Yin Mom, Yang Mom

A Little Extra Thoughtful Gift Giving

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.

xoxo, Mere


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

9 comments for “A Little Extra Thoughtful Gift Giving

  1. Mo
    December 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Love this idea! I bought plain brown paper this year and used my Christmas stamps to make pretty paper! I also did the name stamp idea, too. Finished it off with cute ribbon. Easy peasy!

    • Mere
      December 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      That sounds so fun. Remember when we were so into stamps when we were little? Did you know you can design your own stamps? I did it recently and it was seriously, the most fun thing I’ve ever done.

  2. December 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    So proud of you, Mere! Great lesson…great wrapping, I, too, have always suffered from an inability to reproduce those beautiful, perfectly symmetric, handmade bow tied gifts that my mother seemed to create effortlessly. I think it’s a genetic thing, and I didn’t inherit the wrapping gene.

    • Mere
      December 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      I am so glad I’m not alone. I just always hope I find people who don’t get offended by my sloppiness. So far I’ve been pretty lucky.

  3. Cindy
    December 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    You are so sweet to give me a shout out but that is 100% original Brooke and Mere work. She is so sweet. And that alligator is way better than new plastic.

    • Mere
      December 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      <3 I would have NEVER thought of that idea if you hadn't given it to me. You saved my sanity last Christmas!

  4. Maureen
    December 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    PS – I also love the idea that Brooke wanted to give her own toy as a gift. Sweet, sweet girl. :)

    • Mere
      December 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      She’s like a little Mother Theresa sometimes, it’s so sweet. She didn’t get that from me 😉

      • Maureen
        December 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        Too weird! I just picked up my old stamp case from my moms last weekend! The kids LOVE playing with them! It’s inspired me to get creative with them again…hence the wrapping paper.
        Design your own?! You must show me this! :)