Christmas is coming. In our house that means starting the countdown, putting out decorations, asking to please stop playing with the decorations, the thrill and threat of Santa, making lists, asking for everything that comes on the TV, and trying to stay grounded. Ah, the latter. Growing up Santa brought us 1 gift and filled our stockings. The rest of the gifts were bought and given by my parents. That was by design. My Dad worked hard. He traveled. He pulled long hours. He had a stressful job. They wanted to teach us that hard work pays off – in the form of many things of course – food on the table, extra trips, and of course, Christmas gifts. The Fat Man wasn’t getting the credit for the time my father put in and today – I couldn’t agree more. So we do the same thing in our house now. Santa brings 1 big gift – and Mommy and Daddy work hard for the rest. It’s a lesson I repeat over and over to them. Work hard, put in the time = get good results.
I still find the task of staying grounded during this season challenging. Not just with the kids, but for everyone on my list. We are all past 30. How much more “stuff” do we need? I don’t know about you but every day I’m getting “Must Have” lists sent to my inbox. They are all full of junk. Someone asked me when mine will be coming out. It’s not. Because you don’t need to know the best toy for kids or the best presents for Mamas-To-Be or a list of products to get your husband, and teachers, and co-workers. I’ll leave that up to the retailers. Sometimes the best gifts are not technically “products” at all. Here’s my own take on “gifts to stay grounded” this Holiday season (and I promise they won’t make you yawn.)
For Your Kids:
An experience. This year we’ll be taking the kids to see the Rockettes in NYC. I know, I know – what kid is going to look at a paper tickets and jump for joy? So here’s what you can do: Have a video at the ready of whatever the experience will be. Tell them to “hit play” for a sneak preview. Then get something special from the event – in this case it’s a giant poster of a Rockette (a high school friend of mine, actually – Upstate NY represent) and a stuffed animal of a camel which they will see backstage at the show. This helps in bringing the experience to them on Christmas morning while building the momentum to the big day. This type of experience also provides you quality time with the people you love. (Is there any better gift than that?)
For Your Husband (Really a kid at heart, right?)
An “quality time” experience, too! Whitewater rafting, hot air balloon ride, learn to fly, race a Ferrari. Check out companies like Cloud9 Living who can help ignite his inner child. Warning: may induce a mid life crisis.
For The Grandparent:
Let’s be honest with ourselves here – they probably don’t need another golf club or sweater set. And if they did they could probably buy it for themselves, right? In my experience, grandparents thrive on time spent with their grandkids and then reliving the memories. Every year we give Grandpa a “Day Out With The Kids.” He gets to take them to one of his favorite sporting events (courtesy of us) and then out to dinner at his favorite – The 99 restaurant. My Mother once spent 3 hours with my daughter painstakingly making a “book” from construction paper, glue, and hole punches with Paigely. She told my Mom exactly what she wanted in her “book” and then my Mom drew pictures of it. Later my Mom said to me: “I will always treasure times like that with my grandchild.” I had the book made into an actual production using a company called Plum Print. Paigely added a dedication page. Think of some creative ways to make and preserve memories for your kid’s grandparents. I guarantee it will be received better than any product bought at Macys.
From The Grandparent:
A college fund. No, really. Our parents do this and so do Hubby’s grandparents and I get so excited every time a donation comes in. I sit my kids down and explain to them where all of us went to school, where each college was located, and all of the neat things we learned. I tell them both sets of our grandparents met at college and had us right after and that is a big reason why they are both here. Most importantly, I explain that their grandparents care about their education so much that they have started them off on the right course at a young age to get there. You can have fun with this one, I promise. Buy your grand kid a t shirt and mascot from your Alma Matter (or from your favorite college team).
Give them a “no pressure” and a wink.
For The Great Grandparent:
A handwritten note once a week. My grandfather turned 93 this week. 93. He lives alone in NY. I think of him often. This Christmas I decided to send him a hand written note every time I think of him. The thought of him holding it to his chest makes me smile. I really think those notes help him get through the cold Winter. It’s my own little investment into his future.
For The Grade And/Or High School Student:
In addition to all of the presents under the tree, why not try a “Kickstarter” version of a Christmas Gift. Your kid is begging to get the latest and greatest X. It’s too expensive for even Christmas and even Birthday combined. Try starting a kickstarter fund and donating to it to help instill financial responsibility at a young age. Let them raise the rest.
Will I be shopping in the stores this year? Yes. But among the hustle and bustle of the stores and the “stuff” I’m going to keep in mind the 3 things which are the best presents of all – quality time, memories, and investing in a loved one’s future.
This post was sponsored by MEFA & the UFUND in my partnership with Fidelity.