We're doing the stockings a little differently this year. In previous years, I've kept an eye out all year long for clearanced little things (glow bracelets! kazoos! kaleidoscopes! cute pencils!). I have a box in the closet marked "Stockings," and anytime I found a good deal on a pack of party favors or on another small toy, I'd put it in the box. Then I'd fill in the gaps with things bought at regular price (Silly Putty, Slinkies) and candy.
The kids haven't all outgrown that stage, but neither can I split a 6-pack of something among them anymore. The older two, particularly, have seen pretty much every party favor there is. Every time I saw a clearance, I thought, "Yeah, but we already have some of those around from a previous year."
So here is my plan this year: Each child will get 1-2 books in the stocking, plus candy, plus granola bars and little bags of chips and other snack-type things. Done. I like this so much, I think I'll do it from now on. It was fun to choose the books (plus, a lot of them were buy-3-get-1-free), and easy to buy the snacky stuff.
Here are the books we got, if you are interested:
Rob - TCL/TK Pocket Reference (Paul assures me this will be a big-thrill item for one of Rob's current hobbies. I can't picture it.)
William - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, book 6
Elizabeth - Judy Moody & Stink: The Holly Jolliday, Katie the Kitten Fairy
Edward - Garfield's Jolly Holiday 3-pack, The Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book o' Fun
Henry - Christmas Alphabet Pop-Up, Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve
Holiday-theme books will add to our collection of Christmas books and get packed away with the Christmas decorations. Other books will end up on the communal shelves. I tried when possible to get books that I knew more than one kid would want to read: my goal is to have a quiet but fun activity for them to do over the exciting days of/after Christmas, when sometimes the fun and excitement and treats get to be a bit much.
It bothers me a little that Rob and William only have one book each, while the littler kids each have two. But it feels more WORTH IT to buy books for the littler kids, because they are still in the "read a book many times, then swap with siblings, then swap back and read it many more times" stage, whereas Rob and William are in the "read it once, then return it to the library" stage. For the older kids, the book gift is more like "So you don't have to keep borrowing Paul's" and "So you don't have to wait your turn at the library," respectively. Also, four of the littler kids' six books will get packed away with the Christmas stuff, but the bigger kids' books won't. But still, I might buy another book each for Rob and William if I think of one and/or get motivated to look.
I am quite irritated with Paul, by the way. Last night I was folding laundry while he was doing the twins' storytime, and gradually the words he was reading pushed aside my meandering thoughts. "What...what are you reading?," I asked, and he held up THE JUDY MOODY AND STINK BOOK WE'D ORDERED. He'd gotten it from the library. He weakly tried the "I didn't know / You didn't tell me" defense, which I easily slapped down with an "I EMAILED YOU, SO THERE IS A RECORD OF YOU KNOWING, SO YOU CAN JUST DROP THAT RIGHT NOW."
Then, later, he said, "Oh good, I got an email from the library and the new Wimpy Kid book is ready for us to pick up!" I didn't even need to speak: I went straight for the sustained incredulous stare.
What do you put in stockings, in case I want to snitch some more ideas? (Or in case Paul comes home with a big back of chips and candy for the kids, along with the rest of the books on the list.)
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