This week, we have a topic that will probably strike a few chords with several of you.
Question: “I have no clue where to begin with my kids’ gifts (mostly ideas for the grandparents), but I do know what I don’t want them to get (think: useless toys and other “junk”). Do you have any ideas or great general resources that you would suggest (books, music, educational toys, school resources, etc)?”
Great question! And one I love because it fits so well with our family philosophy of doing and buying things that have “lasting value.”
Let me start by suggesting you think outside the box of one gift per person. This is hard for grandparents to do because they are afraid the children will feel deprived, but I’ve actually seen the opposite when there has been a family gift given. They are all thrilled and get to share the joy of it together. If they are really bothered by the notion, suggest they get a few stocking stuffers to “compensate.”
So, what sorts of things might a large family (or even a small family) be interested in?
- Zoo passes
- Museum passes
- Year-long memberships to local attractions
- Memberships to DVD rental sites like ChristianCinema
- A night at a hotel (with a swimming pool and breakfast! )
- Gift certificates to eating establishments that are family friendly
- Family games (like Apples to Apples – they also have a Junior version!)
- Jonathan Park or Brinkman Adventure CDs (these have provided hours of entertainment!)
- Furniture or electronics the entire family can use (example: new TV for the whole family to be able to watch their movies from ChristianCinema on!)
- Something needed or wanted that tends to get pushed to the backburner by the family (that speaker system in the van so the family can listen to their Jonathan Park CDs on trips – *cough cough*)
- Huge box of food (one of the best Christmas presents we ever received from a family member!)
The list literally could be endless if you thought long and hard about what your family could really USE this Christmas. And with a large family, the cost spent individually adds up quickly! Even $20 a person for my family is $160 total – think what that could buy beyond trinkets and toys!
However, most of us still need some Christmas gift ideas that are individualized. So, how do you determine what kind of individual gifts have lasting value?
- What are the child’s interests, talents, or needs?
- How can I invest in their interests and talents?
- If those interests disappeared tomorrow, would this gift still have relevance?
- How can this gift be used to bring glory to God?
- How is this gift leading my child in the direction I want them to go?
- Is this gift likely to break or cause strife in the near future?
Those questions might seem kind of vague, so let me walk you through it with a specific gift…
Child A is musically inclined. You think a guitar might be a good present. You are investing in their giftings by giving them something that reflects that and tells them you know how much music means to them. If the child decided he or she didn’t want to play the guitar after all, it could be passed down to another child. The guitar can potentially be used to play praises to God for personal worship or corporate worship time. You are wanting your child to contribute to the family with their musical talent, and this is a good way to get started, plus you are investing in what could potentially be a source of income in the future. Oh, and it’s not likely to break soon, but it might cause strife if there is another potential guitar-player in the house. Not everything can be prevented.
Taking this gift a step further, what about asking a grandparent to help pay for music lessons or accessories/music/etc? Again, think outside the typical gift-giving box!
Some examples from our own family of individualized gifts that had meaning include:
- Luggage – they needed it and were thrilled to have it!
- A book of WWII battles with a map and pins to mark the battles
- Set of hair clippers and hair cutting lessons (I’ve saved a mint over the years!)
- A digital camera
- Money put into savings account for the children
- Lifetime hunting and fishing license (this is a big investment, but well worth it)
- Nature Friend magazine subscription
- A serger that had been sitting collecting dust in a grandparent’s house
We are also big fans of gifts that make children think and be creative such as:
- dress-up clothes
- art supplies (like those from See the Light)
- a tea set
- camping gear
- fabric and patterns
- historical/educational books and toys
- outdoor toys
and the list goes on!
So, as you make out your list or begin suggesting gift ideas to grandparents, I’d encourage you to think forward, think lasting, think value. Just as the Magi brought gifts to Jesus that might have seemed oddly out of place for a child, those same gifts had meaning and purpose that would reach far beyond those early years of Christ’s life. Be thoughtful in your gift-giving this year and do not be afraid to ask the same of others.
Have some great gift ideas? Please share!