The holiday season is here again and many parents find themselves scrambling to shop for all of the important people in their lives. Shopping for the perfect gift for your kids can be stressful. Gift-giving can be full of joy, but oftentimes, what kids want and need is their parents’ time over a pile of gifts. This year, try prioritizing presence over presents. This slight change in perspective can relieve this stress and give your kids the gift of memorable experiences that last longer than the thrill of a new toy.

The gift of experience

Sharing an experience can be a great alternative to giving a physical gift. Find something your family enjoys doing together and make it into a surprise. Some ideas may include taking a trip, attending a concert, visiting a museum or a local attraction or eating at a special restaurant. Most importantly, you will be enjoying the activity as a family. Experience gifts promote family bonding and create memories that will last a lifetime.

The gift of time

Time spent together has great value for kids. When you are shopping for gifts this year, look for items that promote family time, such as games, puzzles, a cookie-baking kit, sports equipment or crafts. Take the time to play and spend time together. You may find that these activities will become family traditions you return to every year.

The gift of helping others

Taking time to serve those in need brings joy not only to those who receive help but also to those who offer it. Kids who volunteer regularly have a better appreciation for the blessings they have in their own lives and are more likely to be generous and serve others as they become adults. Ask your kids what needs they see in the community and decide how your family would like to serve. Some ideas may include a coat or food drive, serving meals at a shelter, adopting a family for Christmas, raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, sending holiday cards to veterans, baking and delivering cookies to neighbors or picking up litter in your community. Choose what fits your family’s time and budget and make it a priority.

The gift of trying something new

Has your child always wanted to try a particular activity or sport, but the cost of lessons was not in the budget? Consider purchasing this gift for your kids. This will give them the opportunity to try something new and will also let them know you are considering their interests. Families may also want to purchase a membership to a local zoo, amusement park, community center or museum. This will be something the family can enjoy together over the year ahead.

You don’t have to get rid of gift-giving altogether, but being intentional about buying things that you can enjoy as a family and taking the time to purchase a few gifts that are really special to your child will help them see the importance of presence over presents. Your child will likely agree that the best gift is time spent with you.

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