This week has been particularly tough for Australians. Can I say it has been especially difficult for mothers? I don't know, everyone grieves differently however I know that I grieve more now that I am a parent. When a tragedy happens involving a mother of young children or children it touches me it ways it didn't previously. The most important part of my life is my family. Keeping healthy and safe. Nothing else comes close. Tragedy puts everything else in perspective. I'm still going to run with this post though because we are still giving gifts and there is still a place in our lives for thoughtful gift giving.
My biggest question is what is (or will be) under your tree? My friends and I have been asking each other this literally for months. I think you get the best ideas from like-minded parents not from a catalogue. So above is what will be under our tree for Caspar and Otis. This post contains some affiliate links.
1. Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen. A heart-warming, comforting and reassuring story about the good people in our community.
2. Our Big Home: An Earth Poem by Linda Glaser. A poem that celebrates the richness of our planet.
3. Wild Plants of Wider Brisbane. A Queensland Museum Guide. Because every home needs a local field guide.
4. Make your own Insect House. Something for the boys to enjoy outside. Our garden is already full of insects but I wonder what this house will bring. The boys will also have fun building and putting it together.
5. Pyjamas. I was desperate from some Christmasy pyjamas but it's difficult to find quality that isn't wintry. These are nice lightweight, summery pyjamas. I may or may not give these to the boys before Christmas - perhaps on Christmas Eve?
6.& 7. Wooden Shields and Swords (similar available at Nova Natural). Caspar (7yrs) loves stories of vikings, knights and kings. There are two of each, it's likely one set will go to Otis, after all Caspar will need someone to play with.
8. Siku trucks and vehicles. This is what I suggested to my sister to give to Otis. The Siku vehicles come in so many options and they are small (small often like matchbox cards depending on the vehicle) they have many moving parts and are all made to scale. Otis has many of these already and will spend hours in play.
9. Bruder Tractor. Long time readers will know that we love the Bruder trucks. We have many that are adored. However we purchased all of our Bruder trucks/diggers/vehicles for Caspar (many years ago) so I thought it was time for a new one to add to the collection. They are good quality, made to scale and most parts are movable - making them really fun and interactive.
10. & 11. I almost feel bad about giving practical items for gifts but I think it adds to the fun. The boys will love unwrapping gifts even if it's something they need - like new lunchboxes and insulated bags. When Caspar started school we used a few different brands - the lunchboxes we used at home didn't necessarily work for school. He has used and loved his Goodbyn lunch box for a couple of years so he is getting a new one and Otis will need one for when he starts extended day later next year.
12. As teenagers Aaron (my husband) and I lived in Unley, only a block away from the Haighs factory. Haighs Christmas tins are a tradition. Some years we have missed out if we weren't visiting Adelaide or passing through Sydney. I'm thrilled that Haighs finally have an online shop delivering Australia wide.
I've also been asked about handmade and teacher gifts. Do teacher gifts need to be handmade? I don't think so. It's nice for the children to be involved but I think it's totally acceptable to purchase a small gift if it has been well chosen/considered. One year we were short on time and we gave each teacher a blank journal and lovely pen. It actually turned out to be really expensive, I think I was trying to make up for not having a handmade gift. But what handmade gifts have we given to teachers, neighbours and friends?
Christmas Soaps - We use melt and pour soap. One year I ordered a couple of kilograms and it's lasted a few Christmases and we've made Easter soaps as well. We put a couple of soaps in a small cotton bag.
Beeswax Candles - An all-time favourite and we give these so often. Really young children can roll the beeswax. We have used a couple of sources but I think the colourful wax kit is from Dragonfly Toys (similar in the US here). They also smell so good when they are being used.
Gingerbread Cookies - Perhaps these are everyone's go-to gift. We make a big batch of dough - Caspar can now make this independently, and make/bake a tray of cookies at a time and keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator. I love having guests over and while the kids are playing (or have them involved) it only takes a minute to roll the dough and bake the cookies. Guests love fresh and warm gingerbread cookies. Neighbours do too! We've also put some in little brown paper bags and given as teacher gifts.
Homemade Strawberry Jam - We've only done this one year but it was a hit. Because of the heat/cooking children can only help in a limited way however they can still feel the pride in giving handmade jam. Children can chop fruit and label jars. Because when making jam there is so much in quantity this is one gift that really goes around.
We have also given small potted herb/succulent plants to various teachers and friends - ensure the plant is nice and healthy and decorate with a ribbon. I feel the most important part is for the child to be a part of the gift giving. And to tell the important people in your life that you appreciate and love them.
If you are short on time but still want a meaningful gift it's not too late get a A Girl and Her World e-Card. All e-Cards and donations support girls in the pacific islands attend school, this includes supporting their families. A really special gift.