You've probably seen the TV commercials about holiday gifts: Mom loves that diamond necklace and Dad flips for the sports car in the driveway with a big bow on top. But wait a minute! Kids can't afford to buy such expensive gifts. Most kids don't even have jobs. So what do you do if you want to give gifts to the important people in your life?
The good news is that kids shouldn't feel pressure to spend a lot of money on holiday gifts. The best gifts show the person that you know them well and like them a lot. Thankfully, there are many low-cost ways to do that.
Mom, Dad & Grandparents
Let's start with Mom and Dad. Here are two people who will love homemade gifts. The only people who might like them more are grandparents.
Here are some make-it-yourself gift ideas to try:
Decorate a photo frame and include a special photo. You also might frame some tickets from a special occasion, like a great football game or a concert you attended with the person.
Learn to knit or do a needle craft, such as cross-stitching. Nothing too complex — you don't have much time! Make small gifts showing off your new talent.
With help from an adult, bake cookies or other holiday treats and package them in pretty holiday boxes or baskets. You also can put dry cookie ingredients in a glass jar as a gift. You layer the ingredients (such as sugar, oats, chocolate chips) like sand art. It looks pretty and the person can whip up a batch of delicious cookies. Don't put eggs or butter in the jar, though, and be sure to include the recipe!
Write a poem, letter, or song to the person, explaining why he or she is special to you. You could also draw a picture or do a painting, if you like that better. Framing it adds a special touch.
Plant flowers that will start blooming around the holidays. You can try paperwhites, which are tall white flowers that don't even need dirt! Decorate the pot for the plant or wrap a bow around it.
It can be expensive and time consuming to buy gifts for a bunch of friends or siblings.
Here are some strategies to simplify gift-giving:
Put names in a hat: Put everyone's name on a little piece of paper and put all the slips in a hat or a shoebox. Then each person pulls out a name and buys a gift for just this person. You can set a spending limit, too, to make it easier to decide what you should buy. It's sometimes fun to be a Secret Santa and keep it a secret who will be buying gifts for whom.
Give together: Instead of buying gifts for each other, you could decide to pool your money with your friends or siblings and make a donation to a charity. From animals to needy kids, there are thousands of organizations that would love to receive a donation from you. If you don't have much money, you might donate clothing, food, or other basics that charity groups distribute.
Do lunch, or any other meal: Sharing a meal is a fun holiday tradition. You could go to an inexpensive restaurant with friends and split the bill. Or you could decide to make a big pancake brunch at your house for friends or family. Either way, it won't cost too much and you'll share good times and good food.
Girls and guys have been asking themselves this question for years and years: Should I buy a gift for my crush? You kind of want to, but there are so many what ifs: What if your crush doesn't get you anything? What if he or she doesn't like the gift? What if your crush doesn't know who you are?
Personal gifts like jewelry, teddy bears, clothes, or perfume can seem romantic, so you might want to avoid those. Non-mushy cards are pretty safe. So are small gifts like cookies or other sweets. If someone gives you a few cookies or a candy cane, you're thinking "Yum!" not "Hey, that boy/girl wants to be my boyfriend/girlfriend."
Sometimes, students put their money together and buy the teacher a holiday gift. Some kids give individual gifts, too. But you can show you appreciate your teacher with a simple card that has a note of thanks inside. You might even mention the favorite thing you've learned in the teacher's class so far this year. It makes teachers feel good to know that some of the important stuff they teach is sinking in!
The Kid Who Needs a Friend
The holidays are a good time to think about people who are lonely. Maybe there is someone in your class or school who doesn't seem to have many friends. The person might get teased or have troubles, such as a mental or physical handicap.
Consider doing one small kindness for this person. It could be giving a Christmas card or just having a small conversation. You could say, "Hey, I like your Santa hat" or "Would you like a cookie? My mom made them." Even inviting someone who's lonely to join your lunch table can make that kid feel better. Such a small, small thing, but it could mean a lot to someone who feels a little shy or sad at school.
If you're still in need of a gift idea, we have a few for you. We've created coupons and bookmarks you can personalize and give to family or friends. If you already have a gift, these are great little add-on presents to attach to the package.
With the coupons, you can give your little brother something he really wants — like some of your time to play a board game. Or you can give your mom or dad something really priceless: a coupon redeemable for one clean room — yours!
But our favorites are bookmarks you can personalize. On one of the bookmarks, you can write down what you like best about the holidays. A few years ago, we asked kids to answer that question and hardly anyone said presents. Instead, kids told us how much they love seeing relatives (especially cousins) and sharing special family times cooking, singing, and even having mashed potato-eating contests! Your mom, dad, or grandparents would love to know what you like about the holidays, especially if it involves family fun and holiday traditions.
The other bookmarks also make good gifts because you can write in the top 3 reasons you like or love the person who you're giving it to. So for your dad, you might say it's the way he makes up silly songs, cooks cheesy eggs for breakfast, and taught you how to rollerblade. Now, that's a present he can enjoy every time he opens his book.
Let's see …what's the No. 1 reason we like you? You're such a thoughtful gift-giver that you read all the way to the end of this article!