Just like the song says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Except when it comes to my budget. Then, Christmas is just FRIGGIN’ EXPENSIVE.
So, when you’re thinking about where/how to invest your money in meaningful presents for others, I’d like to offer you my suggestions. Please understand, Pineapple is only 15 months old and my nieces and nephews are 2, 3, 7 and 9. That’s where most of my money goes – so forgive me if this recommendation list is more kid friendly than adult focused.
Ikea is awesome. You can get some REALLY neat, fun stuff at Ikea…for pretty darned cheap. We picked up a little rocking toy for Pineapple recently and she absolutely loves it. It was only $10 and it’s helping her work on balance and climbing on and off of the toy. I didn’t like the stickers they had, so I bought my own cute, girly stickers and put them all over. (A little secret…unlike the Sit & Spin, I can get on this and rock back and forth with her, too – and it’s fun!!! SHHHHH!) They also have some super cute stuffed animals, like this cute bulldog for $10 as well as some teensy weensy stuffed animals for only $0.49. And, bonus – for every soft toy you buy right now at Ikea, they will donate $1 to Save the Children and Unicef.
Pineapple’s Nana was in town for Thanksgiving, so she did a lot of her Christmas shopping while visiting and we decided that she should give Pineapple her main present early so she could see her receive it. It’s the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe pink and blue car and she’s really enjoying it. We got ours at Target on Black Friday, so we got a sweet deal but you can get it at Target now for about $50. And it’s really nice because it has a floorboard that can be inserted for little kids, so their uncoordinated little feet don’t (inevitably) drag, a handle on the roof so we can easily push her down the street to the coffee shop and 2 cup holders for our coffee!! YAHOO! The other day I was telling my friend all about this awesome toy and she said ‘you’re not embarrassed to push her around in it?’ Whaaaaaaat? Hell to the no. I love pushing her around in this thing and she loves riding in it! And as I informed her, ‘dignity goes out the window when you have kids anyway, so what do I care about how I look pushing my kid around in a plastic car?!’ It’s a fun toy for inside or outside. I highly recommend it.
And for those online shopppers, Amazon is, of course, always good. I recently ordered a book for my friend’s baby. It’s a MOMA board book of art…and it is PERFECT for my friend’s son because she has an art history master’s and has been a gallery director, among other things. Needless to say, the family is art obsessed.
Another great site? One King’s Lane. They have amazing designer home stuff at a fraction of the cost and their sales take place daily. So, every day, I can hop on the site and see what new goodies they’ve got up for grabs. Recently, they had some ADORABLE blankets for wee ones (including one with an Octopus and the stroller blanket on the site today that is fuzzy pink and green – Pineapple’s bedroom colors) that were originally $80-$100 for half off! In fact, most of their stuff is over half off. And these aren’t the cheap finds from the base of the bargain bin at the knock-off store…that are always a wee bit dirty but we don’t mind because we’ll just ask for an additional discount at the register and wash it when we get home – which is what we were going to do anyway, right? (Lord, I’m so cheap!)…the items on this site are the sort of thing you might see Suri Cruise toting around. You know, the good stuff! And best of all, they have gift cards – so the mom of the kiddo you’re trying to shop for can get whatever they want that happens to be up for grabs that day! (Or you could give one to your sister who is IMPOSSIBLE – totally impossible – to shop for…shhhh…don’t tell my sister.)
And then there is ALWAYS Lillian Vernon. Yes, yes…I know Lillian can sometimes get a wee bit cheesy. But seriously, who doesn’t love a multi-colored sock monkey? I mean, all sock monkeys really want is love. Or maybe a pretend club sandwich that you can use the pretend knife to slice up and stack the pieces?! Too cute, right? And honestly, what kid would not have a mini happiness meltdown at the site of their very own ice skating rink?! Sigh, that totally wouldn’t work in the PacNW where I live…too warm and rainy – not enough frozen temps…but anybody back east or maybe in the midwest…seriously, look me in the eye and tell me you don’t think your kid would LOVE one of these! Yeah. Thought so. And it’s only $50. Seriously.
Some other cool stuff for kids in that 1 – 3 year range:
- This neat little blender is fun and teaching Pineapple, and her 2 year old cousin colors, shapes and sorting!
- I had no idea that kids as young as Pineapple should be encouraged to color but according to the pediatrician, they should So, we got Pineapple a Crayola Color Wonder alphabet coloring book with the markers that ONLY WRITE ON THE PAGES. She has tried to draw on all of us, so I recommend this kind. They have lots of kinds, like the Disney Princesses with glitter paper, Finding Nemo, Cars and lots of others.
- My nieces LOVE sticker books. It’s a borderline obsession but we all support it. I found some AWESOME sticker books at Costco. I don’t have a link for those but they are HUGE and if you can find them, they’re only $7.
- Boys like Legos. It’s true. If you have or know young boys, you know it’s true. So, in keeping with this, my nephews will be receiving Star Wars and Power Miner lego sets. They have some at Wal-Mart that are only $8 to $16 – super affordable – and they have some GREAT lego games for the Wii. We own the Star Wars game but my friend has the Indiana Jones Lego game and she says it’s a blast a much easier for 2 to play.
And for those of you who are maybe looking to encourage your child to help others, here are some ideas:
Mercy Corps ROCKS. They help people and communities to become self sustainable, learn skills, get the medical treatments and facilities they need, and meet so many needs every single day. And buying a Mercy Kit, a symbolic gift of the work they do, couldn’t be easier. Your child can help select a kit from several, including an Emergency Food Kit for only $18 or a Kids’ Healthy Food Kit for only $25. The Children’s Health Kits are $35 and provides food, necessary immunizations and education to help kids get and stay healthy. I think my older nieces and nephews would enjoy exploring the site and reading about the Cricket Farm Kit or the Goat Kit and what those mean for the recipients. This is a whole new level of giving a gift – and it may help them touch upon the meaning of Christmas in a different way.
So, the time to celebrate is upon us. In our house, we will be celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus and enjoying a visit from Santa Claus. I wonder how you will celebrate? No matter what sort of celebration the holiday season brings you, I hope it is merry and bright. Happy Holidays! And good luck in the stores – it’s a jungle out there…but it is the most wonderful time of the year!