By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
As a parent of teens, Christmas can be a special opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, but it can also trigger sadness as you recall the days when your teen was a child. Gone are the magical days when your child appeared wide-eyed in front of the tree, jumping up and down with excitement. They may now respond to your question of “what do you want for Christmas?” with “I don’t know,” or “whatever.”
With Christmas right around the corner, you may be finishing up your shopping, wrapping your treasures, and tucking your family’s wish list items neatly around the tree. As your child gets older, they may request fewer gifts, and what they do request might empty your wallet. Sometimes teens have trouble deciding what they want for Christmas. But you may need some last-minute gifts. Here are some creative gifts to make Christmas extra special:
1. Gift Cards
Although they may feel cold and impersonal, gift cards are a way to bless your teen with an opportunity to give to themselves what they really want. Buy a gift card with a certain amount to allow them to buy that piece of clothing they have been eyeing or that accessory for their room or car. Even a card to a store with multiple gift options like Amazon or a department store will open the door wide for opportunities with your teen.
Get creative and appeal to your teen’s senses. Recall what they use the most often. Do they like to cozy up in front of a fire? Perhaps a pair of soft, fleece-lined socks. Does your daughter like to experiment with makeup? How about a gift basket of her favorite makeup brand? Gift baskets are popular because it is a sample of many of the items your teen may have wanted.
Instead of giving them an actual wrapped gift, consider a gift to something you can do as a family. What about a certificate to watch the newest movie at the movie theater? What about a water park or a family adventure center, complete with go-karts and arcade games? Always wanted to take your daughter for a spa day? Fill a gift basket with spa items and create a makeshift spa day where you pamper each other with the products. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that don’t come wrapped under the tree but make memories for years to come.
Christmas is a special time for young children, but Christmas can lose its spark once they pass the Santa phase. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Recall some of their favorite toys and activities as a young child. Was your son a soccer enthusiast? Did your daughter have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket she toted around everywhere she went? Give them the gift of memories. Help them remember their youth by giving them gifts that remind them of a remarkable accomplishment, catchphrase, or memory you hold dear. It will help both you and them recall the wonder of the holiday season. The smiles those gifts create as they recall them might ease the sadness this otherwise joyous season can cause.
5. Board Games
Like the experience gifts, board games are great for bonding as a family. Make a point to institute a family board game night—research the most fun, appropriate games to play. If your teens think Monopoly is boring, try some of the more obscure games that require skill or strategy, like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride.
You can never go wrong with food for your hungry teens. You can fill their stockings with healthy snacks, like beef jerky, nuts, or trail mix instead of the same candy. You can also be creative and fill a basket with candy they used to love as a kid. You can also fill their stocking with items that are only theirs. For example, if your teen’s favorite food is peanut butter, place a bow on a large jar of peanut butter. He knows that the jar is only for him when he receives it on Christmas.
Every kid has dreams of exploring new places or seeing more of the world. If your budget allows, give themed gifts that correspond to that adventure. For example, if your teen wants to go to Europe after they graduate high school, give them several gifts related to the countries in Europe. You can give items local to Italy and France among others. The significant gift at the end could be money towards a week’s vacation, a plane ticket, or a hotel.
8. Unlock the Gift of Giving
As Christians, we emphasize Jesus’ birth as the real reason for the season. But we may still get caught up in the consumeristic nature of the season. Give the gift of charity to your teen and help them understand that giving is better than receiving.
As a family, contact an organization such as World Vision or Compassion international. These non-profit organizations seek to care for kids in impoverished areas worldwide. Adopt a child in your family’s name and pledge to pay the monthly amount as a family. Kids can put away a section of their paycheck or earn their allowance to contribute. When it is time to write letters to your sponsored child, make sure every member gets to write a paragraph, so they can tangibly interact with the child.
9. Bless Your Community
You can also teach this concept by donating a portion of your otherwise tight budget to a local organization that helps the community. Your local food bank or church community may need additional funds to create programs or give supplies to those in need in your community.
Whatever you choose, make sure it is a cause that your family feels passionate about and honors God and biblical principles.
10. Biblically-based Gifts
While Bibles, Christian living books, and the newest album from your favorite Christian artist might make your teen’s Christmas list, you can also give gifts based on certain verses in the Bible. If you do devotions as a family, select a few verses from that devotional to remind them of the verses they are learning. For example, if your family is going through a devotional on fear, give the gift of peace and relaxation. A certificate at a spa, comfortable clothing to promote rest at home, or a piece of jewelry with the verse engraved on the inside are all great choices.
If you have read through the Bible in a year, give them a new Bible in a different translation to encourage looking at the Word from another perspective. Offer to read through the Bible together as a family to spur conversation and apply what they are reading.
No matter what you choose to give your teen for Christmas, be sure to emphasize the true meaning of the season. Pledge to do more to disciple your teen in the New Year into Christ-following adults because that’s the best gift of all.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.