Homemade Gifts Help Teach the Lesson of Giving
Christmas is coming, the gift list is getting fat! It is inevitable that children get stars in their eyes and dream about magnificent toys and gadgets at night. One of the best ways I have found to encourage my kids to keep their gift wish lists reasonable is to have them focus on their gift giving list.
In our family the kids start with a list of all the people who have made special contributions to their lives during that year. This is not limited to family members, but includes neighbors, friends, music teachers, and those who have impacted the kids’ lives. Then I help them go through the list and choose which people they know for whom they definitely want to create something unique. The younger the child, the shorter I try to have them keep that list.
Talk with your kids about the types of gifts they might want to make. Encourage your kids to turn their interests and talents into gifts they can give this holiday season.
If you have a budding baker he can
- Make Christmas cookies and give them in holiday tins
- Make cocoa in a mug or brownies in a jar (supplying the ingredients and directions)
- Dip plastic spoons in almond bark and sprinkle with cookie decorations for cocoa or coffee spoons
- Give a coupon for a free order of (fill in the blank with something he can make fresh at a later date for the recipient)
If your child is an artist she can
- Make homemade placemats or bookmarks and laminate them
- Design the covers to greeting cards to give as a stationery gift set
- Paint the matte border of a frame, with a picture of her and her special recipient inside
If you have a child who loves to be active he can
- Give a certificate for leaf raking, lawn mowing, or snow shoveling
- Create coupon for dog walking
- Present the recipient with homemade tickets for a shared walk at a park or game of 1:1 basketball (great for older siblings to give to younger ones)
Easy Gift Ideas for Kids to Create
Take the month of December to teach your child a new activity or work on one they already enjoy. When my kids were 6 or 7 they learned to latch-hook and cross-stitch, creating gifts for family and friends. These were great projects for them to work on while I read aloud to them or we watched Christmas specials or even a football game on TV. The boys even took up the hobby, one creating a large deer print pillow for his grandparents.
Your kids don’t have to be expert craftsmen or master knitters in order to create special gifts. Head to the craft store and pick up some blank wooden ornaments or even flat wooden or plastic cut-outs in holiday shapes (these are anywhere from $0.20/each to just over $1). Have your kids paint, color with markers, or add glitter and ribbons to these and turn these into ornaments or refrigerator magnets by adding some self-stick magnet pieces.
Teens and tweens can take their favorite songs and create CDs for family members, or get creative and make a digital scrapbook and burn it to a DVD. Older kids are also the perfect ones to give certificates for babysitting, household chores, or lawn services.
It can be really easy for our kids to get caught up in the excitement of gifts for the holidays, but not always as easy to get them excited about the giving aspect. If you have some kids who still aren’t excited about sharing their treasures and talents, take them to do some volunteer service work, particularly for families, and let them see with their own eyes how important it is to give of ourselves.
By the time that Christmas morning arrives, my kids are typical kids and are excited to see what might be hiding under the wrapping paper. However, they are fortunately just as excited (sometimes more so) about the gifts they spent the month creating. I am the proud recipient of a hand-painted birdhouse, numerous artistic picture frames, and even a card-carrying member of the “Son who will clean the junk drawer” club. I can’t wait to see what ideas the kids will come up with next!