Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Non traditional gift giving

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:

Season Passes
- Zoo
- Museum
- Butterfly Conservatory
- Aviary
- Aquarium
- Amusement Park

One-Time Passes- Movies
- Bowling
- Swimming
- Theatre Performance
- Go see a sporting event
Disney On Ice
- Circus
- Ice Skating
- Roller Skating
- Mini Golf
- Concert

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
- Swimming
- Sports
- Gymnastics
- Dance
- Karate
- Musical Instrument
- Pottery Class- or paint your own pottery
- Art Class
- Craft class (ie. knitting)
- Horseback riding lessons

Family Experiences
- A night(s) away at a local hotel (with a pool)
- A hotel with an indoor waterpark
- Camping
- Road trip
- Give them travel/camping gear needed for the experience

Physical Gifts that aren't Toys
- Books
- Games
- 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
- Stationary
- Special Christmas Tree Ornament
- Wrist watch
- Piggy bank
- Memory/Photo Book
- Journal

Fun "Needs"
- Kid furniture
- New bedding that they really like
- Bedroom d├ęcor/Promise of a total room makeover
- New hat, mitts, etc.
- Bike
- Scooter
- Roller skates/blades
- Basketball hoop
- Trampoline
- 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
- Flashlight
- Toy box
- Personal set of scriptures
- Jewelry box

Learning Tools

- Telescope
- Magnifying glass
- Strong Magnet
- Science Kit
- Magic Kit
- Cookbook & Apron/Chef Hat
- Easel
- Chalkboard
- Gardening tools
- Bug-catching tools (better if you don't live somewhere that's snowy ;)
- Binoculars
- Globe

- 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!


Kell said...

Love it! I have friends that do, "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read"

AW said...

I LOVE this list! Thank you for posting it. The only thing I'd advise against is the "pet" suggestion. Haha!

Joia said...

We have been thinking along these same lines this year... now to get the grandparents on board =)

Anonymous said...

We do Christmas Stockings, with a little bit of candy and some essentials, like toothbrushes, hair stuff, etc...but only 3 gifts, for the three gifts that Jesus received from the wise men. Gold: something that the child will treasure.
Frankincense: something for their spiritual walk
Myrrh: something for the body.
This has taken away so much stress and pressure out of the holidays for us. Your list had a lot of great ideas!

Momma, PhD said...

I shared that on FB the other day. I'm so sick of so many toys that get ignored. Really pushing for experiences.

That said, my kids are blessed with so many people who love them, that reigning in the gift giving habits of grandparents and other relatives is hard.

Kiley said...

We LIVE for this. With 6 kiddos and a lot of toys that I want to keep to hand down to my grandchildren I myself get bogged down with clutter. Toys and the art of getting rather then giving. We have told our families for years to give us soe thing we can enjoy for longer periods of time. Such as museum passes. My parents refuse. Other family members are coming around realizing that it's less money to buy something for the entire family to use rather then individual gifts. One year my grandparents gave us money. We saved it over the course of a few years and purchased a swing set with the money. Best gift ever. And both times my grandparents have been able to visit my kids tell them they love there gift and it's the best ever.

This year we are doing books and a favorite movie. I have asked my family to stick with the theme. Or get the kids subscriptions to a favorite magazine. I am hoping they come through.

Anonymous said...

I am also going to do the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" theme this year. My kids have way to much stuff and even when we tell the grandparents to keep it simple, they still tend to go overboard!

Chris, Renae & Annie said...

I love these ideas! We've already asked grandparents to contribute to a family zoo membership instead of giving things.

With our daughter, we do the gifts of the three wisemen - something spiritual, something practical, and and something fun.