Christmas, somehow, is right around the corner. There is a chance that if you are organized you already have your children’s gifts wrapped and under the tree (or at least stashed in a closet). I am … not organized. And this year it is complicated because we are traveling cross country to see family. So, we have the conundrum of deciding if we should buy gifts there, give gifts early, or travel cross country with a load of wrapped gifts that may or may not take up too much space. It is an issue. Since we only go every other year or so (less if Covid is an issue as it has been), when family sees us they want to load on the gifts. It is a blessing but also a stressor when trying to play van Tetris to get everything home in one piece.
There is a chance you are like me and your family loves to load your kids up with things. There is also a chance the holidays are less busy. Either way, Christmas can be a difficult time for many people. The pressure to give the right gift, the pressure to “be present in the moment” every moment, the pressure to have a Pinterest-perfect Christmas photo—it can be too much. It’s enough to send a normally very level-headed person into a person who is hiding in a closet and crying. (You know, theoretically.) I’m hoping this list can help you avoid those issues. Every gift I list I have gifted my children and they have loved it.
1. A photo album with everyone’s name and picture
This was a great gift for my older adoptees. They were better able to learn names this way and added bonus photos of them. This helped them feel like they belong with their names and photos listed among other family members. Many photo-printing websites are running amazing sales right now. We were able to print off several books that the website organized for less than 10 dollars each. The books were good quality and cost less than buying a photo album and printing out all of the pictures.
2. An “adoptee” just like me doll
All of the big box stores have a version of dolls that have variations on hair, eye, and skin color. We were able to find one that matched each of our daughters. Our sons are older and didn’t want dolls, but I think if they were little they would have loved having a doll that looked like them. We printed adoption certificates for all of them and let them write in the names of their babies. It was a fun experience for them. A few years later, they still cherish those dolls and drag them around everywhere.
When I was little Cabbage Patch dolls were a big deal and they also have a variety of hair, eye, and skin colors to choose from and come with their own adoption certificate. There are also online creators that can make custom dolls to exactly match your child. A friend of mine was able to order a doll that had a hearing aid and another physical variation that matched her girl. Representation matters and seeing a doll that looks like your child can be very special.
3. A label maker
Hear me out ok. I know this sounds dumb. Listen. My kids (and my spouse and I) are all neurodivergent in varying ways. A way this shows up in most of us is misplacing things that don’t have a place. The label maker has made our lives so much easier. No longer is there a conflict about where Tupperware bowls go. There is a handy label telling anyone who wants to look. Something I would have thought boring has provided hours of entertainment for my people. They love labels with their names on them, and they also enjoy printing obvious labels. The dog had a label on his collar that said “dog” until it fell off. Truly, this doesn’t seem like fun, but it has been.
4. A small digital camera
The reason this has been awesome for my adopted kids is this: they can take a picture of something they have a question about and show it to me. Sometimes they don’t have words to describe what they are seeing or feeling, but if they can show me a picture it makes all the difference. The added bonus for my girls especially is that they love to have fashion shows with dress-up clothes that they can now video themselves doing. Hours of entertainment to be had. We have also used this in tandem with the label maker to print out instructions on how to do certain things. The executive dysfunction is real over here and sometimes things that seem to have a natural order to me (like, showering for instance) are baffling to a few of my kids. So, we took pictures of the steps. First, turn on the water (picture of shower knobs and showerhead), get wet (picture of running water), wash your hair (shampoo bottle), and so on. We printed the steps, laminated it (because it was going in the shower), and hung it up. They don’t need it anymore, but it helped them to stop standing in the water for 10 minutes and not using soap.
5. Stuff with their name on it
Our kids were tickled to have blankets with their new names on them. For our younger girls, it was just their last name that changed but seeing the whole name that matched ours made them feel included. We also had towels embroidered with their names.
There are websites that will put your child’s name into a storybook. We have one that involves all of our girls and it was their favorite story for almost a year. You can select gender, hair, skin, and eye color. This is nice even if your child has an uncommon name. In fact, almost anything can be made with your child’s name spelled correctly online. Gone are the days of not ever being able to have a bracelet with your name on it.
I hope you got some good ideas. I also hope that your child is able to realize how loved they are, no matter how your holidays go or what they get.