It’s December, one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, seasons of the year. It is a time of serenity, spirituality, and cuddling up to our loved ones! Thinking of Christmas; family, hot cocoa, Bûche de Noël, carols, and gifts come in mind.
Now family gatherings and hot cocoa can be assumingly easy, but gifts can be so unbearing we often lose our joy of the season on the way of counting pennies and thinking of what to get for each family member and friends.
Here are some easy Christmas gifts that would not only save major expenses but will also guarantee a jolly Christmas like no other.
Before getting into this, I have a feeling that you would smirk at some of the ideas and think: Easier said than done! Believe me, when I tell you, it’s not.
This list is based on experience in daily work with 30+ kids in shelters, along with years of working with children in different areas of their lives. One thing children need more than gifts and materialism? Love, care, and playfulness.
#1 Making a Secret Santa at home
This is the yearly game we play during Christmas in my household. Knowing that the youngest family member is my 10 years old sister, we put out a budget that we can all pitch in for 10$. We toss our names in a lot and make each family member choose one name.
Each family member writes a number of things they want (that cost 10$ or less) on a piece of paper and then we put the list in an envelope under the Christmas tree for everyone to check, alone.
We all need a book that we have been wanting for months, or this Copenhagen NYX lipstick, or the MCU series, or funny socks instead of the torn ones we have. This is a great way to ask for them!
You will be surprised at how fun and funny this process is. Up until Christmas Day, we all enjoy the humorous mystery of the unknown Santa, and the exciting rush of getting something we would not have bought off from our own money. My favorite part of this? This Secret Santa idea was from my 10 years old sister.
#2 Making stuffed animals
Stuffed animals are absolutely everybody’s favorite, whether we are 5 years old or 50 years old, and what’s more enjoyable than making our own stuffed animal? Absolutely nothing!
A few things needed: Youtube videos tutorials, clothes we never use or wear anymore, and some stuffing from the tailor. Even if our stuffed animal looks ugly (and most of the time it will, sadly, turn out ugly), it really won’t matter!
It’s a gift you made by your hands, and everyone will have a good laugh at it for the rest of their lives. And personalized gifts like this one are never thrown away!
#3 Making gifts together
Do our kids want Ken to their Barbies? or Earpods to their iPhones? Sure. Do you know what our kids might majorly also need? Some connecting time with us.
Our lives are so busy we often forget to engage with our younger ones, but the seasons might be an opportunity to do so! One can never go wrong when making gifts with others, be it children or adults.
Growing up, there is nothing I hated more than adults telling me to finish off my bemye plate because some people “don’t even have food to eat.”
I mean, for heaven’s sake! I know that some people are in need, but why should I finish off my food (that I don’t even like) even though I’m beyond full?
This is when the number one rule in Journalism becomes relevant in all fields: Show, Don’t Tell. Kids often don’t respond positively to when we tell them to “feel” for others, which is why we can show them.
Volunteering with local NGOs and soup kitchens (the likes of FoodBlessed) is a great way to help them see the world the way it is. It is easier than fighting with them, more fun (soup kitchens are extremely fun!), and for sure a life teaching lesson.
#5 Go focal stores for your gifts
Not only do local stores have a bigger variety of gift selection, but they also most likely have the same teddybear that costs 100$ in a certain major store for 15$.
#6 Making playful gifts
It could be socks, inside one of the socks, a box. Inside the box, a little wallet, inside the wallet, custom-made bag, inside the custom-made bag, a pretty affordable necklace that goes with all outfits.
Playful gifts (can be even funny; see numerous Youtube videos for inspiration) tend to blow off the steam of getting an expensive gift and instead focus on the thought put in making the gift, as playful as it can be.
#7 Buying Gifts from outlets
Let’s face it, we are Lebanese. Lebanese people would most likely buy a hoodie with a Pull&Bear tag on it than a hoodie from an unknown store. This is when outlets come in all force to save our days!
We can buy a Calvin Klein rainjacket, a Tom Tailor boots, and an Armani dress for our little girl at extremely affordable and satisfying prices.
#8 Making Sentimental Gifts
I know this does not apply to everyone, but if you (or your toddlers, siblings, parents, friends etc.) are like me, this will for sure mean the world.
One of my favorite gifts to this day is a pencil made of newspapers that my best friend got for free, in return for liking the store’s Facebook page.
A mug with a cute picture or a motivational and relatable quote, a Ravenclaw scarf for Potterheads, a KPOP/ “Tik Tocer” poster/magazine, flowers dyed in the favorite color of the person we are gifting. These go a really long way.
#9 The gift of a memorable outing
Gifts can be disliked, broken, and easily forgotten. Memories of us giving time from our busy schedules to go out on a memorable outing with the family take a while longer to be forgotten.
Make Christmas day special with a visit to a Lebanese landmark or historical site, for example, somewhere you or your children haven’t seen yet. And funnier will be with a group of families with whom you and your kids are close. If weather permits include a picnic in your planning.
Our kids might not always admit it, but they often need our love and care more than a Fortnite new edition, even if they do not even know it themselves.
#10 The gift of a new skill
There are various activities planned for kids during the season, educational and vocational activities. Look up an affordable one that doesn’t break up your budget, and make it the Christmas gift for your child. Trust me, your child will not only enjoy it more but she/he will also come out of it with a new skill.
#11 The gift of humane love
This, by all means, concerns the adults among us only. This is the season considered by the majority around the world to be the season of love for humanity. Nothing expresses better than enacting it towards strangers by giving the Gift of Life.
Get in touch with the Lebanese Red Cross with your wish to donate blood and you’ll be guided on how to.
For the LRC Blood Donation Centers and their contact numbers, please visit here.
And if your kids pout and ask for iPods and Laptops for Christmas?
Coming from a perspective where I firmly believe that things this huge should be earned by money pocket and hard work, this might be a good opportunity to teach our kids and young siblings that even though we all would love a gift this expensive, we need to also take into consideration many other factors.
Some of the factors we can explain: the hard economic situation in Lebanon (not for children, of course), working hard for things this big (because really, that is real life), learning how to appreciate simple things in life, etc.