Confession: we bought a fake Christmas tree. Now, depending on your perspective, you’re probably either Awwww but nothing can replace the charm of a real tree or FUCK YES TEAM FAKE. I’m finding a lot to like about the artificial variety: no spiders, no mess dragging it in or taking it down, built-in lights that can be switched between multicolor (the kids’ favorite) or all-white (best!), and no need to vacuum 17 times a day as it dumps a continuous needle-sprinkle every-fucking-where. Cons: no pine smell, and yeah, at the end of the day it’s a big old hunk of wires and plastic. Still, did I mention the lack of needles and spiders? And the fact that there are all sorts of nice spruce-scented candles?

I initially said I still wanted to get a real one — a small one to sit on the porch, maybe — for the experience of visiting a farm and cutting our own but the recent Biblical levels of rain in Oregon have made that activity sound muddy and unappealing. The kids are perfectly happy with what we’ve got, so I’m calling it: TEAM FAKE.

This is the first year I’ve been a little head-scratchy about presents for the kids. Both of them are completely obsessed with sports, to the point that other obsessions have mostly fallen by the wayside. I did not predict I would mourn the absence of Legos strewn across every surface of the house, but I guess I prefer a bruised instep over the blare of “Top Best Most Awesome Amazeballs Buzzer Beaters!” YouTube videos which are comprised entirely of low quality video, annoying music, and people shouting at the top of their goddamned lungs. (“OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”) Since they weren’t very helpful in terms of expressing reality-based desires (both of them wanted “real Oregon Ducks helmets,” apparently for the dual purpose of draining our bank account and giving each other concussions in the front yard, and Riley wants an iPhone, which ha ha ha no), I tried to think of things that might help with the cabin fever brought on by our miserly winter daylight hours (“Sorry kids, I know you just had lunch but it’s time to come inside. Remember, at night the ice weasels come”).

Here’s what we came up with: this basketball hoop to replace the cheap broken one that’s dangling from the downstairs door like a loose tooth (along with two fresh non-dog-chewed mini foam basketballs), a “motors and generators” kit for Riley (Snap Circuits were a HUGE hit last year), this stuffed pelican for Dylan (he asked for something like this months ago [when we visited Klamath Falls where every business is named Pelican Something-or-Other which led us to assume we’d see plenty of the actual birds there but we never did] and I have no idea if it’ll hold any long-lasting appeal, but if it provides some cuddly delight on Christmas morning I’ll be happy), the Wrinkle in Time graphic novel for Riley, The Day the Crayons Quit for Dylan, and for both of them, this slotless racecar system (I lingered over the more popular Anki Overdrive starter kit but apparently it’s controlled by a mobile app, which means it would have been the perfect choice if I were also gifting Riley a phone, OHHHHHHHHH). Also I got this bag of assorted Pokemon whatsits which they’ve been finding in their advent box each morning. What else — fingerless gloves, garish basketball socks, and jersey type pants so I can hopefully convince them to dress for the weather when they’re playing outside. Plus this behemoth Batcave for their 4-year-old cousin.

If you’re shopping for kids this year, what did you get?


27 Responses to “Holiday receipts”

  1. PiperG on December 18th, 2015 11:58 am

    I have a 9-yo boy and I seriously considered getting him an iPod touch like his sister has…it only runs on wifi so he’s limited in how much he can do, especially away from our restricted router, but settled on an mp3 player instead. And legos, Minecraft stuff, Pokemon cards, those Qixel beads, and a mallet. Why a mallet? To better destroy stuff, my dear!

  2. Heidi on December 18th, 2015 12:34 pm

    I have a 4 yr old boy,so Legos firmly rule our household. We’re doing the Lego Star Wars advent calendar, which has been a huge hit. He’s getting the Lego At-At Walker, some Avengers pillow cases, an R2-D2 backpack that does the awesome beep-boop sound, and a Transformer (Bumblebee of course, because we have a yellow car.) Christmas is going to be so much fun!

  3. Emily on December 18th, 2015 12:43 pm

    Sounds like you have some DudePerfect fans in your house. I’m so sorry. ;-) do they also toss around words like “sick!” and “beast!” too???

    My 10 1/2 year old asked for: iphone6, Microsoft Surface Pro and one of those damn hover board things that, he said with a straight face, cost ONLY $399. (And PS explode.)

    He’s not getting any of those. He’s getting a bike and an over the door basketball hoop.

  4. Jess @ Fashion By Committee on December 18th, 2015 12:51 pm

    Aww, I hope he likes that pelican, it’s so cute! I feel you though, attempting to shop for my nephews has been an exercise in frustration. They exclusively want electronicsomethingsomethings that cost somewhere in the real of “they charge HOW much for a WHAT?” and “I absolutely do not love you that much”. So far, one is getting a (ridiculously, absurdly expensive) Walking Dead hoodie, and the other is getting nothing. We’ll probably rectify that. Eventually. Maybe. (maybe not).

  5. Deana Coyner on December 18th, 2015 12:52 pm

    Air dry clay and tools for shaping it for the 4 year olds, and a thread wrapping kit for the 8 year old. These are children of the family members, since mine are all 15 and over these days…all THEY want is money!


  6. Kim on December 18th, 2015 1:47 pm

    Seriously, it’s white lights or no lights at all in my house (but we’re kid-less).
    My 8-year-old niece has helpfully provided me a Toys-R-Us wishlist; I wasn’t aware that kids could go through and scan in the stuff they want just like a damn bridal registry, but I am stupidly grateful for it. Last year’s American Girl shit is probably tres not cool anymore.

  7. Angela on December 18th, 2015 1:52 pm

    Rowan (7) had two things on her list: an Elsa wig, and a “remote control train.” What even, kid. She’s never shown any interest in trains. Then it turned out our neighbors were giving away a train set they didn’t want any more! So that has worked out. She’s also getting the Elsa wig, a new bathrobe slippers, her first set of Roald Dahl books (eeee!), and various stocking stuffers. She is tough to shop for but I think she’ll be pleased.

  8. Emily on December 18th, 2015 2:20 pm

    We have also largely moved past the Very Lego Christmas phase for my 8 yo son :( , and… right into video games. He likes and plays a lot of sports, but isn’t particularly athletic, and certainly not obsessed. We did get him a hockey bag. Also Xbox1, 2 games (Star Wars obsession still going strong), and the Disney Infinity 3.0 thing. Chewbacca’s nerf crossbow, digital drumsticks (he takes lessons and has a real “kit” too), His sister got him a Cowbell! A Nirvana T-shirt, and Ipod nano & gift card, as he is super into “his” music. Walkie-talkies, a “townie” sweatshirt, a Roller coaster marble thing. Too much honestly. His 5 yo sister has just started to like Legos and is getting a few Princess sets. Also: American Girl stuff (OMFG – what a racket! They sold out in October of the $575 Patisserie for DOLLS) I actually got her the Target knock-off diner, but a few real outfits, which cost more than any of MY outfits. Lego dimensions to go with the XBox1, Descendants doll 4 pack, Inside/Out Infinity characters & play pack, a fancy wool coat, Boston Ballet – nutcracker tickets. A kitty zippy sack, Bright Eyes kitty and Pop-Out Pet kitty. She adores kitties, but I am just not ready to add anything else to my daily obligations at this point! Maybe next year.

  9. Allison on December 18th, 2015 3:02 pm

    My boys are sharing the big gift (which is also for their dad) an Xbox One. They’ll also get a couple of games. Other than that they are getting several books, the beanboozled game, some jammies, Nolan my 10 year old wanted a halo megabloks set, and seth is getting a seahawks bank. Oh and the minions movie. That’s mostly it. Feels like not a lot, but when the big gift is so freakin’ expensive what can you expect. They are both dying over ipods or iphones… not going to happen at this point. My general answer to that is that they need to prove themselves responsible… remembering to bring homework home every day, doing chores without complaining etc. At this rate we’ll have a few years before that even happens. lol

  10. Leslie on December 18th, 2015 4:13 pm

    No kids to buy for but the Bath and Body Works plug in air freshener in the Fresh Balsam scent plugged in right behind the tree and voila, smells like the real thing!!!!

  11. Alison on December 18th, 2015 4:44 pm

    I was firmly anti-fake tree until this year when I watched our seemingly lovely selection die rapidly in my living room. I’ve had real trees for years and never seen anything like it: entirely bald branches, turning brown, needles everywhere. I had to pull the whole thing down and redecorate a fake tree. It’s green and theres no more tinkle of falling needles when anyone walks too close to the tree. I’ll take it.

    My boys are 2 and 3. They’re getting a play kitchen, a big toy car ramp and various Paw Patrol themed items.

  12. Jessica on December 18th, 2015 4:55 pm

    I laughed out loud at the weasel part. That’s awesome.

    Mine is 7 and he is getting Magnatiles and Legos and maybe an iPad mini to share with sister but only because we are moving across the country on Christmas day and I have guilt.

  13. Kelly on December 18th, 2015 5:43 pm

    We had to pick gifts for our 4-year-old from us, my grandfather, and Santa. She’s getting roller skates with pads, a kid digital camera, and an Anna doll to go with an Elsa doll she already has. (Plus the DVD of Cinderella as part of her stocking stuffers because she has been adamant about asking Santa for that one). For our almost-one-year-old niece, we picked out a toy shopping cart with play food.

  14. honeybecke on December 18th, 2015 6:30 pm

    My 8 yo son is totally geeked over the Sphero programmable whatsit thingy, so we got that for him. And a label maker. He really likes those things!
    My 10 yo son has asked for a portable terrarium so he can take it to Hawaii and put any lizards/geckos he catches in there to examine them closer. He also asked for a telescopic retractable handle fish net because he broke his fishing net last summer on the river.
    I don’t know what the heck else to get him, maybe a Star Wars lego set, one of the new ones.
    Sounds like you aced Christmas this year, mama! Your boys will be smiling.

  15. Jess on December 18th, 2015 7:18 pm

    Um, we have girls and everything is pink and princess up in this shit. I hate it, and I’m a girl. The 2 year old is getting magna tiles blocks, a flower puzzle set (you pull the petals, leaves and stems apart and snap them back together), a garden board book, and a mouse in a matchbox. (Seriously the cutest fucking thing ever.) The 8 year old is getting a science explosions set, the book Esperanza Rising, a mouse in a matchbox also, and some warm up clothes for dance.

  16. sooboo on December 19th, 2015 1:45 pm

    All the kids I shop for are now teenagers and it’s easier and in some ways harder. Just wanted to comment on the fake tree. I had one for years (because of young cats I now just decorate a wreath). I loved how easy it was but I missed the smell. I would get a cheap, real garland from a tree stand and drape it near the tree for that authentic smell.

  17. Karl on December 20th, 2015 7:31 am

    We did real trees for years with the kids. My wife is deathly allergic to pine so it was getting to the point where we were putting it up the weekend before xmas and taking it down two days after. As soon as the last kid was out the door we went fake — with multi-colored lights though. (Sorry, white-light people, that just looks sterile and lazy to my eyes.)

    This year we didn’t even bother with the tree. We are having an anti Christmas Christmas, not for any pseudo religious reason, but because we’re tired of all the decorating and shit. It’s just us this year and we can’t be arsed.

    The grandkids are getting some cool stuff though. Some sort of weird musical toy that looks like a cross between a saxophone and an oil refinery for one girl, a doll carriage for the other, a remote controlled inflatable minion (!) for one boy (who will take it apart immediately) and I forget what, toy bow-and-arrow, and puzzles, I think, for the other boy.

  18. Annie on December 20th, 2015 6:54 pm

    I’m firmly in the real tree camp, but they don’t really smell anymore. Even on day one. Must be the farming, are they GMO???

  19. Skance on December 20th, 2015 11:38 pm

    Firmly on team fake tree. Our almost three year old is getting some building blocks, some dinosaur stuff, Rosie revere, engineer, a Minion bubble bath set she actually yelled ‘stop, stop, stop’ about as we strolled past it in Target and underwear. Probably also Of the Minion persuasion.

  20. Mary Clare on December 21st, 2015 10:11 am

    You mean there’s life after toys with little pieces? Woo whoo. Yea, my kids requested lots of dolls (princesses and Monster High…not my favorite) with a zillion little accessories which look adorable in the package and are instantaneously lost the second the come out of the package. That shit should be superglued on.

  21. Karl on December 21st, 2015 11:25 am

    Re tiny pieces: just a couple years ago we found a star wars figure weapon in the basement. We had a little wooden box for the wee tiny weapons that went with each figure, and the kids were pretty good about gathering them up and putting them back. Every now and then we would lose one though, and that one managed to stay lost for no less than 20 years.

  22. Jaime on December 21st, 2015 3:49 pm

    I have a girl who is a few months older than Riley and all she wanted this year was clothes and shoes. I got off pretty easy.

  23. Shawna on December 22nd, 2015 2:08 pm

    I must admit that we went a bit nuts this year and got a laptop for our kids (7 and 9) to share. Then for him we got a youthdigital groupon to learn how to mod in Minecraft, and for her I bumped up my adobe subscription to include Illustrator and she can access CreativeLive and youtube courses for learning how to do that.

    And since that expensive stuff isn’t much to unwrap, there are a lot of other little things like a mountain of socks, good winter mitts, jars of jam, etc. Funnily enough, my 9 year old wants underwear, but I’m saving that for her birthday in January.

  24. Gretchen in HB on December 23rd, 2015 3:21 pm

    This is our first year with a fake tree and I just might be a convert. No dragging cranky kids to the tree lot (or Walmart), no figuring out where the eff I put the tree stand last year, no remembering to water it, no cleaning up needles 5,992,812 times a day, DONE.

    Thanks to Leslie for the tip on the Balsam plug in. Must get one tonight!

    We are in the thick of Imaginext, Legos, and iTunes/Google Play cards.

  25. NancyB on December 26th, 2015 3:21 pm

    We have been fake tree since our son went off to college in 2008! 7 foot one right now with colored lights. Next year we’re going to scale back to a 4′ tree and put it on a box just like the old days with our Charlie Brown (real) tree. I put “scentsicles” throughout the tree for the balsam fir smell.
    After 24 years it gets harder and harder on what to buy! Next year he “should” be in his own home so this year was alot of gift cards, jeans for work and a season ski pass to 2 resorts in Vermont.

  26. rixka on December 29th, 2015 7:03 am

    My Dylan is the same age as yours and if you have the space, a foosball table was a big hit.

    Also, if your boy’s like sports and graphic novels, these have been a huge hit from the school library (as long as you don’t have to read them aloud, they are painful to me):

  27. casino on January 26th, 2016 1:56 pm


    Holiday receipts : All & Sundry…

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