Sign up

Beyond Toys and Games: Gifts That Keep on Giving

The Christmas gifts are wrapped and piled in a beautiful array under the tree. When the children open them, some of their holiday dreams will come true and everyone will be filled with holiday joy. Now, fast forward to a week or two later, and those longed-for toys and games are either broken or they’ve become just another part of the possession pile - almost passé.

Before you wonder if Scrooge is writing this article, let me say that I love Christmas. I love giving presents, and I love watching children open them. But allow me to put in a good word for the type of gifts that will keep on giving pleasure, inspiration and educational benefit long after the holidays are over.

After reading through these ideas, you might put a bug in the grandparents’ ears. They’ll be happy to provide some of these long-lasting, valuable gifts as their Christmas offerings. Here they are:

Lessons - From music lessons to art, drama, dance and sports, the gift of a series of lessons in some skill area will add character-building traits to your child’s personality. The child who learns to practice diligently, focus on a skill, set goals and meet them, experience defeat and then move on to victory, that child has gained lifelong benefits.

Ask your children some questions. Listen to their discussions when they’re dreaming of what they want to be or accomplish in their lives; research the best teachers and schools in your area. Choose from individual lessons with one on one attention or group lessons, which can be a wonderful starting point in a new skill.

Learning studies show more and more clearly that children with the ability to focus their attention and follow through with practice become better learners in every subject area.

Subscriptions - Magazine subscriptions, books of the month and other learning materials that arrive at your child’s doorstep on a regular basis instill a love for learning. Children look forward to the next issue, the next story, the next episode. They enjoy being ‘old enough’ to have something come in the mail just for them.

There are fantastic books and magazines available for children. From literature to science, math, geography, history and more, the wealth of information available is quite wonderful. You know your child. You’ll know the types of reading materials to purchase. And as your child grows, so can the reading and interest levels of the subscription. There are excellent choices for all ages.

Life experiences - This choice may be the best one you can choose. Give the gift of time and adventure to your children. How about tickets to live children’s theatre or a planned trip to a local art or history museum? How about a weekend trip to Ghost Towns a short drive away? How about purchasing a book on geology and then taking a trip to some areas displaying geologic wonders?

Every town and region has its own historical background. Did they used to mine for gold in your area? Is lumber or fishing a local industry? Are there Native American sites to visit and learn about?

Since parents are their child’s first and foremost teacher, you can take the initiative to combine learning with family fun. There are endless possibilities, and you can be sure the kids will love the time together and soak in a bit of learning at the same time.

So go ahead and buy the toys, dolls and games the kids want for Christmas. But why not make it an annual tradition to add in at least one gift that will keep on giving?

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer who specializes in education, parenting and family life articles. You can find her at

Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2024 Calgary’s Child