If you’re a parent, you know how the holidays usually turn out. It’s Christmas afternoon, the celebratory meal has been finished and you look around to find toy after toy scattered throughout your living room. Yes, they are probably enjoying their new gifts now and might even enjoy them for the next few weeks. But what happens when they get bored with them? They will be just one more thing cluttering up the house that rarely gets used. How can you avoid this for the upcoming holiday season for your own kids and for those kids you buy gifts for? We have a few ideas for you!
Suggesting to others what gifts to get
As the holidays approach, it’s likely you as a parent are getting bombarded with the question, “What would your kids like this year?” It’s easy to give the standard answers of “Oh, they would enjoy anything,” or name off a few of the hot toys that they’ve been talking about lately. However, why not try making some different suggestions? You can do it in a way that won’t offend others and it’s likely they will enjoy hearing of practical gifts they can give. Try saying something like, “My son really has all the toys he needs right now, but he’s really wanting to learn the guitar and would love some lessons.”
On the flip side, make sure you are asking others what they would really like for their kids to receive this year. If you get a standard answer of a video game or toy, try saying, “You know, I’m really trying to focus on practical gifts for everyone on my list this year. Would your daughter enjoy some gymnastics lessons or would you like a savings bond she could keep?”
There are a number of gifts you can get that not only will children love, but that will also help them learn a new skill or improve on a skill they already have. These are gifts that will last long after the holidays are over and you might even be able to take credit for them learning a skill or hobby that will enrich them for a lifetime! Here are a few different ideas:
Classes with Physical Activity
“More and more parents are finally recognizing the importance of establishing healthy habits early in life for their kids,” states Jeff Dousharm with Tiger Rock Academy. “Is it any wonder why we are facing so many childhood obesity problems when some parents have bought their kids big screen TV(s) and video games to serve as babysitters for their kids who don’t go outside and play anymore or have any physical exercise? There are many great programs that can give kids an outlet for all the natural energy they have AND develop healthy lifestyles that carry them through a better life. Tiger Rock Academy teaches kids healthy lifestyles, personal protection, self-esteem and focus that leads to better grades in school. University studies have proven these results for students young and old. So the question for parents this year is ‘Do you pick the cool new toy that breaks or is tossed aside in a month, or find something that has a longer lasting and HEALTHIER impact in their childrens lives…AND is actually MORE FUN?’”
Gymnastics classes are also a wonderful option for kids, whether you just want to them to participate for the physical activity and coordination or whether they are actually interested in competing. “At Pioneer Gymnastics Academy, we believe that gymnastics will offer the child benefits in the following areas: strength, flexibility, coordination, dexterity, discipline, confidence and self esteem,” says Ed Aasen. “Gymnastics is the core of all athletic movement. The skills and techniques our students learn will greatly enhance their performance in all athletic endeavors.” Pioneer Gymnastics Academy offers a full range of gymnastics instruction for children of all ages and ability levels with their youngest gymnasts starting at 18 months of age and their oldest gymnasts training through their high school years.
Classes for Creativity
Cultivating a child’s creativity is a gift that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Creativity can be tapped in a number of ways, including art, music and theatre and is an excellent way to boost a child’s self-esteem. ArtGlass Unlimited offers a variety of fused glass art projects that kids can make themselves. They offer ‘drop in Saturdays’ for ‘kids’ of all ages (age 5 through adult). There is a menu of projects to choose from with prices starting at $15. The projects will be kiln fired and ready for pick-up one week after class. Check their website for times at dates at www.artglass-unlimitedlincoln.com.
Music lessons are another wonderful gift to help foster a child’s creativity. “Believe it or not, some kids actually ask for music lessons and instruments for Christmas,” says Nissa de la Torre with Nissa’s String Studio. “The gift of music lessons gives a child memories and skills that can last a lifetime. Of course it’s fantastic to give children toys, but throwing music lessons into the mix can provide variety and thoughtfulness to the gift giving process. We offer private lessons at our studio on violin, viola, piano, guitar, string bass, cello and fiddle. Students pay a monthly tuition rate and gift certificates can be purchased for any number of months of lessons. If desired, we’re happy to make a gift certificate for single lessons for someone who just wants their child to ‘test the waters’ before they enroll in the great program we have to offer.”
When you are looking at your gift list, how can you identify the child who might benefit most from music lessons? “Music lessons can benefit people of all ages and levels of interest,” says Nissa. “Children and adults alike can seek enjoyment, self-expression and simply the ability to play an instrument. There are countless benefits brought forth in the making of music such as responsibility, self-discipline, keeping the mind fresh and invigorated, working towards goals, gaining confidence and simply having a good time.” Nissa’s String Studio stars their spring semester right after Christmas break, so December is a great point in the year to enroll in lessons. They also sell basic violin accessories such as rosin and practice mutes, which make great stocking stuffers. Recording time in the studio can also be purchased.
It’s never too early to teach a child about saving money! Whether you are starting an add on certificate for a baby so it can grow with them as future birthday or Christmas money is added or you are starting a savings account for your own child with an initial deposit, giving the gift of savings is about more than just money–it’s about teaching the child responsibility. Liberty First Credit Union has a unique way of teaching kids fun through saving with their Jr. Stars program. “We offer two different types of savings accounts with fun, free activities for the youth saver during the year. Though it may not be as exciting to open on Christmas morning, they will come to appreciate it as they get older and realize that saving money is what will help them get the things they truly want in life,” says Angie Schreiner with Liberty First Credit Union.