This is the fifth post in a series about enjoying the holidays with your family. We've discussed less stuff, advent activities, crafting, and elf on a shelf. Let's get to stuffing some stockings without going overboard like the photo above.
For the last several years (read: since we got married), my husband has been trying to get me to tone down the Christmas gifts. I try, really, I do. But sometimes I forget what I’ve already bought then feel like I have to “make it even”. Sometimes it isn’t even me that makes the tree look like Santa has dropped his entire toy load in our living room. It’s simply the fact that we have seven kids and they have five grandparents on our side of the family alone plus cousins and aunts and uncles and godparents. It isn’t much different than when I was growing up. Lots of kids equals lots of gifts, even if you personally don’t buy a whole lot.
We’ve had years where we have been so overwhelmed that we literally went to the mall and bought whatever. I’m not proud of these moments. I come from a tradition where the gifts that you give should be thoughtful and truly representative of the recipient. This is easy with a three year old who is over the moon when they receive doll pajamas or a nerf bow and arrow. It becomes more and more difficult with teens who want tech gadgets at $300 plus a pop or $200 boots. I don’t know about you, but even if I had the money for those types of gifts, I don’t think I would buy them. As much as I truly enjoy the challenge of giving a good gift, I just can’t get behind spending money for the sake of spending money.
When I talked to my husband about how we were going to approach Christmas this year, one thing was clear. We agreed that the most special part of the entire Christmas season is Christmas morning when we all sit around the living room to open stockings. It is the one time of the year with no other obligations, no phones, no distractions. We are all able to stop and engage in the moment in a way that feels almost impossible the other 364 days a year. It is not about the gifts but about the process of opening each stocking, enjoying each other’s company, finding those little things that will make our kids faces light up with humor or enjoyment or embarrassment or excitement. It is about the two of us and our seven kids and no one else. It is because this moment is precious that I spend the two months prior to Christmas seeking out the best stocking stuffers.
Kid stuffers above: (1) personalized girl stationary, (2) Heidi, (3) Lego mixels, (4) tic-tac-toe, (5) Frozen underwear pack, (6) personalized fox stationary, (7) slinky, (8) pocket microscope, (9) Lego friends, (10) tattly temporary tattoos 3D boy and friendship bracelet, (11) This is New York.
Stocking stuffers do not need to be fancy. I generally try to stick with a few simple categories: utilitarian (undies, socks, ski socks, hand warmers, thank you notes, ballet tights), festive (ornaments, holiday candy), funny or quirky (tabasco jelly beans for the hot sauce kid, bacon candy canes), and personal (spare ipod charger for the kid who always needs a charge, phone lens for the budding photographer, hockey tape for the hockey players, t-shirts, hats, scarves, jewelry, etc.).
My favorite sources in general for stocking stuffers are Paper Source, Brit + Co, Target, Old Navy, American Eagle, and etsy. West Elm, and Crate and Barrel are great for ornaments. I always include thank you notes in our stockings. Great sources for those are Sarah and Abraham and Minted. Looking for a great baby stocking stuffer? Try the mini storybook of names and faces from Pinhole Press.
The most important part? Sit back and enjoy the show on Christmas morning.