This month's edition of OV Parent is an eclectic one - themes include adoption, because it is National Adoption Month, birthdays, Thanksgiving and, for the first time, a holiday gift guide. (The gift guide used to appear in the All About Kids: Holidays special edition, which was not published this year.)
I realize it is ironic to publish four gift-guide pages followed directly by Lara Krupicka's "Holding on to the Thanks" essay that suggests stalling the holiday "gimmes" and holding on to the grateful attitude of Thanksgiving. But, a gift guide published in December is just too little, too late. So I hope you'll pardon the seemingly conflicting messages!
I also hope you'll take a look at the "Buy Local" gift guide and consider joining me in patronizing as many locally owned stores as possible this holiday season- if you don't already do so. I hope to accomplish several things through my efforts, not the least of which are: 1) to avoid the stress of shopping at big stores and shopping centers, and 3) to give our Christmas a more simple, old-fashioned feel. I am slightly apprehensive about this endeavor because I am typically an Internet shopper. The good news is, some of these local stores have websites! Even if you don't shop exclusively at local retailers, I highly recommend a visit to Deluxe Toy & Hobby in Martins Ferry. They offer layaway (which doubles - as one friend put it - as "hideaway), and they have a huge selection of toys, games and dolls. Ask a salesperson for help finding age- and gender-appropriate gifts, and, unless they are super-swamped, they'll walk you through the store pointing out items you might not have considered on your own. Note: Shop early.
Emma, right, and her friend Pitter Pat Jeffers, in the frame Pitter made as the party favor for Emma's 5th birthday.
Another favorite feature of mine in this issue is the one about birthday treat bags. While I am always impressed with the amount of goodies tucked inside these bags at my daughter's friends' parties, I have taken a different tack at Emma's parties, and I like some of the ideas Laura Amann recommends.
For Emma's 5th birthday party, for example, I went with a make-it-yourself picture frame. I set out assorted craft decorations in divided trays (feathers, puff balls, plastic jewels, foam letters and animals, etc.) and gave each child a baggie holding four large craft sticks- one labeled "Emma & Me" - plus two stick-on magnets. Before leaving, each child had his or her picture taken with Emma and then chose decorations to put in their bags for creating a frame at home. Then we mailed the appropriate photo print with each child's thank-you note. I can't tell you if it saved me any time or money, but I felt good knowing it was a fun, creative "treat" that might serve as a lasting keepsake commemorating a 5-year-old's friendship.