The title may be a bit misleading, as we're going to be talking about Christmas and gifting and no, my dearest husband, firearms are NOT one of your presents this year (so sorry.... maybe in 5 more years?). Let me also preface this by saying that I am a Gift Giver. I love to give presents, and I love to receive gifts. In my head I know that stuff doesn't equal love, but this idea was ingrained in me from birth, and it's a hard to exit that train. So, instead I understand it and I'm trying to make it work for me.
First, let me say that this theory applies only to my immediate family. I do wish we could afford to buy gifts for our various and sundry relatives scattered across the country, but it simply isn't feasible right now. And anyway, do you really want another gift basket filled with dry biscuits and tiny, tiny jars of weird jam? No, you do not. It is not always the thought that counts, because I really do wonder what the thought is when I receive a purple tea tray that has clearly been regifted, or an array of processed cheeses. And while I offer a hearty "Thank You" in return, I still continue to wonder if I am putting out the vibes of a person who enjoys nuclear orange cheese with extra nitrates.
My usual approach to Christmas gifting is to start thinking about it months in advance. I really pay attention when something catches their eye. I make lists - both mental and concrete. If I see something I think they'll like, I usually buy it and squirrel it away (if it's reasonably priced). This method is fine, but it's not especially budget friendly....although it is nice to spread the spending out over months. And in particular, it is not terribly thoughtful. It sort of says "Here's a bunch of random stuff I thought you'd like." This is what I call the shotgun approach - you sort of scatter the gift giving all over the place, and hope that something ends up being super awesome and high on their list, and you don't hear cries of "What about X" or "What about Y?" all Christmas morning.
This year, I am trying a more targeted (rifle-esque) approach. I chose the theme of "Something to Wear, Something to Read, Something They Want, Something They Need". That's 4 gifts, plus one from Santa, and one homemade sibling gift. 6 total. Which, I know, is a lot.
Quantity aside, I wanted to really focus on the quality of each gift. I don't just mean craftsmanship, but I mean desire + a reduced amount of crapitude. I didn't want to buy something just to buy.... something. I didn't want to buy a gift because it was the most heavily played commercial on the Disney channel or because the boy across the street has one. And you know what? Being thoughtful, being considered, is challenging.
Sticking to the theme has made me spend hours thinking and looking and mulling all over the internet. I wanted each gift to fit the category, and I wanted it to be something they would really appreciate. The "Need" category has been especially difficult, as there is nearly nothing these kids "need". Even the "Want" category has been challenging. Santa is fulfilling the big "want" item for each, and frankly, I am really not interested in buying the Magic Slushy Maker to fulfill the other "want" I have heard about since September (see reduced amount of crapitude above). Or a puppy aka the #1 gift on a certain girl's list. Sorry, not gonna happen this year. Santa always and forever reserves the right to choose the most appropriate gift from your list.
The above being said, I am nearly done with my Christmas shopping. I still need to get J 2 small gifts, but the ones I was most worried about are fulfilled. As long as UPS does their part, we are in good shape. I hope that Christmas morning will bring a more relaxed atmosphere, and greater appreciation for what they do get. I hope there are fewer "What abouts" and more "I love its". Depending on how it goes, I may even ratchet back further with "Something to Read, Something to Wear, Something to Do" for 2012.
Do you have a gift-giving theme? Or a specific number of gifts for each child/ recipient?