Healthy Holiday Gift Giving: The Want, Need, Wear, Read Guide [PLUS One Addition]

Day 2: Healthy Holiday Gift Giving crop

“That’s it, Samuel, use the puffy coat . . . pull the cap down low and put on these sunglasses. Joel, you be lookout and make sure no one sees either of you,” I heard my oldest son, Matt, instruct his brothers. As a mother of five children, 6-18 years old at the time, I could imagine at least 15 things a conversation like this could lead to, many of which I’d rather not know about.

Over a decade ago, I started an article I’d written for Family Fun magazine with this cloak and dagger paragraph. Always fans of the Want, Need, Wear and Read approach to gift giving (more on that to come), early on in our parenting, my husband, Mark, and I had added a fifth element, Share. It meant that though for many holiday seasons, our children were engaged in a mysterious endeavour, with far reaching effects in both their lives and the lives of others around us, it wasn’t anything Mark and I were concerned about. Truth be told, we were in on the conspiracy – our annual Twelve Days of Christmas giving spree.

The last few years there has been a lot of talk about a simplified, potentially more cost effective and ideally a more-in-line with the reason for our celebratory season’s gift-giving guide.

Giving gifts to each other that fall under the categories of a gift that the recipient WANTS, a gift that they NEED, a gift to WEAR and a gift to READ makes choosing gifts simpler, can more easily keep holiday budgets on track, encourages appreciation for receiving even the essentials like new PJs or socks, fosters a love for the written word and, with the WANT item, allows for that magical sense of “oh my goodness, that’s exactly what I was hoping for!” jumping up and down glee that makes for great home videos!

Adding a SHARE item to the list, however, is, in my opinion, the “pièce de résistance” of gift giving. By providing our children and ourselves the opportunity to share our time, energy and resources with someone in need of that gift, our ability to be generous increases. And with that expansion comes back, pressed down, full measure to us, increased awareness of others’ situations, increased compassion, increased understanding and increased contentment.

Not a bad return for helping organize toy giveaways, filling stockings for an in-need single-parent family or packaging up a dozen anonymous gifts representing the lyrics of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and secretly delivering them each day from December 13-24th.

Mark and I had hoped that our fun and creative tradition (that included things like a frozen chicken in a box decorated with paper pears, a dove-shaped ornament, gold-coloured napkin rings and a ballerina calendar) would help our children understand that it really is more blessed to give than to receive. As we completed our final delivery each year and we’d see our kids head down the hallway to stash the puffy coat and sunglasses, already discussing who should get the Twelve Days gift next year, we realized it was working!

How are you choosing a healthy attitude of giving this holiday season? Share with us in the comments below!


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