Christmas is coming (fast!) and this year families increasingly need or want to think of alternative, budget-friendly ideas for Christmas gifts for children.
I’ve posted a few videos lately about how we are doing a “scaled back” Christmas when it comes to gifts. I think a lot of families want or need to do this- either because of the cost of living crisis, or because they have noticed their kids don’t really appreciate or enjoy their massive piles of presents.
However, a lot of presents struggle to put this intention into action.
This might be for a few reasons; I think one of the biggest is the social media factor. With some families posting pictures of huge piles of presents for their children, there is massive pressure on parents to buy their kids tons of toys just for a split second “wow factor”.
Another is the sense that their kids are expecting a massive load of presents because this is what they’ve done in previous years. Parents are worried that they’ve “set the bar” and that if they give their kids less, they will somehow have let them down.
All of this is linked to the idea that presents = love. Parents ultimately want their kids to feel loved and one way of showing this (especially in a time-poor society) is by giving them “stuff”.
However, there are loads of ways of showing love to our kids that doesn’t involve buying things. With a little creativity you can make a magical Christmas without spending money; below are 8 ideas for children’s gifts that aren’t “stuff”!
I am convinced that there is very little that children value more than quality time with a loved one. No matter what their “love language”, spending time connecting is invaluable for children as it allows them to feel seen and heard and feel special.
Instead of physical presents you could make some “time tokens” that children can “cash in” in exchange for quality time with you over the next few months. This could include things like “baking cookies with mum”, “an epic Xbox battle of your choice”, “pick any book and I’ll read it to you each night for a month”, “let’s make a hot chocolate together”, “DIY kite fun” or “a special lunch date out.”
This is a great way to guarantee that you’ll give your child 1:1 attention and make some memories among others business of life in the coming year!
Writing your child a letter is an amazing way to let them know how much you love and care about them. In it you could include things that they have achieved or overcome in the past 12 months; times when they have made you laugh and times when you’ve been really proud of them.
You could talk about some of the best things you’ve done together as well as some things that you’re hoping for in their life over the next year. This could be a beautiful tradition to start and something really meaningful for kids.
Try an Outschool session
Don’t let the name fool you; this is not a school! If kids are really into something (dinosaurs, unicorns, Minecraft, cooking, art, animals) they can have a fun session exploring their passion. There are workshops and classes and social groups- my girls have loved clay sculpting and French cooking among others!
Usually you need to pay for these BUT I have a $20 credit for anyone who would like one- it’s literally $20 cash to spend on any Outschool session- so your child can do one or two for free! Scroll to the bottom for the link to your $20!
PS- This would make a great stocking filler if you made a paper voucher and popped it in an decorated envelope (or if you’re feeling fancy make it into origami)!
A “fun jar”
This could be known as a “boredom jar” but that’s not as exciting a name! Essentially you take a jar and write on pieces of paper all different ideas of things your child could do when they feel bored.
Depending on the age of your child it could be things like “google a craft that involves only paper”, “make something out of Lego that would fit in at Disneyland”, “help make dinner tonight”, “make a mythical creature out of junk”, draw our family if everyone had a superpower”, “create a makeup look that you could wear to coachella” and anything else you can think of that your child might enjoy.
A photo/scrap book
I don’t know about you but I absolutely love looking back over fun times that my family has had over the past year. Kids would love a scrap book or photo book or even a collage with fun memories from the past 12 months.
You could print or draw tickets to places you’ve been, quotes from times when you’ve laughed really hard at something, stick photos up from things you’ve done together and even make a section for talking about the year to come and your hopes and dreams for your child. This would be a really special present that shows a lot of love and care to kids.
Various charities now offer the opportunity to purchase something for someone else. For example, there are vouchers where the cost of the voucher purchases a kit for midwives in remote areas to ensure baby safety; another is to buy chickens or goats for a start-up farm in rural areas where people struggle with earning enough for their families.
Another might be mosquito nets to prevent malaria in homes and hospitals in areas where that would be a risk. Rather than spending money on tat that your child wouldn’t touch, this can be a great way to open up a conversation about giving and privilege as well as an opportunity for children to feel like they have helped others.
Giving your child a day out as a gift is a fantastic idea, especially if you don’t get to spend as much time together as you’d like. This doesn’t have to be expensive; you could plan a picnic and game of hide and seek or rounders in the local park, field or woods.
If you live in a more urban area you could make a trail with bright stickers or landmarks for your child to go around a tick off each one as they find them, maybe with a small prize at the end. If you’d like to spend some money on it, a trip to a farm or zoo, theme park or museum is a great option.
Subscribing to something that will keep on benefitting your child throughout the year is a really good way to use your Christmas gift budget. Some subscriptions that my kids have enjoyed in the past include magazines; STEM kits; baking kits and fun apps.
You could also do something like a National Trust or Merlin pass, or an annual pass to a local attraction. This has the added benefit of giving parents something throughout the year that they don’t have to pay for!
Make some prints for their room
When I saw someone else do this my first reaction was “I could never”- I’m just not very “arty” and I thought digital art was only for professionals! However I looked at some prints that I really liked on Etsy and realised that a lot of them were pretty simple.
I used a free graphic design software (Canva, but there are others) to make my daughter some prints for her room- apart from paper and ink they were free and they look great!
What other ideas for Christmas gifts that aren’t “stuff” do you have? I’d love to hear your thoughts- and don’t forget to grab your completely free $20 Outschool credit as much Christmas gift to you!