Parents, are you wandering the stores wondering what to buy your children? Or, are you looking at the gifts your children want and gagging at the prices? If this is your dilemma, let me help!
Things you buy children have a short-term shelf life. Next year, at this time, the toys you buy this year may well not even exist! This Christmas give yourselves and your children experiences that they will remember for years to come.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Make Christmas more than a one-day event. For instance, bake Christmas cookies (gingerbread cookies are a favorite for kids to make), attend free Christmas events (there are probably more than you think!), watch Christmas DVD’s, read Christmas poems/stories, sing Christmas carols, decorate a “kids” Christmas tree with homemade ornaments and popcorn and cranberry chains, etc. Crafts are a great way to encourage creativity and imagination.
2. Take your children to a Christmas concert or special presentation such as The Nutcracker. They will learn to appreciate Christmas classics and how to behave appropriately in the theatre.
3. For Christmas gifts, buy “experiences” rather than things. For instance, spend money on lessons (e.g. skating, dance, swimming,art etc.) In this way, the presents will last long after Christmas and will help your children develop their talents.
4. Encourage your children to give you “coupons” rather than gifts. For instance, coupons to make a meal, to walk the dog, to clean the kitchen, to help with the younger children, to clean your room, to fold the clothes, etc. Gifts like these teach responsibility and independence.
5. Spend time playing games like Monopoly, etc. Playing games helps bond you together as a family, encourages cooperation, and social skills.
6. Do random acts of kindness. Identify gently used clothes and toys and donate them. Identify a few friends who might “be down on their luck” and be a secret “Santa.” If you are a musical family, volunteer to share your skills at your local hospices, nursing homes and hospital wards. Phone first and make an appointment.
One of my best memories of Christmas is remembering the many years I had 3 young friends over to make gingerbread cookies. Yes, there was flour all over, but years later I still remember the joy on the kids’ faces and their excitement at showing their families their “treasures.”
What are you going to do to make your children’s Christmas this year a memorable one? Love to hear your suggestions. (firstname.lastname@example.org)