The One Gift Your Kids Will Cherish ALL YEAR Long–And You Will Too!
You know how it is. You have stuff on top of stuff. Every closet is overflowing.
More clothes than your kids need.
The toys from last year that quickly lost their luster…and now create clutter.
But it’s almost Christmas time, and society says it’s time to surround the sparkly tree with piles of presents.
Your kids may even have a Christmas Wish List already, and the grandparents are eager to shower the kids with things to brighten their day.
I get it. I love Christmas! I am no Grinch. I am excited to pick out a tree, decorate it while listening to Christmas music, and enjoy family traditions with my little ones.
But I know there are more important lessons to teach my kids than more stuff = more happiness.
And I definitely don’t think Christmas should destroy your budget. There’s no need to use credit cards to finance Christmas gifts. Your financial health (getting or continuing to be debt free and investing for your future) is FAR, FAR more important than more gifts for your kids.
So if you want to avoid a Christmas spending hangover and don’t want tons of new clutter to trip over, then maybe it’s time for a different type of gift to give your kids this year.
The gift I’m excited about will last all year and will foster 5 AMAZING customs for your family:
- It is a weekly reminder that the gift of your undivided attention and time is priceless.
- It is ok to keep it simple. Not everything in life has to be over-the-top, extravagant, or Pinterest-worthy.
- Teach gratitude. Part of your job is to teach your kids to be content and grateful for what they already have.
- You will teach your kids the wonderful qualities of patience, self-control, and delayed gratification.
- Last, but definitely not least, is the lesson (and reminder for you) that stuff does not equal happiness.
By giving this gift, you will help your kids to be happier with what they have, to embrace family time spent together, and that you can have lots of fun without the latest toy/gadget/video game.
Here is one gift you can give all your children that they (and you!) will cherish all year long.
The One Gift Your Kids Need This Year: Time in a Jar
The idea is to create a jar with 52 different activities you can do together, one per week, during a special designated time.
Your time together is priceless, and of course, you spend time with your kids, but this gift is for a special time that your family has to look forward to every single week.
You and your kids will know that even if life seems like chaos most of the week, you will have this one time to shut everything else out and just be together soon.
This time together could be doing a simple 10-minute activity or it could be heading out for a day-long adventure, but the priority is your giving your undivided time and attention to doing these activities together.
This is time without phones, tablets, computers, or video games.
Just time together.
I promise this is a gift you will never regret giving.
The memories you will create after one year will be cherished by you and your kids for years to come.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1. Pick a Day
Based on your family’s typical schedule, decide which day of the week will work best for your family.
By giving this gift, you are committing to your child to spend time together every week doing something new or fun.
Decide as a family whether Friday nights, Saturday mornings, Sunday afternoons, or Tuesday evenings will work for your family, and declare the day as such.
Yes, once in a while something will come up. But do everything you can to keep this time as your cherished time to create memories together.
Step 2. Family or Individual Child
Decide with your spouse if your jar will be intended for everyone in the family or if it will be for a specific child.
You might create this time for an older child, or maybe even a “forgotten middle child.”
Or maybe these will be activities for Mom + Daughter, Mom + Son, Dad + Daughter, or Dad + Son.
Do what will work best for your family.
Step 3. Name Your Day
Give this day or jar a special name.
Need some ideas?
- The Mystery Gift Jar because it’s unknown which activity you will do this week.
- Super Smith Saturdays because the Smith family decided to set Saturday mornings aside for this special time.
- Treasures for Trevor because this is special weekly time for your son, Trevor.
- Makin’ Memories Jar because this time together will surely create great memories.
- Sundays with Sam for your time designated with Sam.
- Or simple, The Time Jar, as a reminder that this is your gift of your time to your kids.
Just come up with something fun and give your jar gift a name.
Step 4. Get Your Jar
Next, you’ll need to get your jar. You can use a mason jar, a plastic cup, or some other container or basket you already have to make it a totally free gift.
Label the jar with your special name and decorate it a bit if you’d like.
You can make your own designs or find a cool printable online.
Or use one of those plastic mason jars with a chalkboard label, which I’ve seen at the dollar tree for a buck.
Step 4. Choose Your Activities
Then create a list of 52 different activities you can do together.
You’ll want to base the activities on your child’s age and interests, but don’t be afraid to add something new for your family to try as well.
If you put 52 activities in your jar, you will have at least one special activity to do together all year long!
No more “go find something to do” or “go play with your toys or we’re throwing them away” or popping in another movie while you mindlessly browse your phone.
Here Are 26 Activity Ideas To Get You Started:
- Create an obstacle course.
- Have a spa day and do each other’s hair and nails.
- Set up a scavenger hunt outside based on the season, colors, or numbers.
- Bake cookies or bread and take them to your neighbors.
- Make your own kinetic sand.
- Explore Google Maps to find your home, the home of family, other favorite or intriguing places.
- Build a snowman, a family of snowmen, or a character out of snow. I still remember a Yoshi my step-dad built and spray-painted as a child.
- Turn out all the lights and play hide and go seek with flashlights in the dark.
- Build an epic fort. Couch cushions. Sheets. Pillows. Blankets. Rearranged furniture. The whole nine yards.
- Go for a walk in a new area and play “I spy.”
- Host a movie marathon. Invite a friend, grandparents, cousins, or neighbors. Create tickets for them to see the show. Make the room dark like a theatre. Collect lots of blankets and pillows. Make popcorn and enjoy the shows.
- Teach your child to hula hoop (and brush off your own hula hooping skills!)
- Create a playlist of music and have a dance party. Have a mix of freestyle dancing and those funny ones like The Hokey Pokey, The Chicken Dance, The Macarena, and the Cupid Shuffle.
- Re-enact a book. I could see Goldilocks and the Three Bears and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt being ones my daughter would love.
- Write, decorate, and mail thank you letters or cards.
- Learn origami and make cool paper creations. Try to make everyone’s favorite animal or hobby.
- Plant a tree, an herb, veggies, or flowers. Talk about what plants need to grow and how they need to be taken care of each week.
- Rearrange your child’s bedroom.
- Have a snowball fight. This can be done outside if there’s snow, or you can crumple up lots of paper/newspaper/ads, or even use cotton balls.
- Make homemade playdough or slime together.
- Build a fire and make s’mores. Mmmm.
- Get out the box of Halloween costumes or dress up clothes (or your own clothes) and have a fashion show, photoshoot, or create your own play.
- Write a story or poem together.
- Make a cup of hot cocoa from scratch and savor it together.
- Learn the sign language alphabet.
- Find a free Yoga video online and do it together. My daughter and I like the Frozen Cosmic Kids Yoga.
Step 5. Create The Activities
To make this gift truly FREE to make, you can simply use paper and a pen and write the activities on slips of paper. You could also type them on your computer in a fun font and print them before cutting them.
Or if you want to spruce it up a bit, you can write activities on popsicle sticks or fold each piece of paper into a fun design (52 Paper Airplanes? That sounds fun! You’ll need more than a jar to hold all those though…). Feel free to be creative if you enjoy that, but don’t feel like you have to.
The real importance of this gift is the intentional time you agree to spend together and the anticipation of not knowing what you will do during your special time this week.
Step 6. Add The Activities To Your Jar
Then take all your slips of paper, popsicle sticks, or whatever you used for your activities and add them to your jar.
Wrap it up with a ribbon or bow, and that’s it!
You’ve created a FREE (or very cheap) gift for your kids that will teach them gratefulness, will focus on simplicity and joy through spending time together, and it will not clutter your house either!
Work Smarter, Not Harder
I hope your Time in a Jar is a gift you will give your child that will keep on giving all year long.
This gift will also help you stick to a wise budget and prevent you from getting caught up overspending this Christmas season.
This message is also to reassure you it is okay to keep it simple and focus on creating treasured time together with your littles.
Remember, your kids learn from what you model for them: If you get excited about these simple yet fun activities you do together, they’ll sense that. If you model that you need more stuff, or the latest gadget in order to bring “happiness,” they soak that up too.
I hope this jar helps you give your child what he or she really needs, helps you stick to a budget and keep your money on the bigger picture goals, and that it helps you model contentment, delayed gratification, gratefulness, finding joy in simple things, and that you love and value your time together.
No matter how you do it, I hope you create many cherished memories this holiday season–and throughout the entire year.
I’d love to hear if you give a gift like this and what special activities you added for your little ones, so add them in the comments below.
Whatever you do today, let your light shine and use your common cents.
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You may also want to check out How To Be A Money Saver: 100 Ways To Save Money This Month