being a mom

I’m Giving My Baby A Lump Of Coal For Christmas Or Anything Else That Is Semi-Free

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90959879Babies, as adorable as they are, have no freaking clue what’s going on. For a brand-new parent, this is a total blessing in disguise. You can screw them up and fumble your way through parenting for a few good years before you have to answer for it.

This couldn’t apply more to Baby’s First Christmas.

Last year was my first Christmas with my first son, and I wanted to make it epic. Of course, he was born in January, so he was almost a year old by the time his first Christmas rolled around. He was able to actually open presents and enjoy some of the toys and trinkets we got him.

But now it’s my second Christmas with children, and I also have a second son who will be seven months old. So, you could say this isn’t my first rodeo.

When I started thinking about Christmas gifts for my baby, I really did try to come up with something adorable/meaningful/relevant to a baby. But you know what? There’s almost nothing that fits in that category. (Unless you’re talking about an engraved rattle ornament, but come on.) You know what else? My baby won’t even remember this holiday.

I really did toy with the idea of not getting him a gift at all, but that may be taking it a little too far. On top of the fact that it’s pretty hard to shop for a baby that has no memory, my second son is already the “baby that has everything.” We have loads of toys from my first son, my second son is wearing like-new hand-me-downs, and we’ve kept every baby gadget that we needed.

So… Even though I know it’s a total faux pas to give kids practical gifts like socks and underwear under the Christmas tree, it’s happening. Baby’s First Christmas is going to be as low-cost as possible since he’s not going to remember it anyway.

So far, I’ve bought him a cute little matching tracksuit, Christmas pajamas, and a sippy cup decorated with mustaches and neckties. Before you think I’m totally heartless, I also ordered him a monogrammed stocking to match with the rest of the family’s stockings. Still, the total value of my baby’s Christmas gift this year is probably…wait for it…$20.

At least I didn’t go with plan A, which was going to be a few cartons of formula tied with pretty bows under the Christmas tree. (So then I could say, “Formula doesn’t grow on trees, kid!”)

And I think that’s going to be it. A seven-month-old can’t open presents, and he definitely won’t remember the holiday. On top of that, he has tons of doting family members that are going to buy him piles of frivolous gifts that he may or may not play with.

That’s not to say I’m not grateful for every gift my kids are given, and I’m also not a Scrooge. I absolutely love the holidays! I can’t wait to start special traditions and make family memories during what I consider literally the most wonderful time of the year – as long as my kids remember them.

I’m not a cheap ass, but in my second holiday season with kids, I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve realized that piling gifts under the Christmas tree for a baby would be more about me than him. Sure, I want my kids to have a blast every magical second of the holidays and can’t wait to read their Christmas lists. But babies, God love ’em, do not have Christmas lists, and they will be happy with anything you get them.

That’s the great thing about babies – they won’t remember! Get them a gift, or don’t, it’s all the same to them! If you have no idea how to parent and feel like a total failure, just think – your baby won’t remember!

If I may take this time for an aside, that really is the biggest advantage of the baby years. Yes, they’re unreasonably hard at times, and your baby may make you question the meaning of life – and not in a good way. But every time you feel like you’ve effed up royally, you can always comfort yourself with the fact that your baby has no idea what’s going on. Win-win!

But back to my point. My baby has no concept of what Christmas actually is. He’ll probably be overjoyed just to get a sippy cup in his stocking that he can gnaw on for the remainder of the day. As my kids get older and start to understand what Christmas is all about, I’ll be happy to buy them the number one gift on their list (within reason). Until then, practical Christmas gifts will have to do. Bah Humbug?

(Image: getty)


  1. AmazingE

    December 11, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Don’t feel bad, I plan on doing the same thing with my 13 month old for as long as I can. Last year was a breeze, she slept all day and I think the only thing she even kind of took an interest in was the lights on the tree. This year she still doesn’t give a crap and would probably rather play with the boxes than the things that came in them, so I got her a few small noisy toys and a giant box of Cheerios. All of which will go into one really big box that she can climb into and pull stuff out of at her leisure.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

      Cheerios! I was looking for a stocking stuffer idea. And thanks. 🙂

    • AmazingE

      December 11, 2013 at 11:53 am

      You’re welcome. I have to really watch her in the cereal aisle, because if I get too close she’ll just pull a box off the shelf and start gnawing on it, haha. Same for the aisle with the Gerber puff things.

  2. EmmaFromÉire

    December 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Speaking of giving, watch this. It’s worth it, I promise.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm


  3. EX

    December 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    We kept things pretty tame for baby’s first Christmas. The grandparents more than make up for it! This year she is starting to get it (she’s 2.5) but still doesn’t really have the concept of a wish list (when we ask her what she wants Santa to bring she says “ice cream” – if only it wouldn’t melt under the tree…), so she’s getting a few things that we think she’ll like but it’s still pretty tame.

  4. Paul White

    December 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I’m wrapping him some empty boxes and giving him his very own box of tissues he can pull out and play with.

    • Alicia Kiner

      December 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      I saw something on Pinterest where you stuff pieces of cloth (like quilting squares) into a tissue box for toddlers, so they can pull them out and then stuff them back in.

  5. jendra_berri

    December 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    This is exactly why I won’t be that mom at the amusement park with a stroller. When you can remember the experience, I’ll pay the $60 to go in and actually go on rides.

    That being said, I am giving my son (Who is our only child) a couple new toys that I would have bought anyway because he’s getting older, only I’m waiting till Christmas to do it. I sure wouldn’t buy new stuff if I were you either. He’ll probably be happy enough to just look at other people’s wrapping paper.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      That’s why we aren’t doing Santa pics for the baby either! Scrooge 🙂

    • EX

      December 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Don’t get me started on Santa pics. Call me a Scrooge but I’d rather not have my kid think Santa is a creepy guy wearing cheap cologne who lives at the mall. I’m not taking her to sit on santa’s lap until she’s old enough to ask for it. Bah humbug!

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm


    • AmazingAsh

      December 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      I always said the same thing about amusement parks, but I didn’t realize that Disneyland goes all-out with Christmas decorations, and DS really, REALLY loves Cars and Mickey Mouse. I think I’ll be taking him next year (he’ll be 3.5) to see the decorations and go to Cars Land. I don’t care if he remembers it; I want to remember it!!

    • noelle 02

      December 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      My kids love to look at pictures of their first trips to Disney World. No, #1 may not remember being propped up against Tigger for a picture, but he loves seeing the picture and hearing me talk about it. Some memories for mom are worth paying for too. And at 3 1/2, your son may remember. My daughter remembers her trip at three with enough details that I think it’s a real memory.

    • Blooming_Babies

      December 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      My kids may not remember it but I sure do and they loved it. Take your camera and all the picture spot people will take pictures of your family with your camera. The best Santa pictures my kids have ever taken came from trips to Disneyland.

    • Himani

      December 13, 2013 at 8:12 am

      I wouldn’t even take a 4-5 year old to Disney in all honesty.
      I went there when I was 5 and I FREAKED the fuck out. Apparently I had a horrible fear of the character folks walking around. Mickey tried to hug me and I shreiked like a wounded banshee, bashed his kneecaps in and ran.
      So yeah, test your kids out at a small, local amusement park before you take them to Disney. My parents & grandparents were sad they didn’t, a lot of money wasted on that trip.

  6. ted3553

    December 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I got mine 2 little rattle type toys for his first Christmas at 6 months. I should have gotten him a spaghetti fork and big tupperware container because those are his go-to items and then I could use them when he’s not. It would be like when my sister and I were 8 and 9 and got my mom a dozen super pretty plastic earrings that we would have loved to have gotten. thinking back, I never saw her wear them

  7. jsterling93

    December 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    My 8 month old is getting a tug boat toy that came in his Citrus Lane box and I am wrapping up the clothes that are the next size up that we bought. After all it will the boxes he wants anyway. “Santa” is bring a hand made blanket and wooden alphabet blocks. His stocking will be full of things gleaned from the box and needed items like baby wash. Mostly so I can have the pictures of him at his first Christmas but without spending a lot of money.

  8. kay

    December 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I’m filling my baby’s stocking with socks. Socks and puffs and diaper cream. Merry Christmas, you just want to eat the paper anyways.

    (have you see this: ? It’s pretty spot on for what baby would actually like)

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Yes, that is sooo funny! My baby just wants keys to hit everyone with.

  9. Rachel Sea

    December 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Get him a cardboard box: best baby gift ever.

    • LiteBrite

      December 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      That’s what I told a friend of mine at work. Her son is six months old, and she was like, “What the hell do I get him? He doesn’t even know what Xmas is!” We finally decided he likes clanging together cups, so she’s going to get him a bunch of plastic cups to bang together and a cardboard box.

    • Rachel Sea

      December 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      Measuring cups are the bomb. If they aren’t too chewed, they double duty as actual measuring devices.

  10. CelesteF

    December 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    You could always start a college savings account or add to one that already exists.

    • AE Vorro

      December 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Yes! I gently trotted that idea out to my coworker who is planning on buying a lot of gifts for her not-quite one-year-old. In eighteen years, the kid WILL care if he has to take loans out for an education; this year, he wouldn’t know the difference between lots of gifts or no gifts. She didn’t buy it, but I tried.

  11. AmazingAsh

    December 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    DS got two small items and a bunch of empty boxes this year. We went and picked some kids about his age off the Salvation Army Giving Tree instead. I had DS help me pick out gifts to give them (which was hard because he obviously doesn’t grasp the concept of giving yet). Kids get presents; we don’t get more stuff in the house. It’s a win-win.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      That is such a sweet idea.

  12. Tea

    December 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I have a new niece, her mom’s a doctor, and we are her mostly-poor uncles who want to not look like jerks. We can’t think of anything to give a 2-month old that her mom doesn’t already have, and she’s still in the “sack of dough” stage and I don’t think babies at that age even know what toys are, or what anything is, really. But if we don’t get her Something, we look like jerks.


    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Perhaps a babysitting coupon or diapers? I would love either. Unless you really don’t want to babysit. 🙂

    • Tea

      December 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      I live 600 miles away, now. That was my old go-to, that, and car repair coupons.

    • Jessica

      December 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Books, or more specifically a special hard cover book that you write a special inscription on the inside for her first Christmas.

    • noelle 02

      December 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      I second this idea. I love collections of stories with an inscription from family.

    • Jessy Southard Strohmeyer

      December 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      I seriously second the diaper idea. If they’re using formula, that’s an awesome thing to get, as well – just make sure you know the exact brand and variety. Baby wipes. You can never have too many baby wipes. You can get some pretty inexepensive cutsie baby clothes, too. Babies make messes of so many outfits a day that at that age more clothes means getting to put off doing laundry just a little bit longer.

    • Alicia Kiner

      December 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      You don’t necessarily have to get something she’ll need right now. You could look into items she’ll need in the coming year, like diapers. The old fashioned wooden alphabet blocks are still great kids’ toys and she’ll be ready for those in a few months. Anything for teething, because that can start as early as right now, or as late as a year from now. Maybe even find a specialty baby store that’s near her and see if you can get a gift certificate. That way it’s not just a gift card, it’s thoughtful, but she can use it to buy whatever the baby needs. AND you might even be able to help a small business at the same time!

  13. TheGiantPeach

    December 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    My son is the same age as your oldest! He will be 2 this January.
    Last year for my son’s first Christmas I just bought him stuff he needed and I would have bought anyway – a coat, a pair of shoes, and some socks. I got him two toys, one from us and one from Santa. He wasn’t even that interested in unwrapping gifts so I ended up doing it. He still got TONS of toys from grandparents, aunts and uncles. And then we did it all again three weeks later for his birthday.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 11, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Awwww. That January birthday means even more crap for him!

  14. Katie L.

    December 11, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I just found a pack of crayons on a shelf that my daughter has used once. They are going in her stocking. She’s two and even if she remembers them she’s going to be happy just to pull them out of her stocking.

    • Simone

      December 12, 2013 at 3:14 am

      Regifting within your own family! Win…

  15. Alicia Kiner

    December 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    My daughter’s birthday is Dec 21st. Her first birthday she was a grand total of 4 days old. She didn’t get any presents from us. We counted her first birthday as the one after her first birthday. Lame, probably, but really, we had everything we needed for a newborn (and she was a girl just as predicted) so what were people supposed to do? I just told everyone to not worry about buying her anything, and to focus our son that year. Neither one of them know that she didn’t get presents that year.

  16. whiteroses

    December 11, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    My son got an engraved cup for his first Christmas. And to be honest? Too much NEW makes him melt down. I learned that because on his first Christmas he freaked the frack out.
    This year, he got a few new toys (plastic food for his supermarket cart, a light up hammer, and a VTech something). That’s it. And I don’t really have an issue with the fact that nearly everything I bought him is under 10 dollars. What I’d really like to do is sponsor someone on an angel tree in my son’s name.

    • AmazingAsh

      December 13, 2013 at 1:40 am

      Do it!! There’s still time to pick an angel and you’ll be filled with Christmas Cheer!! Just think- there’ll be presents where there weren’t going to be any presents! That’s got to be incredibly exciting for a kid.

  17. Kheldarson

    December 12, 2013 at 4:16 am

    This is my son’s first Christmas, and we’ve bought him a number of things. To be fair, he’s our first, so we don’t have an overwhelming number of toys (yet). And we were in the middle of buying a new house from the trailer we were in when he was born, so family wasn’t able to bombard us with extra toys.

    So, yeah, we bought him some toys that he can grow with that are from us and from Santa. And even if he won’t remember it particularly, I will, and I think I’m going to enjoy it, either way 🙂

  18. Harriet Meadow

    December 12, 2013 at 11:24 am

    My family is kind of going all out with the Christmas presents for our 7-month-old, so here’s what we’ve gotten him: a computer keyboard with yellow keys for him to bang on (we found it for $1 at Dollar Tree!), some warm booties (because it’s cold here), and a cage bell rattle (because when we go to infant story time at the library he’s obsessed with them). Oh, and we got him a personalized Christmas stocking, but that’s a last-for-a-lifetime kind of thing. That’s it. I didn’t want to get him nothing, but it seemed silly to me to make a big deal out of it, since he won’t care and won’t remember.

  19. Kim

    December 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    My will be 6 months on January 2nd. She has some nice plastic spoons and a set of rainbow plastic bowls wrapped up under the tree… more for the point of my 5yr old step daughter not being bothered about her baby sister not getting anything.

  20. Jordana

    December 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    This is so true! My daughter is 8 and we have been talking lately about a bunch of toddler years parenting that I feel like I should be proud of, and she doesn’t remember any of it! LOL She also doesn’t remember my meltdowns or when she accidentally drank a mimosa either, so, like Bethany said, win-win 🙂 Fun read!

  21. Mindy

    December 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Where is the source of this magical mongrammed Christmas stocking for less than $20? I would love something like that for my bean.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Sorry for confusion – the stocking wasn’t included in my cheapie estimate, but I did get one on Living Social for $13!!!!

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