My kiddos are very lucky for a vast number of reasons, but as it relates to the holidays, they are very lucky to have two sets of grandparents who like to shop. While this takes the burden of trolling the aisles at Toys R Us off of me, it also means that I can either indulge them with more toys or go the more practical route. So far I have managed to avoid wrapping up socks and underwear by instead getting the things that they can use almost everyday and will continue to use for at least the next few years.
Being in kindergarten and preschool, both of my older kids already have backpacks, but my toddler is still without, so the L.L. Bean Original Junior Backpack is at the top of her list. I am not even remotely exaggerating when I tell you that backpacks from L.L. Bean live forever - if you were to go over to my parent's house right now you would find the backpack I used throughout middle school, high school, college, and my time on the ambulance . . . and it is still in awesome shape. She is still a couple of years from starting preschool, but the bag is perfect for packing for overnight trips to grandma's house or for afternoon outings.
Knowing how well their backpacks hold up, I also looked to L.L. Bean for lunchboxes for the kids - my oldest will start the afternoon kindergarten enrichment program after his winter break, and will need to bring his lunch. This arrived on my front step the other day, and it will be perfect for him (and the girls as well since we often take our own lunches and snacks when we go places.) The best part about these lunchboxes? They hold these Bento-style reusable containers from Ziploc. The incomparable Danifred posted about these a few months ago, and knowing how my kids enjoy a little-of-this and a little-of-that when it comes to eating, I knew they would be perfect! (If the aforementioned doesn't quite do it for you, be sure to peruse this site as well for a similar product!)
In addition to buying for my own children, I also purchase a small gift for their two bestest friends - the little girls nextdoor who are the exact same age (and the reason I know my son will one day marry a girl with red hair.) These little girls also have birthdays immediately before and immediately after Christmas, and while I hate being the one that combines their Christmas gift with their birthday present, doing so justifies spending a little bit more for a single item. This year, I got them (and my own kids as well because I know they will use the every-living-crap out of them) personalized pencil cases that I plan to fill with pencils, erasers, stickers, and a couple hair ties.
My need to be considered a fun parent will undoubtedly will undoubtedly show through before Christmas and I will most likely track down a few things that I know my kids will love, but I will do so knowing that I have also been pragmatic and that they will be using their gifts long after Barbie's head has been ripped off and the Legos have been sucked up by the vacuum.
Tell me this: what is your gift giving style when it comes to your children? One-more-toy-can't-hurt or they-are-going-to-need-a-new-pair-of-shoes-to-get-through-winter?