Twenty Great Gifts…that go a little further.
I have always been silly about gift giving. I am not sure if it came from one of my grandmothers along the way somewhere, but I am not happy giving gifts that don’t have some thought put into them…sometimes a lot of thought. So, this season our family has really been exploring ideas of need versus want, and the actual value of things. I thought that I would put together a list of gifts that can go a bit further than their spot under the tree.
1. A musical instrument. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Children will sometimes take off with musical instruments without any particular training. A Cajon is a box drum that can be found in a range of prices. Kids and adults alike can sit and enrich their rhythmic abilities by listening to music and training themselves to match the beat.
2. A 4H registration. This is a “child-only” gift. 4H is an outstanding organization that has existed in the United States for over one hundred years. Their goal is to cultivate leadership skills in young people. Their clubs are open to children ages five through eighteen, and have clubs that range from animal husbandry, to Lego robotics. I lead a culinary club, and the kids always have a wonderful time. The clubs are operated through US counties within our states. Here is a link to find your local organization: http://www.4-h.org/find4H/
3. Pearls with a purpose. This is a group that my cousin introduced me to by gifting me with one of their products. Their jewelry is beautiful and reasonably priced and they have a mission to break the poverty cycle in struggling nations. They can be found here: www.pearlswithpurpose.com
4. A road trip. I have always managed to have the best conversations with people I love while in the car. Buy some tickets for something in a city that is a few hours drive away, or plan to visit a national park or local attraction. We have three kids and have discovered that one on one time means the world to them, they would be thrilled at the chance to get away with one of us alone.
5. A language program. Almost everyone can benefit from learning a second language. They have fantastic programs available today that teach language more effectively than it is taught in most schools. The gift of a second language opens up a huge number of possibilities for the person who gets the opportunity to learn it.
6. A camera. I actually passed one of my old cameras down to my daughter a couple of months ago and you would think that I had given her the moon. It is a wonderful exercise for anyone to look at the world through the lens of a camera and see things from a different perspective.
7. Ingredients. Put together a neat box with a few of the ingredients to make something delicious. This would be even more special with an old family recipe included on a recipe card, or a cookbook that someone had requested. A neat new cooking tool like a whisk or a rolling pin could be included as well. The point is that you get to spend time together making it.
8. A journal. Most of us do not keep one and sometimes the offer of one as a gift inspires the recipient to start writing. Beautiful journals are available at most book stores, or if you are creative, you can head to the craft store and design one especially for the person you plan to give it to.
9. Zoo passes. Whether for an afternoon, or for a season, the zoo is a great place to spend time together. There has never been a time when I went to the zoo that I didn’t learn something about animals or a feel a closer connection to the natural world.
10. A membership to the YMCA. This could be for a gym as well, but we prefer our Y. The prices are reasonable and the staff is always welcoming. My kids can dip their toes into all sorts of different classes and discover what they really enjoy.
11. Punjammies. The International Princess Project manufactures beautiful pajamas and casual women’s clothing. Their mission is to create pathways to freedom for women escaping the ravages of sex slavery to achieve lives of hope and dignity. They can be found at: http://intlprincess.org/about/
12. An old photograph. Find a way to get your hands on a neat older picture of the recipient and someone that they love. Put in a lovely frame so that they can enjoy it on a daily basis.
13. Matching shoes. Silly ones if possible. One year my parents bought the whole family Christmas themed chucks. We still wear them every year (not the kids because they have grown out of theirs), and take pictures of them in random places.
14. An atlas. I used to read my atlas over and over again. I liked to plan out all of the places that I would love to travel, and learn a little about the people who lived there.
15. A photo shoot. If you have the money to do it, there is nothing better than gifting someone a batch of photos. Photographers these days are so innovative they can create remarkable images.
16. A class of any sort. I know quite a few women who would be thrilled with the gift of ballroom dancing classes from their spouse. If you look around you can find local classes in cooking, painting, and even floral design. The possibilities are endless, and the gift of education is lasts forever.
17. An interactive game. A board game, a yard game, even an active video game. They all bring people together. I cannot even guess at the number of hours that our family and friends have spent playing bocce ball in the yard. The adults are always jumping in with the kids to play the dance video games, and we love to sit down and play Taboo or Whoonu.
18. A party. Recently a friend of mine surprised her husband with a birthday party a month ahead of time because his birthday is on Christmas and he had never had a party. There is nothing better than spending time with friends and family. It doesn’t even have to be a surprise, and it will still be a greatly appreciated gift.
19. A date. A date is a great gift for kids and adults alike. Make it a surprise, or leave it up to the recipient. One on one time is always of value.
20. Childcare. If you know people with children it is the perfect gift. Childcare is astronomically expensive, and young parents are far more comfortable leaving their kids with close friends. They are often too shy to ask for the help just so that they can have a night out together. Make them a cute certificate and promise to watch the kids. They will definitely take you up on it.