Gifts That Give More
December 22, 2013

Gifts That Give More

Have you ever wanted to get your kids Christmas or Hanukah gifts with more meaning than just a pair of jeans or a video game or the newest technology? What about wanting to give gifts that give back? Well, this year, CNN Parents has suggestions for parents, aunts, uncles, friends, and other adults for gifts with meaning.

Giving Back with Gifts

The CNN article discusses several options. First, it suggests adopting a local classroom and donating stuff that the classroom might want or need. Perhaps that means school supplies or maybe a classroom pet like a goldfish or something. Maybe that is donating technology or treats or even just little trinkets. In this way, the gift gives back to the community.

Another gift option would be for the family to adopt local kids who do not have as much. In my local community, we have a program called Christmas Tree Angels. Through this program, we can “adopt” a local baby, toddler, child, or teenager whose family cannot afford presents. Every year, I adopt an angel, as does my office. We receive a list of the wishes of the angel and fulfill those to the best of our abilities. In the past, I have done so in the name of my niece and nephew and given them certificates showing their charity. It was a great lesson for them and helped local children. It’s a win-win.

A final gift that gives back is to have our children pick some of their own toys, games, clothes, and stuffies to donate to those who have less. The CNN article describes this,

“When Cathy Futrowsky’s girls, now 11 and 13, were younger, she asked them to pick out eight (or more) of their things to give away during Hanukkah — “nice things that were still in good shape but which they had outgrown or in which they lost interest.”

“We were trying to teach them about sharing with others, charity and the more mundane idea of cleaning out what you don’t need anymore, and learning what to do without versus keeping things with sentimental value,” said the Silver Spring, Maryland, mom.”

Giving Gifts of Time

Regularly, I have donated time to local pantries or kitchens to help prepare meals or serve for the less fortunate. I have also shopped for foods and presents and put together baskets with local organizations to give to those who don’t have the funds to pay for a big holiday meal or gifts.

Another gift of time is to give committed time to children. CNN explains,

“Tish Howard, a newly retired elementary school principal, wanted to find a way to reciprocate for all the kindness and gifts she received during the holidays from her students.

Four years ago, she came up with the idea to make three “gift” cards for each classroom — each classroom would be entitled to 45 minutes of her time, which could be spent reading to them, sitting with them during lunch or talking a walk off campus.

“When the kids went home and told (their) parents, I had parents tell me they were duplicating the same gift cards at home,” said Howard of Fredericksburg, Virginia, who continues to work with ailing schools as CEO of Edu-Linx Consulting.

“I think we underestimate how much our kids value focused ‘you’ time because the kids always act like they don’t want us around. Don’t you believe it!”

“My preteen and teenage grandsons love when Nana comes and we disappear together and just get goofy, eat junk food and ride bumper cars,” she said.”

Gift cards of time are such a fun idea. For those of us who are artsy and crafty, we can make a time gift card special for the people in our lives, children and adults alike. I just love this idea. We live in an America where our time is constantly pulled in several directions, so a time gift card says more than any toy or piece of clothing or whatever.

Gifts of Learning

My favorite gifts to give are those of learning. Sometimes these are books while other times they might be gifts to classes of different sorts. Perhaps your child loves art, so why not enroll him or her in a pottery class as a gift for the holidays? Whether it is art, crafts, dance, language, music, yoga, diversity, or whatever, a gift of learning is a gift that keeps on giving. Gifts of learning provide so much.

Gifts of Words

Whether you write a letter, note, inscribe a page of a book, or write a poem or story, gifts of words are everlasting. These immortalize our feelings, our memories, our lives. Giving a gift of words, in whatever capacity, means giving time, effort, emotion, and love.

The beautiful thing about many of these is that they are more about effort than about cost. For instance, time gift cards do not require much money. Sometimes time means simply being together. Gifts of words require paper and pen (or maybe computer and paper)…again another seriously affordable gift. I love these holiday gift options that give more than just a thing. I love that these gifts give back and give more.

Image Credit: racorn / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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