When I was a kid, I started planning my Christmas list early. I'm talking mid-July or so. Once the newness wore off of the birthday gifts I received in June, I was ready to start planning for the fat man in red. Mom encouraged it a little, since she could tell me to "put it on my Christmas list" whenever I asked for something (a tradition that I've already begun passing on to my little ones.)
In retrospect, it probably drove Mom a little crazy that I started thinking of Christmas so early in the year. I realize now what a drag that can be - come on, K-mart, Christmas trees in I definitely don't start thinking about Christmas in July any more. It enters my consciousness when I see the first decorations pop up in stores (earlier and earlier each year) and I acknowledge that I should start planning my shopping list before long. Then I ignore it a little longer.
Then my parents start talking about Christmas.
Holy cow, what is this?! THEY are talking about Christmas before I am for a change! Mom called first, asking what the girls wanted for Christmas this year. I had no clue what to tell her. I only had a vague notion of what they wanted for dinner that night, much less for a holiday that was still months away. Still, I came up with a suggestion for Rachael easily enough. She's older and notices/asks for more. Milly is harder, since she already plays with six years worth of Rachael toys and honestly doesn't need another new toy for as long as she lives.
Before I even came up with a suggestion for a Milly gift (I still haven't, actually), Dad called. What do the girls want for Christmas? Hmmmm. Then he took it a step farther and asked what Gene and I wanted for Christmas! That one is always a shocker - I don't hear that very often, and never know how to answer it.
Anyway...since both of them are thinking Christmas already (and the in-laws and aunts will undoubtedly be calling soon to ask what the girls want for Christmas), I've been thinking about it myself this week. I've put together a decent list of Rachael's wants - somehow, every single thing she's asked for recently has been $50. Video Barbie? $50. Princess & Me doll? $50. Silly Fur Real puppy that walks on a leash? $50. (Apparently, having a real puppy isn't enough for her. Granted, Walter is large and black and the faux pup is little and white.) But Milly's list is still sadly empty - what does Santa bring for a 3-year-old who needs nothing (including clothes) and asks for nothing?
Then I remembered a nifty little site that I bookmarked a while back and have been meaning to take a closer look at - ebeanstalk.com. This nifty little site has all sorts of toys, but the majority are educational or the kind that encourage imaginative play (arts and crafts, dolls, musical toys, etc.) Best of all, the toys are all listed by age recommendation and even by gender. At first, I thought that ebeanstalk specialized in baby toys, but that's absolutely not true. The list only starts there, then proceeds to list toys for 1 year olds all the way through toys for 8-12 year olds.
So, what to put on Milly's Christmas list? Well, I just went to toys for 2 year olds and clicked on "girls" underneath...and up popped a huge list of ideas for her. One of the first suggestions was a Baby Stella doll - which she already has and loves, which helped me feel pretty comfortable with the site's recommendations. There are some cute Stella accessories that I think she'd love in the same section...only now I have to go and browse the 3 year old section too, since she'll actually be three by Christmas.
I love having age- and developmentally-appropriate toys grouped together for me - and good quality toys at that, not just brightly colored plastic with flashing lights and loud noises. This is one site I'll definitely be visiting over and over again as I work up more Santa suggestions for the family. Not to mention how horrible I am at shopping for little boys (not having any of my own) - thank goodness for something to point me in the right direction.
Have a little one that's hard to shop for? Go check out ebeanstalk!