By Christina VanGinkel
Instead of giving the child in your life one more piece of 'stuff' the next time a gift giving occasion comes up, be it a birthday, or a holiday such as Christmas, give them a gift that will last long after the typical toy will be discarded or shoved aside. Give them a gift that involves you, and your time, something that most children would appreciate much more than the newest video game or novelty, even if they do not even realize it themselves!
Sure you are saying, that it is easy to say, but come on, most kids would much rather have the latest and greatest of whatever is being touted on the commercials and that their friends are all talking about, than some time spent with you, but I would disagree! Kids love spending time with the adults in their lives, be it a parent, grandparent, or even an aunt or uncle. The idea of going somewhere with them is almost always exciting. Choose the activity with some thought and you are sure to make them beg for more gifts along the lines of the first. Costs will vary, but there are many to choose from that are no more expensive than any toy you would buy them, and the memories will last much, much longer! Some can be expensive, such as the time we arranged for our youngest son, a huge football fan, to take a tour of an NFL stadium and actually walk out onto the field that some of his heroes play on each week during the season. He was also able to meet a few of the players themselves, with both me and his Dad by his side, for some memories worth much more than anything else the same amount of money could ever have bought. We all had so much fun, that we are already planning a return trip for this summer.
Ideas for gifts of time could include:
A visit to a nearby town that offers an attraction that draws in tourists from all over (we drove to a ghost town for an afternoon of hiking, a picnic lunch, and just some good old fashioned talking!) Too often, we overlook local places, and always seem to want to go far away whenever we think of a trip
Visit a museum together
Sign up for a class that you can both attend, for example a cooking class or a class on learning a new craft
Make a certificate that entitles your child to spend the day with you cooking in your own kitchen (young children especially like this, while older kids may find this more of a chore than a treat, so keep that in mind)
Plan a skip day to spend together doing what you always wish you could do, such as staying in your pajamas, ordering take out, and watching movies, or something more active such as hiking, biking, or swimming
This is just a small sampling of gifts that include your time as much as the gift itself. Any activity that you know both you and the child would enjoy would be ideal. If you are worried that the presentation of the gift itself would be lacking in comparison to other more traditional gifts, consider what the gift itself is going to be, and think up something that would represent the gift well. If you are giving your child riding lessons for example, wrap up a small novelty horse from the Dollar Store along with a homemade certificate or the real thing if one was provided from where you obtained the lessons. For that day spent in the kitchen baking up batches of cookies, again, make up a certificate, and use it to wrap up a set of cookie cutters and their very own rolling pin. When I took my son to the ghost town, I bought a book on all of the local lore surrounding the town, and wrapped it up along with a note that I encrypted for him to decipher. When he had transcribed it all, he knew he was getting a day trip spent at the fascinating shore side town of Fayette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He enjoyed his self so much, that even two years later he is still talking about how much fun that day was. Now that is what I would defiantly consider a gift that was a hit!