Does anyone else get tired of the piles of toys that never get played with? Tired of putting toys away or nagging the kiddos to do it themselves? I do. Chicken and Nugget each have a handful of favorite toys they play with a lot- soccer balls, drums, and a couple special stuffed animals for Nugget and Legos and figurines for Chicken. Other than that, they really aren’t “toy kids.” Which makes me very happy. And yet, the masses of stuff continue to accrue.
So this year I am taking a risk and doing Christmas differently. They will each have a couple of presents under the tree- a Lego set and special book for Chicken, and a fancy soccer ball and a game for Nugget. Other than that, I am building up an adventure box for each of them.
Adventure box is probably the wrong name. It’s not actually going to be in a box. But I don’t know what else to call it. Ideas? The general idea is that each month, I will surprise the kids with a fun activity or day trip.
I bought a metal winter themed mailbox from from a local craft store when it was 70% off, and it’s already in our living room to get the kids used to seeing it there so they won’t be overly curious and ruin any upcoming surprises. I also got small decorative gift bags- the solid paper kind, not the see through plastic ones, that are about 3.5 inches wide and 6.75 inches long. I got editable “Christmas coupons” off of Etsy- there are a wide variety of designs and coupon ideas on that sight. Then I started making a list of ideas.
The development of the idea list has been a lot of fun! Of course, since I am planning for a whole year, it will be a work in progress. But it has been a fun excuse to look into upcoming events in our area. The idea is that once a month, I will tell them to go look in the mailbox in our living room. Inside, they will find one of the treat bags. I put gift tags on their bags with their names on them. Inside the envelope, they will find a “ticket” or “coupon” for some fun activity we will be doing.
I have a letter prepared for them that will be inside the mailbox on Christmas along with their first envelope. It explains the idea and lays out the parameters- how often, when, that sometimes they will do the same thing, sometimes different things, some months will be something big, something small, etc.
Examples of things that I have planned include movie dates for movies I know they will want to see, train rides, rail riding, breakfast at a fun local restaurant they haven’t been to followed by mini golf, bowling, tea parties, tickets to a local sports game, a day trip to the mountain, holiday and cultural events, a day trip with their grandpa, things like that.
I have a few pros I am using to justify this idea in my head. It means less stuff to deal with! Yay! As a mom, I love the idea of getting to build all of these memories with the kids. I know they are definitely more meaningful to me as a mom than a pile of toys, and I hope to the kids will view it that way as well, especially as they get older. Financially, I will be able to buy tickets for things as time gets closer. While I have a feeling I will wind up spending more than I would have on pure toys, I will be able to spread the cost out over the course of the year with less impact just at the holiday time. Another bonus is that I can count things we would likely have done anyway as Christmas presents and now it is more exciting because they get to look in the mailbox and open a cute envelope with their name on it. I mean, let’s be honest. We are going to Mary Poppins Returns no matter what. But now it’s a Christmas present! Now they’ll probably get popcorn out of the deal, so it’s a win win!
I acknowledge a few cons. It’s going to take a lot of planning. But I am nothing if not a planner, so I’m ok with that. They may not like it. I have a feeling they will, but you never know. And they way I plan on doing it could get costly, even though the cost will get spread out. But since it is all surprises, I can change my plans as needed for any reason, and the kids will never know.
I think this concept has the potential to work for a lot of scenarios- birthdays, Hanukkah, Easter, ect. It could also be modified to meet the needs or interests of any family. Don’t want to commit to planning for a whole year? Do it for a couple of months. Or pick a handful of activities and tell your kids about all of them on Christmas Eve/Day. Worried they will miss getting toys? Incorporate a toy or gift card as the surprise for some of the months. Or give a small gift card to different places they like each month. Worried about the cost? Simplify things. Go for ice cream, give a coupon for them to pick a movie to rent, make one of the surprises an afternoon of baking cookies with you. There are endless ways you could tweak this, and I might wind up making changes along the way based on how Chicken and Nugget are responding.
I have hopes they will think this is a great idea. They love going and doing things. They have asked for tickets to a local holiday event (more on that in a separate upcoming post)as their only gift from their grandpa for the last four years. Or this could be a total dud. You could read a future posts from me, head hanging in shame, telling you to never, ever, do this. But I sure hope not!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this, especially if you ever implement something similar with your family!