Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Humor, Sharing, Tips

Holiday Tip #3: Christmas Codes

Dear Aunt Alice,

I hate waiting until the last minute to wrap gifts and put them under the tree.  The tree looks so bare without them!  But if I do it early, my kids demolish their gifts trying to figure out what they are.  Any suggestions?

Smasher-shaker’s Mom

Dear Smasher-shaker’s Mom,

Have you tried padding?  The gifts, I mean, not your room.  To protect them.  If you use enough, you can also change the shape of the gift, making it harder to guess what’s inside.

Actually, I’ve found that while he won’t lose interest entirely, a child will poke, prod and shake a box much less if it doesn’t have his name on it.  So go ahead and wrap the gifts ahead of time, but wait until Christmas Eve to label them.  This may not work if you only have one child, as she will assume that all the gifts are hers (or at least the interesting looking ones), but if you have several children they may spend more time trying to figure out who the gift is for than what the gift is.

How do you remember which gift is which so you can label them later?  Come up with a code!

Label each gift with a code that only means something to you.  Not only will this (hopefully) cut down on the handling of gifts, you will have the bonus of driving your children crazy as they try to crack the code.

One year I labeled each present with a six-digit number.  All except the last digit was random, and that last one stood for birth order.  So, for my firstborn son, his gifts could be labeled 384991 or 273641 or 192281.  As long as the last digit was a one, I knew that it was for him.  Since no two gifts had the same number, the kids went nuts trying to decipher it.

Another year, I used a letter code.  My 8-year-old cub scout was C, my third-grader was T, etc.  The code was easy for me to remember, but random enough that they didn’t even come close to figuring it out.  Come to think of it, I don’t even remember what I gave or got that year, but I do remember laughing a lot as my children tried desperately to figure out the code.

Ah, the simple pleasures in life.

Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Humor, Sharing

Worst Gifts for Students?

Last week I posted a list of some of the worst gifts a man could give a woman.  This week, asked more than 500 high school and college students the worst gifts they had ever gotten.  Their top worst make my list look like the best gifts a person could receive.  Here are a few of the “winners”:

•A wooden stick doll without any eyes.
• A used lead pencil.
• Toilet paper.
• A calendar for 2009 that was given in December 2009.
• A dead mouse.

I have to note (with relief) that the last item was not given by a husband to his wife.  Apparently a girl gave it to her brother as revenge.

Someone also commented that getting a bad gift is better than getting no gift, and except for the case of the lifeless rodent, I have to agree.  Feeling forgotten is much, much worse than not feeling special.

Book reviews, Gifts, Holidays, Humor, Sharing, Tips

How to Alienate Your Woman: Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Even the most practical woman on the earth likes to receive gifts that are not in the least bit practical:  chocolate, jewelry, a gift certificate for a massage  (wait, that could be considered practical, couldn’t it? After all, it’s for my health.  So is the chocolate.  Ahem.), etc.  It’s not that we don’t like practical things, it’s just that we want a gift to make us feel special.

Most men don’t seem to understand the special principle.  It’s not what you give us that really counts.  Maybe not even the thought.  It’s how special it makes us feel.  The least expensive, smallest gift can make a woman want to give her whole life to a man (or at least her whole evening), if it is sentimental enough to make her feel important.

On the other hand, even the most expensive gift, if it makes her feel, shall we say, not special, can make a woman want to throw dog food at her man.  And suggest a nice, quiet place in the backyard where he can eat it in private.

In case you men are confused, here are some things you should give your woman only if she has specifically asked you for it, or you have a taste for generic dog food:

  • a weight-reducing gadget of any kind
  • a how-to-clean DVD
  • a dieting book
  • jumper cables
  • an appliance
  • deodorant
  • a hair-cutting set, so you can save money by having her cut your hair
  • your old, cast off _______, so you can buy yourself one that is newer & better
  • a light bulb (Of any color.  Really.)
  • a piece of construction paper crookedly folded in half, with a note quickly scribbled on it on Christmas morning (even if she did say she wanted something homemade)
  • a half-eaten box of chocolates
  • a box of chocolates that you proudly announce you found by the roadside (even if it doesn’t look like roadkill…)
  • address return labels you got for free from Easter Seals
  • mouse traps (even if she really, really wants to get rid of the mice)
  • a box of fabric softener (even if you wrap it in gold paper with a shiny, red ribbon)
  • tickets to see a sports event that you would kill to see, and she would kill to avoid
  • money, with the instruction to “get yourself a haircut”
    (no, this is not the same as a gift certificate to an exclusive hair salon)



So, what is one of the worst gifts YOU ever got?

Book reviews, Gifts, Reading, Sharing

Book Recommendation: “A Lump of Clay”

I just bought several copies of this wonderful little book to give as Christmas gifts. (If you didn’t get one from me, I’m sorry. You’ll just have to buy your own!)

A Lump of Clay, by Rich Johnson, is a short parable that will touch your heart and put a lump in your throat. It tells of the life of a simple little lump of clay, who sits on the shelf day after day waiting for the master to mold him into something wonderful.

Book:  A Lump of Clay
A Lump of Clay, By Rich Johnson

Haven’t we all felt, at times, like a lump of clay?

Haven’t we all wished to be better, to be beautiful?

If you know someone who needs to be uplifted or encouraged, this would make the perfect gift. If you know more than someone like that, the author is giving a special deal if you buy more than 5 books at a time. Check it out!

Disclosure: Rich Johnson is a friend of mine, but I do not get any money from the sales of his book, nor am I recommending the book because of our friendship. It is simply a book that I feel is well worth reading and giving.

Children, Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Tips

Holiday Tip #2 – Save Your Child’s Hearing

I’ve shared this tip before, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re giving a child a toy that makes sounds (music, beeps, etc.) especially if it doesn’t have a volume control, stick a layer or two of packing tape over the speaker portion of the toy before you wrap it up.

Toys tend to be much too loud for a child’s sensitive ears. This simple trick can help save their hearing, and maybe save you a few headaches as well!

Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Sharing, Tips

Holiday Tip #1 – Getting Sneaky

Carry a tarp, blanket, or even a large box in the back of your car for hiding gifts. This works better if you put it in the car well before December so the children get used to it being there. Then they’ll be less curious about what’s in or under it.

Of course, carrying a blanket in the wintertime is a good idea anyway. You never know when you might get stuck somewhere in bad weather!