Santa's Secret

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

There are a great many tips and tricks you pick up by the time you have your fourth kid: some by accident, some by necessity, and some by sheer brilliance (if I do say so myself!). Christmas shopping for four children, one very hard-to-buy-for husband, and all the extended family, is one area I have learned to successfully navigate by necessity.
Dragging four children around to buy Christmas presents simply doesn’t work because 1) they see what Santa is going to give them, thereby eliminating a mother’s most effective holiday parenting tool (“Are you sure you want to clock your sister with that couch pillow? Santa is watching!”); and 2) a mother’s sanity needs to be preserved for more demanding scenarios, such as “How did your baby sister get a hold of that red glitter glue?!”. More importantly, I have a primal maternal need to find quality gifts that effectively span all my kid’s ages so I’m not frantically picking up small pieces from the older kid’s toys before they get in the mouths of the younger ones (where are Santa’s elves when you need them!)
So, what’s my recipe ? Hard core internet surfing, combined with selective idea snatching from my children’s extra-curricular activities, add a dash of friend’s referrals and voila – successful Christmas shopping complete. Special note – you need to leave enough time for shipping as this is not a last-minute shoppers methodology! In my experience, I find afternoon nap time in late November is the best time to delve in.
Step One: Think of your children’s extra-curricular activities, in particular, the parts of those activities that elicit the most joy.
Step Two: Always, always, start with Amazon.com. They have a super selection of nearly everything on the planet, usually at reasonable and budget-varied prices, and it’s a fantastic place to secure additional gift ideas you never would have imagined on your own (“If you liked this, you may also like…”). Plus Amazon can be counted on for reliable shipping and they have those handy product user reviews for each item. If Amazon doesn’t have it, then you need to resort to Google, a very solid runner-up to sourcing gifts.
Step Three: Purchase, receive and hide the items in the preferred gift-hiding location in your home.
Step Four: Congratulate yourself on your brilliance, grab yourself a drink, and relax with your new found time (sanity fully intact).
Here are some examples from my own experience to get you started:
Stepping Stones (my kids discovered these at our local children’s library – countless hours of imaginative fun for all ages)
http://www.amazon.com/Weplay-Rainbow-River-Stone/dp/B003C98C9M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1290105314&sr=1-2

Children’s Parachute (elicited squeals and giggles from every kid at gymnastics class)
http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Play-Tents-Playchute-Parachute/dp/B00000IURU/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1290105376&sr=1-1

Large wall size dry-erase board (to accommodate all four kids drawing at once, save the budget on paper, and no crayons left askew for my toddler to chew on!)
http://www.schoolfurnitureofcanada.ca/s/Dry-Erase-White-Marker-Boards/14

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