Holiday Gift Guide

Ready for a mindset shift around gifts this holiday season? In today’s episode, we are discussing how to gift with intention. This includes shifting the conversation around gift-giving with your kids and choosing gifts that will keep-on-giving. I’m also sharing the 10 items on the Simple Families 2019 Holiday Gift Guide.

Show Notes/Links

“Our kids love spending time with you and I’ve enjoyed seeing your relationship grow. I fear that too many packages may distract them from appreciating all the wonderful gifts that you bring as a person. I want them to look forward to special time with you more than they do the gifts. How can we work together to keep them focused on the important stuff?” [Quote from Denaye’s Book Simple Happy Parenting]

2019 Holiday Gift List Links

  1. Ocean Bingo + Sea Life Book
  2. Library Book System: Book Bin + Book Tote
  3. Green Kids Crafts (Code EARLY70/GIFT40)
  4. Storyworth
  5. Family Collage: Large Canvas + Paint + Decoupage 
  6. Sprout-Kids: Table + Stools + Chairs (Code SIMPLE10)
  7. Mindfulness Kit: Little Renegades Cards + Lavender Spray + Mindfulness Book
  8. Binoculars (Kid-sized Day/Night Version) + Stargazing App + Moon/Constellation Books
  9. Sticker Puzzles: Adult + Child
  10. Meri Cherry’s Book + Essential Art Supplies (find her list in the book on page 12)

Episode Transcription:

Hi there. Welcome to episode 180. Today on the podcast we’re talking about gifts. How to shift the focus this holiday season from the tangible gifts to the real gifts, and that’s both in the eyes of your children and the extended family gift-givers. I’ll also be sharing my top 10 list of gifts this year for families.

I’m excited to be diving deeper into the topic of gifts. This is probably the most asked question that I get from the Simple Families community all year. How do you handle gifts? So we’re going to be covering it from a few different angles.

Gifting…it can be so emotionally charged. I know that in my pre-kid life I put a ton more effort and energy into giving great gifts and I’ve lost a lot of that steam moving forward, as far as gifting to people outside of my immediate family. My husband and I sometimes give gifts to each other, but we sort of have an informal arrangement where if he finds something that he thinks I would absolutely love and he gifts it to me, that’s fine. There’s no obligation for me to also gift back to him unless I’ve found something that I feel really inspired to buy for him.

When it comes to gifting to our kids, we have been gifting pretty intentionally since they were born and I’m going to talk more about what goes into my decisions when I choose gifts for my own kids. But we do still have to acknowledge the fact that the stuff that’s coming into our lives also comes from outside sources too. It’s not just things that we are choosing ourselves for our kids and for each other.

Shifting the Conversation About Gifts

When it comes to gifting around the holiday season, it’s possible to stay focused on the real gifts. And when I say the real gifts, it really depends what that means to your family. Depending on the religious context that you celebrate the holiday season within this might be different. The way that I’m speaking about it more generally, which is in a way that I hope will apply to everyone across different religious backgrounds is the holiday season is a time to focus on the people that we love and the relationships that we have with them.

So the real gifts of the holiday season are not anything that come wrapped up under the Christmas tree. Instead, they are the people that are in our lives. The people that we have relationships with. Now, I don’t mean this from an all or nothing perspective, that giving a hug and saying I love you is going to be enough for anyone. It is for some people, but I don’t think that we’re going to assume that it is. I think that there needs to be a blend. There’s always going to be some tangible gifts, and there’s always going to be some of the real gifts: the gift of relationships and the gift of spending time with one another. And in a perfect world, we’re going to tie these two things into one. How do we make the tangible gifts, things that actually enhance the real gifts, the gifts of relationships?

Why is this important? The way that we give to our kids and the focus that we put on tangible gifts around the holiday season and at birthdays and any other time that our kids are getting gifts, that’s going to change their expectations around gifts and it’s also going to change their focus during the seasons. The way that we gift to our kids teaches them. So I’m not here to tell you to stop buying gifts for your kids. And I’m also not here to relay the message to any extended family members to stop buying gifts. But I am saying that we can be more intentional and we can shift the conversation.

Buying More Intentionally this Holiday Season

In many homes, especially across the US, there’s a lot of talk of gifts and Santa and the elf during the holiday season and most of those things are all tying back to this idea that you’re going to wake up Christmas morning to an abundance of gifts. And this may resonate with families of other cultural backgrounds that don’t celebrate Christmas and don’t acknowledge Santa as well. There is a lot of emphasis around shopping this season and there’s no denying that. And I don’t think we have to pretend like it doesn’t exist. I think we just have to do it a little bit more thoughtfully.

We get the ads in the mail, the catalogs full of toys just like everyone else does. And I do my best just to take those right to the trash just like I do all the other catalogs and I don’t feel like a mean mom for doing this. Sure, I do have memories growing up of going through those catalogs and circling all the things that I wanted and growing up, we did get a lot of gifts for Christmas. We really didn’t get much in the way of gifts and new things throughout the year and my parents really saved up and focused on making the holidays really special from a gift perspective.

But for my own family, we have chosen, my husband and I have chosen, to take some of the focus off of gifts and to do that, we don’t ask our kids to make a list for Christmas. We ask them to choose one thing for Santa to give them. Although we don’t make Santa a huge part of the conversation either. I don’t say that he doesn’t exist and I don’t say that he does exist and I will tell them the truth when and if they ask, but I don’t make it a big part of the season. We will probably go see him and they’ll tell him the one thing that they have asked for him to give them. So when Christmas morning comes, they’ll get the one gift from Santa, which I give a little bit more leeway on what that is. I try to give them whatever that one thing is that they want as long as it’s within reason, and they’ll also get a couple of other intentionally chosen gifts from us and from their grandparents too.

The other thing that has been really helpful is that we don’t do YouTube at all, so other than a couple of times where I’ve chosen to show my kids YouTube videos for more of an educational perspective, we don’t do anything that’s exposing them to toy ads. So that means television stations that have ads, videos online that have ads, whatever it might be, so they’re not inundated with this constant exposure to new toys. Now I don’t shelter them from it either. When we go to Target, my son loves, loves to browse the toy aisles and I usually give him a few minutes to do that. Again, I’m not pretending like toys don’t exist and I’m not pretending like there’s a whole lot of things out in the world that exist that I’m not going to bring into my home, but I don’t want my kids to be constantly inundated with these things.

Marketers can be very clever and very strategic, particularly when it comes to marketing towards kids. So I think as a parent we can do our due diligence to try to remove some of that when possible. Despite my best efforts this year, my son did get his hands on a toy catalog and he was very enthusiastic about it. He did not circle things. I don’t think that thought really crossed his mind since he’s never done that before. But he did take a long time to look through it and talked for/asked for pretty much everything in there and he wanted a half a dozen things that had a remote control and he already has a remote control car, that’s one of his few battery-powered toys that he does have and he loves it.

He got it last year for his birthday, so he’s had it a little over a year now and that’s been totally fine for us. He has a remote control car, but he also doesn’t need a remote control forklift and remote controlled dump truck and a remote-controlled robot among all the other remote controlled items that were in this catalog. And even though he really, really wanted these things and he was really excited about them, I am steering the ship and this ship says no more remote-controlled toys in our home. We have one and that’s enough. So I told him that he was welcome to choose one thing out of the catalog, but remote control toys were off-limits. And I’ll tell you that there were a lot of other things in that catalog that he also enjoyed.

So by saying no to this one thing or this type of thing that he wanted, again, I don’t feel like a mean mom. I feel like I’m setting some parameters. I’m setting some limits on the things that we’re bringing into our home. It is okay to say no to some of the things that your kids want, especially if those are things you don’t want in your house. There is a compromise to be had. So think twice before talking up Santa and asking for a list and handing off all the toy catalogs, and think about how all of these sort of things are really driving the holiday conversation towards the tangible gifts.

If you’re looking to scale back on the emphasis of tangible gifts in your home during the holidays, scaling back on some of these things will help you to do that. But if your kids do get their hands on a toy catalog or something that they are exposed to that they really want that you really don’t want them to have, you are allowed to say no.

The Problem with Experience Gifts

There’s a lot of conversation around giving experience gifts and I love this idea. Give a gift of a zoo membership or a month or two of dance lessons, whatever it might be, an experience rather than a tangible gift. This is wonderful and when the gift-givers are on board with that, yeah, do it. But I also realize that this isn’t the reality for a lot of people and experience gifts don’t necessarily check all the boxes for a lot of gift-givers, especially when it comes to gift-givers outside of your immediate family, whether it be the aunts and uncles, the grandparents, the friends, whoever it might be.

So let’s talk about the problem of experience gifts. So the problem around experience gifts usually lies in the fact that the gift-givers don’t want to give these types of gifts because they’re not exciting and they don’t light kids up. So if you have a gift-giver who you want to transition away from toys to experience gifts, understand that there may be reservations around this.

The reason is that as adults, we love to, what I call front-load, the toys and front load the gifts. A front-loaded gift is something that you open up and the kid lights up and is so, so excited about. This not only brings joy in the moment to the child but also to the adult who gave the gift. And the gift-giving process is as much about the gift giver as it is the gift receiver. And that’s okay. I don’t think that it’s something to be shamed. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a parent who didn’t love seeing their kid light up with joy. It feels really good, not just for the kid, but also for the adults. So the toys and gifts that light a kid up and get them so excited and allow them to dive right in at that moment, those are front-loaded gifts.

Front-loaded vs. Back-loaded Gifts

Back-loaded gifts are things like experiences, things that the value of the gift and the appreciation for the gift are enjoyed over a period of time. So here’s a coupon for three months of ballet lessons, “Oh thanks,” is the reaction you might get in the moment. But three months later after that child has been through three months of ballet lessons, they’re really going to understand and appreciate the value of that gift. So back-loaded gifts are the gifts that you might consider to be gifts that keep on giving with time. But the downside is that aside from a trip to Disney World, these experience gifts don’t usually light a kid up quite as much as a front-loaded gift. So to me as a parent, three months of ballet lessons is an amazing gift. But to a child, a giant plastic Sven reindeer from Target would make them a heck of a lot happier, at least for about 10 minutes.

Now I use that example because I just spotted this at Target recently. It’s like three feet tall, full of plastic. It doesn’t really even do that much. But I can tell you that my daughter would be over the moon about this reindeer. However, it is absolutely never ever making it into our house. It’s 100% a front-loaded toy that would light a kid up. They would play with it for about five minutes and probably not give it much attention for the rest of its days. And when I say the rest of its days, I mean the estimated 500 years that plastic toys live on past the date of manufacturing. Toys are notoriously hard to recycle. So when we think about the lifespan of toys, we have to think about them long past the time that our kids are playing with them. Because even when those toys leave your home, or if you take them to a thrift store and they go to another home, even if they live in two or three homes, many, many of these toys end up in a landfill and they long, long outlive us.

And that’s a conversation that we have started to have with our kids too. It’s something that I think is outside of their reach at their current ages of three and almost six. But it’s also something that they can start to think about. Where do these toys go after they leave our house? Because they will eventually leave our house. So why is it that so many kids seek out these front-loaded gifts? Well, it’s immediate gratification, and it’s a natural part of child development. Kids seek out things that they want to use immediately. It takes many, many years. Kids need to get much older, closer to their teen years to start appreciating these back-loaded gifts that will actually give value for much, much longer periods of time.

So if you have a child that is seeking out these front-loaded gifts, these gifts that look kind of like junk, you’re not alone. There is a certain developmental aspect of this that pushes a child to strive towards things that are flashy and things that are bright and things that will light them up and give them immediate gratification. And because of this, it can also be a hard sell to other gift-givers to give your kids back-loaded gifts. The other gift-givers are almost always going to want to give your kids the front-loaded gifts. So we have to give them a lot of grace. So you have to be patient with them. And I know that this can be hard, but I’ll tell you that it can take years. Last week in episode 179–my conversation with Erica and Zoe and Rachelle–we talked about the fact that it took all of our families years to start to get on board with buying less and buying better.

It never just happens after one conversation. It’s a series of conversations. It’s modeling a different way of living. With time, you’ll find that your extended family members get on board with the way that you’re giving gifts to your kids. I know there are many people who struggle with even starting the conversation with extended family about the way that they’re giving gifts and giving more intentional gifts and I wanted to read a little excerpt from my book, Simple Happy Parenting, which gives you some language to try out and I would recommend making it yours and taking ownership over it. But here’s an example to get you started.

Our kids love spending time with you and I’ve enjoyed seeing your relationship grow. I fear that too many packages might distract them from appreciating all the wonderful gifts that you bring as a person. I want them to look forward to spending special time with you more than they do the gifts. How can we work together to keep them focused on the important stuff?

I hope that helps to get you started, but make sure that you put it into your own words so it’s natural and so it’s said in a way that the listener can actually receive it. So again, this isn’t a one-time thing. You’re not going to say this once and see a huge transformation. This is going to be a conversation that continues and it’s also going to be something that they see you modeling in your own gift-giving to your kids. It takes time and if you haven’t started the conversation with your extended family this year, I would start very small because it’s really close to the holiday season now. But you can start the conversation and be open to the fact that you are going to be continuing the conversation well into next year, maybe even into the following year.

For the past two years I have done toy lists. Lists of my favorite toys and they’ve been really popular for the Simple Families community and this year I wanted to take a slightly different direction. So the toys that I’ve chosen in the past for my toy lists are linked in the show notes above. If you are looking for some more traditional gifts, those two lists include a lot of really wonderful toys that will lead to more independent play in your children, and I know we could all use some more independent play.

I actually talked in Episode 139 about how to get your kid to play independently because getting the right toys is a piece of it. Some toys naturally lend themselves towards independent play better than others, but there are other factors that come into play when we’re thinking about kids playing on their own. So if you want to learn more about that, go to Episode 139. And although those two lists were very well received the past two years this year, I wanted to try to tie in this idea of the real gifts and the tangible gifts.

So how do we gift things that are going to improve the parent-child connection or improve the family connection? And by that I mean how do we choose things that will help us connect with our kids. So rather than having them go off and play independently, which is totally necessary and lovely, there are times when we want to spend more time one-on-one engaged with our kids. And I find, personally, it’s really hard to be present with my kids if I’m miserable doing whatever activity it is that they want to do. A lot of parents struggle with pretend play, being fully engaged in pretend play with their kids, and that’s normal because as adults we lost our ability to really authentically engage in pretend play around the ages of eight or nine, when we learned the difference between reality and fantasy. So it’s harder for us as adults to engage in pretend play and it gets old really quickly. So it’s possible and I do think that we should strive to find ways to engage and spend time with our kids in ways that we enjoy too.

So that’s what my gift list is this year. 10 things that will increase your presence and your connection with your child. Things you’re actually going to enjoy doing and want to do. I became acutely aware of this when my kids got the game Hungry, Hungry Hippos. I despise the game Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Every time my kids get it out and want me to play with them, I avoid it at all costs. And it’s kind of a game that you need more than one person. You can’t just play alone and sometimes my kids will pay together, but they always want me to play and I just cringe every time I have to play Hungry, Hungry Hippos. And I thought more about why is it that I don’t like Hungry, Hungry Hippos?

I do remember that I loved it as a kid, but the reality is it doesn’t engage me. It doesn’t stimulate me in any way, shape or form. It’s just slapping this handle, trying to catch some balls and it gets old to me really, really fast. Now that as opposed to a game like Ocean Bingo, which is a game that we got a couple of months ago, a totally different experience. Different games can engage adults in different ways. Hungry, Hungry Hippos, mind-numbing, Ocean Bingo, hey, I can actually learn something from this. I’m interested in this. Not only is it a beautiful game, but it’s also something that I’m learning from, something that I feel engaged in, something that I want to participate in more often. And as a result I’m more present and I feel more connected with my kids when I’m engaged in an activity that not only they enjoy, but I also enjoy too. Spending time with your kids and playing with your kids doesn’t have to be, and I don’t think it should be mind-numbing.

1. Ocean Bingo + Sea Life Book

So that brings me to the first thing on my gift list this year, which is Ocean Bingo. Ocean Bingo is by a company called Laurence King. And they have a few different versions. They have Bird Bingo and Bug Bingo and they also have matching games. They also have Dog Bingo. I have not tried that, but I’ve heard good things about some of the other bingo games too.

But these things are beautiful and they come with a book of facts to learn a little bit about the game and the different objects and different animals within the games. So this is my first example of a gift that is going to help you to find more presence with your kids. When you can find a game that you enjoy participating in, you’re going to jump in. You might even initiate the game more often. You could also take it one step further and gift the game of Ocean Bingo along with a book that talks more about sea creatures so that kids can be inspired by the game and want to learn more.

2. Library Book System: Book Bin + Book Tote

So the next item on my list is a library bin and bag. And I’ll put the link in the show notes to the ones that I love and what we use as well. So we struggled to use the library. I think it was because the books always got mixed up with our books, so we were never really consistent about it. So I’ve developed a system that really works in our house. We have a dedicated bag for the library books to return them and we have a bin, a wire bin, that the books go in while we have them in our home. So they’re kept in a separate bin from our books, the books that we own. So they’re easy to locate when we need to take them back. And so they’re more available to peruse for the time that we have them in our house. Making this library book system work in our family has been incredible in bringing new books into our home without even having to purchase them.

So if you wanted to gift your children a library kit, I would suggest getting a library book bag that is dedicated only for library books and getting a bin. Just those two things. This system works as such. You take the bag with you when you go to the library, you put the new books in and bring them home. When you get home, you put them in the bin and you can read them and enjoy them while they’re in the bin and put them back in the bin. When they’re ready to go back to the library, you put them back into the bag and you take the bag back to the library, drop off the library books, put the new books in the bag. This seems incredibly simple but it’s been a total game-changer for us. It helps us to keep track of the books and we’re more motivated to use the library more often.

The other thing that really helped, was getting online into our library system and saving my password because I used to lose my password all the time and I could never get into the library system to order books. So we order our books in advance and we just go to the library and pick them up. If I was gifting a library kit, I would probably gift some library books along with the bag and the bin. So you’re ready to get started right away on Christmas morning. So go ahead and order some library books just before Christmas. Go pick them up and wrap them up just with the bag and the bin and you can help your kids understand how the system’s going to work going forward.

3. Green Kids Crafts (Code EARLY70/GIFT40)

The next thing on my list, the third thing, is Green Kids Crafts. This is a subscription box service and it comes with some really simple eco-friendly crafts to do with kids. A lot of these gifts are STEAM-focused, so science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and they provide great, easy teachable moments for both the kid and the adults. And I do think that’s an important piece in getting adults to be present and engaged, is that if you’re learning too, you’re going to be more on board, you’re going to be more invested to spend more time doing it.

4. Storyworth

Idea number four is StoryWorth. StoryWorth is definitely a back-loaded gift. So it is a one year program. So for a year, you choose someone who you want to sort of write their life story and StoryWorth sends them prompts. So usually this is used inter-generationally. So you might choose a grandparent or an aunt or uncle. Then StoryWorth sends them prompts every week of things to write about and the stories and pictures that are submitted are all compiled into a book that you can sit down and enjoy with your family and to keep as a keepsake.

So a subscription to StoryWorth gives you one year of story prompts and one black and white hardcover book that’s delivered at the end of the year. You can also opt for color books too if you prefer. StoryWorth is something that I learned about because they’ve sponsored the Simple Families podcast, but they’re not sponsoring this episode. It’s just something that I’ve come to love and recommend. And I think StoryWorth has such a lovely way to foster, not only the parent-child connection but an intergenerational connection too.

5. Family Collage: Large Canvas + Paint + Decoupage 

Idea number five is a family collage. And I talked about this last week in Episode 179. It’s what I’m going to be doing this year for my family. So Meri Cherry, who was recently on the podcast on Episode 177, gave me this idea. A family collage is a couple of big pieces of canvas, or whatever material you’re choosing, and your family gets to decorate it and add to it in any way, shape or form.

So my family is going to be using two large canvases and I’ll be gifting some paint along with the canvases and some decoupage. And at first I’ll let my kids go at it and paint those canvases any way that they want. And slowly as time goes on, I’m hoping that this is going to be an ongoing project for 10 or 15 years. We’ll be adding, decoupaging on memorable things from our lives. So it might be tickets from a show that we loved, or a report card, college acceptance letters, any kinds of like little notes of paper that otherwise would probably get stuffed in a bin somewhere. So my hope is that at the end of this experience we have this huge memorable, fun experience that also has a final product of things that were really important over the course of our years that we spent living at home together.

I really look forward to sharing this project with my whole family because we can talk about the important moments and we have a tangible way to record those moments aside from just taking pictures and storing them either in printed or digital format, but some of the other components that as minimalists I might be tempted to toss out like pieces of kid art and that sort of thing. We can add little bits and pieces of those to our family collage and layer them on as time goes.

6. Sprout-Kids: Table + Stools + Chairs (Code SIMPLE10)

Idea number six is a small table with stools. We have a table from Sprout-Kids, which we love. We have a lot of stuff from Sprout-Kids that we love and we have been using it for a couple years now and one of the things that has been really helpful was that Clark, who’s the owner of Sprout, suggested to me that we do stools instead of chairs for the grownups. So we have a couple regular kids chairs and then a couple of stools and sure enough, I’m a hundred times more comfortable sitting on a stool at the table with my kids than I am sitting in one of their little chairs. And it’s little things like that, making myself more comfortable to sit down and engage with them, whether it be a game or an art project or something at their table. When I’m physically comfortable, I’m likely to stay there more often and I’m likely to do it more often. So a little table that the kids can comfortably sit at and some stools that the adults can join in at without hurting their backs, I think can go a long way.

7. Mindfulness Kit: Little Renegades Cards + Lavender Spray + Mindfulness Book

Idea number seven is a mindfulness kit. We have some mindfulness cards from Little Renegades and I adore these cards. So if you were going to gift a mindfulness kit, you might include a set of these cards from Little Renegades or another mindfulness card set for kids, along with some lavender spray to spray in the air and to start to relax them and perhaps a mindfulness book for kids. And I have a few suggestions. I’ll add those into the show notes too.

I think that even as adults we can still be improving our mindfulness practices and having a kit like this put together so that we can engage in these practices with our kids is so powerful because we do need to do it together in order for them to really understand the importance of it and value the importance of it. They need to see us doing it too. So seeing us engage in it in a kid-friendly way can be really positive at fostering mindfulness practices in kids’ practices that will stick with them for a lifetime.

8. Binoculars (Kid-sized Day/Night Version) + Stargazing App + Moon/Constellation Books

Idea number eight, which is something that we’ve done recently in our family is gifting binoculars and a stargazing book or the stargazing app. We, a couple of years ago, gifted our son a microscope and he was pretty young, but he was really interested in space and I thought it’d be something cool we could do as a family. And it turns out microscopes are kind of complicated and we just could not figure it out. And it took a lot of time and energy and we just ended up giving up on it. So I started doing some research on foolproof microscopes and figuring out if we could find one that was pretty easy for total newbies like us. And what I found out was actually for kids, it’s better to start with higher-powered binoculars rather than starting with a microscope.

So I did research on some good quality binoculars that are kid-friendly, fit kids pretty well, and they can start to see some things at night. So binoculars that are good at night and during the day. And we got some of those for them along with the app called Sky Guide, which is really cool. But I think an astronomy book or a book about constellations and books about the moon would be really great to include as well. So I’ll add a couple of those ideas in the show notes too.

9. Sticker Puzzles: Adult + Child

Idea number nine is sticker puzzles. I’m really into these sticker puzzles lately. They’re really fun. They’re kind of like coloring books for adults, but they are little tiny stickers and they’re really great for fine motor skills, but they also have challenging versions for adults. So you can get a kid version and an adult version and sit down and do them side by side together. And anytime that you can do something with your kids, they’re going to be more interested and more engaged in the activity because they see that they’re doing it together with you.

But again, it has to be something that you enjoy. If it’s something that’s painful or mind-numbing, you’re not going to want to do it quite so often. So, I love these sticker books. I think they are a cool, simple, quiet, almost meditative activity that we can engage in together with our kids. These are especially great for travel. There’s no mess to them. You don’t have to bring crayons and colored pencils, that sort of thing. You just have to bring the book along and everything’s included right in there. So parent-child sticker books, that is number nine.

10. Meri Cherry’s Book + Essential Art Supplies (find her list in the book on page 12)

So my final recommendation, I mentioned Meri Cherry earlier. She was my inspiration for the family collage. She’s also my inspiration for number 10. So, Meri Cherry has a book of art ideas, art invitations, and they’re really simple and easy to do. And in the book there’s a list of 13 staple art supplies, and that’s a good starting off point. You can complete most of the activities in the book with the staple art supplies that she lists. So, idea number 10 is to invest in her book along with some art supplies to get started on creating the activities in the book.

These projects are all process-based art. We talked about process-based art in Episode 177. These are simple, slightly open-ended, but slightly structured ideas to engage kids in some really cool art projects that focus on the process over the final product. And as with many of the things that I’ve been talking about on this list, they are so powerful and engaging if you sit down and do them together with your kid rather than just putting everything out there and leaving them to do it themselves. So if you’re really looking to go big, even doing the small table with stools along with an art book and some art supplies could be a nice way to get started on something comfortable and feasible to get your family on the same level and engage together.

So I hope that helps to get you started. We don’t have to be exclusively in the tangible gift or the experience gift camp. It’s possible to find gifts that are going to enhance relationships, but also have a tangible component to them. And sometimes that’s the best of both worlds, finding the back-loaded and the front-loaded gifts, the gifts that are lighting kids up in the moment, but also continue to give and to benefit kids over time, too. So you can find the links to everything that I talked about, the specifics in the show notes,, and there are a couple of discount codes in there for these things and affiliate links which I would appreciate you using to support Simple Families.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. I will say that the gift-giving process is going to be one that you’re going to see changing slowly but surely as you get further in your journey towards simplicity. Try to hold back any judgment that you have for your kids for wanting all the things or for the extended gift-givers for giving all the things and feel a sense of gratitude that there are people in the lives of your children that really care for them. When we’re asking gift-givers to change the way that they’re giving, we’re asking for a lot of flexibility and I think in return, we need to give them a certain amount of flexibility too.

There’s some push and pull to it, as there is with any relationship. So I think starting the conversation with extended family about gift-giving more intentionally, it’s a conversation worth having, but it’s also an ongoing conversation. It’s not something you’re going to talk about tomorrow and it’s going to fix everything one and done. It’s going to be ongoing over time and you’re going to have to be tactful and respectful and graceful as they move through the process right along with you.

And again, as always, thank you for tuning in. I appreciate you being a part of Simple Families. If you want to leave your email address at at the top, you can stay in touch with everything going on, in the community, on the podcast, on the blog, everywhere. That’s the best way to stay in touch. And I will be out next week, so no new episode next week, but we’ll be back in December. And starting in the new year, also dabbling a little bit in December, I’m going to be adding a second episode each week, so that’s something to look forward to. Each week, I’m going to be adding a shorter episode where I share something simple that I’m loving along with answering a question from an audience member, so look forward to that coming down the pipe very soon, and thanks for tuning in. I’ll talk with you soon.

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Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.