Daniel's right into Thomas the Tank engine and LOVES building tracks through the house, so Santa planned in advance and lay-byed a big ass set that was on a 50% sale, along with a couple maybe three Thomas accouterments that were at around 30% off at Target, so we're cool for the big ticket items that are totally going to wig him out in a seriously good way. That's only four things to unwrap though, and the kind of fun that ONLY comes once a year ie the fun and subsequent memory of unwrapping and unwrapping and yet still more unwrapping will be over in a snap.
So I'll have Santa give him Shit He Needs too. If he needs clothes, Santa wraps them and drops them down our fictitious chimney because while I might not think a pair of Lightening McQueen underpants are ZOMG, I'm not nearly-four.
Same goes for socks, t-shirts, shorts ETC.
He needs new Ugg boots and Croc type beach shoes this year, so if I haven't already got them by then, I'm going to wrap and stash each one separately under the tree and arrange things so that other gifts will be unwrapped between the discovery of Uggs A and B, and NotCrocs A and B. Footwear Types A will (hopefully) be forgotten by the time Footwear Types B turns up, and when they do - because YOU KNOW I'm going to lead by example ie LOSE MAH MIND over the discovery, my almost four year old is going to be all joining in with the "HOLY CRAP, it's SHOES!", and his brains are going to explode and I'll high five myself because footwear is typically made of *yawn* but my genius just changed their chemical composition and now they're made of Awesome. Yeah!
But I probably WILL have got them by then so that's probably more of a Tip For You than it is a Reality For Us.
There'll be a ton of bits and pieces from the thrift store because Yes Way on the second hand stash, and I'm also going to re-wrap stuff from last year that wasn't a total hit then so preemptively vanished from where it was blithely dumped and forgotten about. That stuff might still not be a full-on win this time around, but the win will be that it all adds to the illusion of Massive Haul.
I figure it's the PROCESS Daniel loves so while I WANT to give him a WHOLE LOT of stuff he LOVES, I'm also together enough to not give an emotionally invested shit if I regift some left over crap instead. The gift itself, at this age anyway (hopefully?), is pretty much an added bonus, so my hot tip here is to wrap EVERYTHING.
Pencils and cases will be wrapped separately, as will be project/scrap/exercise and colouring in books. We use those school issue exercise books all year for drawing and colouring-in on the fly because they're small enough to stash in one of those large zippable pencil cases with his crayons and pencils, and we take them pretty much everywhere. Thing is, even though exercise books are an absolutley everyday item, FATHER CHRISTMAS exercise books are going to be made of Win.
Daniel likes those little tubs of fruit puree and you can bet your ass a handful of those will be wrapped and put under the tree too because it's not like he's gonna think, gah, Santa brought me fruit? He's gonna think OMGSANTABROUGHTMEFRUIT!! And he might even, you know, EAT IT. Which is something he doesn't do that often.
Daniel lives on air and Happy Meals (and he's allowed one  happy meal/week) so he is totally getting bigass box of (oh my god I am a marketing GENIUS) "Santa-Bix" *exaggerated wink* this year. It might be our only hope for breakfast, 2010.
(I'm TOTALLY running with this idea now so you can bet I'm going Santa Strategise and frikkin' WRAP everything from apples to frikkin' zucchini from now until close of trade Christmas Eve)
Last year, I got one of those two buck brag books and filled it with photos of Good Things for him to remember. He already had two Non Holiday versions but he still buzzed out when Santa gave him another, so now he's got three books of memories: two that evolved over the course of the last few years, and one that magically appeared and came from (imagine The Awestruck Face here) Santa.
Memories are more valuable than objects and research shows (bla bla bla yawn) that rich people aren't happy. They've got the means to what they think will make them happy, then they have it and they're not actually happier, so they buy that OTHER thing that will make them happy but it doesn't and so on and so forth. But! Rich people who buy experiences ARE happy, ergo, even if your kid is a poor, almost four year old, brag books and photo albums of memories = Total Gift Win.
(Aside: When Daniel was little, he used to get the only brag book he had at the time and flick through the pages going "Who dat? Who dat?", stabbing his chubby little finger at whoever it was in the photo with him. We'd go through all the names so that [ even though that bunch of motherfuckers NEVER do ANYTHING that suggests "Family" [I really shouldn't swear in a Holiday entry but, whatever], he knows who they are and that we're a family, and he'd BUZZ OUT. Then he'd say "Ooh Hollie?" [translation: "Where's Hollie?"] and his eyes would go all big and then he'd find the page with her photo and would hug it BIG TIME)
Daniel's birthday is in December too, and while it may be totally fucking WRONG to do this, I, uh, "edited" his gift score last year and "Santarised" it two weeks later.
But only the awesome stuff that got overlooked by other stuff he thought was SO AWESOME it shat all over the Other Awesome Stuff. Like, he lost his mind over a new Thomas backpack and was all "What Lego?" over the couple of sets that would have blown his diodes if the backpack hadn't come first. So the Lego disappeared and wasn't even missed, and then reappeared, at which point he lost his mind because "MUMMY! It's LEGO!! *headexplosion*."
I figure I gave him the gift of Mind Blowing Experiences more than I'd robbed him of birthday score, but still, Shameful Confession #378 billion.
Shameful Confession #379 is that that I'll doing it again this year.
And then there's the balloons. LOTS of them, blown up, tied off and dumped around the tree. The first time I did this it kind of backfired because NO WAY was Daniel going to go anywhere near that....suspicious looking crap in the front room.
And finally, a gratuitous walk down memory lane: