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Monday, March 6, 2017

The Best Gift a Child Can Give

When my 5-year-old girls are celebrating a birthday or special holiday that involves everyone giving gifts, they usually make a card or picture to give. It's simple and quick, it's 100% from them, and the receiver genuinely enjoys the gift. But sometimes the girls want to give something more, and that gets tricky when they don't have any of their own money to spend and they don't have a whole bunch of time to work on a more complex handmade gift. A few months ago I came up with a new idea for what they could give for those occasions that I wish I had thought of ages ago (and will be requesting for my birthday this year myself!) and I wanted to share with you all because it has been such a hit.

So I've written a few times about my daughters' gift giving over the years. You can read about why I think it's important to encourage young children to give their own gifts in this post, where I also talk about another gift-giving idea I still use that involves the more traditional buying-of-a-thing-at-a-store. But my one hang-up with that idea was that inevitably you end up purchasing a certain amount of (sorry kids) junk. I think the idea is still valuable for what it is, and will probably continue to use it at Christmas time when they are getting gifts for lots of people at once, but I want to limit how much we inevitably end up contributing to the circulation of stuff that ends up eventually in a landfill. 

What do kids have to give when they don't have money? Themselves. Their time and their company. For my dad's birthday a few months ago, I had the girls give him a "coupon" for a date by writing on a piece of paper, "I want to take you to ______" and having them choose where they wanted to go (one chose the library, and the other chose the ice cream store). It was still simple to make, and pretty cheap too, and still gave the girls the opportunity to think about what the recipient would enjoy. 

Let me tell you, it was the best thing ever. My dad, of course, was thrilled, and the girls could see that clearly when he opened and read his gifts. And having that one-on-one time with a loved one that they normally don't spend time with alone was so exciting for both sides. Added bonus for the girls: they loved being the one to take the money/ library card in their own little purse and being in charge of purchasing the ice cream/ checking out the books (and I loved that they were learning how to do those things independently too)!

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to have your children give the gift of quality time the next time the opportunity for gift-giving arises. It's a win-win-win-win-win for everyone involved. And if you know a single/divorced parent, especially one with multiple children, make arrangements to allow their kids to give the gift of quality time by helping the kids make the coupons and throwing in babysitting for the other kids as the gift from you. I really hope this becomes something of a tradition in my house, because I LOVE this idea!

Do you encourage your kids to give gifts for birthday and holidays? What do you have your young children do when they don't have the money to actually buy their own gifts? Have you ever had young children give the gift of one-on-one time? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments!

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