I always feel the beginnings of a little magic around this time of year, a building anticipation of the glorious celebration of the Light of the World and the spirit that surrounds this holiday season.
Yes, there is the increasing commercialism, but there is also the love, generosity, and beauty of Jesus’ birthday. I believe that excitement about Santa Claus and excitement about Jesus Christ can co-exist, with a solid foundation and intentional actions about the WHY and the WHO surrounding the celebration and not just the WHAT.
My favorite kinds of gifts for my own two kids fall into one of three categories:
– Gifts that ignite imagination and can be enjoyed for a long time
– Gifts that kids can use for an experience
– Gifts that serve or help others
Gifts That Last – otherwise known as: the items we still play with or enjoy years after receiving them!
2. Art kits. We love Crayola art kits! Or make a DIY kit with a solid storage container that holds everything your kids need to get their craft on – paints and brushes, construction paper, pipe cleaners, sticky eyes, ribbon, Do A Dot Art! Markers, and more. Gifts like this cultivate a lot of creativity, but then can be used up and eventually tossed, not taking up floor space.
3. Books. You really can’t go wrong with books! Some of our recent favorites include One Cool Friend, Dragons Love Tacos, Different is Awesome, and The Seven Silly Eaters. (And of course, the recommendations on my booklists are fabulous too!)
6. A play tent. My kids received our play tent for Christmas three years ago, and not a week goes by that we don’t use it for pretend play, like camping out, hide-and-seek and anything else the kids come up with. It is not only enjoyable, but also helpful for fine motor practice the zippers and the velcro on the flaps.
7. Children’s Bible, children’s devotional, or ABC Scripture Cards. We have received these at baptisms and as baby gifts, and have used all of them for years. The Jesus Storybook Bible and Adventure Bible are two very popular ones.
8. Globe. Last year, we got our kids a globe for Christmas, and we use it all the time! Whenever we are talking about an upcoming trip or a loved one who is traveling, or discussing world news, or reading children’s books about other countries or cultures, we get out our globe to find specific locations and show the kids where it is in relation to our home. It’s been such a simple and useful resource to broaden their knowledge about geography, cultures and the world in general.
The Gift of Experience
1. Subscription to a children’s magazine like National Geographic Kids or Highlights
2. Seasonal membership pass to the local zoo, children’s museum or other experience
3. A summer membership to a local swimming pool or pass to a water park, and a new swimsuit to go along with it! Our favorite brand of swimwear is SwimZip, particularly for the maximum coverage it provides for Brenna’s skin, and the zippered swim shirts make it so much easier to put on and take off.
4. A movie at the theater – make up a little bucket with popcorn and a candy bar and a gift certificate to go see the latest movie in the theater.
5. Model kits or experiments. We have done a volcano eruption, solar system, dinosaur excavation, airplane model (Connor got this Blue Angels model kit for his birthday and enjoyed it), and birdhouse building kit – and both of mine were so excited about every one!
6. A gift card to get a treat at a local ice cream place, McDonald’s, miniature golf, Build-A-Bear, local candy shop and more.
8. Outdoor gear, like a camping tent, sleeping bag, flashlight/lantern combo, etc. so that you can all go camping together (or hang out in the tent in your backyard before crashing in your bed for actual sleep 🙂 )
9. A class or lessons, like music lessons, tennis lessons, a class at a gymnastics studio, a martial arts class, or an enriching summer camp.
Gifts that Help Others
1. Choose a child to sponsor from an organization like Compassion International, Amazima Ministries, Lifegate in Africa or another such devoted organization. My kids each sponsor a child the same age through Compassion International – one from Dominican Republic and one from Nicaragua – and we love to learn about their lives, to draw pictures for them, and to support and pray for them.
2. Designate a certain amount of money to be donated, and let your child choose a cause where the money should go based on their passions and interests. Even the youngest of kids can participate with guidance, and this kind of act fosters generosity and a sense of responsibility toward serving others.
3. Fair trade gifts. Instead of running to the nearest department store for a cheap electronic, you can support a family’s livelihood in developing countries by purchasing a gift from a fair trade company, like One World Fair Trade.
What gifts do you like to give that are purposeful and long-lasting for the children in your life?
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