If you have school aged children, you probably spend a number of weekends of the year taking your child to birthday parties. I've spent more time than I'd like in the Target toy aisles trying to find a last minute gift that is affordable, meets the cool factor (according to my kids) and the good gift factor (according to moms). Today my son received an invite in the mail that asked the children not to bring a gift but rather a donation to the Humane Society. We've gotten a few of these invites in the past and it always warms my heart that these kids are fine not getting a mountain of gifts and that my kids are choosing to be friends with such selfless children.
My daughters have birthdays coming up and I am almost late getting a present to my niece so gift giving is on my mind. I love giving gifts to the children in my life. Thinking about what they would like makes me feel connected to them and there are so many really cool toys and books these days that it is hard to resist the temptation not to go overboard. I have been happy with some of the gift giving we've chosen in the past that has been "greener" than the other outings to the toy aisle so I thought I'd share some and hope that you will do the same
1. Make a gift. I had fun making a stuffed felt pizza for my niece and it cost hardly a thing. My uncle and his wife made those fleece tie blankets for all the little ones one year. All the kids love them for the couch snuggling blankets.
2. Give an outing. I took another niece to a gardening class at the Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee and we had a wonderful day together. I got to know her much better than at big family gatherings. I've done plays, concerts and other shows for other children and now the grandparents are starting to do the same for my kids
3. Give a class. My mom and dad often give money for a class for my kids. I make sure I bring it up any time my kids are having fun with the class so they remember the gift and it is more than just a monetary donation for us.
4. Give books. I have given a "book a month" to a niece and nephew. I bought books (some new, most used) and wrapped them up for the parent to "deliver" each month. It was fun finding books that we loved at garage sales and sharing them. The parents said their kids loved getting presents all year long
5. We donated money to a chosen charity for each niece and nephew for the Baptisms.
6. Give consumables. One Christmas my dad gave us kids a large supply of our favorite snacks. My brother got a case of Captain Crunch cereal and I got a mega container of peanut butter to dip carrots in. We thought it was a riot, partly because this was before Sam's Club so the big sizes were really funny.