Tis the season to start spending exorbitant amounts of money and buying gifts for loved ones. If your family tree is as large as mine (if not bigger) than you to understand the struggle of walking around the mall vigorously looking for the perfect gift, only to later realize that the people you are shopping for are well above the age of 5 and no longer want jumps ropes or playdough to enjoy.
Today’s kids live in a digital age where everything is either probed by technological advancements or annoying toys that have no business being sold for profit. Each Christmas, you see fewer children outside playing with their new possessions and instead find them inside charging tablets, setting up laptops, or downloading the newest app.
Times have definitely changed.
In the spirit of gift giving, I find it necessary to challenge parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and anyone who decides to dish out capital this year to expand your horizons when deciding on what to buy the young adults of your family this year.
If the wheels haven’t started turning, here are a few ideas that each child in your life will thank you for in the long run.
Tickets to an event.
One of my favorite memories growing up was when my cousin took me and my older brother to the Ice Capades, well before they changed the name to “Disney on Ice”. Give your child or sibling tickets to an event that allows them to feel grown-up, special, or just something to look forward to. Most of all, it’s something the two of you can to do together.
Encourage what your child enjoys. Whether it be tap dancing, gymnastics, art, athletics, or cooking give them a chance to enhance their skills doing something they love or want to learn. The only word of caution here is to book the classes before you gift them.It’s all too easy to promise this gift and then not follow through on actually booking them.
Their own travel supplies
I strongly encourage travel no matter what age, and now is the perfect time to start building the excitement up in their minds.
Whether it’s a toiletry bag to keep their toothbrush in the next time they spend the night at Grandma’s or a backpacking backpack (not a school backpack) all their own, having their own travel bag or supplies for on the road gears children up for adventure and helps assuage fears of the unknown by fostering independence. If you’ve traveled away from home before, perhaps slip a few photos from the trip into the gift as well.
For older children hitting teen years, travel supplies will get them in the habit of actually wanting to go places outside of the home instead of sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix.
If you have more than one child, sister, nephew, etc, and low on funds, than a one-on-one outing is the perfect gift to break up the group and get to know the younger person in your life on a more microscopic level.
Growing up in a house full of 8 ridiculously funny, loud, and personality diverse people, my mom would often take me out on our own to pick up household items or run errands. These few hours of time with her alone made us more connected, memories I’ll never forget.
To make things more festive, do an activity together of the child’s choosing, such as skating, bowling, painting – you name it, just do it! Intentional time together having fun is the best part of this gift.
Depending on the age, this may or may not be an appropriate gift, but if so, introduce several charities to them. Include organizations that work in your area (such as a food bank), that do work that is important to your family or you yourself. Let the child choose a charity and give a gift in your child’s name to that organization. Deliver the gift in person, if appropriate. It’s the thought that counts.
My love for reading has been engulfed in me since the days of the “100 book challenge”. Once I hit level Red, my thirst for books developed and my way with words began to flourish. Books are great gift ideas anytime of year because they cultivate an environment of new ideas and thought processes.
Challenge the youth in your life by giving them a book that is out of their element. Specific topics that feed the brain. If you are unsure of what they may be, try asking them what types of things they enjoy reading next time you all are out for a one-on-one.
This year, break the cycle of buying materialistic gifts for the youth and instead, opt-in to feeding their mind through creative ideas and activities.