During the holiday preparation, take the time to encourage your kids to be givers and not just receivers. Young children can enjoy giving gifts that they have made or purchased themselves.
The purchasing angle is often the most challenging. Some parents replace the experience by simply adding the child’s name to the label of a pre-purchased gift. Let’s face it; shopping with small children is time-consuming and can be frustrating. Some children don’t understand the concept of choosing a gift for someone besides themselves. Large stores with many choices can be overwhelming. And parting with money they may have saved on their own can bring some little ones to tears.
Let me give you five steps for making this shopping experience both educational and enjoyable for your kids.
- Make a list of those family members and friends they would like to purchase a gift for. Discuss in advance what the child might like to purchase for each person on his list. Some children love the idea of giving and may want to purchase for everyone in their class and neighborhood. Look over their list and cross out any names that seem out of their sphere of influence. The man who walks his dog by your house each day is not a gift candidate. Decide together if some people on his list might like homemade treats. After trimming their list keep the gift possibilities realistic. No electric drills or toaster ovens.
- Take your child to a smaller store. Avoid the mall and large department stores so the choices are limited. Dollar stores have a large selection of items for $1 giving them more buying power. The idea is to teach the child to spend only the money they have and grasp the value of money.
- Do a little research. Make sure the desired gift items are available ahead of time. Be prepared to suggest alternative selections. Be enthusiastic with your alternative choice otherwise, tears may follow.
- Limit choices. For example hold up two different pairs socks and ask them to choose between them rather than perusing the entire sock rack. Thus avoiding frustration and the child’s desire to buy many pairs through indecision.
- Don’t criticize. Your child may choose a weird gift tempting you to offer an alternative. Don’t tell a sensitive child that their gift choice is dumb. Rather ask the reason for their selection. The answer might surprise you. A stuff toy turtle may remind the child of a favorite story he and grandpa shared together. He may remember how much Aunt Sue loved Oreos. Or a storybook may be just the thing to share with Mom.
One last point: gift bags makes it easy for children to wrap things. Rather than using a lot of tissue—tape the top of the bag closed. Your child has experienced the selection, purchasing and wrapping of gifts. On Christmas Day little hearts will discover the joy of giving.