The holiday season is upon us, ya’ll, and this may be the first year ever that I’ve made it all the way to November without purchasing a single solitary gift! I’m still a very new minimalist and I am certainly not hardcore about it (I’m not downsizing to a micro-home, paring down my possessions to only 100 or vowing to live out of a backpack). My goal is to cut down on consumerism, commercialization and in general the proliferation of “stuff” in our household so that our lives better reflect our personal family values. So how do gifts come in?
Aside from the “stuff factor”, I am a huge believer in tradition and family rituals which can include gift giving. For some folks, giving and receiving gifts can be a very important part of how they show (and receive) love. (If you haven’t read the 5 Love Languages, I promise it will be eye-opening). Gifts can also be symbolic of the spiritual gifts of forgiveness, peace and sacrificial love that Christ brought to earth, so giving gifts to loved ones is not entirely out of place at this sacred time. But how can we balance giving in love and keeping the clutter in our lives under control?
I am trying to really study what my children enjoy so that I can give to them more thoughtfully. Instead of searching out a gift with a big initial “wow” factor (as I always did in the past), I’m looking for experiences or opportunities that will enrich or educate in a new or special way. Here are 12 great ideas that will change the way we gift!
- Memberships: A children’s museum, aquarium, zoo or planetarium membership can make a fantastic gift! You can always include a t-shirt or toy to go along with the theme and make the “unwrapping” a little more exciting. This is a gift that will continue to delight them throughout the year and won’t wind up in the donation pile.
- A Gift that Grows: Most kids love to take care of a living thing, even if it means watering their own plant! Whether a simple house plant from the local nursery or their own Aerogarden, give them something they can take responsibility for and learn from at the same time!
- Lessons: perhaps your child has expressed interest in a sport or hobby that isn’t exactly in the monthly budget. The holidays are a perfect time to give them the gift of a new experience. Why not put a karate gi and gift certificate for 5 lessons under the tree? If ice skates and ice skating lessons would give your daughter a thrill, go with that. Let them try something new in the new year!
- Hosting: For the future party planner, give your child an opportunity to throw their own soiree. Create a “gift certificate” giving them the freedom to plan a movie night, sleep-over, or epic nerf gun battle for their friends. Allow them to help with every aspect of planning the entertainment, food and invitations so that it becomes their personal party. American Girl has some fun books on hosting that would amp up the wow factor on Christmas morning.
- Books: I am someone who generally thinks books are fantastic as gifts, but a little extra touch can make reading even more exciting. Try buying an adorable book bag and placing it with a gift card for a book store or pair a stuffed animal with a companion book (Check out Kohls Cares for some adorable sets at only $10 each). For reluctant readers, a Kindle with classic books could entice them in a way that physical copies might not!
- Hope: There are many charities that allow you to provide a specific animal (such as a goat or chicken) for a family in need. The gift will dramatically affect the family’s life going forward and is a truly sustainable and “green” offering to the honoree. If your child is younger, try giving them a stuffed animal or figurine to symbolize the charitable gift! For example, tuck a small Schleich goat into their stocking with a letter explaining how it will help. Read more about gifts that give back here.
- Experiences: a one time trip to the movies, local arcade, kids museum, trampoline park, ice skating rink or pottery studio could be a fantastic surprise. This could be a special family visit or bring-along a friend experience; either way they will remember this present!
- Pet Gift certificate: Now this is definitely a gift to take seriously, but if your family is ready for a simple pet, the holidays are a fun time to surprise them with it! Wrap up a book about your chosen creature and build up the trip to the pet store as the main event. Click here for some great, low-maintenance pets for kids!
- Cooking: an awesome kid’s cookbook, apron and delicious recipe or maybe special time with YOU teaching your famous recipe. If your kiddo is interested in baking, you might like to check out the Perfect Bake, it makes measuring ingredients amazingly simple!
- Personalized mug: A couple years ago, I realized that photo mugs can be personalized in so many ways! Think about some of the things your child LOVES, whether it’s a person, place, or even a board game! A pic of a lovey (you know, the toy that has to go everywhere with them), or a quote or character from a favorite book would be perfect. If you’d like to take this idea a step further, create a collage on picmonkey using quotes, colors, pics, and fonts you know they will love. The end-product will be completely personalized and can be used every day.
- Ear Piercing: This may seem a strange idea, but I really love that we put off ear piercing until it was really exciting and momentous for my daughters (at age 10). Because we want to avoid any possible irritation, we will have to stick with expensive earrings making the “package” gift a little more of an investment for our family. The experience made for fun memories and instead of going to the typical mainstream store at the mall, we visited a fine local jewelry store that really made it a special and exciting event.
- Nature Lover: If your child is interested in wildlife, they might just love a window bird feeder that can attach to their bedroom window. If you want to build it up as more of a package gift, grab a simple wild bird ID book and pair it with this fun window feeder. I know my kids would be thrilled to watch birds up close.
I would love to hear some of your unique gift ideas for kids and please check back into BargainBabe soon for the grown-up version of gifts outside the box! Here’s to a low-stress and meaningful November and happy holidays for all of us!