This year, I’m making my lists EARLY, and of course I’m checking them twice! After so many disappointments, I want to be able to rely on a beautiful Christmas season to celebrate our family’s health and happiness. Usually we head up to the PNW, but this year, it looks like we’ll be staying in for a socially-distanced Christmas. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to revel in it!
There have been so many things beyond our control in 2020: cancelled plans, delays, frustrations, and fears. But my girls have been a bright spot at the heart of it all. Whether it’s watching them adapt in the face of the unexpected, or pitch in to help take care of each other, I’m so grateful for our family. I want to show them their efforts were noticed and valued—and not just by Santa. 😉
I’ve already picked out gifts for the ladies in my extended family, just in time to ship out. Now I can turn my attention inward to the younger girls in our own sweet home with plenty of time to feel prepared. In a year when planning for the worst has helped us to make the most out of every situation, I’ve definitely learned to take advantage of what you CAN control!
Setting your heart and mind to what you have (rather than what you don’t) helps build confidence in our ability to tackle the unknown. By beginning with gratitude, I’m able to make stronger choices than I would make while in a scarcity-mindset. I think that’s why it’s easy to fall back on gift-bashing: we don’t feel like we have the time or resources to make Christmas happen.
Giving myself space to celebrate helps me look at presents from a new perspective. These are opportunities to show the people in my life that I see them, and I want to help them to be their best selves—or just get lost in the things they love. So when it comes to my girls, I’m definitely thinking about gifts that will enrich their lives.
Without further to-do, here are the 12 ideas I have open in my browser, ready to add-to-cart!
1. Crafting Kits
So OBVIOUSLY with all the DIYs going on at our house, our girls have a budding interest in getting their hands dirty! Emily and Natalie especially love to get in on the action, and together we’re the three amigos when it comes to at-home craft projects. Helping them pursue their own interests independently is important to me, and there are countless crafting kits to give them the framework to DIY, well, anything!
Matching the level of the craft project to the age of the kid is step one in selecting the right kit, and Michaels is my favorite for this, with an “Recommended Age” filter in their Craft Kit section. I really love this Yarn Unicorns kit, since Emily and Natalie have the most fun making things together—and I might get an extra Macrame kit from Etsy for Emily to flex her wings on her own.
2. LOL Dolls
For the little ones, there’s always a to-die-for toy of the season—and I have to confess I have no idea what it is. 😂 What I HAVE noticed is that the Latest Thing is not always a successful contender year-round. So, instead of jumping to comply with some unmemorable trend, I’ll be adding to the existing collection of the dolls I know Natalie already plays with. She loves her LOL Dolls, and the addition of “surprises” in every box really ups the ante on this unwrapping.
3. Tech Accessories
Okay, I wasn’t the only one in the family obsessed with Emily in Paris. Rachel loved this Netflix series as much as I did. Though, maybe not for the same reasons, ha! Emily’s accessories were the driving force behind Rachel’s obsession, and she’s been dreaming about Emily’s faux-camera phone case ever since. Personally, I’m a fan of the shoulder strap—it’s hard to lose something you never put down.
4. Board Game
Emily is super into board games, but the poor kid has a traditional middle-child dilemma: no one will play with her! Travis and I always feel like we’re too swamped to take on a full-blown board game, our teen can’t be bothered, and even though Natalie is always ready, it’s a whole job in itself to make sure she’s playing by the right rules. So along with the latest Gamewright Game, we’ll be giving Emily a special “Must Play” card to use when she’s ready for the party to start.
5. Record Player & Vinyl
When we vacationed at Joshua Tree House’s Posada this August, the girls went wild for the property’s record player. It gave them a new music experience: the thrill of an album. In the age of Spotify, we access music via algorithm. It’s funny to think our kids don’t know the magic of vinyl, and it’s definitely a gift we’re excited to give!
This one will be an experiment, so we’re headed to Target to get in at a low-entry-point. If they end up loving it, we may splurge on a better sound system. (Travis has his fingers crossed.)
We have three girls, so you KNOW clothes are going to be on our list! I can always count on Mini Boden for the littlest one, but Emily and Rachel are getting harder to shop for as they start to like different trends. Clothing can be hard when it comes to tweens and teens, but there are brands to stick to in order to bridge the mother-daughter gap.
Find the brand the teen in your life loves! In our house, Brandy Melville has all the latest California cool-girl styles, from painter pants to pleated skirts (apparently they’re back.) And by picking them out, I get to sidestep any debate. It’s a win for them, and a win for me.
Where there’s clothing, there’s makeup. At this point our girls mostly love to experiment. Naturally, they’ve been doing it by dipping into MY expensive MAC products! I want to give them the outlet, but at the teenage price point for practicing artists. Target makes this so easy stocking Elf and NYX, so I can pick up an eye shadow palette that won’t cost me an arm & a leg.
8. Baking Supplies
Baking is all the rage at our house, especially during quarantine. Apparently all the girls in their 11-14 year old age group are into it! It’s been fun to see what goodies the girls can create, and I can expect that Christmas day we’ll be enjoying all kinds of bakeable treats. They loved these Williams Sonoma Hand Pie Molds, so I think I might duck back in and get something just as adorable—like the snowflake cutters, or these super cute cookie stamps.
9. Princess Dress Up
For Natalie, I love to focus on the items that enhance her own imagination. She loves to dress up, and she made a fierce Mulan for Halloween! As she gets older, she is outgrowing her old Elsa costume, so I think it might be time for an upgrade: Elsa’s dress in the latest Frozen Movie is definitely a winner with its shorter hem, (it’ll get dirty half as often) and Amazon even has the boots to go with it.
10. Gift Card
If you’re really stumped by a picky teen, there is NO shame in a gift card. In fact, the experience of actually getting to go shopping is what many of them want anyway. Giving an older girl the opportunity to pick something out on her own evades disappointment on both ends. You can go narrow with brands like Tilly’s, stay general with Sephora, or offer a broader option like Target. A gift card is essentially the gift of autonomy. What 15 year old doesn’t want that?
11. Classic PJs
THEE most classic Christmas gift: warm, snuggly pjs. I try not to go over-the-top Christmas-y here. This gift will be worn throughout the winter months, and even into cold spring nights! Plus, now that we’re all living in our lounge wear WELL before bedtime, it’s even more important that these jammies stand the test of time. A red Buffalo Check can read both winter-warm and holiday appropriate.
12. A Puppy
I know the thing that’s at the top of ALL my girls’ lists: a golden-doodle. But just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen!!
I won’t pretend I didn’t think about it—Rachel is in high school and nearing the end of the tunnel for the “family dog” experience. And if we were getting a dog, you can bet we’d go the hypoallergenic route. At the end of the day, though, I think the best thing we can do as parents is know where WE want to draw the line.
Whether or not you’re adding a puppy to your shopping list this year, remember: the first step to keeping this season easy and joyful is by entering into it with a mindset of abundance! And if you felt stumped about the teen girl in your life, I hope this leaves you feeling like they aren’t such a mystery after all.