As the kids get older, they get more gift cards for birthdays and holidays. I'm okay with that, they're okay with that, and really, it makes everyone's job a lot easier. I'm a fan of gift cards.
This year they garnered both gift cards and cash for the holidays. Doodlebug got a GameStop gift card and another one for Sonic; Boo got gift cards to both JoAnn Fabric and Hobby Lobby, and they scored $80 each in cash.
Last week we went out for the first round of purchases. We stopped at GameStop first. Boo wanted to purchase her own copy of Minecraft, but they didn't have it for the 360, which actually relieved me. I really didn't want to hop back on that merry-go-round. Doodlebug initially wanted a copy of something M-rated, but when I pointed out that he wasn't old enough to purchase it himself, he shrugged and found something having to do with Star Wars - and rated T - to buy instead. I remember grumping about ratings when they came out when I was a teen, but as a parent, they're an excellent excuse to keep my kid from buying stuff that will scare him half to death (but if I told him that, he'd never believe me).
After GameStop, we hit the mall. I will say this for my children - when it comes to clothes, they really, truly do not give one iota of a hoot about brand names. They like cheap. Boo found a dress on clearance for $9 (and it rang up for $5) and a shirt for $12 (and it rang up for $8… I swear the cashiers give her a discount at the register just for being cute). That was the sum total of her purchases, and really she only spent $2 since we returned an $11 denim jacket someone had given her that didn't fit. I want her shopping skills. The boy poked around looking for T-shirts but could only find one long-sleeved shirt that he liked, and it was also on clearance. (Mama was the one who went a little nuts when she saw that Express jeans were 40% off. I don't normally buy mall jeans, but once in a while I feel the need to have a couple of nice pairs, and these are gloriously soft and fit me beautifully [and no, I'm not being paid to say that - or any of this stuff - although if Express wanted me to test out their clothing and report back, I would happily oblige].)
So that was last week. We had to go back to the mall area today to pick up Boo's charm bracelet, which was having a new charm soldered on, so Boo grabbed her crafting gift cards and off we went. She spent her JoAnn gift card on material to make herself a new apron ($10 gift card and her total was $9.98 or something scarily close to the balance… seriously, I want her shopping skills) and part of her Hobby Lobby card on a sign for her bedroom door that says, "Girls Only. No Boys Allowed." She had been looking for a small stand mirror for her vanity, but she didn't find one she liked. She still has another $6 on that card, so I'm sure we'll be back, probably for fabric and sewing purposes.
The cash? Well, the girl hasn't spent hers yet. The boy, on the other hand, decided he wanted a pair of rollerblades. So he took his remaining money, and we went to Academy, where he found himself a pair in his size (men's 11, by the way… Sasquatch is alive and well and living at my house) and had enough cash left over to purchase a small Nerf gun. He spent a little extra on a brightly-colored metal lizard from Hobby Lobby that he's named Eddie. Eddie will grace Doodlebug's bedroom wall as soon as the boy can get up the stairs with a hammer and a nail. He's taking down his Minecraft poster for Eddie's sake, which shocked me but made me happy at the same time. I'm not a big fan of posters.
My kids continually surprise me with the things they choose to buy. I'm very proud that they prioritize their spending and are learning that extra cash can be saved or at least spent on things they really want rather than feeling the need to blow it all at once. It's a small step on the road to independence, but it's something I've been trying to teach them for their entire lives. I'm glad it's finally kicking in. More or less.