Gifts are an expression of love. We give gifts and are giddy with anticipation as the receiver is opening it. We are given gifts and feel deeply known and deeply loved.
Babies and Children, especially, are given gifts. Not just for holidays and birthdays, but also when families visit, or because it’s Thursday. Gifts can be silly and impractical. This year’s Must-Have toy, or something a child really really wants in this moment and we say yes, or a stuffed animal that is just too soft to not send to that small person you love.
Gifts can also be an opportunity, for enriching a child’s life, for contributing to their development, for helping.
Here are some of our favorites.
Books are a whole world of learning. Looking at words or pictures, being read to, starting to read independently, staying up too late with a chapter book you simply cannot put down.They’re entertainment, they’re relationship-building, they’re fond memories.
They also have longevity. Books aren’t played with the same way toys are, or clothes are worn, so they can be passed on to a sibling, friend, or local donation center when they’re no longer as engaging as they once were. Books can have many lives.
This is a big one. Maybe a small table and chair uncovered at a garage sale, carefully sanded, painted, and restored by a loving grandparent. Maybe it’s a learning tower, so a child can participate in making family meals or washing dishes. Maybe it’s a small bookshelf, for those books to be stored, or so a parent isn’t constantly tripping over toys left on the floor because they have no home. This is a generous gift that can impact not only a child’s life, giving them space and ability to learn and to participate, but also can impact a family’s life together. It’s a gift for everyone.
“These are treasured gifts, and priceless.”
This might be expected, but should always be included in a top list of gifts to give a child, of any age. Time with their favorite people, conversations, and complete attention, for five minutes, for five hours, for five days. A trip to grandma’s for the week, where even pulling weeds and vacuuming and washing dishes is magical cause grandma always seems to suggest ice cream at the opportune moment and tells the best stories. Picked up from school by an older sibling to go run errands together, and it’s just you and me?! A sleep over at an Auntie and Uncle’s house, and we’ll get pizza and watch a movie. A special trip to the museum when siblings are doing something else. These are treasured gifts, and priceless.
4) Future Joy
Maybe you’ve been bitten by the Minimalism Bug, or you look around and think there’s not one more thing that we need right now, or you’re focusing more on experiences than items. Or maybe education and adventures have been the most gratifying, meaningful gifts in your life, and you want to help pave the way for this child in the future.
A College or Adventure Fund is a wonderful gift for a child. If there are occasions you regularly would purchase a gift for, such as a birthday or holiday, what about making a contribution to a savings account a child would have access to when they turn 18? Five-dollars in a savings account has potential to be so much more down the road, both in terms of actual value and in terms of the meaning in a child’s life compared with another toy.
This is a lovely gift to give in combination with the gift of time, such as a special trip with a child to the park, so you can enjoy all that they are today and create memories together, and also a contribution to an account for them, so you can imagine all they might become.
5) Something they’re passionate about today
Children’s interests are sometimes fleeting, though deeply passionate. A child’s passion and dedication can be incomparable, and a gift can honor what they’re living and breathing today. Soccer is Life, today. I can rattle off any number of facts about Dinosaurs, today. Of course I’m going to be a Ballerina, today. Dive into their passions with them. They might not actually become an Archaeologist, but that science subscription box will be so meaningful right now. Tomorrow, deep sea creatures might be Everything, but today those pencils with planets on them are “Woah! So cool!” Excitement might outweigh talent, but those colored pencils from the art store, rather than the drug store, will be used down to nubs.
Children need us to believe in them, before there is really anything to believe in. We might get tied down with practical, or rational, but isn’t that part of the joy of children? The wonder they still possess? The joy and delight? Let’s get caught up in the moment with them.
We hope these ideas have been helpful, and elicit ideas unique to that most special child in your life. For more, listen to this podcast, and be sure to subscribe on iTunes.
Written by:Charlotte Wood