I can’t remember where I found this inspiring article, but it certainly helped me personally, in choosing gifts for my children. The author suggests grouping gifts into five categories and one gift in each category is given to each child. In many ways, this system somehow helps put more meaning into the gifts we end up giving our children.
See if it might work for you.
A Want. Most children can name at least one thing they really want for Christmas. A “want” gift is something that parents know that their children would really like to have (read: “dying” for!). Of course, it is important to examine several things before fulfilling your child’s number one item on his/her wish list. Is it safe? Is it age-appropriate?
It’s important to make sure that the gifts you purchase are both safe and appropriate for the child to whom they’ll be given. More importantly, parents should realize the extent of the decision in choosing a gift, and how it can have a life-changing impact on their child. Parents also need to decide whether the time is right for their child to receive a particular “want” gift.
A Need. Christmas gift-giving is not a time to fulfill every desire of a child. It should include giving each child something that they really need. This may be clothing, a new pair of shoes, or anything else that could be considered a genuine need.
A Read. Try to give your child at least one Christmas gift that is something to read. We all know reading to our kids is a good thing, but there are specific advantages a child receives by being exposed to written words, particularly children ages two to five – academic excellence, better communication skills, mastery of language, enhanced concentration, just to mention a few.
A Learn. It is important to communicate the value of life-long learning to children and Christmas is an ideal time to give gifts that encourage children to learn something new. This category may include games that teach computer coding (for older kids), robotics, magic, languages, etc. A simple motto to follow in choosing a “learn” gift is “anything under the sun that’s fun!”
A Create. Everyone is creative in his or her own way. It is just a matter of extending lots of opportunity to get their creative juices flowing. Painting sets, calligraphy pens, crochet sets, writing tools, and building tools. All of these things are intended to foster creativity in children. You want your kids to create and not only consume. Consider giving gifts that bring out the creativity in each of child.
If you are really on a shoestring budget, here is a list of alternative gifts that won’t cost anything.
The gift of listening. But you really must listen—no interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listen.
The gift of affection. Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and hand holds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.
The gift of laughter—clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”
The gift of a written note. It can be a simple “thank you for helping” or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and known to even change a life.
The gift of a compliment. A simple, sincere, “You look great in red!” or “You did a super job!” or “That was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day.
The gift of a favor. Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.
The gift of solitude. There are times when you want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.
The gift of a cheerful disposition. The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone. Really, it’s not hard to say “Hello” or “Thank you.”
Remember, though, whatever you decide to give, the true spirit of Christmas lies in the giving and receiving of priceless gifts that are chosen with much love and thought put into it.