I’m not much of a collector, but I’ve tried to pick up a Nativity scene from places I visit. We’re up to three, and they’re currently displayed on the mantel. The boys have been enamored with them. There’s the Mexican Nativity that I got after my mother died:
(Joseph is absent as he’s still decapitated but I hope Porter’s Webelo skills will help remedy that situation.)
It’s this monochromatic one that the boys cannot pass without stepping onto the fireplace to peer a bit closer. Why? It’s got none of the fancy weaving of the African version, or the snappy color of the Mexican one. And it’s teensy. That lamb? It’s smaller than the size of the first segment of my index finger.
The holidays have snuck up on me this year. We just got the tree finished last night and I haven’t wrapped the first present. I have purchased several, though, sticking to my tried and true rules for gifts.
I don’t know of anyone who isn’t cutting back this year, and we’re no different. The boys are getting plenty of books and clothes (though I’m having to give Porter books early as he snarfs them up. I’m going to get some really lengthy books to add to his pile and see if I can’t spread out my trips to the library a bit.)
We made our annual trip to Target during which the boys split up and bought presents for each other (as recounted in “Present Perfect” which you can read at the Lipstick site– or pick up a free copy at your local spa/salon/business. Here’s a picture of the activity – this is the cart with Porter’s present in it, hidden with towels while Drew and Finn decide what else to buy for him. Smart readers will know immediately what is hidden under here.)
If you’re still struggling for gift ideas, here’s a link to all my best ideas, including the Hall of Fame!
I’ve also hit on another series that Porter is loving – the books by Cressida Cowell, including How to Train Your Dragon and How to Be a Pirate. She’s written tons of books and I checked out as many as I could from the library today so I could stop giving Porter books from his Christmas stash.
Last Saturday Bill and I went to a party for our dance club. It’s a Tiny Kingdom tradition– every three years, a new dance club is formed, but the members don’t dance or do anything philanthropic. Our Christmas party was at a friend’s house, and the house is posh. Everything was clean and decorated and there were no piles of papers and sporting goods in the corners. I peeked in the hostess’s bathroom and there were two walk in closets and a separate tub and shower. The tub had no legos or inexplicable wood shavings in it, as ours often does.
I heard several people duck out early, explaining that they had another party to attend, thrown by a couple I’ll call Jemison and Mary Adair. I don’t know Jemison and Mary Adair, but I recognized their names. No matter. Bill and I had a marvelous time, ending the evening with dinner with Marathon Mom and her husband.
Today I was at the sporting goods store running an errand that had NOTHING whatsoever to do with Christmas, Finn, if you are reading this, which you should not because you are in the middle of exams and should not be reading blogs on the computer.
A couple were in there shopping for Christmas, and after they called each other “Jemison” and “Mary Adair” I put on my CSI-Birmingham sunglasses and determined that they were the party-givers of the previous weekend. Which would have been no big deal if they had not told the cashier that they had invited 400 people to their party, which made me think, “TINY Kingdom? They had almost half a thousand people and I couldn’t even wrangle an invitation? ”
Maybe they are MUCH older than I am. Droopy, even.
Maybe you have to do the magical elf thing with your kids to be invited.
Maybe the Kingdom is bigger than I thought.
Maybe this is a sign that it’s all well and good to be known for your sex talk, to be a vermicomposter, and to go to the Webelo Top Gun Competition, but all that doesn’t get you invited to the big galas.
But I what I really think it means is that in 2009 I need to get out more.
Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: No TV For You!
I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a gift guide each holiday season, and this year I managed to keep my wits about me most months and jotted down a few notes here and there about what has had staying power and which gifts have been duds. I’ve included links wherever possible to try to give you a one stop shopping experience. I welcome comments about gifts that have worked for you.
Here are the gifts for boys which have been so successful through the years that they are hereby going into Anne Glamore’s Gift Hall Of Fame:
Anything by Lego, smaller kits for smaller kids and more intricate ones for bigger kids. This includes Bionicles as well as small items like the Lego Police Motorcycle #7235 and bigger ones such as the LEGO Star Wars Republic Gunship. You can’t go wrong with the Ultimate LEGO Building Set as a starter set for budding architects.
Klutz makes all types of cool things- books that show you how to make cool letters, or stencil, but the Window Art (Klutz) was the best gift Drew got one year, and the designs he made are still on his window. Inexpensive, creative fun.
Klutz is also responsible for the Encyclopedia of Immaturity (Klutz)which Finn received last year, but both of his brothers have stolen it at times to learn how to curl their tongues or build a bridge out of pennies.
Guys love their gadgets, and Porter still uses his headlamp. We all do. We’ve used it to read in bed, to look for things in the dark, and to wear when hiking. The boys have put theirs on at twilight and run around in the bushes. We need a couple more.
Remember when we got Finn a Safe for Christmas one year? He’s still using it. I followed my own advice and got the kind with two keys, not a combination. I kept one key, and every once in a while I check to make sure there are no illicit substances in the safe. I was tempted to steal a Baby Ruth one time, but I refrained.
By far the best outdoor toy we’ve gotten has been the RipStik. Porter has spent hours on this thing, sometimes with a parakeet or two on his shoulder. He can shoot baskets while riding it. Neither of his brothers can get very far on it, but if you have a kid who’s exhausted the bike, the pogo stick, the moon shoes and needs a new challenge, the Ripstik is portable, durable and fun. I recommend pads and a helmet to go with it.
The boys are wearing out all the Calvin and Hobbes books we’ve purchased, and I love them because I believe they trick boys into reading while they think they’re looking at comic books. They’re funny, smart, under $15, and the boys read them over and over.
Don’t your kids always steal the Flashlights? That’s why you give them a couple for Christmas, especially the kind that hook to your backpack or belt so you look all official and stuff.
For babies and toddlers of the male variety, my top gift would be the Fire Fighter Dress Up Set. All three of my boys wore the same one for ages until it finally disintegrated. Cowboy Boots are a close second, their main drawback being that they hurt when used to kick a brother.
Smaller babes are endlessly entertained by the Busy Ball Popper, which pops the balls out of its gut over and over and over. Drew couldn’t get enough of this invention.
As for older people, a few gifts made the Hall of Fame.
Enough with the Tervis Tumblers, you say? But I can’t get enough! This year we gave up bottled water for ecological and financial reasons. I discovered that you can purchase a Tervis Tumbler 16oz. Plastic Lid, thus allowing you to take your water to Jazzercise, to the baseball or soccer field, and in the minivan with nary a sprinkle on your clothes. These have improved my quality of life.
L.L. Bean tote bags are classics for good reason. This link takes you to the page where you can design your own, specifying the size, colors, and whether you want long handles (yes!) and a zip top (yes again!) I got one this summer and use it to hold all my audio-visual stuff when I travel: camera and blackberry chargers, iPod speakers, and so forth. Then again, if I’m heading to a party I can load this sturdy bag with several bottles of wine and a hostess gift. My youngest sister loads hers with baby and toddler gear.
We kept hearing about Table Topics Conversation Cards and didn’t see what the big deal was until we received some of our own. Now when the boys talk about farts and burps at the dinner table, I steer the conversation to more acceptable subjects simply by drawing a card. We’ve discovered that as a family we’d prefer to live near the beach rather than in the mountains, we’d prefer a life of adventure to a life of safety, and all but Bill would prefer to have great musical skill.
Finally, the last Hall of Fame gift is a magazine subscription. The boys enjoy their Sports Illustrated Kids although Finn is old enough for the regular magazine. Of course, I can’t survive without The New Yorker and Bill is a devoted reader of Triathlete (and little else)! There’s a magazine out there for just about everyone.
Some New Ideas
I rarely recommend toys, but Drew got a Hasbro Electronic Hyper Slide for his birthday and we all had tons of fun with it. It looks like a bridge with four different colored checkers. A voice tells you which color checker to slide under the bridge and gives you a limited amount of time to do so. Somehow, it manages to keep up with which colors are on which side, and thus, who has screwed up.
We also love Monopoly, but I bet I’ve thrown away over two kajillion multi-colored dollars over the years, as they end up scattered about the house driving me mad. The new millennium has brought changes to the old game. Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition features debit cards instead of bills, and made the game new again for my guys.
Another big hit was the Rocket Balloon with Pump. The set contains long skinny balloons and a small pump to blow them up with. When they’re released, they zoom away, emitting a shrieking sound that’s the epitome of fun. Some people race them, but my guys flew them out the window and awarded points to anyone in the yard who caught one before it hit the ground.
If you have a boy who adores building things, your local Boy Scout store is a treasure trove of inexpensive kits. Birdhouses, trains, airplanes made of wood to be hammered, glued and painted. Leather kits that end up as key chains, wallets, knife holders, or slippers. I have to drag Porter out of there. Ooh, look! I found a link to the Boy Scout craft store, too.
I’ve touted several books this year, but the big favorites were Al Capone Does My Shirts, and the Percy Jackson books, which incorporate adventure and mythology. Porter tore through them and is searching for the author’s address to ask him to please write faster.
If you have a collector in the house, A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America–One State Quarter at a Time would be fun, especially if you gave it along with something to hold one quarter from each state.
Anyone who’s been a third-grader or had a third-grader will laugh at 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching. It’s a light-hearted look back at twenty years of teaching, and contains lessons that are funny, wise and universal. Don’t think teachers are the only ones who will enjoy this book– it’s sure to appeal to all ages and genders.
If you have athletes, you’ll want to check into the Road ID. They make ID tags that go on the wrist and the shoe so your biker or runner will have his contact information with him at all times. Bill and the boys each have one, and I feel a lot safer that someone will be able to reach me immediately if one of them should have a biking accident.
Is this the year that Wood Burning Kits make a comeback? It might be in the Glamore house. I’ll let you know if we end up with 70’s style crafts or branded hands.
Past gift guides are here:
The Ultimate Guide To Boy Toys (still the best, most comprehensive guide, featuring the ever popular headlamps, safes, flashlights)
Holiday Gift Guide: A Kajillion Ideas! (Ideas for teachers, babies and toddlers)
Gift Guide Part Deux: You’re So Hard To Buy For (funky, practical, collections, cookbooks, and a smattering of this and that.)
Gift Guide For Good Kids (Or Even Merely Tolerable) (books, games, technology).
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Elves: Round 2 (The boys are trying for an elf again this year, but all they did was stick a one line note and some stale Wasa bread on the fireplace so I tossed it. Still no elves for us!)