3 Solutions for Toys EVERYWHERE

Toys EVERYWHERE! The club chair is also hiding a LOT of presents.

Dear K & K: I feel like I’m drowning in toys after Christmas this year. I have toys everywhere. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this all more manageable? I don’t have the heart to tell my kids’ grandparents not to go overboard with gifts. Any other ideas? Overwhelmed in Oswego 

Dear Overwhelmed: Well, even if you told grandparents not to buy a ton of gifts, we’ve found the success rate with this type of request is at best 10%. In addition, it seems to engender ill will in about 90% of grandparents. So, it’s a useless endeavor. Your best bet is to take the following steps.

First, take a trip to a Goodwill location that takes toys. Kelly does it ahead of Christmas but that’s a Classic’s move. Almost everybody else can do it — that is, purging toys with a big old black garbage bag — whenever you’re about to lose your mind with toys seeping out of their designated areas. Never do it with kids unless you want this task to take forever and you do not want to get rid of that many toys. If you want to involve them, ask them to find a couple of toys they want to donate and then secretly do the deep purge when they’re not around. Kids will gripe about this task but the more it becomes an annual ritual, the less they will whine. Emphasis placed on the word less for a reason.

Second, stash away a few toys in our storage area to see if they even miss them. Kelly read somewhere that kids are more interested in toys when there are fewer of them laying out. So it’s not just cruelty motivating our advice.

Third, to avoid toys everywhere next year, notice what toys your kids play with throughout the year. Start a Goodwill toy hamper and slowly remove unwanted toys whenever you notice them. This kind of feeds into eventually eliminating the first step above, which makes life easier — PixiesDidIt’s entire raison d’etre!! All our best! Katie & Kelly


Christmas & Gift Giving

Festooning with evergreens has been done for millennia

Dear K & K: This is a tricky time of year for me with my in-laws. They’re super into Christmas. But, I am not. My family was very religious, from a different culture, and we didn’t grow up doing gift giving at Christmas. The vastly different ways that we approach Christmas wasn’t a problem when we first got married. But it has become one since I had kids. I’m a very logical person and am honest to my son (and soon to my other son) about Christmas traditions. But, my in-laws insist on Santa Claus etc. and giving too many gifts. I’ve asked them repeatedly to not give sp many gifts at Christmas but they continue to find a way to do so. I’m at the point where I’m considering no longer celebrating Christmas with them. Sincerely: Virginia in New York City.

Dear Virginia: What comes to your mind when you read this: 12 days of festivities, Yuletide, Yule logs, wreaths, gift exchanging, feasts, singing, evergreens. Christmas? Guess again. These are the traditions that almost all predate Jesus Christ’s birth. They’re what ancient Northern Europeans did to celebrate the Winter Solstice. The Ancient Romans also celebrated a holiday called Saturnia on December 25th to mark the solstice. What’s our point? You are fighting an uphill battle against millennia of humans marking the darkest days of the year. It’s a battle that Christians seem to have only won by merging Christmas into the existing Yuletide festivities. If the Christian church couldn’t get people to stop, you’re not likely to either.

Our solution is to talk with your in-laws. It’s your life. Explain why your position on Christmas is important to you. But, remember. One day, if you’re lucky, you’ll be an in-law too. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Then, set up Christmas boundaries you can live with and they can too. As usual, communicate and do lots of it. Happy Winter Solstice! Katie & Kelly

Christmas Card Culling

Dear K&K: I think it’s time for some Christmas card culling. Our list has ballooned over the years, it’s crazy expensive and there are so many people we barely talk to anymore on it. My husband essentially wants to keep everyone. I think he has agreed to MAYBE one cut!!! Is there a way to communicate with him to get him to let go?  Signed: Hopeful in Hope 

Dear Hopeful: Culling is hard for Organics as well as for a few Classic Freedoms and Fun Freedoms. If he’s an Organic, try going the feelings route, e.g.,
“It hurtful that the Jamesons no longer send us a card yet we continue to send one to them.” Sometimes this can make more headway with Organics instead of just pointing out that you’re throwing away money by sending to people who are no longer in your life. If he’s a Classic Freedom or a Fun Freedom, you can try the emotional route. But I’d add in practical arguments such as, “If we can cut out 30 people, we will save $60.”

My final thought is that Christmas card culling is actually a delicate procedure. Before recommending the cuts, think about each suggestion or cut. Some people don’t send out Christmas cards but enjoy getting yours and might be hurt. If you’re a Smart, a Classic Structure, or a Fun Structure, you might not care. BUT, your spouse might. SO, make sure you’re not suggesting cutting one of your spouse’s old family friends. It’s easier to get anyone on board if you have a sane rationale for every cut.

Okay, my FINAL final thought … Minted has their Cyber Monday sale extended for Holiday cards until TODAY. Get on it! Seasons Greetings!!! Katie & Kelly

Goodbye, Thanksgiving!

Dear K&K: My brother’s wife just announced that they were not going to come to our parents for Thanksgiving anymore but instead travel with their kids. They invited everyone to join them. My mom handled it so politely and said they appreciated the invitation but they couldn’t join as they were going to host a traditional Thanksgiving. Umm??? In what world, is this okay?? It is taking every ounce of willpower for me not to write her a nasty email. Please walk me back. Signed: Apoplectic in Atlanta

Dear Apoplectic: Something tells us this isn’t about saying “Goodbye, Thanksgiving!” Perhaps you and your “brother’s wife” don’t get along? First clue is that you don’t refer to her as your sister-in-law or heaven forbid, your sister! Obviously, the second clue is you even contemplating writing a nasty email. Take three deep breaths.

Kelly just heard how a mom friend does this sort of trip and even though Kelly likes her family (usually!), she thought this was a brilliant idea. Holidays with relatives who don’t like you (& vice versa) can be MISERABLE. As times change, more and more people are going to fly the coop rather than put up with it. And even if you DO like your family, Americans get such little vacation time to travel why not take this extra time to go somewhere fun instead of cramming into a relative’s house??

Our best recommendation is to skip the nasty email. Then call your sister-in-law and see if you can come up with a compromise. Maybe you guys all join them on their trip one time as a show of solidarity and then they join in the traditional way every so often. Our extended Breckenridge clan stopped doing family Thanksgiving when it got too complicated. Now, we do a family reunion at a different time of year.

Compromise is hard but it’s the key to happiness and unity. If only politicians understood this verity. 😉 All our best, Katie & Kelly

How You Politely Say, “Your Apartment Sucks.”

Illustration available at BreckWorks on Etsy

Illustration available at BreckWorks on Etsy

Dear Katie & Kelly,

My in-laws live in a two bedroom in Florida and want our family to stay with them over the winter holidays to get away and relax. Although it’s a really kind offer, we’re a family of 5 and this place is way too small for all of us. It will not be relaxing. How do I politely decline their offer without hurting their feelings?


Dreading Daytona


Dear Dreading,

Well, there are two ways to go about politely declining the offer. Okay, maybe three. First, you lie. You tell them you already have plans. I’d go with this plan if it’s a good lie as in you know telling your in-laws you don’t want to stay with them in their tiny apartment will hurt their feelings. The second way is to tell them the truth: It’s such a kind offer, you would love to see them, it’s just too small of a space for you guys to truly relax, etc… If you think they’d understand the honest approach then I’d go this route for sure. People often smell a lie and you’ve got to keep stories straight. The third option is a hybrid. Accept the offer to visit them but get your own place nearby that you feel is big enough. Obviously this entails being a little truthful about their place. We’re not in college anymore and unless someone has a big pile in the country, technically, you don’t have to stay with them. It’s all about the finesse, say it kindly and any normal person will understand. If they do have a problem with it after you use your best finesse then it’s their problem not yours.

Happy Holidays!

Katie & Kelly

How to Wow on Christmas Gifts


Illustration available at BreckWorks on Etsy

Dear Katie & Kelly,

My wife insists that I buy her gifts every year that she has specifically requested because she hates being disappointed when I don’t get her the right thing. So I gave up years ago and buy her what she wants. Great. Everybody is happy. Trouble is, the other day she complained that I never buy her gifts from the heart anymore. It seems that I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

Any advice?


Aggravated in Annapolis


Dear Aggravated,

You are ALMOST damned either way … but not quite. If someone asks for a specific gift you would be a fool not to get it for them if you want to make them happy. BUT, nobody minds a little bit of extra sparkle or effort after they’ve received everything they want. Now, don’t get us wrong, she could still easily return or not like whatever extra gift you get her. But the way to have more hits than misses is to take note of where she likes to shop whether a boutique or a catalog — seriously write it down somewhere you will be able to refer to frequently — and pick something from there. This goes for any gift, wherever someone is naturally drawn to purchase things for themselves is bound to have other things they’ll like. Another way to get it right is to use a personal shopper or a stylist.

Happy Shopping!

Katie & Kelly

Holiday Planning is SO Fun!

Illustration available at BreckWorks on Etsy

Illustration available at BreckWorks on Etsy

Dear Katie & Kelly,

I’m recently engaged and my fiance floated the idea of doing Christmas with his family and doing Thanksgiving with my family … every year. He says he doesn’t care about Thanksgiving. I shouldn’t have a problem with it — I love Christmas but it’s not the be all end all for me like some of my friends — but I do.  My fiance and I have never spent the holidays together. I guess the problem is that I’m close with my family and don’t want to never see them on Christmas ever again.

What do I do?


Confused in Columbia


Dear Confused,

Welcome to the wide, wide world of super fun holiday planning. Not! If you were lucky, you probably never knew the tumult behind the scenes of holiday planning until the point you decided to get hitched. Holidays and newly forming families are a powder keg. To avoid lighting this fuse, they involve compromise (ah, the joys of marriage!) and finding what you can each live with and that your families can live with. Sometimes everyone is flexible and easy going about things. Sometimes they’re not. The latter is out of your control since you didn’t pick your family or your fiance’s. You’re your own family unit now. Go with your collective guts.

Just remember that no matter what your personality type, change is difficult. Give people time to adjust, including yourself. Plus what you decide to do now isn’t written in stone.  If you have kids one day, you might decide to shake things up or your siblings or parents might do it for you. We will say one thing for certain, the first holiday you don’t spend with your own family will be tough even if you like your in-laws. But, it gets better from there. Or at least ours did with a lot of good wine!

Merry Christmas!

Katie & Kelly

Baptism Gift Idea?


Dear Katie & Kelly,

I am a godmother for the first time to my good friend’s daughter and I need to buy something for the christening. Help! What to I buy?? A silver rattle? A big ‘ol wall cross? My friend is either a Classic or an Organic Structure.


Help Me in Helena


Dear Help me,

You can never go wrong with a traditional baby gift like a silver rattle or anything in that arena — silver brush set, silver cup, silver teething ring etc. It’s an heirloom, which is something multiple personality types value for their kids even if they’re technically useless.

As for a cross, it is more than okay to give it as a gift since it’s a christening a.k.a. a baptism, and the cross is a symbol of Christianity. Now whether it ends up being hung up on their wall is a matter of personal taste so don’t be offended if you never see it up!

One gift idea is to get something that could be a gift you keep giving every Christmas or every birthday. You could buy her a charm bracelet and have the first charm be a cross then spread out from there. Or if it’s a godson (or a goddaughter!) you could buy them books with messages you know their parents would like you to impart to them. If you’re rolling in it, you could buy them first editions.

Hope that helps!

All our best,

Katie & Kelly


Late Sibling Arrivalry

Dear Katie & Kelly,

Every year, my brother and his family show up late for Christmas dinner. Last year he was almost 2 hours late. I almost lost it last year on him but my mom begged me not to say anything and ruin Christmas. I don’t think I’ll be able to hold myself back this year. Is it fair that he is so rude and we all have to take it? I’m a Classic Structure.

Fuming in Phillie


Dear Fuming,

The fact that your brother’s tardiness upsets you leads us to believe you actually know people with brothers who show up on time for Christmas dinner. Who knew? Our beloved brother (an Organic Freedom) is always late but man does he feel bad when he is. He’s like a golden retriever; it’s impossible to be angry with him. Sounds like you don’t have a golden retriever but maybe a Smart Freedom or a Fun on your hands, so our best advice to you is to tell him dinner is about 2 hours earlier than you plan. This way he’ll probably only be 15 minutes late.

Merry Christmas!
Katie & Kelly