Christmas in Summertime!

We are packing things up, finalizing our home's sale, and making the trip out to Denver. Life is crazy right now. Too many emotions to know how to process, so . . . I think of Christmas.

Knowing that Jeff and I might be mailing or packing and flying our Christmas presents this year has really put the pressure on to find great, nicely packaged gifts. In our family we tend to give more couple/family gifts and then give smaller items to any kids. This year, the only real “kid” we have on my side is my youngest sister, and for Jeff’s we have his youngest sister and currently lone nephew. When we start to get more kids around, I’m sure the dynamic will change, but for now it’s usually just one main gift per family. In the past we’ve come up with some pretty good family gifts as a whole, but this year I’m struggling. (I might just have to think individually, oh no!)
So, to get my brain moving I’ve decided to make a list of all the best and brightest family gifts that we have given and received in the past. I am so tired of going to websites and seeing inscribed crystal plaques, cheese and cracker sets, and chocolate covered strawberries as gift ideas for a whole family. I think it would be better to give something that people will actually use, even if it’s not as fancy.
#1 Camping Gear
There are so many options with camping gear if you have family that likes to get lost out in the woods. Sure, some of the items can be a bit pricey, but if you’re giving it to say, your sisters family as a whole, then it tends to break down to a reasonable price per person. Plus, there are also a lot of fun less expensive items out there as well. Some of our favorite items to receive and give include:
Dutch Ovens
Quirky Cooking Items (think egg holders, roasting sticks, toast makers, camping spices)

#2 Beach Items
This is pretty similar to Camping items. This just works for our family because they all love to go to the beach. Last year both my older sister AND parents had the same thought on this, now Jeff and I are the proud owners of 4 beach chairs. We’ll need them all someday, ha ha.
Beach Umbrella

Beach Towels
Snorkeling Gear
Toys (Sand Castle kit, Frisbee, Volleyball)
#3 Religious Items
We are Latter Day Saints, and with that there is a smorgasbord of items that many LDS families like to decorate or have in their homes. These also can be on the more expensive side, unfortunately, however there are some more affordable options with books and movies.
Statues (Christ, Temples, or Prophets)
Art Work
Inscribed Hymn Book
FHE Workbooks
Past Years General Conferences on CD (big hit with Grandparents)

#4 Kitchen Items
Yes, these may be just typically given to the lady of the house, but in most of our families homes both the women and men do the cooking, so it really is a present for both of them. In a house were just one of them in charge of the cooking, then it might be better to give kitchen items to just that one person.
Crockpot (w/cookbooks)
Kitchen Aid Attachments
Cutesy Measuring Cups (think Anthroplogie)
Marble or Raw Wood Edge Cutting Board 
 #5 Entertainment
For some of our more extended family and close friends that we exchange gifts with we have some pretty regular standbys. I’d like to switch it up every once in a while, but these always seem to hit the mark.
Movie Bucket (Some cool new release (w/ gift receipt), Soda, Popcorn Bags, and Treats)
Board Games (We have family that actually is in to the latest board games, so it works)
Fast Food Gift Card (think something like Sonic, where $20-$30 can still go a long ways or just get everyone a treat) 

#6 Handmade Items
For a more personal touch, these items may be less expensive but more meaningful because of the time put in. Tears of joy can be a factor with these types of gifts.
Blankets (This does not have to be complicated, just use fleece in a more modern pattern)
Picture Calendars (We have family members that do this every year on both sides and LOVE it. We can keep up on whose birthdays are coming up and have wonderful family pictures from last year to look at.)
Picture Books (I made my parents one of those photo books from Blurb with pictures of their wedding)
Knitted Beanies or Scarves
Family History Workbooks or Old Journal Copies


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