How to Shop for Your Multiples (without Feeling the Pinch)
Be Cost Effective
Purchasing one gift-of-the-year can be expensive. Purchasing two can be prohibitively expensive. Keep this in mind as you’re making your shopping list. If you believe that an expensive item will be the hit of the century, suggest that two or more family members go in on it. Honestly, the idea of presenting each child with twenty gifts might sound fun, but in reality it will take two days for them to open them all. Once they complete that task, you’ll have four hundred dollars’ worth of toys strewn across your kitchen floor—and be forced to sit among them as you watch your children make forts out of the boxes in which they came.
Additionally, remember that you are likely not responsible for supplying your children with all of their gifts. For our twins’ second Christmas, we bought them each three toys. It was quite overwhelming when their grandparents also each bought them three toys, as did their aunts, as did their godparents. A far more reasonable approach on many levels may be to purchase one or two toys for each child and then let relatives have fun with the rest.
Cut the Clutter
Toy manufacturers seem to believe that the more pieces toys come with, the better (and let’s not even address the toys’ noise levels!). If you plan to purchase a set of LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, or another item with multiple pieces, purchase a sturdy storage container in which to keep the pieces. Mr. Potato Head is a hoot until there is only one ear and no mouth available three days post-holiday.
Instead of wrapping gifts in their original packaging, consider repackaging them in gift bags (or Tupperware containers). Patience—both yours and the kids’—can run thin when everyone has to wait while you cut through the tape and cords that hold the toys hostage. Along these same lines, assemble what you can before Christmas morning. One year, we got our boys a construction set that came with no fewer than 489 pieces. We spent several hours assembling the item on Christmas Eve, and the next morning it was ready to be enjoyed (or destroyed—I’ve mentally blocked which actually occurred).
Another idea is to secretly stash a few new toys and divvy them out over the next few months. Barb Hoskins, a mother of twin girls, has taken this approach every year since her children were born. She keeps out a few of the gifts over which her girls are most excited and puts the others away for a few weeks. When the kids need a diversion, she pulls out the newest playthings. She then rotates the girls’ toys every six months or so. “They honestly seem to have forgotten that they ever played with the toys that have been in storage. It’s the least expensive way to give a new ‘gift!’” proclaims Barb.
Don’t forget that when all is said and done, your children will remember far more about the activities you engaged in during the holidays than precisely what gifts (and how many) they received each year. In your haste to find the perfect items to stash under the tree, be sure to incorporate family traditions. An added bonus: they don’t have to cost much, if anything! To this day, I remember my younger years when my family would head out with donut holes and hot chocolate to cut down our Christmas tree. These days, our kids never fail to remember that while we’re at church on Christmas Eve, Frosty the Snowman stops by to leave new pajamas for everyone and a game or movie for us to enjoy together before we set out cookies, carrots, and milk for Santa and his crew.
In years to come, it won’t matter whether they had matching Wiggles guitars, whether they fought like bandits over red versus blue LEGOs, or whether one child got six gifts while the other got five. What they will remember is driving around in their pajamas to find the best holiday light display, sitting on Santa’s lap and whispering their grandest wishes into his ear, and gobbling down a bowl of ice cream while watching Christmas Eve on Sesame Street—even if one child did have slightly more ice cream in his bowl than the other.
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