Why We Ditched Presents for Hanukkah
BY JORDANA HANDLER
Photo © Elizaveta Vladimerovna Koifman/123RF
Dec 5, 2017
Earlier this month I was in my kids' playroom, looking around to see what they needed for Hanukkah. Then it hit me: We have a lot of stuff. For kids who would rather play with a diaper wipe than a toy (seriously, my daughter will spend a good 15 minutes wiping things around the house — it’s pretty amazing), we have more than enough entertaining toys and games. So what do you get for the kids who seem to have everything?
The answer is nothing.
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As we enter the holiday season, it’s a perfect time to stop with all the stuff and focus more on the experiences. This year we are ditching toys and presents, and giving our kids the gifts of adventure, philanthropy and family. This may sound cheesy, but we want our kids to have what they actually need instead of stuff that they don’t really care about.
Yes, I want my kids to have a cool Lego set, but I also want them to have a sense of community. I want them to have experiences with family and friends, and I want them to associate holiday giving with love and kindness. These are the real things I want my kids to grow up with — not a room full of stuff, but a heart full of love.
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My kids are obsessed with animals, so instead of buying them yet another stuffed animal or barnyard toy set, we take them to the zoo to see animals in the flesh. And we always make sure to invite our family and friends to join us. They get this great memory and we don’t have to figure out how to make room for yet another toy on the bed. Everyone wins.
To instill some philanthropic values in our kids, we spend time gathering up old toys and clothes to bring to a local charity so that other families can enjoy them. The kids love helping put different items into boxes (just like wiping, box sorting turned out to be a great activity) and we love the space it creates to enjoy the toys and clothes we have. It's a group effort, and we do it as a family.
We also spend the holidays by investing in our relationships with our kids and the community instead of their toys and games. We take them to enjoy local play centres, visit neighbours and walk around the area observing the wonders of the holiday season (ironically, Christmas lights have been a fan favourite).
Over their lifetime, our kids are going to receive plenty of presents to unwrap and enjoy. But for us, the family time and memories made are priceless. And teaching our kids how to appreciate the things that matter most is the best gift of all.