Christmas Gifts for Kids – that will last!

I spend a lot of time deciding on thoughtful gifts for my kids each year. The honest truth is my kids need NOTHING! Truly. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy choosing lovely things they don’t need…But, will hopefully appreciate and enjoy. Here is a little round-up of things and websites that should get you going in the right direction:

Books ~ Throughout the year most of our books are borrowed from the library or bought haphazardly from thrift stores and garage sales. Because of that I really look forward to buying books specifically for my kids that I know I will enjoy reading over and over and that are beautifully illustrated. The place I look first is Usborne. They have such a great variety of picture books, craft books & story books. We especially love the illustrated story books and coloring books. We already have a few of the illustrated titles and I bought 3 more for my kids this year!

Usborne book collage

{to find more shop here}

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Lego friends ~ I have to admit that I have generally been confused by the lego craze. I have sat through countless presentations by little boys in our homeschool group giving in-depth explanations of the fire-blaster-helicopter-launch-pad they created themselves and I really didn’t get it. However, for my middle daughters birthday this year we got her some lego friends sets (because she had shown interest after playing with her cousins’). Well, let me tell you, I get it now. We have had hours of fun putting together a tiny vintage trailer (that looks an awful lot like our real one), a garden scene with tractor, etc. Also, if you are like me and don’t like the thought of throw-away toys these really keep their value. So, when your kids outgrow them you can resell them to someone on craigslist. Here our favorite set:

lego friends camping trailer

{of course you can find these anywhere, but start with a local toy store. If you live in Bend try Leapin’ Lizards. If they don’t have it in stock ask if they can get it. Local shops are grateful for your support and ours gives great service!}

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Playmobil ~ For all the same reasons as legos. These are not throw-away items. They last and keep their value. My son has a set of Knights that were my husbands when he was a kid. It’s also a bonus that these are interesting enough to draw me in {same with legos}. In general I don’t play a lot with my kids. When they ask me to play I remind them I had extra kids so they could play together. But, on the occasions that I do play I actually quite enjoy these.  Just try not to be drawn in by these adorable (& detailed) play sets! These could be in the family for 30 years (ours have been!):

playmobil camping set

playmobil park set

{Try and find these locally too! Our toy store stocks a huge selection of playmobil!}

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Musical Instrument {& lessons!} ~ It is a secret dream of mine that my kids grow up to be a bluegrass trio (if only to play for us on our back deck). So, when they first heard the three brothers that make up the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys and then started assigning each other instruments (Franki-Banjo, Eliza-Fiddle, Kitch-Guitar) I wasn’t going to let the moment pass. So, Franki is getting a banjo (along with in-home lessons starting in January) this year for Christmas. I’m more than a little excited. I know she will be too! For your listening pleasure:

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Compassion International ~ Last, but not at all least. We have sponsored children through Compassion International for 13+ years. In fact, the first boy we sponsored is aging out this year. For both of our girls 5th birthdays we have let them choose a child their age to sponsor {& will do the same for Kitch when he turns 5}. Wouldn’t that be a great idea for Christmas too! One of our advent activities will be writing Christmas cards to the girls that our girls support (with their parents help!). We love that they are connecting with a real, live kid their age that happens to live in an impoverished situation. It’s been a really beautiful way to introduce and talk about the importance and spiritual richness of giving to others, and about the responsibility of giving our excess away to the Lord. We aren’t perfect in this, but we are desiring to create compassion in our children and this has been a great organization to help us. If sponsoring a child isn’t for you (although, why in the world isn’t it for EVERYONE with excess! – Such an easy way to make baby-steps towards loving ourselves less and being engaged in other peoples needs…) What about a one-time gift through their gift catalog? Click here to link to their catalog.

{feel free to skip all the other stuff & just sponsor a bunch of kids!}

 

Pumpkin Decorating {& eating} Inspiration

Here’s a little pumpkin decorating inspiration round-up from around the web:

monogrammed pumpkins

{we’ve done some version of monogrammed pumpkins on several occasions. Love this version with 3 types different pumpkins and fonts. via BHG}

crossword chalkboard pumpkin

{clever chalkboard crossword pumpkin. via cecy j}

trailer pumpkin

{adorable! from BHG}

gold painted pumpkin with house numbers

{love the simple gilded pumpkin with house numbers, originally found on em for marvelous}

glitter pumpkins

{pretty sure my girls would die and go to heaven if I made these glittery pumpkins with them…But dad has a strict no-glitter policy. via thefabguide}

faux bois pumpkin

{I love pretty much anything faux bois. It appeals to my rustic tastes in the same vain as bison, moose, woodland creatures & burning wood. For instructions take a look at the original post here}

for more inspiration take a look at last years pumpkin post

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Pumpkin edibles to try:

pumpkin spice trail mix

{the recipe for this pumpkin spice trail mix is here}

baked pumpkin donuts

{I saw these on pinterest awhile back and they looked so good that I went out and bought a donut pan and whipped up a couple batches. They are divine. Especially straight out of the oven. Yum. Take a look at the recipe here}

Fall Home Decor Ideas

I am not partial to Halloween decorations, even the magic lady herself Ms. Martha doesn’t do it for me when it comes to this time of year + decorating. I have yet to see a lawn display that isn’t completely tacky. I actually think tacky is the main theme for Halloween (which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the actual holiday, I do love having littles come to the door to trick or treat and such & we like to carve pumpkins as much as the next family). Anyhoo, I do love a well decorated home for fall & if you get things done early you can call it ‘harvest” decor and it covers the whole season until Christmas. So, here are some of my favorite fall home decorating ideas (starting with pumpkins):

white pumpkin centerpiece{this beautiful centerpiece was originally found on yourcozyhome}

pumpkin lanterns{I love these! I think they would be even cuter painted sky blue with silver “lanterns”. You can find the tutorial here}

pumpkins in cloches{if you happen to have a grouping of cake stands or cloches, like we do, this makes for a simple centerpiece. Originally found on Country Living}

gingko leaf pumpkin{I think this is gorgeous. It would take a steady hand, but I may try it this year. Originally found here}

modern pumpkin arrangement at hearth{if you don’t actually intend to use your fireplace for a fire, this would be a charming alternative. Originally found on good housekeeping.com}

gourd luminaries{we have made luminaries like these a few times. They are easy to do & pretty fool proof if you don’t think of yourself as particularly crafty. Find the how-to here}

blue pumpkin centerpiece{this lovely, simple centerpiece was originally found on the Williams-Sonoma blog}

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For some inspiration for throwing a fall celebration take a look at this beautiful spread:

modern fall party decor{perfect, right? It included a cider and wine bar, baked pears & gingerbread cake to name only a few items. Please take a look at the whole awe-inspiring spread at hostesswiththemostess – obviously! And don’t worry your pretty little head that some stay-at-home mother whipped this up in her spare time, it was put on by the party professionals Anders Ruff. You feel better knowing that, don’t you? I know I did.}

harvest table decor{this lovely harvest table setting was found on paperblog}

gourd garland

{this gourd garland can be made using gourds from terrain}

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OK, now I’ve inspired myself. Now to go hunt & gather some pretty fall things for my mantle. I’d love to see what you do for fall. Send me a picture!