Here’s the age-old question we’ll hear over and over again this month:
“Are you ready for Christmas yet?”
I’d like to think that I am quite organised and I tend to pick up little bits and pieces throughout the year and hide them in various places in the house. It works for me, plus, I don’t have to spend all the money at once. If you like to follow said advice, please be mindful that you also have to remember where you hide stuff. It’s happened a few times that I found Christmas presents when I was hiding Easter Eggs. So, yes, I am nearly ready for the most wonderful time of the year.
However, when I started thinking about what to gift my kids and partner, as well as kids of friends and family, I noticed a niggling feeling that I wanted things to be different from this year onwards. I thought back of all the times I welcomed one Amazon parcel after the next, unboxing Lego, Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels Cars and one year, even a ginormous stuffed dragon, shoving it all in cupboards, wardrobes or the attic. And it didn’t sit right with me anymore. I didn’t like the thought of mountains of more “stuff”, not just because we don’t have an extendable and expandable house and can’t afford to move every two years, just because we have run out of room. It felt awkward because I am pretty sure that there are only ever a handful of materialistic presents you’ll remember into adulthood. In my experience, the things the kids remember are how they felt, the days out we have and the activities and the time we invest in.
After some deliberation with the voices in my head and my partner, we decided to save up small boxes and made a list of all the things the kids had mentioned they wanted to do. They had never been on a bus before (if you don’t count the one that takes you to the airport terminal). They have never been on a train or ridden a pony. They love going to a huge play centre (I don’t quite as much but they have coffee, so…) and their biggest treat is scoffing waffles and ice cream at the ice cream parlour after school. There are oodles of attractions and days out for adults and kids alike, and what better way to spread the excitement across the year? That way, we always have something to look forward to.
Therefore, this year I am introducing the good old boring vouchers under our Christmas Tree. They will be boxed up and wrapped with beautiful bows, but inside won’t just be another toy they really don’t need. Amongst the socks, the new winter boots, the new PJs and gloves, there is the promise of a trip to the local Space Centre and the Great Central Railway. They’ll discover they can “cash in” some treats across the year, be it to a museum, a farm park or a culinary experience like hot chocolate and cake. Their little faces light up with excitement for longer than when they unwrapped that Barbie camper van or that toy tool station. And what is more, it makes them appreciate family time, experiences and memories that last longer than something they will eventually grow out of.
Will I never buy them stuff again? No. But I will be more mindful of what I get and spend my money on. Not only do I owe it to the environment, my bank account and the storage of our house. I also owe it to the attitude and mindset of my kids.