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The Freak Out Continues

The Freak Out Continues

December 23, 2007

So this afternoon I went into hiding and pulled all the presents, both wrapped and unwrapped, out for the children. I placed them into piles segregated by child, stood back to survey the scene and almost dropped dead right there.

I’ll say it right here, little kids are so much easier to shop for. The presents are larger and for the most part less expensive. Older kids want insanely expensive things that come in packages whose sizes are inversely proportional to the amount of money that they cost.

So I began doing the present shuffle. You now moving presents from one kid to a different kid. Something that I end up doing every year when one child somehow ends up with the lion’s share. But I am not so sure that works any longer. Does my 11 yr old really want some wooden play food to play in the 23″ tall kitchen set? And I am fairly certain my 13 yr old doesn’t want a hello kitty purse, though it would be a nice place to store his new video iPod. And it would protect it nicely while he gets beat up for carrying a hello kitty purse.

Tomorrow we are going to see Santa at the mall. I like to call it a Christmas Eve tradition, rather than the product of my procrastination. But as the kids keep thinking up new things they want Santa to bring them, I have had to break the news to them that the sleigh is already packed. Too bad. So sad.

Posted by Chris @ 10:02 pm  

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  1. Sarah says:

    There were only two kids in the house, but we knew that mom had a set “budget” for each child and whether you got more or less (in the count) didn’t really matter, because mom had spent the same amount of money. That’s hard to express to younger children but if they ever questioned you, it would be one way to explain it.

    Otherwise, give your son the Hello Kitty purse with a $20 bill in it … he’ll drop the purse, your daughter will grab it, and everyone will be happy. :)

  2. elizabeth says:

    I DREAD opening gifts this year - I KNOW my 11yo will hate everything-lol!
    Hugs and Merry Christmas!!!

  3. Melissa says:

    And I thought it was only me :) We only make it to see Santa by the skin of our teeth. We too go on Christmas Eve-and we too have to remind the masses that Santa has already ‘hand-selected’ special presents for them, but maybe next year it will be noted. Gotta love Christmas traditions.

    Merry Christmas, and thank you for bringing laughter too my life (and making me realize, four children, despite their VOLUME, is a piece of cake :)

  4. BetteJo says:

    It’s good to prepare your kid for when he gets beat up!
    Just hope it doesn’t happen on Christmas!

  5. Karen Vogel says:

    I was just thinking the same thing - those gift cards to clothing stores and bookstores just don’t have the heft that a respectable Christmas present should have. And they don’t look as festive under the tree. So the kids came up with the idea of wrapping some of the tiny presents in big (ridiculously big) boxes. So now it looks better, anyway.

    And I’m thinking that next year I need some sort of chart to keep track of who is getting what from who…..

  6. kalisah says:

    see…this is why I only have one Kid. So much easier just to go ahead & spend ALL my $$ on him.

  7. Angella says:


    I hear you on this. I like to plan ahead with shopping, and then the kids throw in a new request in the eleventh hour…

    Merry Christmas, regardless :)

  8. Catherine says:

    I too shuffle gifts. But usually from the stocking to the Easter basket. My kids are only 2 & 4 and the price/size disparity has already begun. The son’s “big gift” was more than 2x as expensive as his 2 yo sister’s “big gift” but the box is about 1/5 the size.

    I would shuffle something your way for a Hello Kitty purse!

  9. Karen says:

    Hehe, we have been organized enough this year to have everything wrapped and reasonably equal. Not only that, but the kids did all the wrapping. Am I a lazy mom?

    It is the only part of my life in which I am organized anyway, the rest of the house and my life is falling apart around me. But I will be standing there with all the wrapped christmas presents, darnit!


    Chris says: WOW, I am completely impressed. Mostly because I know you and your love for waiting until the last minute ;-)

  10. All Adither says:

    If only I had two seconds to lock myself in a room with presents. I might never emerge.

  11. Melessa says:

    I am so glad to know I’m not the only one taking my kids to the mall tomorrow to see Santa.

  12. Lisa V says:

    We have 4 kids. The only way to really solve the fairness in our house is numbers. Everyone gets 5 presents. If we looked at dollars or size we would probably mess up the whole system. The other rule is that everyone gets 1 book. Every one of us. Me, my husband, all of us. It only gives the illusion of fairness, and that’s the best I can do.

  13. Anna says:

    New video iPod? Lucky duck! I’m too cheap to shell out the bucks for a iPod shuffle. I am *totally* asking Santa for that next year…I had no idea he delivered iPods. Any chance one of your cute kids could whisper that into Santa’s ear for me tomorrow, as they are significantly cuter than me? It might not be too late for after all…Happy Holidays! ;-)

  14. Nicki says:

    At least you’ve already wrapped yours! We’re going to go do that right this second. My kids only get three presents each so it won’t take very long… Bwahahahahaaa!

  15. Heather's Garden says:

    We only have two and it is difficult to make sure that you spend the same amount on each child and that they have the same number of packages to open — I can’t imagine trying to do seven! Stockings are nearly impossible for big boys without stuffing them full of gift certificates. Our tradition is to give the boys each a “big present” and to make it more fun (since the gifts are now things like pre-paid VISA cards and IPODs) we do a treasure hunt. The manner of clue-giving has become more grandiose as the gifts have gotten smaller in size. This year the clues will be a muli-media presentation - Christmas card, voicemail on the cell phone, email, and a video burned onto a DVD and played on the flatscreen. I think it’s more fun for us than them, but if they won’t let us have the joy of giving them the perfect gift, then they deserve the torture of running around the house hunting for their present!

  16. Kelly says:

    I’ve taken to not putting tags on the gifts so I can change my mind and shuffle around at the last minute if I have to. This year I am more worried about how the grandparents are going to handle the fact that Santa is brining a tampoline that will certainly result in paralysis or at the least a few broken bones (in their minds). In my mind it is a sure way to prolong the 8 year old’s belief in Santa for another year since mommy would NEVER allow such a dangerous thing. Fingers crossed that there are no injuries and Santa’s magic and wonder survives another year. Now I feel guilty that I didn’t take my 5 year old to get an over priced picture with Santa..I hope she forgets as soon as she is bouncing her way to a broken bone!

  17. Kristin says:

    Just wanted to say Merry Christmas, Chris. It’s been such a pleasure meeting you (twice) this year, and getting to know you through your little microphone here. Hope 2008 brings you continued laughter, love, and general happiness. :-)

  18. Denise says:

    I started to do the present shuffle last night and couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want to do it today, either. But I have to. I’m afraid I’ll find out that I really do have to go out and get just one more thing for some child whose pile is woefully small and there is no present to shuffle into his/her pile. I hate it when that happens.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Karen V. mentioned keeping some kind of grid . . . well, here’s what I do, and you will either think it is incredibly bizarre or a great idea. Each year, right after Christmas, I start a Word document that lists each person I buy for, and I make notes through the year of things that person would like. (I also have my Christmas card list at the end, and notes about activities we liked or didn’t like and so on at the top). As I buy things I note the price and highlight the item on the list. I name the document as if it is a recipe for something really awful so nobody is tempted to open the document called “Christmas Gift Ideas” as happened a few years back. I would recommend “Brussels Sprouts en Croute” or something like that. I also keep the “back issues” because for people who don’t live in my house, I often think of the perfect gift to send them and then realize I got it for them last year. Anyway, since doing this I know how many items and how much money spent per person, and I also no longer find forgotten gifts in January.

  20. Mir says:

    I am picturing him with his hair gelled up in the front, carrying a Hello Kitty purse. I think I just wet myself.

  21. Lisa says:

    May I join you in said freak out? Happily, Hubs has wrapped DS’s gifts, but I still need to do the rest of the family - and get some delivered - and make the potatoes
    ( PW’s recipe ) - and clear the table - and clean the house - and do laundry…EEEEEEEE!!!

    Where’s that flippin’ bottle of Crown??
    ( yes, I’m aware that it’s only 9:40 am….)

  22. Heather says:

    I completely understand what you are saying. My 20 & 17 year olds gifts look a lot different than my 10 year olds, although he is now graduating into the smaller gift, MUCH larger price category. In fact I went last night to buy something, anything for the older brats to wrap up to make it look more “even”. Slippers, socks, flannel pajama bottoms and huge popcorn tins looked good. I am now done.

    We walked out of Best Buy with a regular sized bag that cost $$769.10. I reminded my husband that that insane amount of money could have purchased a small home appliance.

    Tis the season! ;)

    Merry Christmas!

  23. Paula says:

    It is a Christmas Eve tradition! We are off to see Santa today and then spend our entire evening wrapping gifts until we fall asleep under the tree…”Look kids, Santa brought sleeping parents this year!”

  24. CaliforniaGrammy says:

    I don’t have to tell you that shopping for our two girls was certainly easier than shopping for your seven kids must be. The piles always came out even because they each got just about the same thing each year (just different size and color) . . . in fact one would look through the presents and pick out the one which looked the same as her sister just picked up, and proceeded to open them at the same time! Thanks for the many laughs Chris, and Merry Christmas to all of you!

  25. Heather says:

    My son just walked in and put my Christmas present under the tree. Is it wrong that I am so excited that’s is the biggest box there? :)

  26. MJ says:

    The only way we keep it straight is with a spreadsheet, either on the pc(safer) or this year on paper(which was found by a couple of our kids, oops). So we have columns with the big , medium, and stocking gift and somtimes an other column. That is the only way to track it all!
    Good luck with your present shuffle!

  27. chickadee says:

    i know exactly how you feel. i did that last weekend and my 10 year old’s pile was teensy. 2 things. i feel very nervous that she will be disappointed but her gift was costly and the others were not.

  28. Busy Mom says:

    Funny, I was shuffling presents for the same reason right before I read this.

  29. Wicked Stepmom says:

    This year we had the “money talk: w/ 11 y/o Cinderella who wanted the new iPod Nano. We explained to her that the cost of the iPod basically made up the entire budget which we allowed for each kid, so if she really, really wanted it then that would have to be *it* for her this year. I gave her the chance to think about it and decide which was more important - the iPod or the 10 other items on her list.

    She decided the iPod was more important.

    Initially, Prince Charming was worried about her only getting one gift while her younger brother and sister opened multiple, but then we quickly realized that she would also have *their* presents to her to open. Plus the gajillion stocking stuffers that have been accumulating at EVERY trip to the grocery store and/or mall over the past 3 weeks. So it’s all good in my book.

    At least I hope.

  30. Jonathan says:

    Happy Christmas to all of you!


  31. Courtney says:

    Don’t you hate the way they see Santa a day or 2 before Christmas and add something to their list. My 3 y.o. added a cat. We had gotten her a FurReal cat, but it wasn’t a REAL cat, and she was highly disappointed in Santa. Oh well - C’est la vie!

  32. Candy says:

    LOL, I did exactly the same thing on Christmas Eve, but with the help of my 15 year old, who knows that my 17 year old daughter counts each present as it’s unwrapped and knows who got how many. They were already wrapped, but we sat and counted them, and made sure she was at least within one or two of him, if not ahead. If not, he would have given up a gift or two to make it even. He needs to be cloned, so you can all have one of him.

  33. dorothy says:

    I want the presents to stay costing what they do for a three-year-old FOREVER.