Monday, November 19, 2012

Gifting Alternatives

The holidays are upon us and everyone is wondering what to purchase for the littlest members of the family.  If your kids are anything like mine, they have a list a mile long of things they want and they add to it every day.  AND if your kids are like mine, there is very little (if anything) they truly need. 

We are so fortunate to have what we need and then some.  Family and friends have been very generous and showered us with gifts and trinkets year round and our home is plentiful.  We are so blessed to be in this position, however it does cause a bit of a dilemma for me.

During this time of year, I get concerned that we are perpetuating a culture of greed.  And I worry that my children are ungrateful for what they have and that they are in the spirit of GETTING, not giving.  Not to mention that I worry for the environmental impact of consumerism.  The wrapping paper, the tape, the packaging, and even the toy itself eventually all wind up in a landfill.  I try my best to recycle, donate, and resell what I can, but at this time of year, the excess can be overwhelming and all that good practice tends to go by the wayside in favor of my sanity and easier travels. 

So this year, for all the families like mine, who are all stocked up on toys and clothes, I am offering this list of gifting alternatives this holiday season.  These are things that family and friends can chose in lieu of toys/clothes/etc that will truly benefit the family without contributing to the growing pile of forgotten toys and clutter in your home.

1. Contribute to a savings account.  In several years, any child will appreciate having money toward a car and/or college vs having had the joy of a new plastic toy for 2 weeks.  This would also provide a great opportunity to teach the family about saving money and the value of planning ahead for higher education.

2.  Purchase a class or lesson.  The gift of knowledge keeps on giving.  Classes and lessons are expensive these days and any family would appreciate a contribution toward swimming, music, gymnastics, or soccer lessons. 

3.  Offer a coupon for a special day together, including a fun outing.  Giving your time to your family is really what the holidays are about, right?  Busy schedules often prevent us from being able to take a trip to the museum during holiday break, but don't let that stop you from giving that experience anyhow.  Make a promise to do it another time and set a date!

4.  Buy tickets to a show or play.  Whether its Disney on Ice or The Wiggles Live, every town has live performances for families happening year round.  Investigate what options are available for you to gift! 

5.  Consider a gift card to the family's favorite restaurant.  Kids love a meal out as much as adults!  This gift will please the whole family and will be sure not to go to waste.

6.  Give a subscription or membership.  Magazines, museums, community pools, the local YMCA... all of these are great for families/kids.  This is a gift that will keep giving all year!

7.  Passports!  An offer to purchase passports for the family may result in an international vacation with you! :)

8.  Make something special.  A handmade gift is truly from the heart and provides a one of a kind keepsake.  In addition, it sets a good example and encourages kids to do the same!

9.  Participate in a toy swap.  This is a concept that is gaining popularity.  Many schools, churches, and community organizations plan these events for families and it is a great way to get new things without contributing to consumerism. 

10.  If you really want to indulge and get a traditional gift, arts & craft supplies and books are always great options that most families can make use of any time of the year.  Crayons, markers, stickers, paint, glue, scissors, and the like are usually in high demand in family homes.  And, if they are not, they are easily donated to schools where the little ones will make good use of them anyhow.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you're inspired to try one of these gifting alternatives this holiday season!