49 Comments
Nov 11, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Would love ideas for winter rituals, baking, diy gifts... my parents have said they don’t want anything for Christmas, that they have too much stuff (true), but knowing them, they will still expect something on Christmas Day. Last year we gave them a note showing we purchased chickens in their name for a family in need in South America, they seem to like it ok. I’d love more ideas!!!! Thank you.

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Nov 10, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

More compostable crafts, please! I love making things with my kids. Things like your ice candle holders from Gardenista are a joy because I can just enjoy making without the mental calculation of how I’m going to get rid of it.

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author

The mental calculation is real! Will ponder!

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Not really gift related, but I was wondering if were still gonna do 'Make Believe' posts in the future. I don't know why, but I always enjoyed the picture you'd paint with them.

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Haven't decided yet! But this is inspiring me to give it a go!

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Nov 10, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I will admit that what drew me to your blog and continues to draw me after so many years are the insights and inspiration into living a small life - on that intentionally chooses to do things the hard way, if it means living a little more lightly on the earth. I've always appreciated the posts on minimalist fashion, food, and kids' products that are light on the earth. I love to do handwork now and again, but with three kids, two jobs (albeit one is part-time) and a homeschooler, my time is really limited. I love my moments of seeing simplicity played out. I'm always inspired. So for gift guides, I actually do like the shopping ones because, in all honesty, I've only once made one of the no-shopping gifts. In another season of life, perhaps, but not right now.

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Fair! Will see what I can do!

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Nov 10, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Id love to read more about your family and friend traditions and routines throughout the holidays! Whether those include gifts and a gift guide is up to you!

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On it!

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Nov 10, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I do appreciate your curation of shop-bought gifts, homemade gifts, and non-stuff celebrations. I would be open to all of those.

But I’ve also been thinking about how prepare my kids for passing toys/once-loved things along. We just had a 4 year old birthday and, while we did try to limit the stuff, our small house is just too full to think about the stuff too come. I was just remembering a post you wrote a while back about helping kids make room for new gifts/toys in their lives/homes. I’d like to introduce that to my kids in a way that encourages loving and sharing and understanding what’s still being used. That sounds so precious when I write it. I want it to be a thing we do without too much angst. Perhaps unrealistic!

I’d be curious to hear more from you about these kinds of routines or conversations in your home about gifts and things and showing we care.

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Will do! Realize it's been a while and the conversation does change a bit with older kids!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I, too, am never one to turn down a gift guide, even if I’m not in need of ideas! But I would also love some ideas from you (&co) about secular holiday season traditions/general festive-ness NOT tied to Christmas. Our extended family is a big religious melting pot and as my older son finally reaches the age where he’s old enough to understand what holidays are, I am really trying hard to make sure he doesn’t think our house is boring for not celebrating Christmas, and instead finding other ways to celebrate the season.

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author

Love this idea.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Erin, you might not be proud of this but you have influenced my purchases quite a bit this past month. I am sitting on my coushy and my loftie alarm is in the mail. I've been following you for so long that I know I can trust you. If it is worth having in your apartment, then I have will find my life greatly improved or with more joy too.

It's probably not helpful, but I'm happy with whatever direction you go for the upcoming season. I think your authentic voice sharing how this season is landing is what I am here for. I feel like your most frequent response from us is, "same, Erin, same."

Keep up the great work!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I enjoyed your book recommendations on the blog (lists of holiday/winter books and others) for children and adults. Something similar here would be wonderful.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Shopping with traditions and cultures like the different holiday food gifts. Ginger bread cookies how to make them and package to gift. How to gifts rather than where to shop gifts.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

One thing I'd love to see discussed is how you change traditions from lots of presents - way too much $$ spent--soooo much food, etc. to a more sustainable/thoughtful/simplified approach.

Every year we drive to a Christmas tree farm in Boone, North Carolina that has amazing Fraser Firs that cost amazing money and drag it back home on the top of the car and struggle with the lights and I'm just tired of it. I want something much much more simple and can't seem to get there.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Do they have Christmas tree rental options where you live? Or perhaps you could invest in a potted living Christmas tree that you put outside the rest of the year if you have the space?

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We don't have Christmas tree rentals here - it is a small town about 30 minutes outside of Asheville North Carolina. I have tried the potted tree approach, but my kids staged a coup & declared never again - too small, etc.! Evidently we have to drive 2 hours to cut our tree down - one that's at least 7 feet tall, costing $150+ for it to be Christmas🤷🏼‍♀️ But my kids aren't eight years old and I'm just tired of the whole Christmas production!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I like gift guides, and non gift guides, but I’d also like to hear more about how you just manage all of it. How you think about who to get gifts for, how to keep track, how to decide who you need to consider for gift giving, and what is even the point of gifts. Like your philosophy and logistics around gift giving, not just the gifts themselves.

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author

What is even the point of gifts!?! On it!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I don't need gift guides, but I 100% agree with all of Nancy's other suggestions. I love your "big picture" posts.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Hi Erin - I've been a fan of yours for a long time now and always enjoy your gift - and non-gift- guides, and general comments about the festive season. I'm quite old and don't have grandchildren, but still like the idea of small, useful token gifts eg small comestibles for friends and maybe book vouchers for family. Christmas without any gifts seems to me a bit grim, though overall the whole Christmas thing is just a huge commercial exercise. Years ago I read about the idea of giving 'something you want, something to read, something to wear, something to read' - for children, I think - and find this very appealing. I'm in Australia, where Christmas is usally pretty hot because it's summer.

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I would love to read your recommendations for the kid gifts worth investing in. What are the wood toys/beautiful objects that my family will own for years to come and pass down to my own kids! (And that may mean shopping secondhand or from small stores).

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This is a helpful framing! Will work on it!

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Nov 10, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I would love these ideas also as a soon to be grandmother who also wants to do what I can to get the world on a better trajectory for their lives.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I second this. I'm also especially thinking about toys/gifts that can be played with for many years because they will be applicable for a child at different stages. I have a one-year-old and that's been a guiding factor for the (very small) amount of toys I have purchased for him: Is this something he will still be interested in playing with for the next few years, or is it something that is very specific to a 12-18 month old baby and after that it will not interest him? Would love more ideas of toys with longevity.

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Mine is slightly younger, but we just found a Wishbone Mini Flip Rocker secondhand and it seems like it will be useful for several years to come (I hope). The company that makes them prioritizes sustainability in both its materials and repair options, so I personally found it to be a worthwhile investment.

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Exactly! I feel like part of shopping sustainably for kids is finding open-ended toys that will last for years, not months. I would love Erin’s perspective on this!

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Yes I love to window shop your non-gift ideas and crafts! But as someone that doesn't have the patience or desire for DIY, your thoughtful small-shopping posts are also very welcome!!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I love everything you write, but I really miss your simple and tasty recipes!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

no-shopping gift guide and winter crafts and rituals

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Always love your DIY holiday posts - for gift and especially for decorating!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Similar to Ally, I'd love to hear about holiday traditions from your family and friend circles (and Tea Notes reader's as well!) that don't focus on consumerism or require a lot of cash or logistics. I have a 2 year old and 6 year old and want to bring in a few traditions that bring a mix of magic and cozy to the season.

Also, any recommendations for families that travel! We spend every other Christmas with my side of the family which adds an angle to gifts and maintaining a few of our family traditions even when across the country.

Thank you for your writing and books! I've been a fan forever, your work is always a space I love going to.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Also, just cleaned up my mailbox, great reminder to do it before being buried and waylaid by the consumer tsunami!

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I think perhaps you’ve written about this on the blog, but if not: finding ways to have conversations with family (like grandparents) who are eager to give and give, but only objects that are “fun.” (So no experiences, just stuff that can be opened in front of the giver). Conversations about this are so loaded and tough but feel increasingly important to me as I think about my kids future on a cooking planet. A lot of advice I’ve found is too anodyne for the reality of family relationships and value conflicts. Ack! Help!

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author

So true! A truly evergreen subject.

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This year has been my most successful year and it's due to completely giving up in many ways. I won't provide a gift guide, I tell them to ask the kids. My kids are spoiled rotten by many loving friends and family and need nothing. Therefore their requests are insane and change every day - the grandparents won't buy a hoverboard and can't get the children to settle on a select gift for long enough to actually make the purchase. Lol. It's fun to watch! I also gave up cleaning my house before my in-laws visit so they can witness the clothes spilling from our closets and the toys spread everywhere. After 7 years of things we don't need my in-laws suggested a zoo trip as their gift and my mother offered ski lessons. I'm sure next year they'll buy my kids a giant plastic dollhouse but this year was a win.

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Seconding this but also- how to broach the subject with family members (*coughin-lawscough*) who don’t ask what kids want and then give things we can’t use/can’t store/aren’t age appropriate. Last year we got a behemoth of a plastic play set that makes noise and lights up and we live in a small house and there is literally nowhere to put it... so it’s been taking up valuable space in our half basement since (along with the car seat they very kindly gave us that wasn’t on the baby registry because they apparently didn’t like the one we registered for and received...). Also- how do I get rid of that stuff without guilt?! I worry that they’re going to ask about it and they’re difficult under good circumstances. And they do ask...

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author

ooooof. godspeed and on it!

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Nov 10, 2023·edited Nov 10, 2023

our experience living almost-in-the-middle-of-nothingness says that double carseats were a nuisance until they came useful for carpooling kids to/from daycare/swimmingpool/etc and for bringing home other kids for playdates. or for babysitters/aunts/neighbours/friends who helped us to fetch our kid when we couldn't (or to fetch a kid whose parent were stuck in a traffic jam)

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my friends living in walkable bike friendly bigger towns/cities with good public transport almost didn't use the only one they had, though.

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I know from experience that this is easier said than done, but try your best to just be honest. “Where’s the car seat we bought you?” Respond with “Thank you so much for that but we already had one and couldn’t use another one so we donated it to XYZ charity for children in need”. My mom moved and gave me the high chair she had at her place for when my kid came over (not an heirloom). I donated it and she got very upset about it but what am I going to do with two high chairs? Erin talks about it and I think about this a lot - these are our own houses we’re talking about. We should be able to say what comes in and what goes without any guilt.

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Nov 11, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I second this as well and acknowledge that it’s easier said than done. But I think it’s worth a few minutes of an uncomfortable conversation (and maybe several other uncomfortable interactions, but still, with a limited time frame) versus the constant mental and physical burden of storing items you don’t need or want, and the accompanying resentment. Also this might eventually be the way they see the light, and even if they don’t, you’re establishing and holding your boundaries and living in a house that is more manageable for you on a daily basis. (Again, said with the acknowledgment that this is all much easier said than done. But maybe start with getting rid of that behemoth in your basement.)

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

second this! just tried to have this conversation a few days ago with grandparents - so hard for me to hold my ground, and I end up feeling like I'm just a grump ruining everyone's fun.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

Exactly. My own parents are the culprits here and it so quickly activates a massive power struggle rooted in all sorts of longstanding patterns.

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Nov 9, 2023·edited Nov 9, 2023Author

totally. have def written about it before, but it's an evergreen/ever-evolving topic (see also the literal garbage bag of brand-new toys from a neighbor that we've been waiting since last december to bring to a children's toy bank.)

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Erin Boyle

I am always a fan of both shopping and non-shopping gift guides, but I also love to read simple ways to bring some festivity and warmth into the cold dark early days of winter. So much of this season feels like a race to "do everything" - and so I often feel like I'm trying to find ways to feel festive and warm but still kind of low-key, if that makes sense. Like, I want my kids to look back someday and have a defined, happy sense of what the winter holidays felt like in our household, but I don't want that feeling to be "the Elf moved every single day and we did the Polar Express and saw the Nutcracker every year plus the Radio City Christmas Show, and we always attended the four holiday parties of our closest friends and then drove 3 hours to attend the holiday party of our distant relatives, and we always did Santa at the mall and breakfast with Santa and then started also doing Breakfast with the Grinch" etc. We do one or two of these kind of big things each year but it's more that "bake cookies, read beloved December-only picture books" etc kind of vibe, that I want to make the focus. I think one year you did an advent calendar of such activities or directives, and I liked it a lot.

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Toooootally. it can quickly become TOO MUCH™️

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