Holiday Gifts Can Bring Families Together

Posted: December 8, 2012

If you’re wondering what to give someone for a holiday gift this year, consider giving gifts that will bring people together. In this day in age when families are busy and spending less time together, gift giving can be a way of creating family cohesiveness...

Holiday presents don’t need to be “products” but rather they can be gifts which will tie people together in a meaningful way.

     Instead of searching for the perfect gift, search for ways to share time and build relationships. The holidays present a wonderful opportunity to bring families together. Plan activities that involve the entire family such as eating, singing, dancing and crafts. 

     Consider gifts which older adults and young people can give that are meaningful. Below are some gift suggestions from Dr. Matthew Kaplan,  professor of intergenerational programs and aging at Penn State University. 

Gifts from Old to Young
     * A family recipe.
     * An heirloom that reflects a shared family heritage.
     * A sewing, knitting or crocheting project. You each can complete segments of the overall item.
     * Hand down a hobby, such as wood carving or coin collecting.
     * A puzzle you can do together.
     * Seeds for a garden to work in together.
     * A family album.

Gifts from Young to Old
     * Supplies to make a book about family history or identity. Consider newspaper clippings, photos and stories that you write together.
     * An oral history or biography booklet based on an interview conducted with the adult.
 Joint Giving and Co-producing
     * Make a presentation, sing a song, or play instruments together at a nursing home, a children's ward at a hospital, or as part of a community event.
     * Join a community service project such as helping to rebuild a park or deliver meals to the homebound.
     Dr. Kaplan reminds us that the essence of the great gift is that it helps us locate the 'we' not the 'me’ in relationships. The holiday season is a time to strengthen ties and become closer to our loved ones and those around us.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.