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On-Site Staff / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

Gift-Giving Ideas: All It Needs is a Little Love


How are you planning to share the love this Christmas?

Some of you are already doing a facepalm: “Good grief!” (said in true Charlie Brown voice) “Is it Christmas time again?” Black Friday anxiety is already piling up.

In response, I’ve compiled a (hopefully) helpful list of gift-giving ideas that might assist you in creating a terrific Christmas for you and your friends and family.

The cool thing is: we can share these ideas with our kids and help them create their own gift-giving ideas. I encourage you to use these ideas with the students in your youth programs. After school programs are a great place to have students work on holiday gifts, and in the process, use these creations to connect to STEM/STEAM learning, project-based learning, and global learning opportunities.

For example, I have 3 nephews whom I absolutely adore. Right now they love being kissed to death but I know that stage won’t last long (ha!), but I also want them to know that I’m the aunt that won’t shower them with physical stuff. Not that this kind of gift-giving is wrong. It’s just they’ve got more than enough of it. I want them to learn from me that my love for them comes in ways that will last in their memories forever. I want them to understand that by choosing to share my love with them as I do, I’m also thinking of others around the world who might be hurt or helped by my purchases; I want them to know I care about the earth in how I give to them.

Yes, Charlie Brown, all it needs is a little love. 🙂

Homemade Story Book

Gifts of Words

• record yourself reading favourite books, burn to CDs & voila! Road trip material!
• staple blank colourful pages together so kids can write their own stories
• make a journal for an adult the easy way or the more adventurous way
• create a scrapbook
• gift certificate to a used bookstore
• have a favourite book or precious book re-bound/restored
• a magazine subscription
• handwritten notes/cards
• blank handmade cards for the recipient to send out to others
• a handwritten journal filled with inspiring quotations
• soap crayons… no really! A young family told me this began with mom and dad giving the kids soap crayons to leave love notes on the tub surround. Mom and dad left notes for the kids. Suffice it to say, mom and dad began to discover the fun of soap-crayon messages for one another too!

coupons gift-giving

Gifts of Time

  •  build a snow fort together
  • passes to local museums, zoos, or parks
  • gym passes, swimming pools or libraries
  • club memberships (Scouts, dance club, etc)
  • create a sweet indoor picnic in a memorable place (be it a homemade fort or indoor gardens)
  • create fun coupons to take someone to:
    • the movies
    • skating
    • hockey game
    •  the symphony
    • theatre
    •  concert
    • even for hot chocolate at a favourite local coffee shop
    • tour of Mommy or Daddy’s workplace (if allowed/possible)
    • dinner at a special place
    • free babysitting
    • date nights

card board oven gift-giving

Gifts of Creativity

  • go online to Etsy. There are sellers from around the world who make it their business to sell craft supplies. Purchase all the craft supplies for 1 single project OR buy a bunch of random supplies to start someone’s craft room off right
  • stencil a room together (kids’ or grownups!)
  • pick the most boring recipe you can think of & find unique innovations on that recipe; make it together & decide which innovation tastes the best
  • make the craft room ahead of time & let your kids loose in it; they can make whatever they want for whomever they want as much as they want!
  • build “mailboxes” OR give the materials for everyone in the family to build mailboxes (out of milk cartons, old animal kennels, wood, crates or whatever other items you can find!)
  • let each family member decorate his/her mailbox however they choose
  • leave out materials to make handwritten notes or homemade cards
  • encourage family members to leave these notes in one another’s mailboxes…believe me, in a digital age, handwritten notes are becoming treasures!
  • give the materials to make homemade bird feeders make it together plan a nature walk to hang it up somewhere record which birds you see together
  • decoupage a giant binder with recipient’s favourite quotations, colours, singers, artists, styles, and…fill with craft ideas/instructions coupons for time together blank paper for notes
  • find a giant refrigerator box, paint or colour a cave on it (or the solar system or whatever!), and presto! Easy-peasy fort to play in with little kids.

kids music lesson gift-giving

Gifts of Music

  • playlists tailored to recipient’s tastes, beliefs, likes
  • tickets to concert
  • payment for a piano tuning, guitar strings or even special throat drops (for those singers out there!)
  • pay for music lessons
  • invitation to a jam session with you or your band (if you also are musically inclined)
  • gift certificate to a music store or for sheet music (which can get expensive!)

homegirl gifts gift-giving

Gifts of a Global Impact

A great way to teach kids about the true nature of giving, show them how they can impact others’ lives by purchasing livestock, libraries, medical supplies/staffing, or other needs. It helps kids understand that some of the most precious gifts aren’t found under the tree at all. These are just some examples, from child sponsorship to social entrepreneurship. I’m sure we all have plenty of ideas of our own!

  • Compassion International
  • World Vision International
  • Not For Sale 
  • Homeboy Industries
  • Just Soap: Natural Soap for Social Justice
  • Koinonia Farm
  • call ahead to a local charity and plan a family outing to the food bank or soup kitchen; make it a monthly habit so kids can learn that giving isn’t centered around the Christmas season but a lifestyle to be practiced
  • launch a kids’ coat drive, a book drive, or a food drive
  • research international peace organizations than have pen pal programs; have kids exchange letters and build relationships with people who are looking to create peace in the world
  • give jars of eco-friendly homemade laundry detergent
  • help someone out with an oil change or brake repair or other auto chores

May your students be inspired to create, give, and share the love this season!

For breakfast, I had Andrew’s High Octane Organic Oatmeal and an apple.

Author Profile: @erinthomas

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