Thinking about Christmas gift ideas for your children? Did you know children will likely have forgotten about what they got for Christmas by summer, even though it was something they really wanted badly. But what if there is something you can give that they will give them something they will cherish, will remember and at no financial cost?
As the holidays approach and children start their Christmas lists, they are quickly bombarded by advertising on products they need. Well not "need", but marketers make them feel like everyone have this new item and they must have it too. But by summer it is likely they will have forgotten all about that gift you got them. It is not their fault, as they have been marketed in ways that primes them and modifies their behavior. Sometimes however, children need something more meaningful to remember, and to appreciate the things they have. Of course physical gifts for smaller children are often necessary, but with older children and younger teens, if you do a twist this year, it can give them something to remember and appreciate even more. And it might even start a new family tradition.

Start early, by talking with your older children and teens. Reminding them that there are children that do not have the things they have. You can even bring this topic up as you drive by families and homeless children you might see by the road. Or let them know there are homeless children, children at shelters, foster care, hospitals, etc. that would be grateful to have something on Christmas morning. Because some do not even have families or homes. Let alone gifts. Let them know that you have a great idea, that this year, as a parent, "I plan to give all of my wrapped gifts that I receive this Christmas, to those in need and less fortunate than me".

By you modeling this behavior will help them begin to think more about it. Let them know of your idea and maybe they too, on Christmas Eve they can bring their wrapped gifts and personally give it to a child in need. Then let them know that once we deliver all of our gifts to those in need, that you will have something special for them on Christmas Eve or Christmas night. It will be something that no other child will receive and something they can take part to enjoy and will always remember.

Give them some time to think about it and allow them to ask questions.
Let them consider how good it will make them feel to give on this night to those less fortunate. A feeling that one cannot buy.  They will feel so empowered, helpful and understand how fortunate they are to have the things they have.  Especially if you take the children with you to a  shelter to ask how and where you can bring your gifts (call before but later bring the kids with you). Then, let your children know that later on Christmas Even or on Christmas night you will have a special gift for them. But let them know they can also take part in the planning their special activity.

Before that night:

  • KIDS: Have them choose the snacks they would like, such as hot chocolate with peppermint, special foods, etc.
  • KIDS: Have them make a gift for each of you or for the whole family, but each child must give at least one gift. The only rule is-it cannot be purchased. It can be something they have made, or a play they make up, a poem, a song they recite, or a card they made, or a game or activity they make up that night or before.
  • PARENT: As the parent, make their activity gift. You can make one for each but its best to have one for the entire family gift for this year. For example, if the night is clear and the stars are out, find some stars and make the formation into a constellation. Look at the night sky weeks before by picking start formations and describe what that formation of stars means in the form of a story. You can check online on constellations. Then on a paper place the stars and explain what this formation means. Roll it up and tie it with a ribbon. This is helpful in case the weather is cloudy so you can use as a reference. But also as a gift itself so they can have.

On Christmas Eve or Night:
  • Bundle up warm even if you have to wear ski wear. Take their snacks and sit outside with the children and teens. Sit in a circle. Start with sharing hot drinks and snacks. Let them know how thankful you are to have such wonderful children and how proud you are of them, for giving their gifts to those less fortunate. Ask them how giving to children less fortunate this year, made them feel. Take turns with each child. Also, share how it made you feel, as a parent to give your gifts as well.
  • Have them exchange their gifts to each other.
  • Now its your turn. Give them the story you rolled up and tied with a ribbon, but do not have them open it. 
  • Before they open it have them look up and you explain the star formation, describe the story in great detail (make it unique) and let them know this is their gift this year. Let them know this is a special gift from you. It is a gift that you made up for them, that every year this gift will always be here. And each Christmas night when you look up at the night sky, even when you have children it will still be here on Christmas night when you look up.
  • After you are done you can sing a song, prayer or whatever you like to end the night. And you can have the kids decide of a song or how to end it as well.

Whether it is a formation of stars, formation of clouds floating by, or or the sound of the wind on that night, this gift they will remember. It might even start a new tradition, where the each year the kids make up their own gifts, snacks and stories similarly. The best thing is, that it can change each year. And as the children get older they can take part in making it even more special and unique. It is something they will remember and cherish, all because you took the time to share with them.

The following are additional helpful tips, as planning activities begin, to help keep your holidays safe and cheerful.



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