This year JB and I have asked all of our family members to consider giving our kids the "Gift of Time." We have really been convicted by how many things they are getting and how difficult it can be to teach an attitude of gratitude surrounded by boxes. We wanted to come up with a way to celebrate Jesus' birth with gifts but not a ridiculous amount of them!
JB and I were both raised in lower-middle class families. Christmases were always very small, and I usually got just ONE big gift. (It was a "Light Bright" one year.) In fact, I remember one year in particular that paychecks at my Dad's work did not come in due to Christian school funding problems. A few friends at school surprised us by dropping a tree and some other gifts off at our house so we could celebrate Christmas! That was a great Christmas memory.
My parents might find memories of small Christmases painful, but I truly believe that growing up without excess taught both John and I so much. I want my kids to grow up appreciating and understanding the value of money just the way that we did.
So we have decided that we want to cut down the amount of presents for our kids. We still want them to look forward to getting gifts. But we really want them to be more excited by the time they will get to spend with someone they love as opposed to the things they receive.
So what is a "Gift of Time"? Well, it's a gift that is about the gift-giver spending time with my child. If they want to spend money on this gift, they can. But it can also be a gift that is completely free -- like a picnic lunch day at the park.
I found an article online recently that listed 100 Specific Non-Toy Gift Ideas. These ideas included:
100 Specific Non-Toy Gift Ideas:
- Butterfly Conservatory
- Amusement Park
One-Time Passes- Movies
- Theatre Performance
- Go see a sporting event
- Disney On Ice
- Ice Skating
- Roller Skating
- Mini Golf
Experiences for Kids
- Horse & Buggy Ride
- Train Ride
- Ice Cream Vouchers
- Special dinner out
- A Trip to the Fire Station
- A Trip to Chuckie Cheese
- Coupon book with "time" gifts (ie. an afternoon making cookies with mom)
Older Kids or Grown-Ups - Hot Air Balloon Ride
- Wine Tasting
- Zip Lining
- Helicopter Ride
- Trip to the Spa (Mani/Pedi, Massage, Facial, etc.)
- Rock Climbing
- Trip to Arcade
A Class or Season of Lessons
- Musical Instrument
- Pottery Class- or paint your own pottery
- Art Class
- Craft class (ie. knitting)
- Horseback riding lessons
- A night(s) away at a local hotel (with a pool)
- A hotel with an indoor waterpark
- Road trip
- Give them travel/camping gear needed for the experience
Physical Gifts that aren't Toys
- CDs of fun kids music
- Craft kits
- Science kit
- New art supplies
- Magazine Subscription
- Monthly Craft Kit Subscription
- Fun Bath Supplies
- A wagon to pull kids in when you go on walks
- Special Christmas Tree Ornament
- Wrist watch
- Piggy bank
- Memory/Photo Book
- Kid furniture
- New bedding that they really like
- Bedroom décor/Promise of a total room makeover
- New hat, mitts, etc.
- Roller skates/blades
- Basketball hoop
- Swing set (for big ticket items like this, grandparents can pitch in)
- An item they need, but they wanted a more expensive version than you would normally buy (ie. boots/clothes)
- Colourful band aids
- Sled/toboggan/other winter outdoor things
- Sleeping bag
- Toy box
- Personal set of scriptures
- Jewelry box
- Magnifying glass
- Strong Magnet
- Science Kit
- Magic Kit
- Cookbook & Apron/Chef Hat
- Gardening tools
- Bug-catching tools (better if you don't live somewhere that's snowy ;)
- Educational App
- A new game for a game console
- A refill for an easy bake oven or other toy requiring refills
- A pet!
- Pet Accessories/supplies
- iTunes gift card
Here is another article I found on this topic: But Experiences, Not Things.
I have also heard people talk about giving your kids four gifts each year:
- MIND: A learning gift
- BODY: A gift for their body -- clothes for example
- SOUL: A gift for their spiritual growth
- SPIRIT: A gift that they really wanted
I think this is another fantastic idea!
We are also going to do Christmas shoeboxes this year through Samaritan's Purse. The boys loved going to the store and picking out things to give to another child.
I think that any way we can inspire giving and not getting and quality vs. quantity, the healthier it will be for our children!