For someone who has worked very hard in the past few years to embrace a lifestyle that is more about experiences and less about stuff, this is a hard time of the year! The minimalist in me sees the holidays as a good opportunity to make room and own fewer materialistic things. BUT the fun – or what most might call the normal – side of me can’t stop devouring the best gift buying lists that all our favorite companies and bloggers are putting out. A midcentury-modern butter slicer? I’ll take it!
Jokes aside, the restraint is harder to exercise especially when it comes to children’s gifts, amiright?
There are so many awesome books, toys, subscription boxes, and fancy clothes around this time of the year! Add to that the general festive mood which makes spoiling the kids a necessity in the name of making good memories! How is one to deal? Luckily after having three kids, both the Grinch and the Santa in me have learned to coexist! This is how I do it.
I spend considerable energy in making sure the kids know that it isn’t about the gifts and that expecting a million wrapped things under the tree is not in the spirit of the holidays! Then, when they aren’t looking, I read the gift lists in magazines and the Internet, and pass on suggestions to family and friends who ask.
Starting a wish list on Amazon is not a bad idea either. This seems to help in cases when saying ”no toys please” is just not going to fly (I am looking at your grandparents), and my kids (and by that I mean me) really don’t want another piece of plastic junk with a million pieces that will be broken, lost, and forgotten in a matter of hours.
So like a selfless mom, I let others get the credit for getting the cool gifts for the kids as I focus on the fundamentals. For me, I want to give something that will show that material stuff is not the most important; that I value their time most of all; and that they are world citizens who need to be kind and adventurous. Fitting those categories, here are four gifts that I think will make a perfect addition to anyone’s season of giving this year.
Gift Ideas for Kids:
1. A Passport
The first thing I did for all my kids by the time they were 3-months old, was get them a passport. I know of adults well into mid-life who don’t own one, and it baffles me. Traveling these days is so much cheaper and convenient, even with kids. Why pass up the opportunity to explore the world and open their (and your) mind! Cost of a passport for children 16-years and younger: less than $150. Value of building curiosity about the world and collecting those travel stamps: Priceless. If you are not the parent then consider printing a blank application form and attaching a check for the fees, encouraging the parent to get the ball rolling!
2. A 529 Account
The second thing I did after having all my kids was open a 529 college savings account. Very boring, yes! But it is one of the easiest things to do as soon as you have their social security number, it is a gift that both the parent and child will be thankful for when it’s time to pay that tuition. After all, as every person will remind you, time flies and they grow up so fast! It is also a great way to encourage family and friends to write a check when they don’t know what to get the kids for future birthdays and special occasions.
3. A Date
In my house at least, “date” is when the sitter comes and mom and dad disappear for a few hours. My young kids usually see us dress up and get giddy as we bid them a good evening with the sitter. I can almost see the wheels churning in their brains as they wonder just what happens on a date! So, why not show them. Especially if you have multiple kids, giving a gift of a fancy date where they get to dress up too, get some one-on-one time with one or both the parents, and visit a nice restaurant or theater or another place that isn’t their usual spot, is truly a very memorable and fun experience!
4. Something Handmade
Most parents have a stash of doodles, a potato stamped collage, overly glued crafts stuff, and other odds and ends that their kids have created and presented with such love that now we have sworn never to toss it for the rest of our life! This creativity and the importance of making something with their own hands is an important lesson and habit that, in my opinion, is also equally valuable when exercised in adulthood. Sitting down with some crayons, scissors, and glue to make something thoughtful to add to your kids gift stash sends the same message as when we receive such gifts from them! Guys, it is also liberating and fun, I swear! Love is not a widget purchased in a store after all, and what better way to show it then by creating something for them. Might I suggest something easy, like a coupon book. With some stickers, markers, and a stapler, it is easy enough to create a book of 10 or so coupons that gives them a one-time pass on things like making their bed, or buys them extra 10 minutes of screen time! Who can resist that!
I really hope that you get to try one or all of these ideas with your kids this holiday season. It is truly such a special time of the year and I hope the memories you make are cherished forever!