Christmas Gifts on the Brain

Mid-October may be the earliest I’ve ever bought a Christmas gift. Last night, I was surfing on the Toys R Us website and happened across this neat art desk from Step 2.

Step2ArtDesk

We saw it at a friend’s house over the summer, and I really liked it — so did Emily, who kept wandering away from the party to try to play with all the art stuff they had on it. (“Accessories not included,” naturally. But of course we have all the markers, paints and crayons needed to make a mess… uh, I mean, make art.)

I wasn’t really looking to start my Christmas shopping. While I’m not a last-minute Linda, I will get a good jump on gifts sometime in mid-November, and then get caught up in the holiday madness that descends upon my professional and personal life this time of year, and forget to complete my shopping list. An unfortunate side effect of the “early” gift-buying is that I tend to forget one or two of my stashed presents. Good thing I have time to find the lost gift and re-purpose it for Emily’s birthday 6 weeks later…

This year, we’ll be celebrating Christmas with our newest addition, Jenna. As she’ll only be 5 months when the holiday rolls around, we won’t be doing a ton of shopping for her. She’ll be barely able to sit up by then, forget about being able to play with most toys.

Emily, on the other hand, has reached the age where she wants everything she sees — on TV or in the multitude of toy catalogs that have hit the mailbox in the past week. I’ve had to hide those suckers to preserve my sanity. Not that it’s stopped her from asking where they are — the kid has a memory like an elephant.

All in all, it will be a fairly lean Christmas since I’ve been on maternity leave since July (and returning to work mid-November), but I’m pretty sure the kids won’t even notice. Unless I manage to lose even more gifts this year.

All the Leaves Are Brown

It’s officially fall — the leaves turn colors, temperatures drop and Nicole gleefully pulls her boots and sweaters out of storage. Summertime has come and gone, and everybody’s home again.

I’m ready for pumpkin picking, Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving turkey. I’m ready to shop for a fall wardrobe for Miss Emily. But I’m not ready for the “Christmas creep” — the barrage of holiday displays that started showing up in retail stores before the calendar even hit September (Costco, I’m looking at YOU).

Sure, I’m starting to think about what Santa Claus (and Mommy and Daddy) are going to get our little sweet pea for Christmas. I have some gift ideas rolling around my brain, but I haven’t put them to paper yet because I know it’s far too early, despite the link bait and “news” stories popping up all over my social media feeds. Even CNN got in on it, with an ‘early peek at the hottest holiday toys.” Believe me, there’s nothing ‘hot” about a “Tub N Toot” doll, which does exactly what you think it does.

For now, I’ll be content with squeezing in as many trips to the park as possible before the really cold weather sets in, and buying the cutest outerwear and boots I can find for a toddler who will only wear them for a season or two.

Just don’t ask me if I’ve started my Christmas shopping yet — it can wait.

Toys, Toys, Toys: How Much Do You Spend on Christmas Presents for Your Kid?

Our daughter is two months shy of her second birthday, and we’re already drowning in toys. Between last Christmas and her first birthday, she got an incredible haul. Since February, I’ve only bought her two toys — a Fisher-Price dollhouse and a small talking Mickey Mouse. She’s been incredibly happy with all of the toys she has at our home, my in-laws’ house and the babysitter’s place.

I’ve been rotating through what she currently has — only half of the toys are out at any given time, because otherwise, the playroom is an incredible mess and she doesn’t play with anything. Grandma and Pop have bought her a few more things over the past year for their place, and our amazing babysitter has also added to her collection.

Now Christmas is upon us again, and her birthday is barely 6 weeks after that. I think my plan of action will be to pack away the toys she hasn’t played with in a while to make room for what’s sure to be another avalanche of gifts. We’re still trying to figure out what to buy her because there’s so much stuff out there. Santa’s going to bring her a toddler-sized table and chairs, and an art easel, but I think a trip to the toy store is in order. We get a kick out of shopping for her — and it makes us feel like kids again, too.

Do We Spend Too Much on Christmas Gifts?

Last year we spent about $250 on gifts for Miss Frugalista. Some people think that’s a lot of money for Christmas presents, and some people don’t think it’s enough. It’s a happy medium for us. Her birthday was closer to $50. Depending on what we decide to get her from Santa, it could be more or could be less. I’ll try to buy toys at the lowest price out there, but it seems like every retailer — online and off — has been using the same prices. And there’s no way I’m going shopping on Black Friday. That’s craziness.

It’s also an expensive few months because we hit a trifecta of birthdays this time of year: mine is in December, Mr. Not-So-Frugal’s is in January and then the little miss’ is February. Hubby and I are not exchanging birthday gifts, and we’re limiting Christmas presents to each other.

How much do you spend on Christmas presents for your kids? There’s no right or wrong answer, but this is the one time I get a kick out of emptying my wallet!