Act 358

A gift is something that is new to you.

We scaled back on Christmas expenses quite a bit this year. My boys asked for a computer. I’d set aside a bit of money to make it happen. When I realized what I’d have to spend to get them what they needed, I realized I didn’t have enough set aside. I called a local computer repair shop to ask if they sold refurbished desktops. I found what I needed for the budget I had. One son got the tower and the cables and mouse, the other the monitor and keyboard. Together, they are assured productive hours of building complex worlds on their favourite game called Minecraft. They are happy. And I made it through the first Christmas ever without putting a major expense on credit. Phew.

I’m relieved. And happy they are happy. Also, a bit frazzled and tired. Grateful for the season. And ready for my long winter’s nap.

Merry Christmas. Your support of this space has added much happiness and meaning to my 2013. Thank you. Sweet dreams.

Act 333

Simplify

We celebrated a birthday today. Normally this would involve a dinner out or a trip to the gift shop. Much as I love doing that, it wasn’t in the budget. So we simplified by making home made vanilla cupcakes with raspberry and chocolate icing. We surprised the birthday girl with cup cake and candle. She was delighted. Seems to me, it just had a bit more heart to it.

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Act 221

Hand it down

I’m visiting family back east. Among my favourites is getting to know my new nephew. While a new baby in the family brings the nearly insurmountable urge to empty baby gap of every adorable outfit, I have done my best to resist. Instead, I collected some of my boys most beloved baby toys and brought them for him. It’s more meaningful and the boys are thrilled to hand down their favourites to their little cousin and he seems to be happy about it too.

Act 166

True gifts can’t be bought.

My dad used to ask for world peace when we asked him what we should buy him for Father’s Day. A bit tricky to fill that request, so we’d settle on a golf shirt or a tie. Poor Dad.

I think what he was really saying was you can’t buy good wishes or appreciation. You just have to show it by being a decent human being. And that’s the real gift of Father’s Day – a parent’s commitment to raise good kids who become good grown ups. Well that, and a bit of world peace.

Happy Father’s Day

Act 85

Give the gift of a goal

It’s birthday season around these parts and rather than just go out and buy the thing du jour, I had to rethink my plan this time around. And I’m pleased with the outcome.

The goal is to save enough money to buy the thing. The plan is to make it a project. To save birthday money, allowance – come up with a budget and a time line – and price it out. He’s already been on several sites to price compare and is taking seriously about an e-bay account to sell the stuff he no longer wants. Not bad for my little budding entrepreneur.

So for his birthday, he got a project and a goal. And of course, the requisite silly present – a joke box full of old school pranks – the floaty eyeball, the squirt ring, the fake you know what. Cause every body deserves a good giggle on their birthday, no matter how old they are or how big their goal is.

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Act 53

Re-gift your gift bags.

Sometimes the gift wrapping costs as much as the gift.

If you’re on the birthday party circuit like lots of moms of grade school kids, you’ll spend a few quid along the way buying and wrapping presents for your kids favourite friends. And that’s just fine. Kids love it. I think they enjoy watching other kids open presents as much as they love receiving them.

While there is a lovely trend among the under 12 crowd to host toonie parties – a toonie for the birthday kid and a toonie for their favourite charity, it’s not quite a full blown tradition yet.

We host our fair share of birthday parties too. One in the Fall, one in the Spring. Over the years, I’ve collected many a lovely gift bag, too nice to throw away or put in the curbside recycling, so I kept them and now I upcycle them for other birthday parties. I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen them go around the circuit once or twice.

It’s sensible and sustainable. And let’s face it. It’s only a bag. Like most things in life, It’s what’s inside that counts.