Low Cost, High Investment Christmas Gifts

So – Thanksgiving Day has passed, your family members will be expecting Christmas gifts from you this year, you haven’t bought anything yet because your budget is stretched tight as a snare drum, and you are wondering how you can save as much money as possible this Christmas season while everyone else spends a ton to boost our nation’s woeful economy.  What to do?!  Never fear.  I have some low cost, high investment Christmas gift ideas that will take some time and effort, but have the potential to pay lifetime dividends for your family.  (Please feel free to send a link to my gift list to your friends and relatives!)

A Phoneless Wire – Yes, you are reading that correctly.  Not a wireless phone.  A phoneless wire.  This low cost, low tech communication accessory is already available in virtually every home, but is usually sadly neglected.  To utilize this marvelous connectivity device, simply turn off all cell phones in the house, unplug all land-line phones, and leave one phone wire plugged into a jack – without a phone plugged in the other end.  Leave all phones at this status for a predetermined length of time, and enjoy conversation, connection, and simple presence with family members without interruption.  I highly recommend leaving all household screens (TV, computer, electronic game devices, etc) turned off during this time, but this isn’t an absolute.  I challenge you and your family to do this one evening or weekend every month for the next year, and tell me if this doesn’t do FAR more to help keep your family connected than equipping each family member with the latest wireless phone and sub-notebook computer.

Gift Certificate Book – You don’t have to run out to Stuff-Mart, Cholesterol Kitchen, Toys-That-Require-More-Batteries-Than-Imagination-R-Us, Cell Phone Heaven, or your local mall for this gift certificate book.  You will have to spend some time, effort, and creativity.  And, come coupon-redemption time, you will likely have to spend even more time and self-discipline.  Here it is.  Just make a list of activities, conversations, and meaningful moments you know your child/teen would love you to share, but that you know you don’t share as often as your child would like.  Depending on your child’s age, your creativity, and how much you are willing to “spend,” your coupons could include items such as: – lunch with Dad or Mom – power to plan a family fun night just the way you want it – one free pass on curfew (with some kind of reasonable limitation) – a camping trip with Mom or Dad and no siblings – breakfast at a nice restaurant with Dad or Mom – commitment from Mom or Dad to read one book or watch one movie of your choosing, without complaining or passing judgment – a free pass to skip one day of school (not for tests or other such days) – power to cancel Dad or Mom’s other plans one day/evening, and do something together – etc.

New Stories – Kids love stories, whether from books, movies, TV, games, or from real live people.  DVDs, computer games, and books are fine for Christmas presents, and I’m a big fan of all three (anyone looking to sell any games for your 80’s Nintendo?).  But it will cost you far more, while spending less money, if you give your kids the gift of YOUR stories this year.  Take time during the Christmas holiday season to share at least one story with your child or whole family that you have never shared with them before.  This can be especially powerful if you intentionally choose a personal story that relates to something your child is facing right now in her/his own life.  Bonus points if the story includes you doing something dumb (provided you don’t tell it to threaten them about what will happen if they don’t shape up).  Extra bonus points if the story includes you getting into trouble, humiliated, or otherwise paying a price for doing something dumb (again – be careful about preaching).

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Join the “Advent Conspiracy.” (Thanks, Lisa!)
Dr. Roger

(You can watch the video of this interview here.  Click on the picture of me holding out a white “phoneless wire.”)

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