Yes, it is going to be sunny and 90 degrees tomorrow but I wanted to share with you what I consider to be one of the most brilliant ideas I have ever had. It involves Christmas but it takes some planning (I love my planning :) so I wanted to plant this little nugget in your brain several months in advance of the Christmas season.....
So I'm a "Black Friday" Shopper. Yes, I get up at the crazy early hour of about 3:30 to hit the stores with my mom and sister. We have been doing this for about 12 years and it is really one of my favorite traditions. This story starts at about 4:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving in the Shawnee Wal-Mart in 2005. In our house Santa only brings the girls one big gift and also fills each stocking. The gift he brings is the biggest and best gift. When the girls were little this was so easy, toy kitchen, mini-jeep, Barbie mansion.....etc. In 2005 my girls were 5 and 8 and I was stumped. What in the world was Santa going to bring this year???? I ended up deciding on a PlayStation 2 with Dance Dance Revolution and Kareoke Revolution.
Christmas morning comes and they see the gift from Santa and I think they like it, we play with it quite a bit over Christmas Break. Then a few weeks later my Aunt Barb comes to visit. "What was your favorite Christmas gift?" she asks my girls. And what do they both say???? Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers in a plastic candy cane. What????? $4.99 lip balms vs. $300 game system????? There is something wrong here. It has only been a few weeks and honestly they have already forgotten half of what they got for Christmas. Something had to change.
By March Jeff and I were tossing around the idea of having Santa bring a TRIP instead of gift. We weren't sure how the girls would react, but we were committed to giving it a try.
That first year, Christmas 2006, Santa brought us a trip to Disney World. In the place near the tree where normally a big gift would be we placed a letter from Santa (on his letterhead no less). The letter explained that they had been so good this year they were getting a trip to see Mickey and friends. Santa also left matching Disney t-shirts for all 4 of us and a couple of new Disney DVDs. The trip began just 7 short days later on January 1st. They seemed excited about the trip and honestly with all the gifts they had opened the night before from grandma and grandpa and aunt Carrie they didn't seem to be short on new toys. The trip was amazing, we made such great memories and to this day they can still tell you that they received a trip to Disney from Santa.
Since then Santa has brought us a "memory maker" instead of gifts. The second year he brought us 2 nights at the Great Wolf Lodge during Christmas break in one of the cabin rooms. The next year it was a cruise in mid-January. 2009 brought us season tickets to Worlds of Fun and last year it was a week over Easter in Washington DC.
I think in order for this to be successful for young kids the gratification has to be almost immediate. The first few years when the girls were young the trips happened within a couple of weeks of Christmas. The last two years we have had to wait until April for Worlds of Fun and DC and while they are old enough to wait I like it better when it is closer to the holiday. Another perk, saving money! I mean the fact is we are going to pay for vacations anyway, this way you combine your vacation and Christmas budgets :-)
If you think your kids get too many material possessions for Christmas or if your kids can't begin to tell you what they got last year, consider this option. I cannot begin to tell you all the wonderful memories we have made with these gifts but the best part is MY KIDS CAN!!!!