Intersection of Life and Faith

25 Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Your Kids This Christmas

  • Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
25 Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Your Kids This Christmas

The flight path from mailbox to front door is well worn during the Christmas season. Little feet tear out of the car after school each day to see which toy catalog was delivered while they were gone. Inside those pages are toys that they never even knew existed before glancing over glossy pages. Each with a different colored Sharpie in hand, they whir away circling and circling …“Where do think you’d even put all of those things?” I try to reason, but they are much too overtaken with glee as they imagine the possibility of holding onto all of this cool new stuff.

Our kids need us to intervene in this annual scene of greed. One good way to do it is by teaching them to part with and pass on some of their older toys. Learning to physically part with things is a healthy habit to instill. Another way to encourage practicality in their Christmas lists is to limit the number of things they are allowed to ask for. And lastly, don’t reinforce the madness by gifting them the very things that we’ve just tried to convince them they don’t need. Here are some great gifts that exceed the value of this year's hot toy list.

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    1. A New Room

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    Children grow older and out of the stages and colors they once embraced as little tots. Pre-teens (now starting at the 4th-5th grade) grow out of what they used to label ‘cool’. A can of paint and some supplies for an older child will get them started on a new project. As they invest time into their space, the value of hard work has a chance to shine as they admire the finished product. Being able to do something on their own, rather than demanding a solution and waiting for someone else to do it, is a great way to fight the entitlement that seems to rule this society. 

    For younger children, new sheets with their favorite character or trendy new pattern is a fun gift they can enjoy throughout the year! Look for deals on whole sets that include a new comforter, bedskirt, and accent pillows. New bedding is a simple way to give their room a new, fresh look without an entire remodel. Consider donating their old bedding to a homeless shelter if it’s in good condition. This will allow them to experience true Christian generosity, in that we can give because we’ve received. 

     

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    2. Prepare Them for the Weather

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    Winter climate goers can use this opportunity to wrap a warm winter coat up underneath the Christmas tree. It’s a necessity that we often provide for our children without a second glance, but to many in this country and beyond, it’s a privilege to have a warm coat—let alone a new one. Perhaps we can encourage our children to understand the value of warmth by making it the big deal that it truly is to be blessed with the gift of warmth. Winter boots, hats, gloves, and scarves are often made to match each other, and the coat we choose for our child. Invest in a really nice set for them this Christmas, and they will be able to return to school after winter break prepared for the cold bus stop or chilly recess. 

    For those that live in warmer climates, perhaps new rain gear and boots to keep their feet nice and dry on wet days is a more appropriate gift. Instead of sitting in the AC with wet feet drying cold, they will be dry and warm. Find a set with a matching umbrella. Take some time in the new year to sift though old coats, hats, boots, and shoes. Is there something that can be parted with? Pass it on to someone in need as the winter season hits with full force.

     

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    3. Lead Them to Read

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    In a world connected by technology, a book in the hands of a child is a priceless gift. However, we have to show them how it’s done. Let them see us reading, and let’s make a point to read to them. Reinforce the efforts teachers are making for their students to read by picking a book off of the recommended reading list and gifting it this Christmas. 

    Before we drop a book in our online cart, ask some questions about what our reader would enjoy. Look to their hobbies for cues to what they might be interested in reading about. Kids that enjoy building toys might also like reading about how some of the historical structures in our country were built. Kids that play sports might love to know more about their favorite athlete. The same is true for theatre bugs or aspiring dancers. Non-fiction books are often overlooked, but we underestimate how badly kids yearn to know about things! 

    Be cautions in selecting fictions books for children. Read online reviews and be sure there isn’t any storyline that is too mature or frightening. Some mystery books can walk a thin line between entertaining and downright scary, and some kids will not like that type of plot. Consider getting the first couple of books of a series. If they like it, you may have gift ideas for their birthday!  

     

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    4. Edible Treats

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    Oh, how we sometimes underestimate a child’s love of something sweet! Finding their favorite candy bar or sweet treat in an especially large size or different package is a great gift. There are often candies and treats sold in character-themed packages for the holidays. Throwback goodies that they have never heard of before can be a fun new adventure. 

    For kids that have food sensitivities, this is an even better idea. The quest to find treats that won’t make them sick is a trying one. Do the work ahead of time to find something they can enjoy worry-free on Christmas morning. Glutensensistive and celiac sufferers are normally left out of the normal Christmas cookie routine. Make a batch that is safe for them to enjoy. Bakeries that specialize in gluten and sugar free baked goods are becoming more prevalent. Find one nearby and have a special order made if the time or talent to bake is not an option. 

     

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    5. Something to See

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    Another great way to incorporate a treat into a holiday gift is alongside the DVD of a new movie! Consider an oversized tin of multi-flavored popcorn, a new popcorn bowl full of microwaveable popcorn packets, or a big bag full that’s already popped! A box full of their favorite kind of “movie time” candy alongside a favorite that they saw in the theatre makes for a thoughtful gift. 

    Depending on what is set to play in the theaters around the holiday season, movie tickets are a great surprise, too! An attached gift card for concessions that we might normally say “no” to, and a special container to take along and fill with popcorn, can make going to the movies around Christmastime a special treat. Movies that feature cartoon characters and familiar storylines to children often tote their own product lines. From lip gloss to plush toys, blankets to clothing adorning the movie stars, there’s something to find for each movie-goer. All wrapped up together, it makes for a really fun experience. 

     

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    6. Style Reigns

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    For families that are moving quickly past the toy catalogs and onto the trends of the school hallways, there are great Christmas gift ideas layered into where our kiddos like to shop. Parents of preteen girls are drawn into spaces appearing to be thrown-up on by brightly colored highlighters. Sports heroes start to carry high ranking and they never seem to have enough of their favorite team’s apparel (If they are Browns fans, there’s always a brand new jersey to collect). Football gloves, baseball mitts, and any and all apparel that the “cool” athletes wear are great gift ideas. 

    Stores that cater to this age group will often run amazing sales this time of the year, so think ahead about stocking up on apparel, and outfits that carry over into the next season. Christmas is a great time to spurge on a few pieces that we would typically pass by due to price. Keep an eye out coupons, join some email lists for the holidays, and consider a rewards membership to save extra. The key to all of that is to unsubscribe from all of those emails after we have checked everyone off our list. 

     

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    7. Competitive Hobbies

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    The first time our tots wobble down the soccer field in their untied cleats, our hearts melt into the possibility of Olympic Gold medals. The t-ball fields are full of parents that dream to see their kids play in the major leagues. Little ballerinas walk around on their tip-toes, begging to take every class we are willing to drive them to. The realistic cost to all of these dreams, and many more, can be astronomical. 

    It is OK to find a bargain on a pair of cleats in August and wrap them up under the tree for Christmas. Scan the aisles of second-hand stores for dance shoes that have barely been scuffed. Brand new helmets for our football players and new leotards for our gymnasts are special splurges. It means something to them, when we invest in what they love. As impractical as their hobbies can be, especially in the competitive and travel league realm, our support of their dreams cements their own self-confidence. 

     

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    8. A Daily Dose of God's Word

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    Every year for Christmas, I take a look at the stage and age of my children, and invest in a daily devotional book for them to dive into the new year with. This is a simple tradition to start, and there are many devotionals to be found for under ten dollars. 

    Parenting is one of the most difficult tasks we will endure in our lives, but we do not have to do it alone. So often we choose to, reprimanding and punishing our children before reflecting on the incident to the backdrop of the grand scheme. It’s impossible to expect any parent to have the ability to stop on a dime and consult God’s word when their child is pressing in on their human patience, but instilling an expected habit of reading God’s Word daily helps. 

    God’s living Word is powerful. It’s how He communicates with us, prepares us, feeds us, and helps us. Give them the gift of knowing how to access the Father. And hold on, because He’ll teach us, too.

     

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    9. Craft and Create

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    Wintertime in the North can be filled with snow days. Load them up with things on hand when it’s impossible to leave the house. Think of practical things that can be used around the house and in their lives, instead of just cluttering up the counter and tripping us up the stairs. Most kids have an artistic side, whether it be coloring or painting, building something, or weaving bracelets together. 

    Craft kits are easy to find. Most come with everything they need to complete the project at hand, but check the box to see if there is anything that isn’t included. It’s easier to stock up on those items at the time of purchase, rather than on a snowy day when we’re homebound. Print out some pictures that were taken over the last year to put in customizable frames. Invest in a hot glue gun and some extra glue sticks, tape, string, and paperclips. Models kits are great ideas for older kids, who may enjoy a new tradition of building and adding to their collection each year. 

     

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    10. Lessons

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    Start a new tradition of trying something new. For kids who are not already committed to a sport or passion, this is a great way to open the door for them to explore what they may love to do. Many yoga studios offer classes for kids, and taekwondo is an excellent sport that not all kids think of trying. A lift ticket to the ski slopes to take beginner’s lessons or tickets to the ice skating/hockey rink are great ideas to fuel their love of the winter season. Or, get them out of the house and active! Local community centers are a great place to look outside of the box for new activities that our children might enjoy. 

    Career centers sometimes host youth workshops on winter weekends, where kids can try their hand at cooking or creative writing. Perhaps in a group of friends, they would be more brave to try their hand at art. A music lesson might spark an interest, and maybe trying a new instrument each year can be a fun new tradition. Encourage them to explore who they are! 

     

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    11. Something to Play

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    My children received the “kids” version of a new instrument every year from their grandparents. From recorders to percussion shakers and toy ukuleles, they were able to explore their love of music from a very young age. When they got older and drifted more towards dance, we stopped investing in their musicianship financially, but they have a few things to go back to should that area of their hearts drift back towards songsmanship one day. 

    Instruments are expensive, and I don’t recommend investing in one unless your child has taken a definitive interest in that instrument. Some families commit to the piano, and it becomes a piece of the home in more ways than one, with everyone learning. Check around for secondhand instruments before committing to a brand new model. For parents of children that pick an instrumenting in elementary school, a new strap or accessory to make an instrument they are renting more fun to tote around. 

     

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    12. Membership

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    Season passes to the local amusement or water park are a way to pay some fun forward this holiday season. Give them something to look forward to, and often save big, by purchasing seasonal memberships in the off-season. Community pool memberships and passes to the local recreation center are great ways to encourage our kids to stay active. Local ice skating or roller skating rinks might have yearly memberships that our children may enjoy. 

    Membership to a book club that promises to deliver a new book every month, is a great idea for the reader in the family. Companies that send a new box of clothes catered to our kid each month is a great idea for the fashion-minded kid of the house. A year of unlimited songs on a music streaming service is a fantastic gift for the one with ear buds constantly jammed in with the volume up. Find a way to give them more of what they love to do. 

     

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    13. School Supplies

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    This may sound totally boring, but it can actually be a great way to encourage their love of learning as they prepare to return for the last half of the school year after winter vacation. Supplies start to wear out, and pencils begin to look like tiny numbs. Folders rip and tear, and book bags might be starting to give way under the weight of their books. New lunchboxes or refillable water bottles are also a great idea. 

    Preparing them to return refreshed and ready to put their best foot forward is never a bad investment. If they are sufficiently supplied with the basics, go big on a couple of things. Consider a tablet or small computer so they can work on projects at home. Load up their tablet with some new apps and books that they love, or provide gift cards for them to do the same. New cases for their little devices protect our investment, while giving them a new way to express themselves. 

     

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    14. Going Somewhere

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    Luggage for an up and coming trip is a fun way to spruce up a practical purpose. There are fun designs for kids to tote their stuff around in, and matching sets for siblings. For frequent flyers, check the dimensions of the bag you intend on traveling with, as restrictions can differ and charges are incurred for bags that don’t fit. Consider a hard surfaced bag that will hold up a little longer under the weight of all the other things thrown on top of it before it comes back out of the rotating line of bags. 

    For a fun way to personalize this gift, have their initials or name embroidered onto their luggage. If there is a specific trip being planned, pack their favorite toiletry items in a matching totable bag. Put together an outfit or two for the vacation. If it’s somewhere warm, a new beach towel and some sunglasses can be added to their suitcase. If the destination is chilly, some cozy socks and a travel blanket/neck pillow are great ideas. 

     

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    15. A Ticket to See the Show

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    Tickets are a great Christmas gift. Depending on what there is to do in the area in which we live, there can be a lot of options to choose from. If there isn’t a major or minor city close by, make a plan for a one tank road trip or weekend getaway. Here are some great ideas for ticket holders: 

    Ice skating shows are always a huge hit with littler kids, as are live shows with their favorite morning show characters. Check local venues for schedules of upcoming events. Sometimes, events geared towards children will frequent a weeknight schedule. For those that love the game, play some radio station contests to win basketball tickets to the local team favorite. Concerts on a kid level, like Kidz Bop, are really fun for younger kids. Hockey games are a winter favorite, too. Don’t forget to check out the museums in the area. Natural history, aquariums, and interactive science museums can all make for great day trips. 

     

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    16. Give Them the Music

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    Each generation has their favorite artists, and inevitable music fads that are determined to drive parents crazy. Let them listen, within means. Check lyrics to songs before encouraging or approving artists they listen to. Portable music is king, and it’s a good idea for parents to have a system in place to monitor what’s being listened to. Most devices can be locked down and limited for younger ears. 

    A new device to stream music through, or a gift card to add to their tunes, are great gift ideas. Everything from iPods to kindles can play music and videos. Make sure to buy the right gift card to coordinate with the service their device uses. Bluetooth speakers are a great gifts for music lovers, too! Speakers that light up like disco balls or strobe lights are fun ways for kids to interact with their friends. Music can be soothing while they do homework, and having a speaker on their desk might help them focus to a little background music. 

     

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    17. Technology

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    Tech always makes for great gifts, depending on budget restraints. A shared tablet for the family can be a great way to introduce that kind of technology. We did this in my family, and time was shared for years before our kids owned their own devices. Hand me down tech is also a great gift idea. For families that don’t turn in phones any longer, old phones can still be used for the basics once retired for the new version. For a kid that has never had their own iPod before, an old iPhone with a cool new case on it is a great gift that they will love. 

    Tablets can be used to load learning games to aid their education, and fun games that can be easily supervised by parents. Books can be downloaded and they can have access to movies on a long road trip. If it’s the first time this kind of tech will be introduced, start out with some good guidelines. Instill time limits for screen time and incentives for them to earn more games and unlock more features. This can be a great way to teach our kids how to navigate the technology-driven world we live in. 

     

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    18. Taking Care of That Smile

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    Encourage kids to keep their smile bright and shining with a new toothbrush this Christmas. There are some top of the line battery operated toothbrushes that are worth the investment, but warrant special circumstances. Invest in one with a trendy design that will brighten up their space each morning. As teeth fall out and permenant ones arrive, it’s important for them to start taking initiative in caring for their beautiful smile. 

    As children get older, it’s important for them to learn about good hygiene. Anything we can do to make that fun is a plus. A special mirror for their bathroom can accompany a cool new toothbrush, along with some kid-themed floss and a new cup to rinse with. Toothpaste and mouthwash with their favorite characters are fun tag-a-longs to this gift. Some big box chains sell everything we need all in one box. 

     

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    19. Keep Them Clean

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    Sprucing up their bathroom for Christmas is another great gift idea. Themed rugs and shower curtains can be coordinated and catered to our kids interest. A lot times, these are things that need to be updated anyway, but it’s not a high priority or fun thing to invest in. A simple character or color scheme can give new life to this space. 

    To accompany the decorative gifts for their space to primp, matching shower gels in scent and color can be wrapped up under the tree. Bath bombs are popular, and there are many different options …some that have toys inside of them that appear when dropped in the water! Bath paints are fun for younger kids, and older ones might appreciate a new hair brush or comb to go with some special new shampoo or conditioner. 

    Depending on the age and stage, gifts can range from new hairdryers and flat irons to bath toys and bubble makers. Bathrobes and matching slippers are a cozy gift to don after a nice hot shower or bath in the winter. New bath towels, with their initials on them so no one argues over whose is whose is a great idea, too. It’s a great gift option to mix it up a bit this Christmas …and keep your kiddos smelling fresh and clean! 

     

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    20. Cookie Jar

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    For the kids that love to help out in the kitchen, a personalized cookie jar is a unique idea. It gives the little chef in our life a permanent stake in the kitchen, and a reminder that we are here to help them foster their love to cook! Inside the cookie jar, or to go along with it, an apron with their name on it will make them feel loved for who they are. A chef hat, baking utensils, and cook books catered towards kids are great ways to encourage them in what they love to do.

    For the kid that loves to cook, a restaurant tour might be in order. Or, maybe a visit to local bakeries. Stuff the cookie jar with gift certificates to places that they love to go already, and also to new places to try. Restaurant review cards are another creative gift, and a way for them to remember each visit with a photo and written memory of what they liked best. During each visit, ask the chef on hand for an autograph or a tour of the kitchen. 

     

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    21. Game Time

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    Children need the gift of our time. In a world crunched with deadlines and busy jobs, working parents and technology overload, we can give the gift our time in one simple way: family game night. Pick a night each week that is reasonable to commit to a family game night. Allow no outside friends or relatives, if possible, just their immediate family, or blended family. For Christmas, reveal the plan with the gift of a game. 

    When looking for a game that the whole family will enjoy, recall similar interests. Charade-themed games are great for outgoing families. Trivia games are fun for those that are more reserved and really into academics. There are games that throw pie in our faces and others that are traditional card games. Find a handful and stack them together with a ribbon. Then, wrap them altogether as one big present. Kids will love the effort that we’ve made to make sure that we put down all of our responsibilities and devices for one night, just to spend time with them. 

     

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    22. Accessories

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    Accessories are fun gifts to give, and they challenge us to think about what our kids would like. Watches are great gifts for kids of all ages, and depending on how good they are at telling time, it might help them fight that early learning curve. Smart bands track their activity. It’s a fun little gadget that replaces another cluttering toy. Tablet cases with their initial on it are a great idea too, as are hats, if they wear them a lot. 

    Jewelry is fun gift to give if we know how to personalize it. Here are a few tips: look for birthstones, which signify the month they were born in, on the piece you are considering. Sparkling versions of their favorite characters that hang from necklaces and bracelets are always fun. Earrings to match are a neat idea for those with pierced ears, and maybe even clip or stick ons for the kid that likes the look but hasn't endured the pain of getting them pierced yet. Anything that totes a Scripture verse or a cross is a great, wearable reminder, of Whose they are and that they are never alone. 

     

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    23. Picture It!

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    Photo gifts are very popular, and there are many great reasons why. It’s an easy way to personalize a gift when we lack the creative ability to make it ourselves. There are many websites that offer to make and ship the gifts to us. A custom-made pillow case with photos of their favorite memories over the last year is a really unique way to remember as they drift off to sleep. Photo books can be made to commemorate the last year of their lives, a family vacation, or special accomplishment in their life. Custom mugs, blankets, pillows, and even more are available. 

    Making a photo wall in their room is another option to gift this Christmas. Measure and plan ahead of time, and then collect the pictures and frames for the wall. They can open them one at a time or in a box all at once, with an explanation of what they are for. Each time they glance at it throughout the year, they will be reminded of all they have to be grateful for. If budget is a constraint, consider shopping at the thrift store for a bunch of frames, and giving them all the same shade of a fresh coat of paint.

     

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    24. Memorabilia

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    There’s a snow globe that sits on my desk, with four little snowmen in it. It rains down snow when I shake it, and sings a Christmas carol when my girls wind it up. They are obsessed with this snow globe! It’s such a simple little piece of decor on my desk, but to receive one just like it would thrill them. Our kids look up to us in ways that are simple and pure. What do they love about us? What will we never let them touch that is breakable, and is there a scaled down version that they can have, all of there own? 

    These are the early memories of childhood that will form who they are. One day, a snow globe might sit atop my girls’ desk with a different number of snowmen in it, singing a different carol. But they will think of their childhood, and it will be a happy memory. Sometimes, the best and most meaningful gifts aren’t the ones we pick out of the circled toy catalog, but the ones that we’ve noticed they are touched by. 

     

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    25. Calendars

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    With the tuning of the new year, there are calendars everywhere. This is a simple, but fun gift that kids will love to flip over day by day or month by month. It helps them to learn what day it is, and appreciate how fast time flies by. They can be found with every character and design under the sun, and they are affordable. Consider gifting them more than a couple, one to place by their workspace and also in their rooms. 

    Keeping track of the time helps prepare them to be responsible people. Sit down together at the beginning of the year and beyond, and help them fill in important dates. A box of cards to send people when it’s their birthday is a great way for them to remember to give back and think of others throughout the year. An address book that they can add addresses to as they send them will help them to compile a list of people that mean something to them over their lives. 

     

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    Meg encourages others to seek Him first through her life as a stay-at-home mom, career as a freelance writer, teaching Emoti-moms Weekly Bible Study, and leading the kids worship teams at her local church. She resides in a small, Northern lake town with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle. Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org