Occasions that traditionally call for gift exchanges can pose challenges in families with children. Some parents subsidize the presents, enabling a 10-year-old child to "give" a piece of jewelry or home computer that's actually from Mom or Dad. In other families, children's gifts tend more toward handcrafted items, received with love but not always all that useful. To encourage your kids to enter into the spirit of the occasion in true style, expand your definition of homemade gifts.
Rather than make napkin rings or soap dishes, or save their allowance money to buy gifts, encourage children to create "promissory notes" that spell out their willingness to help Grandma with yard work, perform specific tasks around the house or assist with pet care. On your computer -- with or without your help -- they can typeset their gift certificates, choose typefaces for the text and apply colors to the design, all within your word processing or page-layout software. You can print them out for your children to cut out and present in hand-addressed gift envelopes.
Children with the dexterity and maturity to operate a digital camcorder can shoot a family movie made up of scenes from everyday life, showing home, play, meal times, sleepovers with friends and other aspects of their daily routines. Viewed through a child's eyes, these events lose their mundanity in favor of youngsters' perspectives on what's important. With footage in hand, help them edit a cinematic masterpiece on your computer and present it to the assembled family on your home theater system and HDTV.
Instead of displaying your children's artwork on the refrigerator door, frame it formally as a gift for a family member. Choose a vintage frame or a sleek modern style and add a suitable mat. If your children enjoy taking digital pictures, use a tablet device as a picture frame and run a slide show of their latest images in a place of honor where you gather for gift exchanges. To involve the entire family, start an annual tradition of making decorations for the tree, including printouts of digital photos mounted on poster board or inserted into transparent, customizable ornaments.
Engage your children in holiday or seasonal baking by inviting them to collaborate with you on cookies or brownies, using canning jars as the receptacles for the goodies. Keep children's involvement age appropriate by reserving for yourself any steps that involve items that are hot, messy when tipped or heavy to carry. Kids can decorate cookie dough, tie ribbons or strips of colorful fabric around filled jars, write text on gift tags and check off recipients on a list. If your range includes a convection oven, fill it up with cookie sheets or baking pans so the process moves more smoothly and explain how the oven's fan forces heated air around food to help it cook.
Photo Credits: Pamela Follett/Demand Media
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