Gift giving isn’t a big deal in our family, but I realize we’re not normal. My dad’s way of giving gifts is to pull out a Performance cycling or sportswear catalogue and point to something with a pen or the fork he’s eating with and say, “I was thinking of ordering you something like that for Christmas. What do you think?” This happens nearly every gift-giving holiday. But back to you…
Your girl may have had her wish list pasted up around the house for weeks. Or perhaps your girl is the kind who would rather drop hints (more or less discreetly) about which music, clothing, equipment, books, fragrance or vehicle would send her into a Facebook-post frenzy, Twitter tizzy or Snapchat…um, whatever. You get where I’m going here.
And all that’s fine.
You probably want to give her that Sephora gift card or those neon pink leggings, or 10 Things For Teen Girls by Kate Conner (Just read it, loved it!) Because you’re a mom (about 70% of my subscribers are moms)or dad or auntie or sister and you actually get joy when you give gifts to your darling girl. Thank you for being so awesome, BTW!
But what about giving a “mallternative” kind of gift this year? What about something longer lasting—or even, eternal? Something more forever than Forever21? I want to present a few gift and experience ideas here that are SO much more valuable than anything found in the mall, because they are about developing character. Good news, one of these ideas is actually FREE.
- The gift of the joy that comes from giving (no really, it’s true)
I can’t tell you how many times I heard that it is “more blessed to give than to receive” when I was growing up. I didn’t believe it though, because receiving was sure awesome and I don’t remember really connecting with any of the people or causes that I gave to. Here are a couple keys for helping the girls in your life get that real joy from giving this holiday season:
» Get the facts. Elizabeth Dunn, author of Happy Money, conducted a study that concluded that people who spend money on others (even just a few dollars) are happier than when they spend it on themselves. See her 15 minute talk at Pop! Tech, or read about it here.
» Have the right approach. Depending on the personality of your girl and her expectations about the quality and quantity of her Christmas gifts—you might want to have a discussion (or two) with her about this idea of adding more “giving” to the Christmas festivities. The last think you’d want to do would be to surprise a girl with a coal stocking and the announcement that her wishlist has been sent to orphans in Delhi, India. Take it slow—sometimes we don’t realize how much of our identity is wrapped up in “stuff” until someone asks us to do without as much of it.
» Help her make a connection. One of the ways to awaken your girl’s compassion for others and to help her to want to give more is by helping her make a personal connection to people or causes that might resonate with her. One of the best ways to connect, I think, is through video! A few weeks ago I watched a full-length documentary called Girl Rising that really moved me to want to give more to girls’ education. I highly recommend renting it (mine came from Hastings). You can find other cause related documentaries at Films For Action. Some of them are free to watch.
Another thing your girl might enjoy is looking through the World Vision or ADRA catalogs with you and deciding together which project to sponsor–there are many gifts that support women and girls. You may also have a local non-profit or project you’d like to support. The key is to help her make a personal connection to the causes and stories of the people you’ll be involved with helping.
- The gift of learning awesome stuff
Never before has an instrument, hobby, or class on how to do anything been so easily accessible or so affordable! There are several online educational marketplaces where you can learn anything from making sushi to playing ukulele to learning how to make money tinting car windows! Take advantage of the explosion in online learning and gift your girl something that will enrich her for a lifetime! There are 1000’s of courses on Udemy.com (including my course, Rock Your Life which is FREE with code “BLOGREADER” through Dec. 25th—regularly $149 ). Also, look for community education courses through your local universities and art centers.
- The gift of mentorship
Mentoring.org recently funded and published a study on the importance of mentorship to positive outcomes in a young person’s life. Young people with mentors are less likely to engage any kind of risk-behavior are more emotionally healthy and get involved in leadership and success building activities more frequently. Also, according to one of last year’s Barna poll, spiritual mentors are one of the few things that keep young people in church—28% who stay had an adult mentor. Why not give the gift of mentorship to a girl you love this year?
How to do it: ask someone that your girl likes and respects to take her for an informal mentorship session at least once a month. The mentor should be a little ahead of your girl in life experience, and committed to regularly spending time with your girl.
Make it a gift by writting a letter to your girl, telling her how much you love her and that you want the best for her future. Tell her you’d like to invest in her success by pairing her with a mentor for the next year. Include the mentor’s photo and bio and giftwrap it up! Sweeten the deal by providing both your girl and the mentor a gift card for a favorite drink stop to be used on the days of their get-togethers. Provide the mentor with a sheet of mentoring basics (especially if this is her first time to mentor), and some fun “getting to know you” questions for the first meeting.
Best practices and lots of downloadable tools are available at mentoring.org.
- The gift of service & adventure
Mission trips build girls who are more grateful and understanding—and this is not just my opinion. A Baylor University study cites that going away on a mission trip reduces levels of materialism and increases appreciation for other cultures. Personal anecdote alert: I don’t think I would be in the church today if not for my participation in several mission trips. On these trips I got to see God’s power instead of just hear about it from a pulpit. I got to experience the worldwide church and I realized I had a personal part to play in fulfilling the great commission. Every single young lady needs to go on a mission trip! There are many opportunities to serve in India, Dominican Republic, Africa or the US through Maranatha or Youth With A Mission. Why not make a financial contribution to a “mission fund” for your girl or find a family mission project and fundraise to go together?!
- The gift of entrepreneurship
I may be getting out a soap box here, but I get pumped about letting every girl know that she can start her own small business or ministry. Whether she resells bulk snack foods at school, embroiders personalized pillows or finds ways to get jackets for kids without them, your girl is a superpowered entrepreneur-in-the-making. Give her project a boost by hooking her up with a professional who can help her build her brand identity and marketing presence.
Check out skaMEDIA‘s M3 package, which stands for mentoring, marketing and media. Chief Imaginator Sarah Asaftei will give your girl the guidance and encouragement she needs to turn her idea into a viable business! I can’t imagine what this would have done for me as a young lady! For more info, email email@example.com and ask her about the details for a special 2-hour M3 starter session that includes assessments, coaching and media strategy! Does your girl need some inspiration? Check out this blog post on 37 ideas for young entrepreneurs.
I hope these examples will 1) keep you from dying in the crowd surges on black Friday and 2) get your wheels cranking on other possible gifts that are character building for infinity and beyond. Got any other rad gift ideas that you can share? I’d love to hear about them!
Happiest, awesomest holidays to you!