I get this question every year from the grandparents: “What Christmas gift should we get your kids?”
Sometimes I just want to say, “Oh, you know. A couple of sticks and a box.” (Those always seem to be the “toys” that occupy my kids the longest!)
However, I know my parents ask because they don’t want to fill my house with junk. My in-laws ask because they want to give gifts that my children will love.
But December is a busy time of the year. Along with the usual school and work routines, there’s get-togethers and extra shopping. I don’t always have the mental capacity to think through what gifts my kids would enjoy when posed with the question.
So this year, I made a list. Perhaps you have grandparents, aunts, or uncles who ask similar questions around the holidays?
Here are some great Christmas gifts that won’t clutter your house and your kids will love:
It’s the gift that keeps on going! Every month, my kids look forward to a new magazine in the mail. We’ve gotten the High Five Bilingual for years and really enjoy it. Plus, magazines are great to pack when traveling. They are lightweight, entertaining, and if you lose it, there’s a replacement coming in the mail next month!
Similar to magazine subscriptions, although more expensive, you can get subscription boxes for about anything! I’ve seen boxes for learning history, art, STEM, cooking, etc. Since my family loves food, we really like The Universal Yum boxes. They send you treats and facts about a particular country, so you can really fall in love with the taste of that country. Although not food, Little Global Citizens is another world-exploration box that has been on my radar.
No matter where you live, I’m sure there is a zoo, aquarium, outdoor space, or museum that your kids love to visit. When someone gifts a membership, you can use that pass all year round. With a quick calculation, you can figure out how many times you need to go during the year to make the pass worth it. Just take the cost of the season pass and divide it by the cost of the daily admission (be sure to add up everyone the pass covers). This way you can really make the most of the gift! (Are you in the Charleston area? We love the Charleston County Park passes!)
Why not ask for a special trip this year? It doesn’t have to be exotic. Even when it’s just a couple days, my kids love spending time at their grandparents’ house without their parents. Or perhaps the trip can even be within your city! A new restaurant? A museum they’ve never been to before? A waterpark they love? This gift is more about spending time with that special relative. The place doesn’t matter as much.
A “Yes” Day
Netflix put out a movie earlier this year called Yes Day. And while their day was full of extremes, you can gift a child a “yes” day with reason. A “Yes” Day is when a child gets to make key decisions in the day like what to eat, what to do, and if shopping is involved, what new outfit or toy they want. The key is to let the child decide, even if it’s not something the adult would particularly enjoy. A way to keep this day from getting out of hand is to offer choices. “Would you like to go to Chipotle or Chick-fil-A?”
My grandma has been gone for many years, but I still cherish a letter she wrote me when I was three years old. In it, she tells me what she likes about me and stories about when she was my age. I keep it in a shoebox of mementos, but it would look lovely framed. If you like this idea but don’t think you know where to start, there are plenty of books, like this one, with prompts to get you or a loved one started.
The gift of language can last a lifetime! (Of course, this list couldn’t be complete without sharing about KOM!) Research shows us that children have an innate ability to pick up language at a young age. (This is the idea of the preoperational thinker vs. the concrete operational thinker.) Kids On Mission, KOM, is an online language learning program that uses story, movement, and other fun methods to expose kids to language. They make it easy to give language classes to the learner in your life by purchasing a gift certificate.
No matter what gifts you choose for your children (or encourage your relatives to choose for them), may you have a wonderful Christmas season!
Shèngdàn jié kuàilè!
Ashley Shannon | November 28, 2021