Give Your Child Something Useful This Christmas

“That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s always been about. Gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts!... I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas neckties I found at the dump. I want golf clubs. I want diamonds. I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored and sell it to make glue….” {The mean one, Mr. Grinch}

Let’s be honest. How many of our gifts actually end up being useful? My son’s room is full of toys… that hardly get played with. His dad has a closet full of clothes…that hardly get worn. The dog even has chew toys that never get chewed on.

Is the idea of gift giving at Christmas the greatest marketing ploy of all time? Perhaps. But it’s genius! Christmas without presents just doesn’t seem like Christmas. So what I am NOT suggesting is to forgo gift giving all together (I mean seriously, I went nuts on Black Friday, Small Biz Saturday, and Cyber Monday). But rather than spending money to buy gifts just for the sake of buying gifts, put some thought behind it this year.

Lucky for you, I have a newborn and hardly sleep, so I was up all Thanksgiving break thinking up ideas for you. Here’s the short list for 2016:

529 Education Fund

Now, I know it isn’t fun, but rather thank sinking money into a toy that your child will outgrow in a matter of months, consider starting them a college fund instead. You can put as little as $50/month into what is know as a 529 Education Fund and have a sizable return 18 years from now for your kiddo. While it may seem {ok, it is} boring, my guess is that your kiddo will be far more elated about this in ten years than a decade old Captain America action figure sitting in the corner collecting dust. And did I mention contributions are tax deductible?

Extracurriculars & Activities

It’s no secret that the youth of today {and most adults} spend a large chunk of their time on their butts, in front of a TV screen or on a device of some sort. Hey, no judging from me; Dora is an excellent babysitter in our household too. But if you’re looking to up the ante this coming year, sign your child up for an afterschool club, gymnastics, a sports team, or an extracurricular activity. Any of these make an excellent choice. These clubs can get expensive between the registration fees, the gear, the equipment, and not-to-mention the time commitment, so making them a gift is more than ok.

Subscription Boxes

If you travel for the holidays, you know what a pain in the ass it can be to bring your gifts back home (or worse yet, pay shipping fees that may add up to more than the actual gifts themselves). Subscription boxes to the rescue. These nifty little boxes are awesome for a few reasons:

  • You can buy them on monthly plans that fit your budget
  • There is nothing to transport from destination A to B; they are shipped directly to your house
  • You have something to look forward to after the holidays are over and the January slump hits

And who doesn’t like to get fun stuff in the mail? I mean seriously. Here are just a few I love:

Bluum: The best in the biz for baby gear (great for expecting moms too)!

Kiwicrate: Fun for kids of all ages. Select a box according to age and let creative juices flow.

Birchbox: There is literally no female out there who wouldn’t love these boxes; the contents can be catered to your likes and the samples make for excellent travel-size toiletries.

ManCrates: There are no words, just check them out. I mean a piñata full of jerky? Ahh-mazing.

BarkBox: You didn’t think I forgot about Fido, did you?


Educational Toys (Osmo)

Yea, I’m totally that boring mom who buys things that require set-up time, critical thinking, and a lot of imagination. Get your kid something that will provide more than 10 minutes worth of fun, and something that will stimulate some intellectual curiosity. I personally went with Osmo, but take your pick from any of the top tech toys this year. 

And whatever you do, don’t forget the reason for the season. As a family, pick a favorite charity, purchase gifts for the Angel Tree, or donate your time at a local food bank. Remind your kid what Christmas is really all about. Happy Holidays!

"...It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” {Mr. Grinch}