Between the nonstop television commercials, the sales flyers, and the email blasts, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the focus on consumerism all around us during the holidays. However, the holidays don’t have to drain your wallet to be a success. When it comes to your children, some of the best gifts you can give them cost almost nothing.
Here are four ideas for holiday gifts you can give to your children that don’t cost much (and some are even FREE!) but are worth their weight in gold.
- The gift of giving. During the holidays, it’s easy for children to be selfish and focus on their own wants, especially when they, too, are bombarded with ads for expensive toys, clothing, and video games on television and online. Set aside an afternoon to put together care packages for the homeless, serve a meal at a local soup kitchen, or to go through their belongings and gather old coats, sweaters, pants, and blankets to give to shelters. Sometimes it takes seeing how much you really do have by giving it to those in need to truly experience the holiday spirit.
- The gift of family time. Many parents are so busy between work, sports, and activities during the year that the holidays are one of the few times they may have time off to rest and relax. Spend that time reconnecting with your children through family game nights, holiday stories, movie nights, or simply looking at decorations in the neighborhood. The holidays are a time when you can slow down and get to know your children again: listen to them, and ask them questions about their lives.
- The gift of individual attention. The holidays are also a great time to make sure each child gets one-on-one time. Set aside a few hours in which you can have individual “dates” with each child: take your youngest to his favorite frozen yogurt shop or your oldest to a special dinner and a play. Being reminded of just how much they are each loved as individuals is a priceless gift for children. The one thing that all children have in common is their desire to have more one-on-one time with mom and dad.
- The gift of art. This is one of my favorite gifts to give and receive each holiday season. Gather your children together for a day of arts and crafts, singing songs, reciting original poetry, sharing stories, and making up family plays. Allow your children to unleash their creativity with your support and encouragement; the resulting treasures will be gifts that keep giving. Making decorations and personalized gifts for family members opens the heart by connecting your children not only to you and their families but to each other.
Despite the commercialism so prevalent in society today, I believe parents have the power to reignite the true spirit of the holidays by taking the lead and focusing on gifts that are more about memories than money.