4 Creative Alternatives for Your Kids' Christmas Gifts This Year
- Erica Sirratt
- 2018 26 Nov
As I stumbled my way through the cluttered and messy toy room one day in early March, I realized that we’d gotten way too much stuff for Christmas for our three boys. Even worse, they weren’t playing with the toys they had squealed about on Christmas morning. Each year, we go through the same process before Christmas. We sort through the toys, and throw the broken ones away, and give away toys the boys have outgrown. Then, we decide how we’re going to do Christmas.
We’ve always tried to be minimalists when it comes to Christmas, but in the end, we buy more than intended. We’ve done the, "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read," and other similar gifting ideas that minimize the number of gifts given. There have been years that we’ve said three gifts on Christmas Eve and four gifts on Christmas Day. I know a few families that give three gifts to represent the gifts given to Jesus by the Wise Men.
Like I said, we always manage to give more than what we originally intended and, by the next spring, I kick myself (and the pile of toys) for allowing myself to get caught up in the hype. So, I decided that this year was going to be different. I started researching ways to do Christmas differently. Between Pinterest, other moms, and some of my own thoughts, I’ve pulled together a plan this year that will minimize the pile of toys in my house and yet give the kids a great Christmas.
Instead of spending money on gifts that will be given in December and forgotten by March, choose to give a gift that keeps on giving. Put together a box that has envelopes for each month of the year. You can do this for each child, and do separate things with them. For example, January could be a $10 SONIC® gift card for you and that child to go get an ice cream and play on the playground. One of the other children could get a Chick-fil-A® card, and hang out with you for one-on-one time there. If you’d prefer not to do this, individually, you could do a family trip box. Plan to go to the movies in January, see a play in February, go to the zoo in March, and so on. The envelopes could have the tickets or plans to do something different for each month of the year. Your kids can be excited at Christmas to know they’re going to get to do twelve special trips with mom and dad. Then, each month, they’ll be surprised to learn what new thing they’re going to get to experience.
If you look online, there are several monthly subscriptions for activity boxes for your kids ranging from $10 to $20 a month, but I’m too tight with my money. However, it’d be easy and cheaper to put together an art project box yourself. Each month, your child would open the box, read the directions for a new art project, and have everything they need to do it. You could do the same thing with science projects, puzzles, or LEGO® sets.
Encourage Outdoor Play
A lot of parents buy their children toys for Christmas that they can play with in the house, but what about getting something for the kids to do outside? Buy a soccer goal and put stripes in the yard for the kids to have their own soccer games. My middle son is obsessed with bull riding right now, so for Christmas we’re getting our kids a bucking barrel for the backyard. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but you could get a few things together and build a small, portable obstacle course in the yard.
Learn Something New
Toys don’t always encourage creativity or growth. I watch TV commercials for the next big toy and wonder how many toy creators are parents. Instead of those noisy toys with a million pieces, consider gifts that can expand a child’s knowledge or experiences. Sports camps, swimming lessons, music lessons, behind-the-scenes zoo excursions, or other educational experiences make great gifts for kids.
We’ve bought our kids a lot of goofy toys, and they loved them in the beginning, but eventually forgot about them. What my kids haven’t forgotten are the times they’ve received one of the above creative gifts. My oldest son still talks about the STEM engineering camp he got to attend in June 2017, but he can’t tell you what he got last Christmas. It may make you nervous to think about shaking up the way you do Christmas, but you won’t regret giving your kids the gift of time, creativity, and knowledge.
Erica Sirratt and her husband, Jimmi, live in a growing city in Arkansas and homeschool their three young boys. Erica graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing and journalism. She worked as a published journalist for five years before leaving the newsroom in 2014 to become a homeschool mom. Erica writes regularly about homeschooling and parenting on her blog, www.momodyssey.wordpress.com.
Copyright 2018, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORYof The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.
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