Dec 15 2009

A visit from the Christmas Elf


This post first appeared on my blog in December 2007.  I have some new readers since then and thought it would be a fun post to re-share.

KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK! An urgent sound was coming from the cold side of the front door. It was about 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and someone was knocking. I was no older than 7, and my parents wanted me to answer the door.

“What? Why me?” I thought. This had never happened before. I was curious. And with my parents’ encouragement, I obediently opened the front door, letting in a swirl of brisk winter air–and a healthy helping of Christmas magic.

On the front step lying atop a thin layer of snow were two packages wrapped in beautiful red and green paper. Not a soul could be seen.

I grabbed the parcels and hurried inside. My little sister and I tore open the packages (because, of course they were for us!) and squealed at what we saw: Warm, fuzzy pajamas for each of us.

As it turns out, we had been visited by the Christmas Elf. My dad explained that the Christmas Elf was one of Santa’s helpers who delivers pajamas to little girls who need to get ready for bed and go to sleep before Santa could come. We didn’t need to hear another word.

As quick as we could, we put on our pajamas, brushed our teeth and went to bed. I don’t remember what presents I received that year on Christmas morning, (and I’m sure they were lovingly and thoughtfully selected by my parents–er, Santa).

But I’ll always remember the thrill of the visits from the Christmas Elf. For several years after that, we’d get a package of new pajamas on the front step. We were always surprised and excited. Warm pajamas don’t have to be expensive (they don’t even have to be new, so long as they’re new to the child and in good condition).

If those same pajamas were under the tree with the rest of our presents, we probably wouldn’t have cared. I know we wouldn’t remember them. My parents knew how to turn even the leanest of Christmases into something wonderful for their two little girls–and one big part of it was those pajamas delivered with love.

If you’re looking to keep up the excitement and magic of Christmas with your young children but are looking to save money, one thing you could consider is employing a Christmas Elf.

The elf (usually a neighbor) loves the idea and is thrilled to help. Be sure to have both parents in the same room as the children when the elf knocks, by the way! I don’t have kids now, but you can bet once they get old enough to understand what’s going on, the Christmas Elf will once again visit my home.

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Dec 07 2009

When to keep and when to purge baby items


This post was inspired by a Facebook comment from my pal Jes of Beauty from Chaos. Jes mentioned that she was going through some baby stuff, trying to decide what to get rid of, even though she’d like more kiddos someday. Here’s some of my own ideas.

If you have a big, empty basement or tons of closet space, it’s probably worth it to hang on to most of your baby gear until you’re certain you have no future need for it.

But if you live in an apartment with minimal storage space as I do, you really do have to prioritize which items you store and which items to remove from your home.

If you have too much stuff, it’s probably worth getting rid of some items. Living in a cluttered environment can be stressful.

Even if you hope to be blessed with children in the future, it still may be worth going through your baby gear and getting rid of things that you can easily borrow or buy when you need them again.

  • See if you can loan out some baby items that you’d like back someday. Things like bouncy seats, swings, large toys, high chairs, playpens … these things require a lot of storage space. If you know another mom who could use them (and treat the items well) let her “store” them for you by letting her use them for her child until she no longer needs them or you need them back. Use discretion though — don’t loan out something that you’d be heartbroken if it was damaged or needed to be replaced.
  • Check with family to see if you can store some items in their basement, garage, a spare closet, etc. if they have room. Just don’t pay to rent out a storage locker for baby items. That is almost certainly not a cost-effective way to do it.
  • Baby swings, bouncy chairs, exersaucers, Bumbo seats, and certain types of strollers can always be found at the baby consignment shops in my area. Consign yours now (or sell on eBay or craigslist) and hang on to the money to buy a similar item in the future. Yeah, you might lose a few dollars by doing it this way, but what’s a few bucks vs. having an organized, non-overflowing closet?
  • Baby clothes by far take up the most of my baby-storage space at this point. I plan to go through all I have and sort them into a few piles: Keep or consign. If I have an excessive number of items in a certain size, it would probably be worth paring those down. Depending on how much I have in my “consign” pile, I’ll sell those at the next Snugglebugs consignment sale here in town or put it in a lot on eBay. I can usually find loads of good baby clothes at thrift or consignment stores or at yard sales for really cheap prices, so I don’t really need to hold onto everything.

What do you think? Is it better to just hold onto it all, or to purge it and get more when you need it? How do you decide what stays and what goes?

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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