Cambrian: Opinion

A little thought can help make gifts more meaningful

Whether you have kids, big or little, or not, I hope you’ll put some thought into what young people are wanting, needing, expecting. I mean, it would be good of you to at least weigh in on a conversation at the checkout line in Target. Well, maybe I’m the only one “bold” enough to state statistics, make “suggestions” and generally butt in where probably not wanted. Ahem.

SO, I’ll do so here: Locally made. Handmade. Fair trade. Organic. Educational. Creative. Inspirational.

Obviously, those can all be broadly applied to many things I would NOT put on my shopping list were I to have one of those any more. Of course budget, in my world, is a big factor, too. Besides, the littlest tykes tend to be more interested in the box the item came in, especially if it fits on their head or feet or they can sit in it!

Does anyone remember playing with blocks? You could even make your own with scrap lumber, some sand paper and either Rit dye or non-toxic acrylic paint to color them if desired. Sew up a groovy bag or find a nice basket or box to present and store them in and you have hours of fun with a kid up to 5 years of age or so.

Duplos and Leggos if you can afford it are also hours of fun. Even for teenagers and bored adults sometimes!

Little ones also like things they can pound. As a girl, even I did. Still do. Wooden hammers with wooden peg and boards brought some weird level of excitement. By fifth grade, “real” tools or simple sewing machines are a good idea to start instilling useful skills in both boys and girls. TIME with the child, to show them how to use them, is even better.

My mom gave my older son two of my favorite gifts to him. Just before Miles could walk, for his first Christmas, she gave him a small, soft baby doll, much to his father’s chagrin.

Everyone must learn to nurture. What better way than to give them something to take care of?” The other gift was a harmonica on his first birthday. “Wouldn’t you rather hear him making creative, happy sounds?” And so it was.

Books are obvious. I still have an attic full of the best ones I read to my kids. Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners are good choices, or look for local authors. How about a library card to get them excited about control over their own reading supply? Or how about a subscription to Children’s Book of the Month Club (they can donate them when they outgrow them and share the gift)?

How about museum or park passes where they live? Encourage young teens to be more environmentally, socially aware by sending them books or DVD’s on current issues and lifestyles. Check out,, or

How about a club membership?

I know less is more, but when you want to do something, think about their future. And yours! How do you want our kids to think and behave?

Just sayin’….

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