Do you buy your own “Santa” gifts?

As the primary shopper in the house, I was tempted to be my own “Santa” this year, and I guess I sort of was.  There is one present under the tree that I bought for myself online and wrapped up, saying it’s from Santa.

This concept is not new.  My mom and mother-in-law have been known to buy presents from themselves and pass them off as being from either Santa or their dear spouse. It was only a matter of time for this tradition to come down to my generation.

As I wrote about last Christmas in The Joy of Giving and Feigning Joy of Receiving, I am not overly into receiving gifts, nor giving out gift ideas for myself. I enjoy giving presents much more. Above everything else, I value the time and experience with loved ones over the holidays. Last Christmas I didn’t give Daddy O. the best kind of guidance, so I was horrible at graciously receiving gifts from him.  To his defense he bought me the eye shadow color that the store employee gave him.  It was labeled “sea grass” instead of “sweet grass” like I had written down.  C’mon Aveda, get some more distinct makeup color names to help us out!

In hindsight (emphasis on HIND), I was genuinely thankful for the mannish-looking padded bike shorts that he gifted me last Christmas.  For a picture of me in said bike shorts and my delayed thank you, see this post from summer.

While out shopping for presents this year, I ended up buying some new pants for work (including jeans!), so I offered these items as gift options for Daddy O. or Santa to give to me.  He declined.  I strategically left magazines open to pages and put X’s by items I liked, so there could be zero confusion as to what I had on my list.  I caught the UPS shipment the other day, and I think Daddy O. successfully listened to my obvious prompts.

Now I just need to properly smile, say thank you, and simply enjoy the time with my dear family this Christmas.  I’ll let you know how I do!

Do you buy your own Santa gifts?  How do you share gift ideas to make shopping easier?

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Some Things Stay the Same

Like if a two year old sees a cookie, he WILL eat it…even it it is twenty years old and hanging on the Christmas tree within reach.  He bit his head off – literally!!

Poor gingerbread manBeyond poor gingerbread man, our other breakable ornaments have remained in tact.  My two-year-old HAS touched our Elf on the Shelf, so I’ve had to keep him in higher locations.  Otherwise, it has been a delight seeing Christmas through his little eyes.

To calm a tantrum on a car ride at night, we quickly pointed out pretty Christmas lights, and that abruptly ended the screaming and crying!  Last night on a quick evening errand, we took turns naming colors of lights as we drove past.  It was not only adorable, but fun! Cheers to this magical, wonderful season!

Merry Christmas!

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Magic

The busyness and hectic pace of this season can be a real drag on Christmas cheer.  After a brief and stressful loading-in of our freshly cut tree that our daughter named Big, we slowed down the next day (courtesy of a Wisconsin snowstorm), listened to Christmas music and decorated the tree while little brother napped.  He woke up from his nap and viewed the fully decked out tree with such wonder and joy.  Just magical!

two year old and our Christmas treeI was happy my relatively basic point & shoot camera could capture these images with a pre-set mode and a little photo editing after the fact. Big sister and Daddy O. had their own moment in front of the tree too. I may not have a classic family picture in front of the tree – yet – but I’m thrilled with these beautiful images.

enjoying our Christmas tree as a familySimple family moments like this are what Christmas is all about.  Love this season!

The BEST Line(s) to get out of a Toy Store

Just days (okay, maybe hours) after Halloween passes, Christmas season comes to life in all shopping destinations.  The annual Christmas catalog for stores have been filling our mailbox.  My daughter has eagerly circled her favorite things in such catalogs (and it’s A LOT of course).  The shopping and preparations are upon us, as Christmas will be here before we know it!

Inevitably, I’ll be doing some shopping with my children along.  We recently went to Target and perused the toy aisle just to look for ideas.  With her fourth birthday AND Christmas coming up, I was able to use a few of my BEST lines to get out of the toy aisle without buying everything (or anything) in it!

3 Things to Say to your Kids while Shopping

  1. “Let’s put that on your birthday / Christmas list.”
  2. A close second, “Let’s save that for another kid. It’s not on our list.”
  3. Recently I added, “Ooh, let me take a picture of that one, so we can remember what you liked.”

I’ve used these lines when shopping for nieces or nephews, and they’ve really worked for me.  I’ve even pulled out a piece of paper and handwritten out ideas on my daughter’s list, and she REALLY had fun with it.  She even found a few things for her younger brother, saying, “Mom, I think my brother would like this.  Put it on his birthday list.”  It was awesome!

Inevitably, we end up with an item or two from the dollar section (though I sometimes manage to sneak some of these prized items away before buying them) to save a few tantrums, or even hand them to the store clerk at checkout and ask that they be returned to the proper area. The bottom line: I don’t want all of this STUFF in my house, and I don’t want my kids to feel like they automatically get what they want EVERY time we go shopping.

At the grocery store, my daughter was insistent about getting the Dora yogurt (thank you Yoplait for marketing to my children), so I told her that it wasn’t on our shopping list, but explained that she could use HER money to buy it if she really wanted it.  She agreed to that, and handed over the $2.19 from her piggy bank with a little counting help.  She has also told me recently that she wants to save her money for something really big – a canoe, I think she said!  Funny!

How do you get out of toy stores without buying stuff?  What phrases work for you?

One blog that I really enjoy following is called The Heavy Purse.  Meet Shannon and check out her posts: Financial Literacy Makes a Difference, and How to Avoid Creating Feelings of Deprivation in Kids.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

My husband will sing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” this time every year.  So what’s he celebrating?

Getting into the Christmas spirit WAY too early? Nope.

Happy about our kids going to school? Not yet…next year for our oldest

Just a musical guy? Not so much.

The source of his joy: Oktoberfest seasonal beers!

Our favorite beer comes from Capital Brewery based in Madison, Wisconsin. They make a delicious Oktoberfest variety that is only available for a limited time.  During the Packer game, we enjoyed brats and Oktoberfest beer…oh yeah, and some cheese with our salad.  At least the food and beverage were enjoyable, as I can’t say the same about the end of the game.  Here I am posing with the best beer:

Oktoberfest beer Prost

I went to the REAL Oktoberfest in Munich over ten year ago.  I took a side trip to Munich one early morning to hit the Oktoberfest grounds before taking a train to visit a friend who was part of my high school German exchange program.  Though it was early, there were still plenty dedicated beer drinkers there!  I explored the various beer halls and found one to drink ein’ Mass in.  I was incredibly impressed with the beer maids ability to carry so many of huge beers all at the same time.  I also enjoyed the festive music!  After downing one beer, I was done.  I simply walked to the train station and had a nap before meeting my friend.

Oktoberfest 2002

Enjoy the Oktoberfest beer while you can!  Prost!