Christmas Spreadsheets- A Happy Place

Once a year I write about something that isn’t pediatric cancer or the grief and gratitude that surrounds it. Today is the day, lucky you. I’m laughing as I proof read this draft because I don’t have any category for things that aren’t…..dire. New category: ramblings.

It’s that time of year. The time that I just want to LIVE MY LIFE and ignore that the holidays are just around the corner, but I start to get the texts from the grandparents asking what the kids want for Christmas. My disdain for shopping and acquiring more stuff is equally opposite to my adoration of receiving intentional and thoughtful gifts. So when GV (Grandma Vera) texts me a list of ideas she has and asks for (and expects!) feedback, it is a heavy lift that is well worth the weight.

Luckily, I have my hand dandy spreadsheet. It may seem insane some, but is the *JOY* of my November. The ability to look back at what I have planned for each Christmas is both practical and so very nostalgic. Paging through the sheets from years past is like a walk down memory lane. I have Kelsey at Rising*Shining to thank for this idea. Always indebted.

So with this list, and a house full of toys, I literally just walk around looking in each room and think: What are we still using from last Christmas? What has been completely forgotten about?

From there I am able to send out replies to grandparent requests that feel meaningful and worthwhile. GV got a refined list sent back to her, and being the first to ask, many suggestions will be go on to be this season’s favorites. Grandma Deb got the suggestion of a KiwiCo. subscription that the boys was will super stoked on. We have had a Kiwi Co. subscription on and off and it’s easy to be annoyed at the unopened boxes, but then a snowy sick day will come about (ahem, last week) and the kids will have renewed energy for tinkering.

If you want to see the tried and true gifts that I still stand behind, check out this post, A Few of My Favorite Things, from last year.

The review of last Christmas (2021):


All of these items earned their keep over the year and come highly recommended, Larrabee stamp of approval.

Steel Tongue Drum- This is played on.the.daily.

Garfield Comic Collection.

Nixplay Digital Frame- We gifted this to Gramps and GV and have loved updating it over the year. Both our family and my brother’s family have access, so they get pictures of all the grandkids.

Bedtime Math Book- I CANNOT believe this didn’t make my original Favorite Things list. We love the three books in this series and re-read them often.

Paper Airplane Book, ream of paper, and a paper tray.

Dragonwood Game- Enjoyable for kids and adults which is my prerequisite.

Ticket to Ride Board Game- not pictured, a family favorite, but takes a bit longer than Dragonwood.

GraviTrax Marble Run- a great gift, looking forward to adding some accessories this year!

Beginner Whittling Kit– perfect mix of risk and reward. Will they cut their finger, maybe.

Melissa & Doug Necklace Beading Set.

Hape Dollhouse. Selah got this two years back and still plays with it daily. A new family is moving in this Christmas, and they have pets!

In truth, Jude is my favorite to buy things for. He is silly and spirited, loves shiny things and the collecting of tchotchkes. When he asked for a Sombrero last year, I was pulled between that’s NOT PRACTICAL, and ABSOLUTELY!!! He pulls me (aggressively) into a carefree space and I love (mostly) the tug. His excitement Christmas morning when Santa delivered the sombrero was worth every damn penny. He is also at what I have deemed the perfect age for Christmas, 8 (well, turning 9 day of). He is eager to hold on to childhood and as such has asked for a “really soft stuffed animal” but is also interested in more big kid things like a “really good headphones.” He is also on the cusp of disbelief in Santa, he knows better, but can’t let himself let go and as such, the magic lives on a moment longer.


The VR sets flopped, big time. There was something about them that just didn’t hit the spot.

Banagrams- I am slowly learning that there is a very fine line between a gift and a learning game and this was too far into educational space for my kids to appreciate.

Mystic Market Game- Had hopes for this, alongside Dragonwood (which was a hit!), but we couldn’t get into it.

Plans for this year:

By way of gifting, I am still mostly brainstorming. I am not like my friend Hannah who called me the other day from Hobby Lobby while she FINISHED Christmas shopping. Gah, I could just smack her. To have the productive of forethought! I haven’t purchased much, except the other day, herbal tea was on-sale at Natural Grocers and that’s always a socking stuffer so I got 4 boxes. Baby steps.

Naturally, I already have some fun ideas brewing for Jude. He always complains about our towels because they are Turkish towels and thus not plush. So fine, kid, I will get you a super plush bath towel. And actually, because it’s Christmas, I’ll even get you the sheet. This is so simple and easy and, yet, he is going to be SO excited. I am going to pair it with this waterproof speaker and make it a “take a shower!” gift that will feel like a gag, but may well be his favorite. He also covets Beaudin’s super soft blanket, so he is getting one of these bad boys, but I am waiting to buy it in hopes of a Black Friday sale.

Selah is getting a desk for her room and art supplies, but that is as far as the brainstorm goes. Girl loves to craft. I also saw a precious, small, pink velvet box the other day at Home Goods that I am going to get and fill it with a simple trinket. She is at the lovely age where a little goes a long way.

Beaudin is at the tough age of being past toys and more into things like sports jerseys and hunting rifles. So yeah, I haven’t a clue what direction we are going with that child. He has been very into writing stories lately so I will likely include a journal or something and perhaps a set of pens. But even re-reading that sounds boring so I will have to up my game. I still need a core present for him, if anyone has any ideas…

My brother and his family are going to be with us Christmas morning and I CANNOT wait to watch Selah and my 5 year old niece wake-up to Santa presents together. Memories will be made and we will be wearing matching jammies to do it, because my friend Kjerstin told me once these things are worth purchasing. So, despite having no gifts purchased, I do have 10 pairs of buffalo plaid pjs awaiting Dec 24th.

What are your plans for Holiday shopping? Will you wait for Black Friday Sales or have everything purchased and wrapped by then? Maybe you are more a, “When is the last day I can Prime ship something…..” It’s December 22nd. That’s in 38 days. You have nothing, but time.

I’d love to know how you approach holiday shopping!

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