Somehow I always seem to forget that gifts trickle in from other sources. A very sweet neighbour, unexpected parcels from one of my sisters (we don’t typically exchange gifts, but she had a way to get them down to us via a friend)…and my mother, bless her, came loaded with stocking stuffers galore.
I’ll admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I DID really stick to my guns in terms of getting things I knew were:
- good quality
- served a purpose or fueled a passion
- could be easily rehoused
- were consumable
- had an obvious place within our home
Now that the dust has settled on Christmas 2021 (at least in terms of the presents), I can’t think of much I would have changed!
A few days ago I alluded to the fact our family has some fun ways of prolonging the present-opening experience and wanted to detail those here on the blog.
OUR christmas morning routine
- We bookend breakfast with gifts. Stockings get opened first; because we include a lot of practical things in stockings (socks, pads of paper, coffee filters, shampoo), there is quite a bit to open even if much of it ends up going right into the cupboard (or desk, or shower). While the adults tend to watch what others are opening, there is no restriction on stockings – kids can open gifts as quickly as they want. Since there are always some edible treats included, they tend to slow down once they hit bubble gum or a chocolate bar and take a break for a snack! Hey, it’s Christmas – there’s nothing like chocolate before 9 am once a year.
- Breakfast comes next; I’ll do a summary of Christmas food in another post, but we always have the same foods on Christmas morning. I bake the cinnamon coffee cake while we open stocking gits, but there tends to be enough buffer before breakfast for me to put away a lot of the stocking stuffers + remove the wrapping debris and organize anything that we’re salvaging for the next year (gift bags, tissue paper, Christmas tins).
- We label most of the main gifts with Bible verse clues. All credit for this idea goes to close friends of ours who introduced us to this concept years ago. Our very first year as a married couple we went to their house over Christmas and I couldn’t stop laughing when their teenage daughter received some razors which had been labeled with the reference for a verse that said something to the effect of “the rough shall be made smooth.” As an extra layer of hilarity, different Bible translations vary in wording, so it can all get a bit confusing (one year someone gave us a verse that was to say “frost” but the translation we were using said “ice.” Sometimes the verse gives it away, but most of the time it just leaves the recipient stymied. Levi lost interest very quickly (and can’t navigate to find the verses in the Bible anyway), so we let him open gifts without preamble and I eventually set him up watching famous soccer goals on my phone while Abby + the adults enjoyed indulging in the fun. My favourite was the verse I used for John’s Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon record – Ezekiel 32:7b: “I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light.”
- I also think we can officially call it an annual tradition of having the kids do a treasure hunt. This year I wrapped the first clue inside about a dozen boxes (so the kids kept opening and opening and opening until they found the clue, a process which built increasing excitement). I hid clues all over the house (and even out in the neighbourhood, inside our mailbox down the street), before they finally found the last clue: “The final clue for you to follow, look behind Godric’s Hollow” – which led them to the downstairs bookshelf, with the wrapped gift behind my boxset of Harry Potter. The gift this year was individual “coupon” books with things like: have a breakfast in bed (not just on your birthday); a trip to a specialty candy store in Halifax (Abby), inviting friends over for supper (Levi), a weeknight sleepover (Levi), and a free pass on emptying the dishwasher (Abby). Last year the clues led them to two sledding saucers; another year it was the booking confirmation for an overnight hotel stay scheduled between Christmas and New Year’s.
gift highlights of 2021
Now on to the gifts. I didn’t take many pictures and I’m too lazy to imbed direct links so this roundup may lack in pizazz, but I thought it would be fun to do a quick run-down of what we gave/received this Christmas. I’ve also tried to make note of the things we sourced second-hand/at the DollarStore.
The whole family received a Crokinole/Backgammon/Checkers board from my parents which has already seen hours of playing fun.
LEVI | After the presents were all opened I asked Levi what his favourite gift was and he didn’t miss a beat with the answer: LEGO! We bought him another Classic Tote and have systematically built each of the design options they suggest within the enclosed booklet. When we’re ready to dismantle those, it will really help boost our existing collection of LEGO building materials. Other favourites included:
- a new homemade hat (from Grammie)
- a $25 Amazon gift card
- a personalized/engraved passenger flight record log book from our neighbour who works for AirCanada (you know, for the day when we can easily get on a plane again?!)
- Art supplies – presharpened pencils, a binder containing plain white paper, erasers; and from a local thrift store lots of art accessories: a 3-hole-punch, pillow desk, and desk organizer
- Shrink-art (a big hit!) – DollarStore
- Soccer-themed mini-gloves – DollarStore
- A dinosaur fossil kit (he actually received this last year but I had set it aside because it seemed a bit too advanced; I re-wrapped it this year and he LOVED it)
- A glow-in-the-dark balloon (a neat twist on glow sticks) – DollarStore
- A flashlight lantern (grandparents)
- Fruit Loops, Tic Tacs, bubble gum, and a few chocolate bars for the edible treat components
- A new beach towel because he desperately needed one for our summer adventures (a great Costco find)
- Lots of socks – all from the DollarStore, the best place to find cotton socks, ironically enough, which the dermatologist recommended
- Codenames – I’m not a big game person, but this really is a blast to play. We opted for the picture version, but I think I might buy her the original word-based version next year, too?
- A cozy sweater (thrift store find; she loves it and it is SO soft)
- A new-to-her FitBit (she got a knock-off last Christmas which broke twice; we finally gave up and sourced her a genuine FitBit off Kijiji for $30, as I’m not quite ready for her to have an Apple product)
- a personalized/engraved passenger flight record log book from our neighbour who works for AirCanada
- Personalized calendar with fun pictures from 2021
- Personalized “Handcrafted by Abby” stickers as she loves to make things + some little plastic baggies to put crafts/candy in to give as gifts
- The first Mysterious Benedict Society Book
- Shrink art (big hit) – DollarStore
- Necklace + socks – from my sister
- Various art supplies: some plain white paper, new sketching pencils, some sticker art, and some black velvet colouring sheets – DollarStore
- Reese’s puffs cereal, TicTacs and chocolate
- Scrunchies – I bought her about 10 (after hearing Ingrid Fetell Lee talk about the pleasure of abundance)…and then my Mom made her about a dozen. So we have an extreme abundance of scrunchies! I bought them for about 3/$1!
- A BeanieBoo (DollarStore) + some bookbag accessories (Levi picked these out)
JOHN | I had a lot of fun buying for John this year!
- A canvas tote with his prize-winning cow picture emblazoned on the front
- A Rubix-cube themed shirt (to commemorate our year of Rubix cubes)
- Apple Airtags (for locating keys, bookbags etc).
- Star Wars Lego (the AT-AT set)
- Socks (including a free replacement pair of DarnTough from a warranty claim)
- A new baseball hat (local merch from our town)
- A few bumper stickers/decals (also merch from our beloved town)
- A bottle of California Reaper peppers (hottest pepper on the Scoville scale)!
- Dark Side of the Moon record
- FIVE different types of KitKat bars
- a new Bible
- a five-year journal
- three sets of earrings (unkenownst to me, after already buying me my annual set of earrings – remember I’m a huge fan of giving/receiving the same things each year – John read my blog post about having a 2022 goal to buy a set of hoop earrings and went out and bought me two sets of hoops, just so I could cross something off my list! So sweet and the gesture alone made me happy, not to mention I love all the earrings).
- a canister for storing all my loose tea bags (bonus: it fits perfectly on the shelf where I store tea) – DollarStore
- Twizzlers and Brooksides and Mars bars…obviously. And yes, I did binge the Twizzlers.
- A new cooling rack
- Two gorgeous new serving bowls – DollarStore
- The All Creatures Great and Small book
- An adorable Elephant ornament from my father-in-law (technically a joint gift with John, but I’m claiming main dibs on this)!
- Merino/alpaca wool socks + polypro gloves (bought with a credit from a warranty claim)
- A lighter for the wood stove (Dad)
- Books – most of them free from neighbourhood lending libraries!
- Non-stick silicone mats (Mom)
- Jumbo storage bags (Mom) – Ikea
- Homemade family calendars (my parents + in-laws)
- Computer speakers (father-in-law) – in-box at thrift store
- Our favourite shovel (Dad) -bought last March on a clearance sale
- My favourite Columbia socks (father-in-law) – sourced at a huge discount two years ago and stashed away
- A Ledgle neck-light (Mom)
- Best Grandpa in the World mug (father-in-law, from Abby)
Phew. A lot of gifts, but most of them were either very practical (clothing, storage for the kitchen) or fueled a passion (art supplies for the kids, LEGO), would be easy to rehome (books), or were consumable (edible treats like cereal, candy, and hot peppers).
What about you. What was your favourite gift to give and receive for Christmas 2021?