Thursday, December 16, 2010

Used Gift Exchange?

I miss work parties. Of all the things I love about getting to stay home with my kids.... that one thing is true. I miss work parties.

So last year I decided to start an annual "work" party for stay-at-home moms. Apparently it was a hit, because I was getting emails in early December about plans for this years party!

Well, we had it. And it was fun.

10 mommies. 23 Children. It was awesome.

One of the fun things we do at this party (other than eat and chat) is a used gift exchange for the kids. We each find a toy at home that the kids don't play with anymore. We wrap it up (one per child) and give it away. Its great. Many of the kids even get in on the "give-it-away" part in anticipation of the "new" toy they will receive.

We throw all the gifts into the middle of the room (thats 23, mind you). Then we say "Go!"  Sounds like chaos, right??? It is. Fun, crazy, loud, sensational chaos. And that's just the moms!

Actually, it goes fairly well. The younger kids need a little prodding, but in the end, each child has a gift of some kind. This year was especially touching to me.

I had a brand-new Pluto plush that had been sitting in a bin. I actually have about three Plutos so decided this one could go. Considering that it still had its Disney tag... I tried selling it. No luck. Thank God! I threw it into a gift bag and gave it away. The sweet little boy who just happened to pick that bag was THRILLED! It so happens that his favorite character is Pluto! I couldn't have asked for a better home! I never would have known to give it to him otherwise... what a joy!

My little Hannah picked a bag that had a mini Toys R Us inside. Books, dolls, clothes, mechanical toys... HUGE. (That family cleaned out well!). I pulled out a couple things for Hannah and then let the other 22 kids pick what they wanted. It was so cute. The same little boy with the Pluto kept asking, "I can have two things?" Another little girl pulled a Strawberry Shortcake doll from Hannah's bag. Little did I know that Strawberry Shortcake was her new favorite character as well!

Finally, Corban, my 3-year-old, was among the last to pick a gift. Someone found one left labeled "Toddler boy." It was between that one and the one we had brought, so he took that one. Well, it happened to be a never-used (it seemed) Disney Cars book... complete with a whole set of mini cars and a floor map to play on. If you know my son, you know that this was HIS gift.

I sat back at the end of the party and was filled with such joy. One person's "junk" was another person's newfound cherished treasure. What delight! And, not to sound cliche, but I was so blessed by how God had so lovingly arranged the gift of each child. True, some kids were initially disappointed... maybe they got a baby toy and they were quite a bit older than that! Still, they all left with something special- whether it was traded, given, or found.

The smiles were mesmerizing and I found my own self smiling all throughout the day as I thought about the various ways children had been blessed. Isn't God good?

And all from something used....