Friday, January 13, 2012

Christmas Gifts 2011

I have been asked to share what types of gifts our family had for Christmas in 2011. I really didn't think anyone would care to know. If you are wondering what kinds of things this homeschooling family got, here you go.

My brother-in-law said my mother-in-law wanted to increase her spending on Christmas gifts for my kids and she was buying everyone either a Kindle Fire or an iTouch. My kids chose to each receive a Kindle Fire from her. That is the largest gift my kids received. So, my kids now own ebook readers. So far they have only used them to fool around with video game apps like Angry Birds (I am ashamed to report).

My older son's old MP3 player recently broke so we gave him a new iPod Nano.

Our older son wanted the LEGO Advent calendar, this year's was a Star Wars theme which probably was the reason he wanted it. He also wanted one Star Wars LEGO set and a LEGO motor for a train that will now make it run (not that it is running in this house). This is the first time he has "played with" LEGO since our move. Besides a few completed items on display in his bedroom, all our LEGO is in the storage unit and inaccessible. There is no room in this small house for even one bin of LEGO to use. Anyhow, he is so busy with homeschooling, medical treatments, crew team, Boy Scouts, and robotics team to "play" with LEGO.

I bought my older son some nonfiction books in his areas of passion which, if they'd come on the market at other times of the year would have just been purchased as homeschool supplies for the whole family.

Solar System by Chown

The Elements Vault (different content than the original book)

Mad Science by Theo Grey

My younger son didn't want much. He mostly wanted cash to save for future purchases of his choice so whatever we spent on our older son, we matched with cash to our younger son.
Younger son got a neoprene laptop carrying case in a design he loves. (He has his own laptop that he saved his money toward and got a few months ago. As an incentive my husband said if he saved his money instead of blowing it on stupid stuff like chewing gum, as he always did, that we'd pay half of the cost.)

Younger son wanted an expansion pack for xBox360 Modern Warfare 3, which my parents bought for him.

Younger son received these books. Since we own so many books and he benefits from being able to read book we bought in the past, we don't need to buy as much for him.

Amulet 4 graphic novel

Diary of a Wimpy Kid DIY Book (revised edition) by Kinney published in  2011

Due to the frugal budget during unemployment last year, I let some magazine subscriptions lapse. For gifts I purchased for my kids, subscriptions to magazines that they like. I buy these from

Scientific American

Popular Science 

Science Illustrated 

Popular Mechanics 

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine (Kindle edition: cheaper than print edition)



Unless otherwise noted my kids are getting the print version as those were ordered before we knew we'd own Kindles. However, we are frugal, so in the instances where the Kindle edition of a magazine is more expensive than the print edition we will continue to choose to buy the print version.

I will let you guess which subscriptions were for which kid. If you are a regular reader of my blog you should be able to figure it out pretty easily.

Both kids got a cheap ($14) sleeping bag to use at regattas, the kids use them as blankets when sitting outdoors for hours on end, including arriving in the dark before sunrise. (Before the move I got rid of the old blankets such as we'd have used for this purpose.)

Both got one new pair of earbuds and two leather bound blank journals each. Marshall's, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods are fantastic places to get expensive items at a fraction of the cost.

Each kid got a husband pillow aka bed rest pillow for their bed as they wanted to be more comfortable when sitting upright and reading in bed.

In their stockings the kids got a little candy, some chewing gum, some crazy cookies from Japan from the Asian market we frequent, and a flexible Bug Lite LED to use for camping (now I can't find a link to that anywhere on the web, sorry).

My husband bought a Kindle Fire for he and I to share. We were both unsure if we really needed or wanted it. We also didn't know if the iPad would be better for what we want or if we even need that either. We have laptops and a PC and I have an iPhone4. How much technology does one family need?

My husband gave me the thing I get every year that I love: a Mrs. Prindable gourmet candy apple. I also got the traditional new set of nice pajamas. You can laugh if you want. Go ahead. He also bought me a cookbook I wanted and a book about photography. (I picked the books out and ordered them and he paid for them.)

Vivian Maier Street Photographer book

The Italian Baker cookbook

I gave my husband the same thing I always give: the hardbound edition of the year's issues of Cook's Illustrated magazine.


I think it was a pretty slim Christmas. We weren't looking to burn money just to have a zillion presents. How much do kids really need? I feel like my kids have a lot already.

We don't buy our kids clothing for Christmas as we consider those to be basic necessity daily living items. The sports gear for team sports or fitness or camping gear for Scout camping is all bought during the year as needed. The fees we pay for Scouts and competitive teams and sports are not considered "Christmas gifts". Our kids pretty much have unlimited budgets for learning materials, curriculum, and fiction books for pleasure reading, or we use borrowed material from the library.

If there is something else the kids want for themselves they can save their own money for it such as: MP3 music songs, extra unnecessary technology gadgets (multiple MP3 players, their own laptop instead of waiting your turn for the family PC or whatever).

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