As a parent I've come to realize that the the gifts my children appreciate the most are the ones where we get to spend time together. This can be anything from a fun new board game to a handmade coupon for a mommy-and-daughter date. Over the years I've decided to not overwhelm my kids with too many gifts. From personal experience, I found that less is more, specially with gift giving. Usually my husband and I decide on one store bought gift, something durable, eco-friendly, and that will give us the opportunity to spend time with our kids - books for example are a great gift. This year Inhabitat created a detailed Green Holiday Gift Guide which features fun and educational toys for toddlers, boys, and girls. The gifts curated in the Green holiday Gift Guide, are eco-friendly, well crafted, and timeless, a great resource to look at if you want to give a quality store-bought gift. As for the non-store-bought gifts, we try to give our kids at least one of these every year. Here are some ideas for memorable, untraditional presents your children might enjoy.
1. Give Them Lessons to Something Fun
This year our 5 year old son, Enzo, is getting private chess lessons from a professional chess player as his Christmas gift. Enzo loves playing chess and really wants to get better at it. We found a local professional chess player and hired him to give our son classes. So on Christmas morning he’ll open a box with his chess set and a handmade gift certificate for a month of private chess lessons. Guess who else is loving this gift? The chess teacher of course. Think of something your child really enjoys or is curious about, maybe science, or origami, or cooking, and then hire someone local who can come to your house and teach your child something new. Don’t stop there, if you know Grandma wants to give your child a Christmas present as well get her involved by asking her to chip in. We’ve done this with swim lessons in the past and it was a total hit. No one had to go out and buy anything, no one had to ship us anything, and Enzo, my 5 year old, got exactly what he wanted. He learned how to swim.
2. Give Them Mail
This year my husband’s family decided that instead of giving gifts we will give handmade cards. Each family member drew a name to discover our secret Santa who we must send a handmade card. I can’t even tell you how excited my kids are about making a card to send to one of their cousins and anticipating a card back from their secret Santa. Who doesn’t love getting a personalized letter in the mail from someone you love? The cousins are all getting really creative. The older kids are making a video for their secret Santa and sending a DVD along with the card. The smaller kids are making collages, or using finger paints, to make a card to send to their cousins. The anticipation of getting something in the mail has already made this gift worth it.
3. A Season Pass
Is there a fun ski resort, museum, State Park, or aquarium in your town? Are you thinking about buying a 2012 pass? If so, and if your budget allows, you might consider doing it and having your kids open a box on Christmas day where inside they’ll find a Season Pass to their favorite place, or wherever it is your family likes to go to, to spend time together.
4. Document Stories from When you Were a Kid
For children, there is something magical about hearing stories of when their parents were kids. At family reunions we always make time to hear Grammy Pammy tell stories about when her children were little. My son loves hearing about when his father and I were his age and constantly asks us to tell him more. You can email your parents and siblings and ask them to write down a couple stories of when you were your child’s age to add to the stories you remember. This doesn’t have to be complicated, just think of your favorite childhood memory and write it down. You can do this using pictures or just with words. In the past we’ve used blank board books to write down a quick story and then added pictures. It’s seriously still one of the most prized processions in our home.
5. Money for a Charity of their Choice
Give your child a voucher with a specific amount of money on it. Then ask him to think of a charity he’d like to donate to. If your child is too young to know of any charities then brainstorm some ideas of things they like. Does your child like animals? If so you can donate to a local animal shelter or even the city zoo. Then make a point of going there with your child to give the money together. Most importantly, arrange a time to go when you and your child, together, can do some community service. There’s nothing like a gift where you can give back.