Grateful yet overwhelmed

The season of giving is (mostly) behind us. We have been inundated with presents, cookies, candies, etc. We have also given so much and tried to find the perfect present for our loved ones. Now, it’s time to find a place for it all and see what we actually use and what we actually needed/wanted. It’s a weird time because most of us have been very blessed, but now we feel a bit overwhelmed by it all, especially if you have kids.

Christmas morning, my newsfeed was full of pictures showing off lit Christmas trees with dozens of packages underneath. Our tree was no different (more thanks to the grandparents than us). My husband and I have made a rule: 1 “toy” or something they want, clothes, and books. 3 gifts total. Now, I will say that I sometimes find one or two more things that I know that would really love. For example, my daughter is very much into jewelry so I gave her earrings. Both my kids got an extra “toy” and received cozy headphones for their electronics. Overall, we really try to keep it to the three gifts because we know they get so much from others.

Almost a week later and all those people posting their present laden Christmas trees are now posting, “I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the things my kids received.” “How do you organize all the new stuff!” One recent post I saw, from my friend at Good Enough Motherhood Community wrote:

Looking for some suggestions…

My husband and I are already feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the amount of gifts my son had gotten, many of which are not toys that we really want him to have or play with long-term…

We’re grateful for the generosity of our family and don’t ever want to come off as being controlling or snobby, and we know that it comes from a good, well-meaning place. We’ve started seeing the “more more more” and “mine all mine” mentality from our kid and we’re not loving it.

Any suggestions regarding any of these things would be super appreciated!
How you handle the influx of new toys and stuff from the holidays
Having respectful conversations with family regarding gift-giving (or do you just deal with it?)
Not raising an entitled/spoiled/hoarding child (because SERIOUSLY.)

 

SPEAK IT!! That is how a lot of us are feeling and at the same time, I feel like many of us just take what we are given, say thank you, and move on. It’s the polite thing to do, right? But I know with my kiddos, they are truly blessed to have a lot throughout the year, yet they don’t really yearn for much or really play with toys (which many people don’t believe). Yet, how do we find a balance between showing our love and giving gifts without drowning our houses (or other’s) with more STUFF or just dumping \STUFF on the kids that they don’t really need or necessarily want.

EXPERIENCES!!!

I have written about this before and I have often asked friends/family for these for gifts, but unfortunately, many people don’t see this as a “good enough” thing because kids can’t necessarily open something to enjoy immediately. (Instant gratification is a whole other topic that I don’t want to get into right now.) I love to take my kids places and my kids LOVE going places: the aquarium, local zoos, gym classes, indoor playgrounds, pottery making, swim lessons; but guess what, these places cost money! My kids would so much rather go to the zoo or aquarium instead of getting another truck or doll.

I get a lot of push-back with this though. Like I said, people want to give GIFTS- something tangible for the kids to enjoy and hold. Even in my own gift giving, I am guilty of this, but I try very hard to give an experience or something consumable (gift cards to local ice cream places or arts & crafts items, so it’s not permanent clutter). I found the best way to give experiences WHILE also giving something tangible, pair your experience gift card with a small tangible gift that goes along with it. So instead of buying 5 things for the child, you give them money you would have spent on 4 gifts toward something they would enjoy doing and pair it with ONE tangible gift. I’ve complied some ideas for you all for future gift giving to a kid (or adult) you love and want to spoil.

Gifting Experiences with a Tangible Gift:

Zoo/Aquarium membership: favorite stuffed animal

Swim lessons: Googles, new bathing suit, new float device

Pottery making: paint or something to use with what they can make (tea or teapots/cups; piece of jewelry for a small dish; coffee/tea/hot chocolate for a mug; etc.)

Art classes: New art materials- brushes, paint, crayons, etc.

Cooking class: New apron or new kitchen gadget

Amusement park gift card: New bag. (Disney- new Disney dress up or disney related toy)

Museum membership: pair it with something that corresponds with the particular museum. Science museum? Pair with a science kit. Air and space museum? Pair with a toy plane. Train museum? Pair with a new Thomas train.

 

 

 

 

My favorite gift my kids are getting this season is a pajama party with their aunt. So instead of her buying them another toy, she is getting them each a pair of pjs, coming over, and spending time with them. Win-win-win: she isn’t spending a lot of money, kids love having her around, and mom and dad get a free date night out of it!!! WHAT?!?!?!

 

So before you go and buy the latest toy craze that will find it’s place on the floor or the bottom of a toy chest in 20 minutes, give the gift of time or experience. If you feel the need to provide a gift with it then pair it with something small that they can enjoy. I can’t tell you many parents (and kids) would appreciate these gifts more!! I have a whole newsfeed full to back this up.

 

Blessing Bags

Baby, it’s cold outside, and my thoughts go to people who aren’t lucky enough to have a place to call home and get warm. In our little community, there have been a few people with signs on the corner asking for help. While I am always a little hesitant to help people on the side of the road, I have given a few dollars here or there for them. I don’t love just handing over money though so I was thinking of a way I can help. I recently saw a story about Blessing Bags and I thought, how appropriate! All you have to do is fill a quart or gallon size bag with some essentials. You can make it gender specific or not. You can add a few quarters or dollars in as well. It’s super easy to keep in your car and hand out whenever needed.

So here’s what you can add to make your own Blessing Bags:

  • Quart or gallon size bags
  • Water bottle
  • Deodorant (regular or travel size)
  • Shampoo/conditioner (regular or travel size)
  • Body wash or a bar of soap (regular or travel size)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (regular or travel size)
  • Disposable razors
  • Snacks: granola bars, cracker packs, fruit cups, apple sauce, cereal bars, trail mix, etc.
  • Chapstick
  • Bandaids
  • Socks
  • Hand warmers
  • Gloves
  • Tampons/pads
  • Hand wipes or baby wipes
  • Tylenol
  • Hat
  • Poncho
  • Tissue pack
  • Local store gift cards (gas, grocery)

When you have packed your bags, you can print out these You matter free printables and put it inside the bag. Obviously, you can add anything else you want to the bag or even write your own note. This is a perfect service project for a local Girl Scout, local MOMS Club, or even as a family project.

I’m off to make a few to keep in my car. Kids will help and that will be our little project this winter season.

The season of parties

We are in the middle of cookie exchanges, gingerbread parties, class parties, office parties… you name it, we are celebrating. While it’s all happening around us, I would love to share with you the cutest little party that I helped coordinate for my daughter’s Kindergarten class. Most of the things were SUPER easy to get done and some things I would choose to not do again, but it’s all a learning experience.  Welcome to the Frosty the Snowman Party.

The stations:

The kiddos enjoyed a number of stations including a snowman toss, snowman bowling, snowman building, snowman bingo, and a snowman craft. All are super easy and quick to put together and kids had so much fun going to each station.

Snowman Toss:

A fellow mama was given a picture to recreate the snowman toss. I wish I knew who the original poster was, but she did an amazing job getting it together. She wrapped three different size boxes in white and stuck them together with a little glue. (Think of all those Amazon boxes you have lying around paired with a tissue box.) The picture is missing the scarf, but she added a scarf around his neck and some other construction paper accessories and details. With some crumpled up pieces of paper, the kiddos had a blast playing snowman toss.

What you need:

3(+) different size boxes

White paper

Black, red, and orange construction paper

Paper to roll up to make balls or other small light weight balls

Scissors

Snowman Bowling:

SO SUPER easy and kids LOVED it!!!!! Get styrofoam cups and draw adorable snowman faces (carrot nose and all). If you have extra time on your hands, you can decorate them with construction paper or felt pieces or if you want something a little faster, pull out your different color sharpies!! You will need a minimum of 6 cups (3, 2, 1). The best thing to “bowl” with are these amazing snowballs. They are soft but heavy enough to knock them down and they can be used later for an inside snowball fight or for decoration.

What you need:

Styrofoam cups

Black and orange sharpie markers (or black and orange construction paper)

Snowballs

Snowman Building:

This was my FAVORITE activity and the kids were hysterical during it the whole time. Buy some cheap-o toilet paper (but keep it 2-ply). You take the toilet paper and have the kids twirl so it wraps around them. Then take some felt buttons, a scarf, a hat, and an orange nose and make them into snowmen. When they are done being snowmen, they can “melt” by breaking through the toilet paper.

Snowman Bingo:

This is a great way to add a station if you need something to keep the kiddos busy. We ended up using an already made, free, snowman bingo game from Crazy Little Projects, but there are a ton out there. You can use mini marshmallows as your pieces or small counters.

Snowman Craft:

I’m sure you all have seen this particular craft. It is super simple and keeps the kids attention (whether they end up eating the pieces or actually making the picture). Take a snack bag full of mini , blue construction paper, glue, and some crayons and they make their own snowman.

 

Then of course, we had a large spread of snowman inspired foods. Snowman fruit kabobs (bananas with mini chocolate chips, strawberry hat), melted snowman ice cream (vanilla ice cream cups with two pretzel sticks, orange jelly bean, and a few chocolate chips), melted snowman (water bottles), snowman cheesesticks (with a sharpie- draw a snowman on the plastic part of the cheesestick and you can get more creative with construction paper hats and yarn scarf), and snowman punch that we grabbed the idea from The Frugal Girls. And at the end, every kid left with Snowman Soup party favors.

I hope this helps with your next winter party!! I had fun watching the kids enjoy every minute of it and was fortunate to have so many helping hands but this is definitely an easy to do theme and fun for everyone.

 

HAPPY SNOWMANING!