Here’s a simple time machine—you can easily make your own instead of buying expensive time machines at retail prices. pic.twitter.com/8JM2u65xvc
— Neven Mrgan (@mrgan) January 21, 2019
As we enter the third year of a global pandemic, the reality that we likely have a way to go until life returns to “normal” is sinking in.
Although things are certainly getting better—with vaccines and boosters available, more businesses opening and operating in person, and the limitations on social gatherings easing up a bit—we’ve been hearing a lot about global supply chain issues, production delays, and transportation price surges, which make not only finding, but also buying the perfect gift nearly impossible.
Add the stress of the ongoing pandemic to the already stressful holiday season, and it’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands and want to just forget about the holidays this year. As adults, we get it. Children are a different story though; they don’t care about global supply chain issues that might make it hard to find a gift on their list. The magic of the season is supposed to supersede everything else.
Now is the time to get frank with the kids in our lives and teach them about creativity and resiliency, not to mention just how interconnected we all are in the world. We are all learning new ways to pivot and work together every day.
To help them understand bigger, real-world problems, we can use examples of how our family unit works together to get the house cleaned for guests, or how we get the yard ready for winter. Then we can brainstorm about what might happen if someone in the family got sick and couldn’t assist. Help kids come up with alternate ideas for how to get the task done if they needed to find a different way of working together than they’re used to.
This kind of thinking scales down real-world problems like supply chain issues so the children in our lives can better understand what’s going on. We can emphasize that it’s no one’s fault; frustrating things sometimes just happen, and this is especially prevalent when living through a pandemic. Having these conversations can also help kids understand that their holiday gifts might look a little different this year.
The chaos and stress might have made buying gifts seem impossible initially, but I think that what we’ve really been given is an opportunity to get creative and give gifts that have a lasting impact and more than a five minute “wow” factor.
Here are 10 gift ideas for small children through teens:
1. Think about some of the old-fashioned toys that offered opportunities for many different uses, such as Tinkertoys or Lincoln Logs. Updated versions of such items are both entertaining and educational.
2. Building toys seem new every time they’re used and provide endless possibilities for play.
3. Puzzles are a great activity for the whole family. Consider getting some with different difficulty levels and then challenge the teens and younger kids to see who can finish their puzzle first.
4. In the many times I’ve given gifts to little ones, they’ve preferred the box to the toy inside! I save the packing materials and boxes that pile up with deliveries and let toddlers play with them. Some big and small boxes plus paint or markers could be a DIY rocket ship kit.
5. Another idea is to put together a care basket with small gifts and treats—wrap each item so the opening adventure lasts a while. Or, for fun, wrap a small item then add more items and wrapping until there’s one big ball to unwrap with a gift in each layer.
6. Hosting gift games, such as a Yankee swap, white elephant, or secret Santa, allows all givers to bring a gift that doesn’t take too much time or effort to look for (it can even be something lying around the house).
7. Homemade gifts—such as sweet treats, cards, pictures, ornaments, and felted soap—are a thoughtful way to show kids some love.
8. Almost nothing beats an experiential gift. Several years ago, I asked my grandkids if they’d prefer a Christmas gift from me or to go to a local musical. They all agreed on the activity—and it has helped them develop a love of music and theater.
9. An exciting gift for a group of kids is some kind of hobby-based activity or item that they can do together such as cooking, hiking, sewing, playing cards, geocaching, volunteering—the list could go on, so long as it involves a sense of togetherness.
10. A coupon for a day off from chores is a creative and especially easy last-minute gift idea that’s actually useful for children.
Finding the perfect gift for the kids on our lists this year might seem daunting, but thinking outside the box and getting creative can be stress-free and exciting—both for us and the kids receiving them.