Gift-giving occasions come around pretty often at our house, with twelve children and their families. Birthdays and holidays are a chance to show love and appreciation to the recipient, but gifts from garage sales and thrift stores are fair game.
[break][/break]Quantity counts for birthdays, and the younger children especially like to give small gifts like candy. Used pencils and pennies taped in homemade cards are also popular with the youngest siblings.
[break][/break]Our traditions include birthday cereal chosen by the special person. There are usually a couple of kinds, and yes, they are all rarely purchased junk cereal like Marshmallow Maties or Cap’n Crunch. More than once we have made a late-night run to the grocery store when I forgot the birthday cereal.
[break][/break]Due to the sheer volume of people and advanced age (mine), it’s nearly impossible to remember who likes what kind of cereal or candy or other items. Many years ago I designed a form on the computer called “Family Favorites.” It used to be paper forms kept in a home management notebook. Times have changed and now the lists are kept in a folder in an app on Mom’s iPhone.
[break][/break]When it is time for a birthday or other gift-giving occasion, anyone can check the list for a family member and see what their favorites are. These are the categories that we use:
- Favorite Restaurants (this is handy for gift cards or plans for a birthday meal)
- Favorite Candy (helps us choose small gifts or Finals Survival Kit items for the ones in college)
- Favorite Home-Cooked Meal (useful for times when I want to especially encourage a child, not just for birthdays)
- Favorite Cereal
- Favorite Colors
- Favorite Snacks (nice to plan for when grown children are going to be in for the weekend)
Gifts are always nice, but gifts that are your special favorites are even better. We update the lists about once a year as tastes change, children get older or someone gets engaged.
[break][/break]Edith Schaeffer said “Somebody has to get up early, stay up late, do more than the others, if the human garden is to be a thing of beauty.” It’s work to buy gifts, decorate a table, plan in advance for a special dessert or keep track of who likes what. But that work translates into caring for persons and helping them feel valued in the family. A Family Favorites list is a practical tool to keep track of special preferences so that you can personalize an occasion without too much strain on a busy Mom’s brain.