Christmas is an exciting time of year for children. The lights and decorations, music and food, and time spent with friends and family all help to make the season special for little ones.
However, for most children, getting gifts is a particular highlight. As parents, we want to teach our children that it is better to give than to receive, but that can be difficult at this time of year.
Luckily, there are many fun, inexpensive ways that you can help your child discover the joy of giving to others.
Spend an afternoon baking with your child. Cut Rice Krispie squares or sugar cookies into festive shapes and let him decorate them with icing, candies and sprinkles. Or, you could work together making your child’s favourite treats or snacks. Make up small trays or goodie bags for special people in your child’s life and deliver them together.
A homemade card from a child is always a treasured gift. Hand or footprint pictures are very popular. You could either trace your child’s hand or foot on construction paper and cut it out, or cover the hand or foot with a coat of washable craft paint and carefully press it onto your card. A white handprint can be Santa’s beard, or a brown footprint could become the long face of a reindeer with two handprints added on the top for antlers.
Save old wrapping paper and Christmas cards to cut up and paste to create a card. Paint, glue and glitter, cotton balls, or scraps of fabric can allow your child to put her personal touch on a card for someone special. You can help a very young child print her name and the year, and older children can print a short message.
Christmas ornaments are another fun gift for children to give. Cut shapes from construction paper, punch a hole in the top for a string or ribbon, and give your child crayons, glue and a variety of everyday materials for decorating. Again, be sure your child’s name and the year are on the ornament. In addition to giving ornaments as gifts, you will likely want your child to make one each year for your family’s own tree.
Always supervise closely when young children are doing any type of art project, but resist the urge to take over. Offer help when it is needed, but your child’s creation should truly be his own.
If your child receives an allowance, encourage her to buy some small gifts for the special people in her life. Take a trip to a dollar store together and allow her to pick out a small item for each family member. Ask about her choices and why she thinks the recipient would like the gift.
Allow her to wrap the gifts herself. They may not look perfect, but she will have fun and feel a great sense of pride in presenting gifts she has selected on her own.
When you are able to take some time helping your child create gifts for his loved ones, you are allowing him to experience the gift of giving. You are creating lasting memories for your loved ones, in the form of a special gift, and also for your child and yourself as you spend this time together.
For some fun holiday craft ideas, check out www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/christmas or www.kaboose.com.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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