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Published on December 03, 2019

closeup of womans hands holding present

Christmas is the Season for Giving

As parents we want to be able to provide our children with things we didn’t have growing up.  The truth is that most kids have too many toys that they never touch.  Often kids don’t really know what they want for Christmas. Television and stores are all advertising the coolest toy or latest gadget for kids, and kids think, “I want that.” Often parents race to buy the latest toy only to find it broken and forgotten a couple weeks after Christmas. 

How do we avoid the appeal of too much? How can parents keep their children from becoming too materialistic? What are some appropriate gifts or ideas for the Christmas season?  How do we teach our children to express gratitude? How can we help children develop and appreciate the joy of giving?

Here are a few gift ideas that will inspire children to explore and play. We also have some tips to help develop a spirit of giving and kindness in our children.

Ways to Teach the Spirit of Giving

  • For every new toy received, ask your child to find one old toy in good condition that is no longer played with or that has been outgrown, to donate. Take your child with you when you donate the toy.
  • Start a holiday change jar. Every time someone does a good deed, a dime or quarter goes in the jar. Then the family goes together to deliver the money to the Salvation Army bell ringer.
  • Have your child help make homemade gifts for siblings, neighbors, teachers and family. This could be a hand-made card, baked good, craft or a friendship bracelet.  
  • Have your child make a thank you for the gifts they do receive.
  • Volunteer as a family at a local charitable organization.

It’s Not All About Presents

Create traditions that aren’t all about the gifts. Some fun ideas include:

  • Caroling
  • Sledding
  • Baking cookies as a family
  • Going to see Christmas lights together
  • Ice skating
  • Helping out with church activities

Gift Ideas With Purpose

Instead of purchasing the latest items off the store shelves, consider giving gifts that will provide an experience or have educational value.

Experience gift ideas

  • Vacations: These could be large or small. Even just an overnight somewhere new can be a fun and exciting experience for children.
  • Extracurricular activities: Camps and sports can become a large expense for families, this gift may not be as exciting to open but will provide lots of value long term.
  • Museum memberships: These can be utilized all year and allow for many experiences for children.
  • Tickets to a performance or sporting event.
  • Family coupons: A coupon to go to a favorite restaurant or to visit a favorite place, get out of a chore, or an extra 15 minutes before bedtime.

Educational gift ideas

  • Subscription boxes: You can choose a box that appeals to your child’s interests such as science, art or building. This is a gift that they can find joy in monthly.
  • Cooking classes
  • Science kits
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Bookstore gift cards
  • Board games
  • A book with a note written inside

We all want the children in our lives to have fond memories of Christmas. It is not so much about the gift as it is spending time with your family and creating memories, which is priceless. Have a very Merry Christmas!

By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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