones we send onto parents to buy toys for the kids. I miss wrapping presents and watching their faces as they open them but what can you do?

I haven't been this excited for a holiday in a long time.

What are your plans for this season?

I agree that gift cards are the BEST!!!! And they are the right choice for your teen nieces and nephews. But my parents generation doesn't like to give them as much, unfortunately.... for all the reasons you stated. Hope you get exactly what you want!
ChinaCalling   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I started thinking about Christmas when it snowed on my way home from work on Monday. Granted, it only fell for about 5 minutes and didn't amount to anything. Still, we had snow in Chicago in late October.
Bill Pearch   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I think gift cards are great for kids. Most get so many presents at Christmas that the gifts can be a blur and it's over. Gift cards give them something to keep the holiday and fun going as well as teaching them how to spend their $$ wisely by making good choices on how to spend it. And we all know there are tons of after-holiday sales to maximize their spending $$ more than you could pre-Christmas!

Have your families give you Bed,Bath&Beyond gift cards en masse. Then make sure you have one of their 20% coupons and go shopping for that mixer! I bought the 6 qt. size at BB&B using that coupon and gift cards and went from $400 to $165, I think, final price. Take advantage of the gift cards to afford the mixer even easier!
LGrant   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
only 52 days until the Winter Solstice then.
talkswithstrangers   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Steve and I have it easy this year. We're taking everybody on a Caribbean cruise in January so I'm done! Of course there will be a few presents for the young grandchildren....and also a Christmas tree for them....but that's it as far as our gift-giving goes this year. We're really looking forward to cruising with our whole family!!! I'm sure Steve will have lots of pictures to share!
!   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Um, did I mention that I am up for adoption?

Sounds like a great holiday plan. If it were possible to get both families together that would be the perfect outcome for Christmas! Kudos to you guys for being so generous!
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Ho Ho Hooooooo. Not sure if I'm ready for all the holiday cheer. I am ready for some Thanksgiving!
A few years ago we made a deal with our family...presents for the kids only. There was some reluctance at first but I think everyone appreciates it now. I just don't need anymore 'stuff' and I rather focus on the kids. We still do some stocking stuffers with the Pikes and my Mom usually makes us a bag of goodies. Matt and I don't have kids but people usually buy things for our pets. I love that. We also choose a charity and donate a sum in the name of all of our family. Shopping for the kids is something I really enjoy. There are 8 to cover this year so I will have to be a little better about choosing 1 gift per kid...or maybe 2? haha It will look like Santa's workshop in our dining room in a few weeks. I can't help myself :)
Spike   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Gift Cards are great - but I like to add a twist to them when giving them to an older child or teen - I am getting these this year to put gift cards in.


That way - I can wrap a present - I get to see the happiness in opening it and can delight in frustrating my teen with the fact that she has to work a puzzle to get to the cash or card - LOL
justmeg   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Since 2008 is an even year, we'll be spending Thanksgiving Day at Bill's mother's house in Greenview and Christmas Day at my mother's house in East Peoria, but we don't go there until after nap time here at our house. The Saturday after Thanksgiving will be at my mom's place with our dinner at noonish, then naps, then the East Peoria Festival of Lights Parade: http://www.cityofeastpeoria.com and pre-party at my cousin's house on the parade route. If you've never been, you should make the trip--it's fun!

Santa will probably come to our house on the 26th or 27th, which will give us an entire day to spend with our kids--they're young. They don't know what day it is! We also have a pretty stiff rule that Santa brings ONLY three presents...this will save us a lot of money during the pre-teen and teen years, hopefully. Now from us--the parental unit--they'll get three "wants" and three "needs" e.g., socks, underwear, etc. I think this is plenty, frankly, especially since grandmas, aunts, uncles, etc. lavish them with gifts, as well. We'll actually spend one or two evenings after Christmas selecting toys and clothes to donate to make room for the new items; we feel this is vital, not only to teach our children compassion for others, but for our own sanity in a small house! GAH!!

New Year's Eve usually finds us at home, and my mother does every other year either at our place or my sister's in Pekin. We like to spend that evening with her, so she doesn't miss my father too much; this year, my folks would have been married 44 years on December 31, 2008.

Hope all of you are looking forward to all or at least one aspect of the holiday season!

PS. Oh, and we made the same change in our family as Spike's did--no exchange among the adults; children only.
Angi   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I have 5 nephews, 1 niece and 3 kids of my own. We decided that the adults would draw names. My niece is now 21, so the argument is that she is an adult and should draw names, but she is having none of that.
Of all of my nephews only one is still a kid. The rest are teenagers and I just usually give them money. It is so impersonal, but I don't want to spend money on something they don't want. We have already had the talk with my kids about Christmas, and that things will be limited this year. Times are tough. I always tend to go overboard because I love to buy for others, but not this year. I think the "children only" idea is a good one. I wonder if my family will go for it....
Randale   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Nancy, you and Steve have fun on the cruise because its something that you either love or hate. My wife and I went with two other couples on a three day Carnival Cruise from Port Canaveral,FL to the Bahamas and back. Well my wife got sick on the first night out, so I put her to bed and when to the Casino. However, she improved and when we got to NASSAU, she and one of the wives when off of the ship, and when they returned they got on the ship and thought that they were in the TWILIGHT ZONE. Finally, they got to our ship and all of us went on the "BOOZ CRUISE". When we left Port Canaveral on Sunday there was a down range tracking ship in the berth next to where we were berthed and I remarked that the ship would not be there when we returned. It turned during all of the bad weather we had to and from Nassau had caused a Shuttle Launch to be scrubbed three times.
BeanCounter37   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
When my mother and I went to Hawaii to join my father and live there for a year, my Dad told my Mother that Sea SICKNESS IS ALL MENTAL. Well about half way (approx. 1500 miles beyond any land we run into a Tidal Wave: consequently, my mother had a hard time coping with the conditions, but she did and on top of it all I fell down on the outer deck and broke my collar bone. When we got to Honolulu, my Dad told my Mom that he had heard that the trip had been rough, and she told him that any one who seasickness was mental was Crazy as H**l.
BeanCounter37   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I have a suggestion for any of you that have teenagers to buy for and you don't kmow what they want just give them a Gift Card to Aeropostale. My daughter and her colleagues would certainly appreciate the new business. You can always give cards to Wally World. The gold old American Green Back is always a great choice.
BeanCounter37   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Beano, do you know someone who knows someone that can do me up some gold buffalo coins? i'd like to see their recipient chew through them :-D
talkswithstrangers   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I have to admit like getting gift cards, but don't like giving them.
We have 2 children in their early 20's, one is married & Jahovah's Witness so they don't celebrate, and the younger one usually gets practical gifts. I think last year we got him a tune-up for his pickup.
I have a huge immediate family (30+) so the adults draw names. I usually buy something small for each my 11 nieces & nephews, but this year I am opening a savings account for each of them. They usually get so much from parents, grandparents and other aunts & uncles I don't think they'd miss one more toy from "Aunt Mimi & Uncle Joey". Then on future holidays I will just put some $ in there.
Merrick   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This year Richard and I are not giving gifts to individuals in our immediate families, instead we are taking all of them on the Friday after Christmas to the local Zip line. These people own ziplines in Costa Rica and Ecquador and we have heard that its really a great family outing. They can take kids from age 2 on up. Instead of a huge meal I am just going to make chile. We still will proably get some little things for the kids but since all but one has birthdays in the next 3 months-it will probably be books.
dannie   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Steve, I think the cruise is a wonderful idea. I wish we could afford to do that-maybe someday.
dannie   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Angi, I think you are dead on and I commend you for being so aware of the spririt of Christmas. I met a woman randomly in JC Penny one year, and because I have a habit of talking to strangers we had a little discussion about Christmas. She said her 3 children only got 3 presents each to open on Christmas Eve. (not including other relatives) She elaborated that Jesus only got 3 presents on his birthday, and if 3 was good enough for him then 3 was good enough for them. The celebrated the gift giving on Christmas Eve to leave Christmas Day as Jesus' birthday and celebrated it seperately.

I suggested to my sister that she look through the IKEA site online to see if maybe the kids needed organizational stuff for their new bedrooms. She doesn't really want them to have toys because of space issues. I suggested to do what Angi mentioned above--donate toys to charity if there are so many. She said no, that she intended to have a garage sale to make a little money. What is frustrating about that is that she and her husband are not the ones who purchased those toys, the rest of us did.

My side of the family has 6 adults; one year, before there were 3 kids, the adults drew names but had the freedom to buy anything for the kids. (I"m thinking there were only 2 that year) We put a $20 limit on the gift you could buy your person. This made it pocketbook friendly and you had to get creative and clever. It really was great. The gifts were heartfelt and interesting. Lowering the price of the gift really made people think about what their person.
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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