It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be starting (or finishing, if you’re really ahead of the game!) getting gifts for their kids. This year we won’t be traveling to have Christmas with family so we’re trying to decide how to set up our gift giving.
We’re planning to give some of our gifts to the kids on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) and then our kids will open stocking gifts from us and presents from extended family on Christmas morning. Then we may spread out the gifts from us they didn’t unwrap on St. Nick’s Day throughout Christmastide (December 25th-January 6th). We’ll see how it goes! But however your family handles Christmas gifts, even if you keep things very simple, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the new things that take over your home after the presents are unwrapped!
We’re still in a pretty minimalist mindset after living in 650 sq ft for 12 months in 2015/2016 and I don’t want to creep back into having a cluttered home. We try to be intentional by focusing on clothing items our kids need, books we think they’d love, art supplies, and games or crafting materials they can use over and over.
We want them to have a few things to open, of course, because that’s just fun (and let’s get real, I need things to wrap during my annual viewing of Love Actually) but one trick we use to keep the Christmas clutter down while still offering valuable gifts is to give things that don’t take up any space at all.
One way to do this is to give experiences instead of items. We ask the grandparents for a family membership to the local zoo and children’s museum because those are gifts our kids will love all year long. And you don’t have to find a place to store them (save the space our membership card takes up in my wallet). Dreamy! A few months ago I discovered another great gift idea that we’ve been enjoying as a family: Around the World Stories.
These original audio stories are designed to teach kids about different countries and cultures in an engaging way. There’s currently a set of 52 stories that focus on 13 European countries as well as a six-story set about artists. The stories are fun adventures about kids in different countries in Europe. They also provide supplemental guides that includes discussion points about the stories, activity ideas, recipes and background info. The stories are created for kids ages 5-12, but my four-year-old enjoys them, as well! The stories are produced by a fellow homeschooling family traveling around Europe and collecting stories (dream job, right?!).
I am all about educational gifts that help spark imagination so these really fit the bill. And they are hugely helpful to maintaining my homeschool mom sanity. After homeschooling all morning, by the end of lunchtime I’m pretty spent. So I’ve started setting up art supplies on the dining room table after lunch and turning on one of the stories. The kids are happily occupied so I can get a break AND their imaginations are fed. (P.S. I am not opposed to a few minutes of screen time for the kids if it means I can shower or recharge, but I find that the later in the day that we use screens, the better. Otherwise, there’s a battle when it’s time to transition away from screens and back to the school day or non-screen play.)
So far we’ve enjoyed learning about Monet and Van Gogh in the artist series and have also listened to several of the Europe stories. The Artist stories are meant to be listened to in order — starting with ‘The Way to the Water Lilies’ about Monet. Those stories introduce kids to six important artists and styles throughout history. The resources they list to accompany each artist story are so helpful! We check out artist books from the library after listening to the story and watch the videos about each artist.
The Europe stories don’t have to be listened to in order (for example, we jumped straight to the St. Martin’s Day episode on November 11th even though it wasn’t the next one) and they focus on each country for four stories.
You can set up a subscription to receive a story each week or you can purchase them all at once. And there’s an option to gift them, too! In the sign-up section there is a button for gift giving so just fill out the form and you will receive a gift certificate that you can give as a gift. The certificate contains a gift code that the receiver can use to sign up for their Story Pack or subscription.
Around the World Stories is generously offering some fantastic discount codes for you! You can use CARROTS20 to get 20% off any of the story sets including the gift certificates for them.
Or to try out the stories for FREE you can use CARROTSMONTH for one free month of a subscription (and you can cancel at any time).
Whether you’re homeschooling or just want to add some extra spark to your child’s imagination, these stories really are a lot of fun. So head on over to try them out!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Around the World Stories. I only share about products or services that I love and use myself.