Our actual get-togethers were awesome, and we were extremely lucky that gifts were kept in check (and what we did get were so thoughtful, sweet, and useful). By other "green mama" standards, we personally went overboard, I'm sure. By the standards of other parents, we probably did too little. But, for our purposes, it was perfect.
Here are some of the year's superlatives as far as gifts (although it's clearly NOT about the presents, but...y'know)...
Best "Free" Present - Dave and I agreed to "get" each other a free gift this year. Mine ended up being a few "gift certificate" type things (like purging/organizing/zen-ifying the office), which are fine but kind of lame. HE, however, made me stationery. Not just normal stationery, though. Included are envelopes and sheets of paper specifically to write Hadley letters, to be opened at special days (or not-so-special) throughout his life. Talk about a tear or two (or a dozen). So. Darn. Sweet. So, yeah. Dave won by a mile.
Hadley's Gifts - We also ask Hadley what he'd like to get each of us (um, separately...in secret), which is fun. His suggestions for Dave changed daily, although he always went back to, "A car. A real one. Big. For him to drive." Uh, no. Apparently he suggested the same to Dave for me. (A toy one wouldn't do.) Finally, he landed on tools, which we picked up individually at Lowe's, along with a couple of framed pictures for Dave's desk. Dave proudly bought exactly what Hadley had told him - every day - to get me: red socks and apple pie (a Hostess, which we normally wouldn't get). It was the sweetest gift, guys, seriously.
Most Successful Toys - Our little guy's not hard to please. I grabbed some last-minute wooden train tracks to add to his collection (which he's been using constantly) and any of the Lego sets he received are a huge hit. But, honestly, he seemed to enjoy absolutely everything (even some of the clothes) and is learning the "appreciation" part of the season.
Oh, and I love that he finally has a play knife (and wooden fruit that he can cut), some pie (um, I made more felt food as his "handmade from Mama" annual gift) and Santa's felt board. I'd do a tutorial for the board, but it's so simple I'd feel silly. I ended up using my upholstery stapler to staple the background felt on, then cut out simple shapes (you do NOT have to be artistic to do this!) You can even just do shapes; kids don't care!
The Grown-Ups' Favorites - So much of this year was about awesome experiences, I feel guilty picking my favorite gifts. I got an eco-friendly pot from my sister (which was equally touching that she thought about what I'd like rather than just getting another pot) and renewal to Ancestry.com from my mother-in-law, but generally all those practical things (and the books from Dave) touched my heart. Oh, and "turkey joints" (a local candy) is always a super special treat. Oh, and if I had to pick for Dave, I'm pretty sure his set of Batman (the entire 1960s show) was his absolute favorite.