This Christmas our family is adopting the idea of buying less and giving more, an Advent conspiracy if you will. We are choosing to purchase intentionally, boycotting big box retailers, and supporting small businesses.
Part of my goal for this season is to focus on purchasing non-toy gifts for my kids. I know, I’m one of those boring moms but when I think about it, do I really want to buy a toy assembled by a little boy in a sweat shop so my kid can play with it for 5 minutes before tossing it into a corner?
As I considered this, my perspective began to change. I knew my goal was to stretch my kid’s imagination and creativity, while eliminating the unjust methods in which many of our toys are manufactured.
I began to put together some of my own ideas for gifts and once I got started I found plenty of options that not only made me excited to give, I took satisfaction in knowing where my gifts actually came from. I decided to bring in another group of people to ask their opinion on recommendations. I went to the source; Kids, of course!
I was pleased and encouraged by what I heard so naturally I want to share them with you.
Do It Yourself Kits
My favorite for tween girls? Lip balm kits. Scented with pure essential oils, you get to melt all the ingredients, add your favorite scent, fill the jars and attach a cute label. In addition to having fun creating, you are also making a natural product you can feel good about using. My daughter and I made this together and chose a lemongrass scent. I found our kit at a local natural foods store. You can also look for pre-made kits online, homesteading shops, or simply make your own kit by googling the ingredients.
Knitting kits is another great option. Anything from making your own scarf to cup sleeves, these give kids a great way to build skills and have fun while doing it.
I know, I know. Books seem to be the good ol’ stand by, right? Wrong. Especially, if you have book nerds in your life (I use that term as a positive, by the way), one can never have too many.
This time though, skip the big box retailer and buy through a local shop and while we are talking about this, there is nothing wrong with buying them from a used book shop. The reader of your family will thank you! At Christmas I love to think in terms of buying a complete book series or a collection by the same author. Some examples include, Percy Jackson and the Olympians or Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
Let’s change it up and purchase a gift that will get kids out and about. For the animal lovers, how about a membership to a zoo or for your budding chemist, a science museum? For the theater buff, think about tickets to a play or musical. For the art lover, an evening at an art gallery or for the athlete, tickets to a game.
Does your kid want to learn bass guitar, or worse yet, the drums? Think about signing them up for lessons.
Summer will be here before you know it. Do you have a child that would love to attend theater, photography, basketball, or art camp? Holidays are a perfect time to get the ball rolling so to speak and give them the present of a camp experience. If it’s truly something they have expressed an interest in, they will be thrilled. Granted, registration hasn’t started yet but parents could put together a cool gift certificate and maybe supplies specific to the camp to get the excitement started early!
A special set of pens, drawing or graphite pencils, sketchbooks, stamping materials to make homemade cards or shadow puppet kits.
The term ‘fandom’ is reserved for groups of people that love certain books, movies or television series. In my daughter’s case it happens to be the BBC series, Dr Who. At any rate, if you have a kid in your life that is a huge fan of a series or otherwise, themed gifts are perfect. Anything from hoodies, to scarves, to socks, to buttons, to posters, shows like Sherlock, Dr. Who, Supernatural, Merlin and even the original Star Trek episodes are making a big stir with kids.
Looking Outside Ourselves
As a family or as an individual, food banks, charitable organizations, clothing drives, and giving trees are just some of the many options available to donate to. One doesn’t have to look far to see the obvious need around us and abroad. Donate part of what you would normally spend on gifts to a greater cause. I’m talking to myself on this one.
In terms of buying gifts, supporting local and being intentional about what you are purchasing not only will cost less, it will hold greater value, meaning, and appreciation for gifts that really matter. Gifts like time, being present, and embracing the now hold deeper worth than whether or not our significant others receive the disc set of their favorite TV series. Now, if I can just convince my kids of this, I will be doing fantastic.