Real quick! I'll tell you about presents and wrapping and then I've got to get back down to Santa's workshop (the wrapping room).
You may not think you have family traditions regarding wrapping. But you probably do. Growing up, it was tradition that my mom would tag things incorrectly. Midway through unwrapping something that looked promising, she would sit up, adjust her glasses and say, "Wait! That's not yours! That's for Jared." We would groan and the half opened present would be thrown across the room to the real giftee. The other tradition was that after all the presents were opened, my mom would look around the room and say, "Gina, show me your new watch." I would look confused, "I didn't get a new watch." Mom: "Yes you did. I remember buying you a Barbie watch with interchangeable bands. I swear I wrapped it." I'd shrug. Mom, in her caftan, would get up and go upstairs and rummage around her closet for awhile. She may or may not come down with the watch.
So here are some of our traditions. EVERYTHING is wrapped. We rarely leave unwrapped toys from Santa under the tree. He wraps most everything.
So what is different about our wrapping and present traditions?
First, NOTHING is put under the tree before Christmas. NOTHING! All gifts are wrapped and stored in trash bags and hidden somewhere. Once the children go to bed on Christmas Eve, the bags are dragged out and everything is put under the tree. It's so fun to go to bed with nothing under the tree and then wake up to WAH LAH a pile of presents. (It looks bigger and more dramatic this way too! ;) ) So even when presents arrive from out of town family, they are quickly hidden with the other presents. There is nothing to shake, rattle or peek at under our tree.
Once the presents are wrapped, we tag them with the traditional "To and From" stickers. But to make it more fun, I always include a little comment or riddle or song lyrics or an inside joke. So a tag might read, "To the King of the Hill...now return mine, Love Dad." And the present would be new gloves to replace the one's that were stolen by Trammell. Or "To Garrett & Parker - No Fighting" on a video game. "Shaken not stirred" on a James Bond video. You get the corny idea! Sure, sometimes the clues give the present away...that's the point. They are opening it right now anyway.
So you can guess this one: "To Brian - What's black and blue and worn all over?"
Sometimes we play tricks on the kids with our gift giving. (Aren't we nice parents?) There was the year that the kids asked for things that were out of our budget. But we bought them and then on Christmas morning, we played, "Let's Make a Deal." I can't remember if it was the year the IPOD first came out or the year Trammell wanted a video camera. Whatever it was, it was like $300. We wrapped it up in a huge box and said that he could have what was in the box for $100. I know! We're awful. We made him BUY his Christmas gift from us! He figured that it was Christmas and we wouldn't rip him off. He forked over $100 and we gave him the present to open. He got a good deal. That same year, Garrett wanted an electric guitar and amp. Once again, out of the budget. But he saw that his brother got a good deal, so when it was his turn to hand over $50 or $75 he quickly handed it over. He opened the box and there was a dirty pair of shoes in it. (We are soooo mean.) He knew that we were joking though and we directed him to a closet door and told him to open door number #2 and there were the guitar and amp!
One year we bought both a PS3 and an XBOX360 including controllers and games for both. We wrapped all the items up in matching paper and stacked them on the hearth. All the XBOX items were in one stack and all the PS3 items were in another. We then put a big sign above them that said, "Choose one." They all got together and decided which stack to open. Of course, we let them open both stacks and look everything and then decide, but it was fun to here them debate which pile to open.
We usually manage to do something tricky with things like pool tables, bikes, scooters, air hockey tables, snowboards and the like. We've had treasure hunts, guests show up to present the gift, strange phone calls, text messages, ding dong ditching and all kinds of adventures. That makes it fun.
But there is going to be a change in tradition if I don't get back downstairs and get wrapping!!!!