Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tip 50 Brain Happy Holiday Gifts

As pleasurable as holidays are for us and our families, they can also be stressful.  As you well know there is not only time spent buying gifts and decorating, many of us work to get our home ready for guests or family visits or need to plan our own trips to see others. There is also the stress associated with spending large amounts of money during the holidays. And, as excited as children get during this holiday time, they also sense parental stress and as a result you may notice your child is more irritable than usual or has trouble sleeping. There are actually a couple of fairly easy ways you can reduce some of the stress for yourself and your children while encouraging creativity and building self confidence. One is to help your child make gifts for friends and siblings.

Gift making is a great way to fill a dreary weekend while helping build your child’s creativity and confidence.
Homemade gifts may sound like a great deal of work, but actually there are some really fun gifts your child can make without much of your help or supervision and fill an entire cold dreary weekend. Some gifts that your children will enjoy making and don't require much supervision are:
Jewelry- Most hobby shops and many toy stores sell jewelry making kits. This can be a great gift for girls of all ages to make for friends or relatives. And homemade jewelry can be very colorful and unique, which makes it extra special. The kits are not expensive and are geared to children of different ages, so often there is very little supervision needed after you get your child (or a group of children) set up and ready to go. A friend of mine recently made a lovely bracelet and earrings for me that look quite professional and are easy to pack when I travel.

Special Poems Children have a natural love for rhyme which can be turned into a wonderful gift. Grandma, Grandpa and other adult relatives will cherish a poem written by their special child. It can be great fun to sit down on a Saturday afternoon in front of a brightly burning fire and help your child think of a poem to write for someone special. And once your child has composed it, you can help write it with a special gold ink pen on a piece of colored construction paper. You can then add to the glamour of the gift by helping your child select an inexpensive frame from Target or Wal-Mart.

Christmas Tree Ornaments - This is a tried and true gift school teachers often help children make for their parents but how about doing the same thing at home for aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. You can start with simple colored balls that you get at any store that sells decorations. Cover the kitchen table with an old sheet or a large piece of paper so spilled glued or glitter will be easy to clean up. Then using Elmer’s glue and some gold or silver glitter, your child can write a special message on the ball (love you to grandma or happy 2012 to a cousin) in glue and then sprinkle the glitter over the ball. After that your child can add whatever other decorations seem fun like gold stars, toy beads, you name it.

Another way to reduce holiday stress is to purchase inexpensive smart gifts for your child that will keep him occupied for hours at a time. When we plan our gift list as parents many of us want to buy one special gift that a child has been longing for all year. Of course that is fine if that fits into your budget and value system. But in addition to a special gift consider other gifts that not only keep your child occupied but have some brain building value. Gifts like play dough, paints and an easel, and craft kits for older children help spark creativity. For younger children consider at least a few gifts like crayons or markers with plenty of paper, puzzles, blocks and Lego’s. And for children of all ages, rather than purchasing an expensive video game that mimics a sports event or musical instrument, among the best and longest lasting gifts will be the real thing. A new football or soccer ball, real sports equipment or a musical instrument will be a gift your child will use for years and you will be encouraging two of the most important cognitive functions – social skills through sports and musical skills.  And by the way, many music stores rent or sell used guitars, drum sets, horns, etc.  Finally, without question, please include a few special new books that you and your child can read together if under ten and can be added to your child’s library if older. Remember, books of any kind build reading skills, so let your child’s interest guide you.

Tip 50 –The happiest holidays begin and end with gifts that are inexpensive but inspire pride, creativity, togetherness, and build skills that will be beneficial for years to come.