I don’t know how many families do this, but when I was a child we were always allowed to open up one gift on Christmas Eve. Lately I’ve seen “Christmas Eve boxes” that contain new pajamas, popcorn, and a DVD to watch, and I think those are a great idea.

But my children are almost-five and six-and-a-half, and I have an entire DAY to get through. I have cooking to do! I need them to be at least a little bit self-entertaining throughout the day.

Enter the best gift ever, which we let them open this morning before my husband left for work.

Now, if you’re better at planning than I was this year, you can start squirreling away supplies as soon as the Boxing Day sales hit, and you can probably pick up more in September, when the stores fill up with cheap school supplies. That’s my plan for next year.

But this year, I made do with what I could order online in October when my son SUDDENLY developed a huge interest in drawing. My daughter has always liked colouring, but thanks to him she’s now creating her own drawings and even copying some words. Elder siblings are the best.

So here’s what they opened this morning:

  1. A case-it binder. I bought these in two different colours, to make it easier for them to find their own. I have absolutely no idea why some colours cost more than others, but obviously I picked the cheapest two. You could get a good zipper binder more cheaply if you planned ahead, but I like that the case-it has both a handle and a shoulder strap, because this is something we can port along on visits with family.
  2. Several binder pouches full of supplies. I bought them one each of these sparkly ones and a couple of plain black ones. (I use the black ones all the time myself to organize crafting supplies, so we actually have extras on hand should they need them.
  3. A sketchbook. I wanted something with coil binding so it would lay flat, and a hard cover so it could take a bit of abuse (and decorating). There are literally a million options that fit those criteria.
  4. A pack of coloured Smencils. Honestly any decent-quality coloured pencils would have worked just as well, but I was placing an order with Fun Toys That Teach anyway, so I splurged just a little.
  5. A pack of scented gel crayons.
  6. A few sticker sheets. I picked up some Paw Patrol and Frozen stickers at Walmart, and then bought one pack each of these scented stickers to continue the theme. Everything I bought had two or more sheets inside, so I opened the packs and split them (except for the Frozen ones; my son has his limits. I bought him one single sheet of Star Wars ones instead.)

Next year I’m assuming the binders and pouches will still be operational, so I just need to stockpile some craft supplies and new sketchbooks.

Here’s the best part: it has been THREE ENTIRE HOURS since they opened their Christmas Eve gifts and they are still completely absorbed!