baby, experience, mother and baby, grandmother and baby, baby girl, girl

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.

cards, christmas cards, craft, letter to santa, writing cards, writing letters

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.

Yosemite, national park, family fun, snow, playing in the snow, family time

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.

family, family gathering, dinner, family reunion, dessert

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.

local charity, charity, doing community service, activism, teaching kids activism,

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.