Yesterday we had a kid birthday party to go to. I was expecting to run to the toy store at the last minute (like I usually do) to pick up Legos, or some such age-related plastic, which, after a busy week trying to juggle full-time work with school conferences, 3 days of early dismissals and 2 days of missed daycare due to a vacationing provider, paired with being down 1 vehicle , I wasn’t exactly experiencing that thoughtful, generous feeling.
Brooke came to me, and showed me a Play Doh heart she’d made for the birthday guy. Sweet, but not exactly socially acceptable as a birthday gift. I told her we can give him that, but we should also get a toy.
She says she wants to find one of her toys that’s “boy-ly” (boyish?) to give him, ie: a regift.
I must have really been wiped out, because I found myself saying “Brooke, in this society that we’ve found ourselves living in, it’s generally expected that we buy something new for someone’s birthday”.
Then I stepped outside of myself for a minute, and slapped the realization back into my brain, that my daughter is offering to give him something of hers which she treasured (if only for a day or so), which is thoughtful, and isn’t that real point of gift giving? And my kinder, gentler, liberal, non-consumerist spirit kicked in to gear, and I actually got excited for the kid birthday party!
She picked out this cute little alligator, which could be considered boyly, and was only played with once or twice, and in excellent shape.
Next up was the issue of wrapping paper.
One thing that presents a continual challenge throughout my adulthood, is gift wrapping.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that my sister Allie is a serious, gift wrapping champ. Her gifts are impeccable. There is usually some element of surprise, such as your name spelled out in tiny little stamped letters in gold ink on some stark white, heavy stock, with perfectly rustic twine or some shit tied into some kind of weird but amazing bow shape that you’ve never seen before, pulling it all together, perfectly. There is never more than 3 pieces of tape involved. It’s special, beautiful, thoughtful, and therefore feeds my self consciousness efficiently!
Well, not anymore, because I love myself, and my sister loves me too, so what’s the fuss? And, last year, a good friend taught me something that has forever cured my wrapping related self loathing (thank you, Cindy). Hand painted gift wrap! Here’s what’s so great about it:
1. You don’t have to wrap the present perfectly with this paper. It’s made by kids, therefore it’s crinkled, sloppy, and sometimes a little ripped. THAT’S THE CHARM!
2. You can make it the day of the party, which keeps the kids occupied, so that they’re busy, instead of asking you 25 times if it’s time to go to the party yet.
3. It’s special, because it’s hand made. So, if you don’t have appropriately themed paper, it’s OK!
All we had on-hand, yesterday was this cheap tissue paper from the dollar store. Add some white paint and it’s a work of art! Plus, I had a chance to sit at the table with my beautiful daughter and teach her how to make a five pointed star. There are few things I love more than sitting down at the table with a cutie pie and some paint, and in this over-scheduled world, when there’s an opportunity to bond like this, it’s just the nicest feeling!
So the moral of this story is that you don’t have to be perfectly neat to be cool, thoughtful and memorable. If your inner self is a little sloppy, embrace it! If your inner self is perfectly neat, embrace that too!
Either way, when you get creative, you end up with something extra special that feels good to share with someone you care about.
For more inspiration, here are a few more cool examples of kid-make-able wrapping paper for you and your little ones!
Pom Pom Wrapping Paper – Housing A Forest
Wrap it up | In Stitches – A Subtle Revelry
Lego Print Wrapping Paper – Mamalibrarian
DIY Wrapping Paper Tutorial – Sugar Bee Crafts