My “no clutter” Christmas gifts for my grandchildren for many years involved making up coupons for various things.
The coupons had instructions… some could be cashed in once each month as indicated on the coupon.
Others could be cashed in once a week… but only one per week — a drawing activity, play a game or a trip to the library. There were also cards for reading a story… and they could submit them twice a week.
The monthly coupons were usually reserved for things that required reservations and a larger expenditure of money — such as a ride in a pipe cub airplane at the local small sky park; or a train ride that went to Western Maryland to a mountain restaurant for lunch and then the ride back.
The coupon idea was developed for several reasons — not the least of which was “no clutter”… they already had lots of toys and other items to play with like the computer and game console.
This particular gift developed a lift of its own. The grandchildren, from time to time, would drop hints of what they might want on the coupons… IF Santa was going to keep bringing them. We also took time to discuss and plan the various events in advance and then to have a follow-up discussion about how the event went (there were often glitches), how well they liked what we did and of course whether or not they wanted to do it again!
Some of the coupons, like going to McDonalds or to a favorite restaurant (Shea’s Pancake House) showed up frequently as did the library trips. Others like the plane ride and train rides happened only once every 2 or 3 years. The train ride to Western Maryland was eventually a discontinued event when the train closed down. We also took a ferry ride, or a fishing boat ride out into the Atlantic Ocean from Ocean City, Maryland.
I truly believe that the kids learned that planning trips, making reservations and considering expenditures (from my budget ) has taught them a few things about planning out their own events and expenditures now as young adults with jobs and cars. I pray it will help to keep them out of deep debt — if you can’t afford to do it, don’t over charge the credit cards, etc.
I believe some recent “behavior” studies have shown the benefits of families playing “table top” or “board games”… the strategies needed sometimes to win certain games like Monopoly; the sportsmanship and patience to play “Sorry” or “Parcheesi”… Scrabble, and other word games like Bookworm and Text Twist increased vocabulary and Yahtzee took strategy as well as luck!
So the no clutter, holiday gift, truly has kept on giving and giving!
My grandchildren were 5 and 6 when I started the coupon giving…
At times when my health was not so good… some plans fell through. The positive of this was teaching them how to handle disappointment and change. They also developed empathy as well as a bit of medical knowledge through my bouts with cancer, Lupus attacks, etc. They also learned the value of sunscreen as I had to be careful on excursions because of my two bouts with squamous cell and melanoma skin cancers.
Two years ago, my granddaughter got married… so I’ve added my grandson-in-law to the mix. I’ve also added coupons like “Order chinese food for dinner” or perhaps a pizza, Chick-fil-A and such as some of the coupons. I’ve been able to purchase some of the “Living Social” coupon deals that gives them the opportunity to do some fun thinks for half the price. And so, the no clutter, gift-giving that keeps on giving continues into their adulthood.
Lastly, the coupons were often given in various ways … wrapped in a money envelop I got at the bank, in a shirt box, in a very large box from a case of paper (often with a hammer or wrench in the bottom to make it heavy). Sometimes the box would have marbles or a bell in it so it would make noise when they shook the box. A few times the coupons would be mixed in with what their mother would call a “real gift” just to fool them.
One year, I intermingled the coupons in a box of Kleenex for my granddaughter… and taped along the tissue of a roll of toilet paper for my grandson! I think they learned a bit about creativity along the way too… in the packaging ideas as well as the coupon ideas.
This year, their coupons may be slipped inside the pages of one of the books I wrote this year!
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