It’s THAT time of year when we grapple with a multitude of pressures – one of the biggest conundrums for our family is that we have a cupboard full of toys that the kids barely play with, but don’t wish to pass on, and the expectation that on Christmas Day, or maybe Chanukah, we will give them MORE stuff.
- More toys to fill the cupboard.
- More plastic ultimately heading for landfill.
- More plastic things to be used for a short time, and then exist for far too long a time.
- More cleverly marketed items that were likely assembled by underpaid and unfairly-treated workers, and then couriered across the world in carbon-producing transport vehicles.
So what CAN we do?
One of the members of my Soul Mama Community was wondering the same thing.
Help please! My kids have so much stuff I don’t want to get them a lot for Christmas BUT I do want them to be able to unwrap a few things under the tree. Ideas??Thanks to Beth for this great question!
Below are some of my favourite ideas, some come from members of the Soul Mama community, some from my own research and experience over the years.
Alternatives to the standard buy-at-the-mall, order-online, get-it-done-quick type gifts may take a little more thought, care and imagination but they are also likely to be appreciated and enjoyed by your children in a way that reflects that care.
They can still be simple and easy to create. They loosely fit into the following categories.
These are my mother’s favourites. In fact, she barely ever gives gifts that are actual, tangible things. Her preference has always been, and continues to be, time spent doing something special.
Whether it is a theatre ticket, a ride on a train, a weekend away, dinner at a restaurant with their favourite cuisine, or a trip to the zoo, she is the master of giving her time along with a specially chosen experience to her family members.
She also loves to make it a surprise, though that’s another story.
If all else fails, and you just can’t think of anything that is right, you can always offer a beautifully printed voucher, designed in Canva or something similar, with an open-ended invitation for your child to have a “yes day” with Mum, Dad, Carers or Grandparents – or all of those.
They can then exercise a most precious thing, self-determination, and perhaps with some guidance, choose an activity that they would love. It might also offer a rare opportunity for each child to have one on one time with parents, which is very precious and great for their confidence.
I suggest remaining open, curious, and childlike in your acceptance of whatever it is they choose!
CONSUMABLE GIFTS and ACTIVITIES
Another idea is to package up something they can eat, use, or make with you.
Ingredients for cookies, or cakes, or something they love to eat, packaged up on a box, ready to make.
Something you have made, they enjoy eating, again packaged up beautifully in a box or jar.
A first aid kit with fancy bandaids, special ointments, or bath salts. Again, these could be made by you (except maybe the bandaids) or just taken from things you already have around the home, and packaged up nicely.
Paper stickers, rubber stamps, and a notebook.
Custom printed colouring-in, either in the form of a calendar, or a cardboard binder. These can be stuck onto low windows or doors (with backing paper to protect surfaces) for an extra novelty factor.
Knitting, crochet, or tapestry packs that you put together from old items lying around in your cupboard with printed instructions.
Recipes for slime, playdough etc with ingredients all packaged up.
Put together a box of dirt, seeds and small pots to grow some food.
A printed set of vouchers for them to choose dinner,breakfast or their favourite smoothie.
An adventure picnic kit, with a map.
Geo-caching kits (look it up, it’s awesome).
If you’re a particularly crafty or creative person, you may be able to take things you already own and make them into something more beautiful, fun or useful. This one is a pretty personal one largely depending on what you have and what you can do with it within your own skillset.
Suffice it to say, we often underestimate the value of a gift that has been thoughtfully made for our children, and also how much they will appreciate it and be inspired by it.
It is also worth noting that our second-hand/thrift/oppportunity shops and markets are absolutely filled wtih handmade, used and repurposed items that are as good if not better then their new-in-shops counterparts.
In these over-consuming cultures that we live in, we can easily be misled by the huge emphasis on NEW products. It’s easy to forget the simple value of our time, our local craftspeople, and things that are MADE BY HAND.
It is my hope that this article has given you some inspiration to approach the gift-frenzy a little differently this year.
You never know, it might just be a bit more fun than a trip to a mall filled with present-crazed consumers anyway.