Meaningful Gifts That Last a Lifetime
By Bryanna Bohartz
Once upon a Christmas there was a mother who looked around her and was not satisfied. The children’s gifts had all been unwrapped. The presents and wrapping paper were scattered throughout the house. The gifts that the mother strained her bank account and her back for seemed very forgettable and unappreciated. Her children were nestled sweetly in their beds as she wondered… where she had gone wrong? Why did the day feel so empty? She decided that perhaps it wasn’t the fault of ingratitude but perhaps gifts that don’t mean much.
It was for us. My husband and I have recently decided that we no longer want to provide the stereotypical physical gifts for Christmas. It’s a special time for our family to connect or reconnect. We don’t want fillers that take up space in our stockings anymore! We place so much value on things and everything in such excess in our society. I’d rather my children value education, friendships, family, and hard work. We asked our extended family and friends to please invest their money in the kids’ talents and education for the future instead of the usual toys that get left on the floor or my personal favorite, never used. I know Christmas will have more meaning as loved ones donate to their sports or lessons of interest. Keeping in mind that giving precious time is the ultimate gift. There is truly no greater gift you can give a child than your time, and kids feel that love.
Here is a list of ideas that my family has traded for the average material gifts:
- Restaurant gift cards to their favorite places to eat. My kids love frozen yogurt and anywhere that serves breakfast. I take them out together and sometimes one on one. It’s a great way to make memories.
- Buy a membership. Be it the gym, the zoo, the pool or a museum get one and spend some quality time with your monsters.
- Movie tickets or Fandango gift cards are great. Make sure you have a movie in mind. Plan and prepare to make this a big deal. My daughter’s first movie was the new Cinderella movie and we got all dressed up. She wore her big poofy dress. I got dolled up too. We had a great time and she will never forget it! It’s a gift she never gets tired of receiving.
- Do a craft together. Whether you go to your local craft store together or you prepare a surprise craft. It’s a good stress reliever and makes for great bonding time. See the smiles as your little ones express themselves with loud pink paint all over a canvas. Proudly hang or wear that art no matter their level of skill.
- Take them to an event they love. Sports, theater, plays, musicals, and concerts. Exposing kids to culture will open them up to other interests. I took my daughter to see River Dance, unsure if she would be bored out of her mind or if she would want to sign up for step dancing the next day. She is four and she still tells me how much she loves Irish music and step dancing!
- Go to a book store of your choice. Bring paper and pencils and leave your own critique of books you’ve read. Play mad libs and read joke books together. Have your child pick out a book. Write in the front cover of your child’s book how much you love them, talking about their strengths. They will love the new book, the way you instilled the importance of knowledge and the way you showed them you loved them. For years to come the very thought of that book will forever bring happy thoughts of their parent(s) that took the time to love them.
- Take a class or lessons together. This could be a cooking class or yoga. It could be pottery, boxing, dancing or horseback riding. It could be water skiing or boat sailing. My aunt and her teenage boys just got scuba certified. It’s truly a memory they will cherish forever.
- Take a mini vacation. Now it may require a lot more preparation; but be it hiking, a historical site, a theme park, or a resort, make it close to home. Choose a place you have never been within your state and go! Stay over at least one night to make it a true vacation. There is something wonderful about sharing new experiences with our children. It brings us closer and bonds us as a family.
- Instill the love of service and gratitude by volunteering together at a local soup kitchen or preparing items to take to a hospital, or women’s shelter. You can also visit a nearby nursing home and adopt a grandparent.
- Do something simple, like one on one baking time. Forget bedtime for the night and make and/or decorate cookies depending on the time you have put aside. This is something my son and I love to do together!
Whatever you choose to do, your children will know how much you love them by giving them the most precious gift—your time. It doesn’t seem like much but it will make all the difference when you put aside time rather than hundreds sometimes thousands of dollars on the latest trendy toy or electronic device. Years from now when they are all grown up they probably won’t have that toy but they will have memories. May your Christmas be very merry and bright and may you find joy in your children!
For more ways to connect with your child, check out our book 30 Days to a Stronger Child, available on Amazon.
Bryanna Bohartz lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children.