The Gift of Education! (Or the Difficulties of Christmas Gift Recommendations)

This post was sponsored by Scholarshare.

The older and more independent kids get, the more difficult gift-giving becomes at Christmas. As I've written before, we're working hard this Christmas to make it more about memories rather than things. This helps us keep our holiday spending within our budget, of course, but it also reinforces our belief that Christmas should be about more than just material stuff.

But we're not hermits. And when our relatives ask us what the kids want for Christmas, I'm not going to tell them that we only prefer organic artisan hand-carved wooden toys made from pure Brooklyn pine because we're KEEPING CHRISTMAS SIMPLE.

That's not likely to satisfy the kids' grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles who are always asking me what my children want for Christmas. In addition to the usual games or toys or whatever, I used to be able to give them the kids' clothing sizes and request t-shirts for the boys or pretty dresses for the girls. But lately, the kids are becoming these little self-contained people who are developing very definite styles and sartorial tastes.

In the past, they would just wear whatever. But not anymore. Which means a shirt or dress Grandma picked out because she thought it was "cute" may not fit my kids' personal style. And may just sit in their closet, unworn.

This frustrates me and frustrates family members, too. I totally understand. And I understand that giving cash or gift cards for clothing just doesn't have the same emotional impact for the giver that comes from picking out an actual gift. Gift cards, while pragmatic, can feel too impersonal.

So this Christmas thing is getting hard, y'all.

This year I'm finding myself shooing family gift-givers away from clothing gifts, and steering them toward less-fashionable things like books. But I'm suggesting another option, too.

This one won't be as satisfying for the kids—at least not yet—but since 2014 has been the year of setting up their college savings accounts, I love that Scholarshare has an easy eGifting option. It allows family or friends to make a secure contribution through the Scholarshare website. Once you give them the appropriate account number, then can donate whatever amount they'd like above a $25 minimum. The gift goes straight into the kid's account. Easy.

Plus, there's an option to print a gift certificate. Imagine the joy on your child's face when they open a package from Grandma only to see a piece of paper that says, "Good news! I have given you a gift that lasts a lifetime: the gift of education."

Yeah…I don't see that filling any of my currently short-sighted children with a whole lot of Christmas joy. But making a contribution to their college funds IN ADDITION to something else, or as a replacement for the cash they'll probably lose in our front yard or mistakenly wash in their skinny jeans? Yes please.

And some day, our kids will appreciate it as much as Mark and I do.

What about you? As your kids age and develop their own sense of style, how do you handle gift recommendations for well-meaning family members? (Especially the ones who want to give your child something more personal than a gift card?)

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