We don't often buy our Christmas presents, for a few reasons. One of them is that I am not brave enough to take a small child to the mall in the weeks leading up to Christmas, another is when you have so many people to buy for it can be a drain on the most comfy budget, as well as trying to ensure you spend close to the same amount on everyone. It can get complicated soemtimes, so I just make them. It makes the recipients happy, it alows us time to bond while we build and bake, and we get to sample all the yummy treats first!
The trick I've learned is to pick something for each person that they like, not igve everyone the same thing. While this makes more sense, it can lead to a large list of ingredients, and yes, my kitchen will be a mess! Not all homemade gifts need to be cookies though, I've found some great ideas in cook books, including: Company's Coming "Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen" by Jean Pare and "Christmas Sweets" by Georgeanne Brennan. Each year we flip through the pages, find what we want for everyone, and make our shopping list. Find other great ideas in books from any bookstore, my favorite being Chapters (large selection, and great delivery if you order online)
Decorating the Tree:
Well, this one is iffy depending on your own point of view. I don't really decorate my own tree anymore. Once a child is old enough to decorate I say let them. I know this won't work for everyone, another option is to give them a side of the tree to decorate, and turn your side out when you have guests over, but let the children enjoy their art when you are home alone. I only decoarte the top now, I am flexible but I can't have a tree decorated only up to the halfway point!
Hide the presents:
We all know that shopping for children must be done when they aren't with us. They may not remember where a single thing they own is, or how to put on their own coat, but you know they'll remember anything you buy that they think might be for them. But where do they go when you get home?
I personally have two options: 1) wrap them immediatly and put them under the tree, hoping they won't be unwrapped early, or 2) hide them in my desk. This is the one place in the house that I have won the "that's mommies don't touch" battle, though I think it's just because my scissors are there and there is a fear of scissors in my house (that took a long time to instill too) and because I sometimes let her sit with me while I work. As long as it is for work, I can usually defend it.
Wrap the presents for others:
Yup, she has to help here too!! Sometimes it works well, others, it just doesn't. My personal solution has been to run to my closest dollar store and purchase boxes, baskets, canisters, or buckets. One of my favorites is to put some homemade cookes and a bag of hot chocolate mix into a large coffee cup. It reminds people to take a quick break from all the running around this time of year.
Special Christmas Memories:
I remember most that I had a special Christmas plate. It was a plastic Santa wearing a hat, and I ate my waffles off him every morning.
I remember spray snow, and the yucky smell and the huge mess it made. This stuff ended up EVERYWHERE!! Carpet, furniture, windows, tree...
The orange in the toe of my stocking. Every year there would be one little manderine orange in the very bottom of my stocking,a