Which is better – giving or receiving gifts? I think they’re both great.

My family does Secret Santa now at Christmas – excluding my youngest brother and nephews who give and get individual presents. Last Christmas I was really pleased because all the gifts I received from family and friends were really personal and brilliantly chosen – no generic gifts. That’s special and it makes you feel that you have deep and meaningful relationships with those people, who know you well enough to choose something you’ll appreciate.

Boyfriendface has 3 kids. Their birthdays all fall within a few weeks of each other.

Child 1 is 17 and has autism and learning difficulties. I’d prefer not to introduce him in that way, as if those define him, but what follows won’t really make sense without that context. His favourite activity is watching Youtube cartoons and trailers on Youtube. He also watches DVDs, plays with his trains, and there are a handful of x-box games he enjoys. He likes to join in if boyfriendface and Child 3 are play-wrestling so I got him Twister, thinking he might enjoy a game with this type of physical contact. I think he would have been more invested if not distracted by the PC (which he’d been temporarily removed from to join in) but he did seem to enjoy it. Getting him to move the correct right/left/hand/foot was difficult but I figure not too important. He introduced an additional challenge to the game by leaning shamelessly on other people, and then purposefully dragging folk to the floor to wrestle with them instead. Non-computer group game they can all join in with; enjoyment; success!

Child 2 is 15. She spends a lot of time on her ipod or Child 1’s ipad, and likes gothic stuff, vampires, computer games, Marvel superheroes… I would describe her as a reluctant reader. I asked a friend for recommendations on graphic novels that might appeal and got her a couple. That evening she sat on the couch reading one while the others played on the computer and watched TV, and when she went to bed sat up reading the other one with the lamp on while the others watched DVDs. Reading; gift-ideas for subsequent birthdays/christmases sorted; success!

Child 3 is 11. He loves computer and x-box but also Lego, and is young enough to still enjoy playing with his toys. I got him a Minion (from Despicable Me) themed version of the board game Operation. It has a minion instead of a person, and the items you surgically remove are things like a Very Fluffy Unicorn, or a Fart Gun. It also comes with 4 rubber minion figurines which you earn by successfully extracting certain parts. This present was bought on the premise that I thought Child 3 would like this game, also thinly veiling an ulterior motive of I WANT THIS GAME! WE SHOULD GET THIS GAME FOR THE HOUSE. Child 3 and I had a couple of games last night while boyfriendface was out (instigated by him getting the game out); Minion Operation is great; success!

Be Christmas before long. What gifts can we give and get next?