The Holiday Shopping Season Has Begun!


Happy Labor Day, Valley moms!

Now, let’s talk about Christmas.

Wait, wha…? I know it’s 100++ degrees out still and it’s even hard to believe that Halloween decorations are out in full force, but today I want to talk about kids and holiday wish lists.

My kids are the first grandchildren on both sides and as such they get outrageously spoiled at every gift-giving holiday. My parents and in-laws are SO generous and thoughtful and absolutely love seeing the kids’ faces light up at the sight of a pile of presents come birthdays or Christmas or sometimes (hi Granny Peg!) just because.

Since my kids are too little yet to make their own wish lists, this time of year I’m already thinking about what to tell the grandparents when they ask for hints and nudges in the right direction (and thankfully, my parents and in-laws do ask).

If you’re thinking ahead like I am, here is some food for thought when it comes to guiding generous relatives toward gifts that your kids will love and get great use out of all year round:

Give guidance when asked. Don’t say oh, I’m sure whatever you pick out will be great! just to be polite. If they’ve asked for help, give it! After all, the gifts will live in your house, so it helps if they meet your approval; plus, grandparents and other relatives want to give the kids something they’ll love, and your insight is invaluable.

Think a year ahead. It’s hard to imagine your cooing, smiling three-month-old as a climbing toddler, but guess what, mamas: it happens FAST. Rather than thinking about what they would love now, browse your favorite magazines or websites for the age brackets that are coming up and the playthings that your little one will grow into. This way you’ll get maximum mileage out of the gifts.

Avoid overlap. Again, I come back to the super-generous relatives. My kids get gifts from three sets of grandparents (plus Santa!), and we’re so fortunate that nobody has gotten territorial about what they want to give. Still, you don’t want to get multiples of certain big-ticket items like tricycles and sandboxes and dollhouses and Wiis, so if those are on the list, make sure everyone is clear who’s buying what. It may take a little of the surprise factor out, but it will save disappointment and hassle on the back end.

Find your toy philosophy. Maybe buying American-made products is really important to you, or maybe you just adore the handmade, vintage look for dolls. I personally go for gender-neutral toys (I have a boy and a girl – it’s just practical!) and I’m not big on media-influenced/licensed character stuff. Whatever your thing is – find a way to communicate it through your wish lists. These toys will be your household décor for the foreseeable future, so they might as well line up with your personal values.

Think outside the (toy)box. Mass marketers make big bucks for a reason – starting this time of year it’s hard to escape seeing the big box toy options at every turn. But if you think ahead and think LOCAL, you might just find some meaningful ways for the grandparents to spoil your kids. We have asked for Phoenix Zoo memberships, Music Together classes, magazine subscriptions, and even airline tickets to bring our families closer together. These are the kind of gifts that you can use throughout the year and that help make great memories for the whole family. Kinda beats that plastic contraption that fires off its annoying jingle in the middle of the night, right?

And finally, get organized! This year I’ve already been using Pinterest to capture wish list ideas so when the grandparents start asking, I’m ready. In the past I’ve used Amazon wish lists to get really specific about certain big-ticket items. If you’re less of a techie, just carry around a little notepad to jot down ideas when your two-year-old is begging for something in the aisles of Target.

It goes without saying that the holidays are not just about the gifts and the getting. But with young kids, they are also not NOT about the gifts either. The grandparents love to give and the kids love to get – and in the middle is you, the parent, who can make the process fun for everybody.

Anybody have great tips for making holiday wish lists with and for your little ones? Do share!


  1. We also ask for gift cards. 2 of my kids have birthdays close to Christmas so they get a once a bang. Over the years I’ve learned to ask g-parents to get a few items for those bright excited smiles and then give the rest in gift cards. Then they can go throughout the year and get some thing new and special anytime (or I can grab some necessities as the seasons change!). It’s been wonderful and the kids (even my almost 2 year) love it!

    • Wow, great tip, Abbi! It’s great to know that even your little one ‘gets it’ when it comes to the gift cards. I also think this is a great way to support local businesses – you can ask for gift cards to your favorite stores, kid-friendly restaurants, etc. Thanks for the feedback!

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