By now, your holiday shopping is likely well underway. Maybe you hit the Black Friday sales and have gifts stashed where no one looks (perhaps the laundry room), or if you’re like me, you have gifts in your online cart that you keep meaning to go back to purchase. Either way—it’s December, and it sneaks up fast on parents who already have a long list of things to look forward to for the holiday season—parties, open houses, teacher gifts, photos with Santa, securing matching family pajamas, and more. Read on for some last minute gift ideas that last.
When our kids were little, our Christmas tree would be dwarfed by gifts for the kids. I mean, it’s the spirit of Christmas, of course. But, Grandparents—am I right? Who are these people, and why do their precious grandchildren get their hearts’ desire, when we got underwear in our stockings back when we lived under their roofs? Although as much as quantity, it was just sheer size—toys for little ones are often as big as the kids themselves—colorful, meant to take up your entire living room, and accompanied by endless plastic accessories.
So it never fails that each year, we have a little clean-up-and-clean-out to do to make room for the new things we just had to have. Sometimes we’re replacing things that really do need to be replaced, but in the spirit of the holidays, it’s more fun to get a little something new just because. As my children have gotten into their teen years, we’ve leaned into the idea of experiences rather than stuff, and that’s helped keep bring me Marie Kondo-styled joy by being less cluttered—but also because we’re making memories, some new traditions, and even planning for the future.
If you’re looking for last minute gift ideas, don’t forget that experiences can include things like cooking lessons—a fun bonding experience that reaps benefits both at home and when they grow up and go off to college and their first apartments. Or, maybe the family goes to The Big Game and it means the kids also get a chance to check out what a college campus has to offer (beyond the tailgating section of the stadium, of course). Don’t miss digging in deep to your child’s interests by springing for a summer camp or course in coding, art, or entrepreneurship, to help nurture their passions.
And don’t miss out on the gift of education. According to CNBC and a survey from the College Savings Foundation, nearly half of parents may ask family and friends to contribute to a 529 plan for their children. Yes, it’s a long-term gift, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving—and a perfect opportunity for grandparents or other family to contribute. Check into the benefits of a grandparent-owned 529 plan, which allows money for eligible college expenses to grow tax-free and doesn’t count as an asset when it comes time to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) down the road.
Here’s another gift you might need to consider, too—one just for you, and not the kids: Let something go. You don’t have to do the matching pajamas and the Santa pictures and the custom greeting cards and the Elf on the Shelf and the Polar Express train experience and the gingerbread houses and…and…and. Find the things that are most meaningful for your family and forget living up to the social media holiday hype, no matter how cute and fun all the things look. Plus, no thank you note required for this one.