Christmas, Elementary School Kids, gifts, grandparents, Holidays, presents

10-Year-Old Gift Advice for Grandma

Hello my 10-year old Love of My Life

I am writing you this letter as a check-in for Christmas. I think I know what 10-year-old boys like, but I wouldn’t want to disappoint you. And you know how much Grandma cares about you.

So here goes my reverse wish list, and you can respond to it with a thumbs up or thumbs down.

There are many items on this list but don’t expect to find all of them under your tree. Grandpa and I will make a selection using your ratings.

A little bird, called your mother, let me know that you have grown so much since I last saw you that your bike is getting too small for your size. So, it is on the top of my list for you. But what type should I buy? This one comes in several different colors, but I know how much you favor pink. Do you want a racing bike built for the street, or is a mountain bike for trails more useful to you? Perhaps a gift certificate for the right store would solve this problem, and then you can select the bike of your dreams.

This one has an aluminum frame and disc brakes with suspension in the front forks. It is made by RoyalBaby.

But if a bike is not at the top of your list, I thought I could find some other gifts that would tickle your fancy.

How about a robotics kit? I hear that your older sister is using the kit I gave her last year, but she is reluctant to share it with you.

I have found a new kit that I thought you might like. It is the MakeBlock Ultimate Robot Kit. She has the MBot Robot. The new kit needs to be assembled, but the advantage is that it can easily be made into other robots. I understand that you are starting to learn to program at school. You can see from the pictures that you can make many different devices.

I found a cool video camera you can attach to your bike helmet or handlebars to take videos. And you can use it underwater, too.  When you go off on your scouting adventures, you could record the highlights of your week. I look forward to seeing what you are up to now and then.

When I was looking through the internet sites, I found a book with some parts to do some AMAZING things with the scads of LEGO blocks that you have.  It is called Chain Reactions. With the instructions and some of the kit pieces, you can build 8 chain reaction machines. But, of course, with your inventive mind, this kit could be turned into many wonderful devices—all diabolically clever, too.

I hear a lot about 3D printers, and I know your family doesn’t have one yet. I wondered if you would be interested in dabbling with this technology. I am not sure what you can make with it, but I am sure you will figure out something wildly pleasing.

You will need to save some of your allowance to pay for the filament it requires when the first one runs out. They have some with rainbow colors. I haven’t heard you talk about a wish for such a printer, but I thought I’d try and get you something you could experiment with. Then again, you might not need one as your school or library might have one you can use. 

As winter closes in on us, I thought you might like a way to get physical. I remember the fun we had as a family playing table tennis back when your mother was your age. I know that your space is limited, so I thought of a fold-up table tennis. Indeed, you will need paddles and an assortment of balls. It is a great way to spend some time with your close friends who are in your bubble. And the table will last for years. You can bet that when we can come for a visit, I expect to trounce you in our tournament.

I heard some kids in our apartment complex, talking about their drone and camera. I have never heard you talk about a drone before, but when I saw how excited these kids were over their drone, I wondered if you would like one also. I know you love technical gadgets, and this is one that you could use where you live as long as you were careful to take it to an open space. When we can go to the cottage, there will be plenty of opportunities to use it there.

So, these were the things I was considering, but I would love to hear any ideas you might have as well.  And if you have heard your sister’s wish for anything, I’d like to hear about that too. Sometimes a grandma has to have extraordinary sleuthing skills to be a successful Santa. For her, I was considering wireless earbuds as she spends so much time on her phone talking to her friends. Do you know if her phone is an Apple or Android? Or does that matter. Clearly, I need some help with this.

Luv you

Hugs and Kisses    (I know – mushy, too mushy)

Grandma and Grandad

Other Suggestions for a 10-year-old boy

See the New York Magazine


Guilty at Holiday Time

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How to Make Your Life Bearable

I have a dirty little secret that I think many people share, but do not voice. 

I hate Holiday time, especially Christmas. 

It took me a long time to come to terms with this feeling. But when I did, I could deal with all of that supposed happiness and joy in my own special way.

Let me explain the circumstances that lead to this inability to enjoy one of the most wonderful times of the year because, as a kid, I adored Christmas. 

It was at a time in my life, when I was struggling financially, a new mother and an aspiring teacher in the throws of her first few years as a professional. Yes, It was all about learning how to manage the expectations and stress that can happen at this exhilarating time of year.

Did you know that Christmas can be stressful? With all of the singing of “Joy to the World,” many people secretly are dreading the event. The truth is Christmas has been “formally identified as a source of stress, clinical psychologist Dr. Bob Montgomery said,” according to ABC. There is stress about finances, time, family relationships, and trying to please everyone, just to mention a few of the top contenders.

But like most things in life, it is how you handle the situation that can make a difference.

Family Patterns – Not

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What has been the coping mechanism of your parents may not be the best solution at all. I remember one holiday event where we had a command performance as a family to attend dinner at grandma’s home.  Although I did not know it, my father did not want to go. His method of dissent was to throw a set of my mother’s good dishes on the floor in protest. This was shocking behavior in a loving family situation.

How to Find a Better Solution

So no, that is definitely not how I wanted to express my feelings. I was determined to manage the situation better than that incident. Just in passing, we did go to grandma’s and had a lovely time, despite the negativity of my father.

So how can you manage the stress of a holiday? The first step is acknowledging that it is a stressful time for most people – adults and kids alike. Once you come from that understanding, you can make better decisions.

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It is essential to set priorities. Family time is key, not retail therapy. Develop relationships and traditions. Keep everyone on an even keel. 

Create Bonding Experiences not Shopping Trips

Christmas is a time for drawing the family closer. This does not require great financial burdens, but it does require time commitments. Focus on building traditions that involve every family member. Here are some sure-fire ways.

The Tree


Since our family liked to have the scent of a fresh cut a tree in the home, instead of just acquiring one, we would make a family outing of this task. Year after year, we would gather everyone together and then visit a tree farm or the local tree lot to select the best one to decorate. On the way back, it was a tradition to stop off at a local restaurant to enjoy hot chocolate and Holiday cookies.

  • Decoration Mania

When we got home, we took the time to involve everyone in making decorations for it. Stringing popcorn and cranberry garlands are a time-worn tradition. My family members delighted in making something personal for the tree, such as a cut and paste Santa to snowflakes cut out of paper to a painted figure made of wood. All of the treasures we saved for the subsequent seasons. We did not have a tree that was color-coordinated, but each year, the tree stimulated memories of the years, past.

  • Fa la la la la

Another bonding experience we enjoyed was to take an evening or two in singing carols together as a family. It is a fact that many school situations are such that this tradition is no longer happening. We felt we needed to pass on our own cultural traditions to keep them alive. Some lucky years there were opportunities to visit the homes of friends and neighbors to share our Christmas carols. 

  • Reach out to Family and Friends

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Instead of acquiring Christmas cards, we decided to make a few to share with extended family members or special friends. How many physical Christmas cards have you received lately?  Yes, we all are familiar with the ecards and electronic ways of keeping in touch, but how precious is it for grandmothers and grandfathers to receive a home-made card from their grandchildren.

  • Baking

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There are very few children who will turn down an opportunity to make Christmas cookies that will be proudly served to drop-in guests or shared at a family gathering. We looked around for recipes that required some creativity and thought. One of my favorites was stained glass cookies that my children fashioned into Christmas trees, ball decorations, and angels.

  • Night Walk

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One very satisfying Christmas Eve, We decided to go for a night walk. It had been snowing all day and the area was blanketed by a white covering. To make the opportunity even more dramatic, the moon was almost full. So, we bundled up in our warmest clothes and started down the trail. To this day I have never repeated that magnificent experience but it remains etched in my memory as a peak time in my life, even though it happened decades ago. 

Keeping an Even Keel

Since many children and adults balk at change, we need strategies to deal with the extra stress at Holiday time. All of us are busy enough in our daily lives, we do not need the extra burden of constant change. But when something does upset the apple cart, it is helpful to define the expectations so everyone understands the playbook. 

1 Maintain a Schedule 

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I have learned that children require fairly regular schedules. But at holiday time, the plan tends to go by the wayside with all of the hustle and bustle of the season. During the weeks close to the big holiday events, we made every effort to make sure all family members had healthy meals, adequate sleep, and time to relax to do what they wanted. That usually meant quality playtime.

2 Visiting Expectations

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When we did go for a visit, we always brought an engaging activity or toy to share with the cousins we met. The cousins loved to opportunity to explore something new. I also suggested to the other family members to do the same thing. So, my children looked forward to the surprises from their cousins.

Funny enough, I also found out that children react well with predictability. So, before each visit, we discussed the ground rules. The exact details depended on the age of the child, but we negotiated if there would be a nap or not, who they could expect to see, where they would sit for dinner, how they could help the adults and when we would leave. This gave everyone a framework for good behavior.

3 Finances in Check

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Since finances were high on my stressor list, I needed to discuss the financial obligations with the adults. That is the way I managed my anxiety.  I stopped the buying frenzy.  It not only helped me with the bills but also reduced the time in preparation. Not many people enjoy the overcrowded shopping malls.

Some of the ground rules, we hammered out as a larger family were that we would buy one present for one adult. We selected that adult by chance as we drew names out of a hat. There was also a limit to the cost of the presents to all of the kids, too.  

4 Shared Responsibilities for the Day

And as for the meal, everyone would contribute something to the dinner. Our meal was more of a potluck Christmas. It took some effort in organization, but I was surprised by how easily the adults agreed. I also welcomed the suggestion that we alternate the location of the special day every year. It gives everyone an opportunity to shine. 


I suspect that everyone was worn out by the demands of the season and welcomed these changes to simplify their lives. I think I heard a silent sigh of relief.

I still find that holiday time is a stressor, but now that I have developed a few strategies to help me relax,  I find I can be there for the people who count the most – my family.


The Best Kids Christmas Gifts

Mindful Gifts for Kids 

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All I Want for Christmas:  Experiences Yeah!

It is unbelievable how much parents spend on kids at Holiday time. “In 2017 parents were predicted to spend $495 per child this year, which was nearly $100 more than they spent last year,” according to Forbes. And in many instances, these items are enjoyed for only a limited time. Then they gather dust on shelves and in toyboxes. 

Are parents receiving value for the amount they spend? Are their kids getting gifts that enhance their thinking abilities or promote physical activity? Who benefits from all of the dollars that are being spent? Very often, the biggest benefits go to the retail sector. 

What is a parent or grandparent to do?  If you listen to the commercials, the toys kids want, follow the latest trends from movie action figures to new games. But do these toys pass the test of time? The answer is a resounding, “No.” 

What are the best gift suggestions for kids? Often that depends on the interests of your kids or grandkids. As parents and grandparents, we can do better with a little thought and individualization. So, before you rush out with your credit card close at hand, slow down and start contemplating a better choice based on the personality of your special person.

The Artistic Child

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Good quality paints, pencil crayons, charcoal, glue, and paper are ideal items for the child who likes to draw or create things. Shun the coloring books or prescribed crafts that confine your child’s imagination by having to follow a plan. For the lover of all things shiny, splurge on glitter, brightly colored bobbles and of course, googly eyes. 

The Drama Queen or King

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Cultivate that preferred mode of behavior of your child by considering drama camp. Instead of the drama being an uncontrolled mess of emotion, provide lessons in how to control the anger, the insult, or the unchecked exuberance.

 For younger children, think of ways to promote dramatic play through such as through a box full of costume items carefully selected from the second-hand store or sets of backdrops that encourage social development. 

Another fertile area for dramatic play is a gaggle of puppets and a stage for make-believe adventures. Or gather up some old socks, pieces of felt, wool and buttons to make home-made puppets.

The Musician

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A series of lessons can spark a lifelong interest in a particular instrument or musical style. Children usually like to experiment with a variety of genres before committing to one instrument.  Indulge in their fancy by offering this type of experience with no strings attached. Perhaps the most practical is to rent an instrument for that experimental stage. And on that next gift-giving time, you can supplement with the next fancy.

The Construction Fanatic

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The most logical solution for this type of interest is any type of building set. One of the most versatile is Lego. There are sets from the youngest age group right through to engineering college level. As the kits gain in sophistication, the price can skyrocket. 

Another great idea is to gather together some hand tools such as a saw, hammer, nails, and a hand drill along with some easy to shape wood bits. And then let the construction fanatic go wild making chairs, tables, picture frames and whatever comes to their fancy.

Don’t forget to check out electronic building sets as well. 

The Explorer

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These children are interested in almost every area of the world that is not familiar. Family memberships to places such as zoos, museums, science centers, pioneer villages, or other such learning environments would likely motivate all of the family to investigate the greater world around them.

The Introvert

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While these children may like to explore areas on their own, they have often cultivated hobbies that would be enhanced by some sort of funding. The collector always is looking for specific items. On another hand, a digital camera may be just the vehicle for your introvert to connect with those around them. 

The Bookworm

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There are many book clubs on the internet that require a monthly subscription fee in exchange for the privilege of selecting books or magazines. There is no better gift to a reader than offering a means of obtaining suitable reading material.

Mr. or Mrs. Sports

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Whenever possible, it is a wise decision to purchase experiences for your children to encourage them to get active. “Approximately 12.7 million, or 17 percent, of children and adolescents are obese,” as reported by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatryorganization. What is even more alarming is that “studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.” Instead of buying sedentary gifts such as hockey cards, expensive jerseys or sport-related electronic devices, buy ways to get your child active. 

There are sports camps in most areas of the country for varied interests from dance, to skiing to soccer.  If the camps are prohibitive in price, consider teaming with an aunt or uncle or grandparents for the camp fee.

The Generalist

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This child may not yet have developed specific interests but seems to enjoy a wide variety of hobbies or topics. Consider some of the suggestions from the other categories as young children flirt with many interests before diving deep into a favorite.  

Some old standbys that are proven by the test of time are games that require several people. Favorites are time tested card games, checkers, chess, monopoly, and other board games. 

Another area you might consider are items that promote physical activity such as bicycles, skipping ropes, sports equipment, or binoculars for bird watching.

Now is the time to start thinking about that perfect gift for the Holidays. 

So, when you hear the jingle, “All I Want for Christmas,” avoid the latest fad but give some deep thought about the personality of the child to enhance their experience of life. 

Widen their horizons