Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Gift-Giving Link-up

Welcome to my first ever link-up! I feel so officially....bloggy.

Here's how this is gonna go down, people...

I will share my ideas for gifts for various genders and age groups and then wait patiently for you to link up with your ideas. I'm leaving the link up open until December 31st, just in case you like to play the 12 Days of Christmas game.

Over the years, Kyle and I have (painfully) come to the conclusion that it is better to spend more money on a single quality item than it is to have lots of cheap garbage under the tree (and, later, broken and scattered on the playroom floor). Also, we spend the same dollar amount on each child and that amount has not changed since Killian's first Christmas in 1995. As the kids get older, more kids have been added, and the economy has worsened, it has become quite a challenge to stick to this budget but we have been successful so far. Bear in mind that while my suggestions are plentiful, it doesn't mean that we have purchased all of these items in a single year. That would be insane. Don't do that. OK?

Let's git 'er done!

Ages 0-2, "Huggers & Haulers"
-Clothes (for the under 6 month crowd)

-Shape sorter. The one below has stood the Dempsey Test of Time and Brutality.

This is our favorite!

-Pounding Bench. Again, we have used and abused this toy and it still looks practically new.
Pounding Bench

-Farm Animals. Besides being great for chewing on, these are also terrific for teaching your little one all the barnyard sounds.
Moooo! Baaaa!!!

-Toy food sets. If you have a toddler, this is just obvious.
They can practice "cutting" on this set!

-Teething Necklace. No, this isn't witchcraft. And, until we tried this Will, I was a total skeptic. The succinic acid contained in the amber transfers to their skin when it is warmed by their body heat. The acid has a safe analgesic effect that is truly wonderful. We notice a huge difference if Will goes without wearing his for more than an hour-and-a-half. GET ONE.
Pretty OR Manly!

-Walker Wagon. This is great for the baby who is just learning to walk (make sure you weigh it down with a 5lb bag of rice. No, I'm not kidding.). It is also very useful for the older toddler who can use it to pick up his own toys or play "grocery store".
Lasts for years!

Ages 2-4, "Pretenders & Creators"
-Dress up! Superheroes! Princesses! Mommy! Daddy! Firefighters! Office workers! Kids this age LOVE to dress up and pretend. We keep a couple of bins filled with various costumes and accessories that have become a favorite standby over the years.

-Magna-Tiles. While these may look overly simplistic, they provide my kids (even the 11 year old!) with HOURS of entertainment. They also build confidence in their ability to design and create, so hat when those tiny Legos come along, they will feel less frustrated. These are also an "add-on" gift, as you can build your collection over the years and ask relatives to help you!
Comes in clear or solid colors.

Duplos. You know, the big and clunky Legos. Pretty much, they serve a similar purpose as Magna-Tiles, but require a tiny bit more fine muscle control.
Not as painful as small Legos! ;)

Schleich Play Figures. Holy cow, are these things gorgeous!! My boys have been collecting their knights and dragons over the years, and Faith has recently begun collecting their fairies and princesses. For his birthday, Eamon received a HUGE castle and my kids love playing knights and princesses. So fun!
Awesome, right?

Play-doh and Paints. Yes, I hate the mess, but my kids gain so much pride in their own creations, that I tolerate this stuff in small doses. When my oldest kids were little, they only knew Play-doh as an "outside toy", but when I came to the realization that the pieces were easier to clean up after they had dried (vacuum those suckers), I relented and allowed it to be played with indoors. Faith just turned 4, and her only request was for an easel and paints. She loves her new "artist's set"!

Ages 4-8, "Enter the Big Kids"
-Legos. I have a complicated relationship with Legos. They get scattered easily, cause massive pain when stepped on, and are the source of many a sibling squabble. But, they keep my boys endlessly entertained, force them to use their imagination and fine-motor control, and are the cause of much pride in their creations. Since 1998, we have amassed easily over 20,000 legos. Wanna come play?
OUCH! But, fun for kids!

-Polly Pocket Dolls. These little dolls and playsets are fun to collect and easy to take with you for long car rides or to Grandma's house.
Disney Princesses, too!

 -Calico Critters. I remember these from my childhood and I'm so glad they have made a comeback! Little animal families and their cute homes! I die!
How cute is this??

-Cooking and baking sets. Yes, real ones. This age loves helping in the kitchen and when the tools fit their hand-size, they are much more competent. We've gotten sets like the one below from Amazon, Ikea and a few other places.
Cookie set

Ages 8-12, "Tweens!"
-Mad Libs. Remember these? They still exist! And, they are a crazy-fun way to build grammar and spelling skills without your child realizing it!

-Magic Trick Sets. Nearly every kid goes through a Houdini stage and they love to think they are pulling one over on the family. I love the focus required to learn various tricks; some mental, some physical. 

-Shrinky-Dinks. Fun for boys, but girls, in particular, gravitate towards these artsy items. Maeve has made pretty Shrinky Dink earrings and necklaces for herself and her friends.

-Duct Tape. You think I'm kidding? Nope! There are all kinds of tape out there -- colors and designs -- and my kids have made wallets, bracelets, coin purses, picture frames, etc from online tutorials. Maeve also took a free class at our local Michaels' store that was geared specifically towards the tween crowd.

-Gift cards. I know, I know. Ugh. But, it can make those kids who are looking to establish some identity as "not a little kid anymore" feel a little more grown up. It also teaches them how to spend money ("sales tax? What?") and many times, I find that they use their gift cards to purchase gifts for their siblings' birthdays. 

-Scooters, Skateboards, Inline Skates. I love giving a gift that is fun AND encourages my child to get off his/her bottom, don't you?
This one can be adjusted to fit from ages 3 to teen!

Teens, "Go ahead, Impress Me!"
-Gift Cards. Let's just get this out of the way. Make peace with the fact that these people generally want to choose their own clothes, accessories, books, what-have-you. A gift card might be boring to us, but it makes them happy. Isn't that what it's all about?

-Clothes. If you have a specific request from your teen, go for it! Otherwise, see above.

-Vera Bradley purses/totes. Obviously, this one is for the young ladies. I have hit a couple of sales (both online and in stores) and some young teen girl may be getting a nice purse this year. (St. Nick already left her some hair accessories!) 

-Fashion Accessories. The accessories aren't only for girls; this year, my boys will be receiving bow-ties! The teen boys have requested self-tie bow-ties --- this is a "thing", I gather...

-Board Games. This includes trivia games, role-play games, and card games. One of the most played-with gifts is a poker set that Killian received about 4 years ago. 
Ante up!

-Anything based on shows or activities they love. There will be a flurry of Duck Dynasty, Doctor Who, Volleyball, Tennis, and Golf gifts this year. Their interests change almost daily, but if you can keep tabs on them for the next 2 weeks, buy an interest-based gift!

Now, I'd LOVE to hear all of your ideas! LINK UP!!!

Or use the new Add link method ?

(Submissions close in 19d 19h 36m)
Link tool by


  1. Ok, I love this even more in actuality than I thought I would in abstract. So much good here. I'm putting the hamster what powers my brain on overtime so I can come up with gift ideas to link up with.

  2. I know ..... I went hog wild ... But I loooove gift guides. You and I picked the same type of toys. Plus, I added in ones for momma, dad, and handmade ones!

    I adore the pic of the children .... Stunning as always. And, my signon in blogger is all jacked up. It's Dianna, from The Kennedy Adventures. I'm off to contemplate the Calico Critters.

    1. You rock!! I love your guides!!! And....pull the trigger finger on the Critters; they are darling!

  3. I keep playing with the idea of getting a teething necklace, but I hear such mixed reviews. Glad to hear you've had a good experience.

    1. Yes! I don't know if they work for everyone, but we've seen a noticeable difference for sure!

  4. Love your ideas - it was so fun to link up :)

  5. The magic kit! Genius! This is awesome. I'll try to put something together tomorrow.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I'm still not done with my shopping (naturally) so this gives me some good ideas!

    1. I'm so glad! I'm not finished shopping, either, so I'm really enjoying seeing everyone else's suggestions, too!

  7. Ah! This guide makes me wish I hadn't finished up shopping! I am bookmarking for…allthebirthdays. Ever. Also, would you mind sharing where you got the teething necklace. Your take on it tips the scales in its favor, but I've heard that some are not the real deal. If you posted a link and I'm missing it, my apologies.

    1. Amazon was being soooooo stuuuuupid; I'm sorry! We got ours from Amazon, but I know that is also an excellent source. I hope it works!!

  8. You are so smaht. Wicked smaht. Love all of these suggestions. Maybe for my quick takes Friday? (Guess I'd better plan some gifts between now and then!)

    1. DO IT!!!!! I want to see your suggestions!!!!!!

  9. Some great ideas! I love the Calico Critters (never heard of them) and the kids baking sets! Can't wait until my little one is in that age category!

    1. I loved Calico Critters as a child, and it was also fun because 2 of my friends also collected them. When we got together, we'd combine our sets and families and have an entire village!!!

  10. It looks like my link up didn't work :( Appears that the actual link address posted twice, back to back?

  11. Oh, and ditto on the amber necklace! We were skeptics too at one time. Now my son will go get his necklace if we forget to put it on him every morning! We do hazelwood-amber necklaces now and that has helped his eczema more than anything else!

  12. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    Catholic Baptism Gifts