Gift giving vs. receiving

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We had the most joyful Christmas I can remember this year and it was because my children had worked for weeks preparing homemade presents for each other, their parents and grandparents.

My heart melted on Christmas morning when I observed their pure excitement not because of what they might receive but because they were so thrilled that they were finally able to offer what they had worked so hard on.

Research has shown that young children show more positive emotions when they give gifts compared with when they receive gifts. (Aknin et al., 2015)*

There have been less opportunities to give in person since the pandemic began (bake sales, in-person volunteer work with children involved… even birthday parties!) but there are still many ways we can model and practice giving:

1.  Reach out to a local retirement home and see if they are taking cards or baked goods for residents
2.  Learn origami and make little boxes or hearts for each of the members of a classroom
3.  Offer homemade cookies to teachers or neighbours
4.  Start preparing little gifts for your next cultural festival Nowruz, Passover, Easter, and Ramadan are close to each other this year
5.  Make cards for friend’s birthdays
6.  Suggest making little gifts and drawings for siblings who need a mood lifter
7.  Make food for busy and/or new parents
8.  Give a child a special chore such as serving Mom of Dad their coffee in the morning or turning down their sibling’s sheets and spraying them with a lavender solution (witch hazel with lavender essential oil)
9.  Bring a bouquet of flowers to school for the entire class to enjoy

Make sure to have lots of crafting supplies available for creative gifts and presents. My older children tend to use their allowance for more complicated crafting supplies like Plaster of Paris, glitter glue or beads, but I supply everyone with all the basics including access to some scrap fabric, needles and thread, glueguns, acrylic paint, scissors and quality yarn.

If you like to cook your way to people’s hearts you’ll want a full pantry with lots of baking basics or if you like to pamper others you could help your children learn how to make simple DIY beauty recipes to keep on hand as gifts.

The ways to give are endless and as Robert Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others”. 

You’re welcome to join in on the conversation and share with us your family traditions of gift-giving in the comments on my Instagram post I shared last week on the topic

*References: and

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.


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