35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran

I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions.

Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?

To that end, here is an alphabetical list of 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget.

  1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
  2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
  3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
  4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
  5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.
  6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
  7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
  8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.
  9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
  10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.
  11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
  12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.
  13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
  14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
  15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
  16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
  18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
  19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
  20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.
  21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
  22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
  23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
  24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
  25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
  26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
  27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
  28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
  29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
  30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
  31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.
  32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
  33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
  34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
  35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. Lexi says

    I am a teenager with a mother that would like me to be more clean and a father who thinks I am not living up to their expectations. I think these are all good points, however, you seemed to have missed one that feels extra important to both my sister and I is privacy. We like to be alone and do things on our own. We need to have time to make mistakes, like you said, without our parents standing over us to help us pick up the pieces. Teenagers, starting at the ripe, old age of thirteen, need privacy.

    • Theresa says

      Agree Lexi. But you could have the other reality of having parents that don’t give a darn about you. Don’t care if you are home on time, don’t care if you even come home. Don’t know anything about you, like when your birthday is, etc. Consider you nothing but a burden. Have parents like that for awhile and you maybe can see that it is nice to have parents that care.

      • hazel hardman says

        How wonderful if we knew perfection on bringing up children in getting it all correct…hmmm every generation tries and tries again….but still blames the one before….until….you have been there n done that.
        I thank you for the heads up and refresher course.

    • Julia says

      I always craved privacy in my teens and never really got it. That is an excellent reminder of how that made me feel…specifically, I did not feel trusted. Now that I’m a parent, I understand the difficulty of stepping away. Maybe you could make a deal with your parents: you give us some breathing room, and we promise not to abuse it. Deal? I hope your parents say yes.

    • Paul says

      I hate to break it to you Lexi, but in today’s world, fewer and fewer of us have any privacy. From companies looking over our shoulder, recording our calls (yes, I am a 53 year old man working a sales job in a major corporation. My calls are monitored, my discussions are analyzed, my daily work scrutinized by 17 bosses – it is literal insanity) and watching our every move. And it’s not just at work. We are warned not to act inappropriately in public, online, and to be careful voicing an opinion that is not PC. The world is becoming a very nosy, public, screwed up mess.

      • Kathy Barthelemy says

        But this huge public world is not what Lexi is talking about. She means the smaller version where she and her sister are and can have their own dreams and wishes. It is really a fundamental need, and I think the majority of teenagers feel like they would like to close off all of the voices making demands on them, their time, and yes, their dreams. I am a high school teacher of 37 years, and sometimes I’m struck by how little privacy my students actually have. If someone is constantly telling you to come out of your room, to participate, you begin to feel like you don’t have much to offer when the moment arrives. It’s not about being anti-social. It’s about being scheduled beyond your capacity for school, sports, after school activities, lessons and homework. It is a forerunner for the kind of hectic life Paul describes. I live with an extremely popular and social being who is 17. Yet, when he closes the door, he means it and I respect that. Tomorrow will arrive at 6:45, and here in Berlin, where I teach at an international school where he is a student, school lasts until 4. Some days there is no lunch break, and that is a nine period day of interaction. We have a college type schedule that covers three sciences, three languages, ethics, sport, art and music. After school, there are other meetings and football. Privacy? I let him close the door. We all need to recharge for the next day. I hear you Lexi…

        • Gayle says

          Yes, I agree that teens do need privacy. I worried that my teens were too anti-social, spending long hours in their rooms. And perhaps it was too much time. But perhaps they needed that time, to think of who they were, and what they would be. To read, or to write poetry, play music, and draw pictures. They have done all those things in their solitary hours, and have turned out to be well-balanced, responsible, well-liked adults, with something to contribute to the world around them.

    • Tara says

      I used to think like you did Lexi. But now that I am grown up and have kids of my own and living in a different country far from my parents, I wish that I had let them more into my life and not pushed them away when they tried to. Maybe if they knew what I was doing all the time, I would not have done some things which I now regret.

    • James says

      Hang in there, Lexi. Tell your parents what you need and negotiate where you can. I do hear your plea to be allowed to become your own person. So much of becoming an autonomous person who has a good sense of self is done by questioning, screwing up, doing it better the next time, and having the room to work stuff out. It is hard for parents to let go and give their kids room. For so many years, they were in charge of everything. It sounds like they really love and, yes, part of a parent loving a child is letting them go (in a thoughtful and caring way) but staying close at the same time.

      When I look back on my adolescence I see so much that I wish I would have done differently. My relationship with my parents was quite volatile and there were some really dark times. As an adult, I find myself drawn to my parents, wanting to be close to them. I can really see my parents aging and it hurts to know that we will not be together one day. Honestly, I cannot bear the thought.

    • Carol says

      That’s true Lexi :) I remember craving that same privacy in my teenage years. It is that yearning for your own private space without parental eyes following your every move, a secret nook where you can wobble your way into the adult you are going to be without any fear of being judged or being corrected or even being chastised for your choices. I believe parents are meant to guide, not to command the steps we are going to take in this world.

    • Jim says

      All the responses Lexi generated say this is a hot issue and balance is the greatest need. Speaking as one who has more than enough regrets regarding his children, I know the pressures of adult life and an overarching sense of responsibility to ones children can make us into people we didn’t really intend to become. It is so much easier to “correct” our kids by telling them what they are doing wrong than it is to take time and energy to relate to them and actually be active as a functional part of their lives. I mean, we just got home from a hard day, right? The lawn needs mowing. Supper isn’t going to put itself on the table. Bills need to be payed. The toilet seat is always loose and the car is making a strange new noise. And look at that pile of laundry! Its easy to forget how hard our own teenage years were. Suffering from hormones we weren’t even aware of. Having three tests suddenly scheduled for the day before the term paper is due. Danny is being a bully, our main squeeze is being temperamental and Sally is spreading lies about us. It’s a lot like being at the office. but kids come home to the lowest rungs on the ladder. They get no relief unless we give it to them, and they need it. If we adults couldn’t come home, snarl at everyone, chew a few out and tell everyone to leave us alone awhile, we would soon be in a semi-coma mumbling the word “burnout.” If we took the list in this article to heart, made a hard copy to keep close by, and each day worked on a new item to apply it in an encouraging way, children would be more willing to come out of their rooms in search of warm, nurturing guidance. If we worked together, played together and enjoyed each others company more, it would probably rejuvenate us all.

    • patrea curry says

      youre right. everyone has the right to privacy,, im 59 now and i still resent my mom reading my diary, that hurt so much. teenagers need space to be themselves with no one telling them it has to be neat, mom, let them close the door and MYOB. and dad, get over yourself, they know them selves better than you do.in you want to expect anything from someone, expect that from yourself, no one is perfect and we all learn from mistakes. i am a mom of 2 daughters.. 31 and 25. if you are keeping track of who they hang out with, their grades in school. and the music they are listening to,and the TV they watch,
      then there should b no problems

    • Michelle says

      Lexi,
      The title of the article is 35 Gifts Your Children…. I am certain when you are an adult you will not look back and say,”Wow! My parents gave me the greatest gift, privacy.” Sounds like you have great parents. Cherish them for wanting to be there and “help you pick up the pieces.” That is a gift.

  2. says

    i dont know what i would like for christmas the only thing i want is an i pod i cant think of any thing else i would like for christma by the way my real name isnt mayra its ALEXIS OLVERA

  3. meface says

    Obvious although I suppose often forgotten in the speed of modern life.

    Could have done without the nonsensical religious aspects, but the fundamentals remain valid.

      • Jackie says

        I didnt see anything religious either. It is beautiful and spiritual (spiritual isnt religious), it shows the connection between us all that children know and we forget about and is so important to keep. I wish I had done all these things when my children were growing up but we are human and bugger things up and that is good for them to learn too. But I did do so many things with them too and love and respect them and they love and respect me. Nothing like a big hug.

        • KZ says

          There’s a Bible passage that says something like “Now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love”. sorry, I forget the reference.

          • Jen says

            Wow, if that what meface was referring to, how nonsensical is that! Sad that people are so turned off to “truth”.

    • Renea says

      I love Christian views. I love Jesus. I love and adore my kids. Some privacy is ok but TOO MANY PARENTS have NO CLUE what is going on with their children and leave it up to everyone else to raise them and no one cares like a good parent does. So suck it up and let them be good parents. geez

    • blueysshadow says

      The reference was very subtle and may have even been viewed as a quote by the author who did not seem to necessarily be aligning it to the bible. Some biblical quotes are simply very integrated into our society and adapted into writing.

      But notably, YOU were drawn to it of all things in this article, which says something. I suggest you reflect on it rather then condemn it and be so critical as perhaps the Lord desires you to be inspired! I will pray for you. God bless!

    • Jeanne says

      “nonsensical religious aspects,” ?????? Perhaps we would not see so much pain and violence in the world if more families appreciated these aspects. Not only did families have meals together, they prayed at their meals and for each other. Children once were permitted to pray WITH their teachers and peers. Now we hear about cursing, fighting, and shooting AT their teachers and peers. It is really unfortunate that these “fundamentals” are not practiced more regularly.

  4. Julie says

    Love it but your link to “Disconnect…” is, well, disconnected.

    “The YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement.”

  5. the chino family says

    Just now read and shared this with our kids….GOOD POINTS to know and remember as we head into the holiDAZE. This is also good to know throughout the year. Thank you!

    • says

      Dear Naomi,I learn SO much from your posts and I love this one.In particular your qusotiens for consideration at the end really struck a chord and I will be printing them and pondering them as I review my role in this New Year.Blessings and a big hug,Felicity x

  6. Laura says

    How very, very true. This goes for all children regardless of age, but the younger they are, the better. There are just some things money can’t buy, especially love, a warm and loving home, a strong feeling of self-worth, good memories and everything else listed here. As far as memories are concerned, I don’t remember most of the Christmas gifts I had received as a child, but I have a strong recall of the wonderful memories I shared with my family and the happiness I felt back then. Things break or fall apart, but the good memories remain.

  7. Kendall says

    Do you really think we should NOT teach our kids to be content with who they are? I would think that our kids should be happy with their abilities, strengths, body image etc.

  8. MJ Ahmed says

    Thank you for this, at this time of year I think we all need a little reminding of what is really important. To your teenage reader Lexi, I think the word you are looking for is Respect. We all need this, crave it, desire this. Your parents should Respect the space you need and you should Respect the fact that your parents should always be involved because they love you.
    Merry Christmas

  9. Melissa says

    I found your site through a link to this post on Pinterest. It’s wonderful. By chance, is there a printer-friendly version of this post? I’d love to make a copy for my husband and have one to refer to/re-read from time to time. Thanks so much!

  10. sarah says

    excellent article. . im new to motherhood and im always open to learn more and more about parenting. thank you for this

  11. says

    Wonderful. All. Of. It. Thank you! The gifts we give our children are not always tangible. The ones above have lasting impact. They are not “Made in China” ;) They are made in our own homes.

  12. Karen says

    Agree with all except 5. It probably wasn’t your intention to have children be discontent with who they are, but it came across that way to me. By all means teach them to strive to become the best that they can, but it’s a fine balance between helping them accept the essence of who they are, and making them feel that they have to be better/different.

  13. says

    Theresa what you speak of is true It is called trust. This is something that is earned and never taken lightly. It is also something that will help with good decision making and can contribute to keeping a child out of harms way.

  14. says

    Hi my family member! I wish to say that this post is amazing, great written and come with approximately all
    vital infos. I’d like to peer extra posts like this .

  15. Christine says

    I DO remember most of my birthday and Christmas presents – I’ve always had a very retentive memory. I even remember most of the presents I got for my 2nd birthday . Not saying the other things aren’t much more important but I remember a microscope, a telescope and many many books and art supplies and what fun birthdays always were over the years. Also, I clearly remember all the beautiful clothes my gifted mother knitted and made. And that I if asked for something reasonable someone cared enough to buy it for me. Perhaps because we didn’t have a lot of money gifts were always quality over quantity. Perhaps quality over quantity is what we need in this modern greedy world.

  16. no says

    Most of this is fantastic- great advice. A couple of things I have severe problemes with.

    Optimism over pessimism. No. There is a time and a place for both. If you understand a problem to be greater than what your peers believe it to be, and believe that the solution to the problem will require a lot more money, time or effort than they do, you NEED to be able to communicate this and stand your ground. Optimistic action is always advised,but a little pessimistic thinking is okay (cynic/ skeptic style).

    Sexual devotion. Yes, by all means try. Do your very best. Keep an eye on what you are doing. But don’t expect perfection. You are going to look. You’re going to have a feeling here and there. It’s biology. Your child should not be taught that veritable sainthood is realistic.

    Which brings me to sprituality. In whatever form it works for you- yes, share the experience. Don’t expect your child to necessarily follow suit. They may find meaning and purpose outside of the church, maybe in science or philosophy or nature itself. Allow them to folow their own path in this regard- you may find they have something to teach you as well as something to learn from you.

  17. says

    A beautiful post. I’ve been a nanny for over 10 years and have seen many different types of families. A lot believe gifts are what their kids need and want, but, just having them help with their homework instead of me brings a much brighter smile. I always remind myself when I start to get too busy with my own daughter the quote, “Children don’t want your presents, they want your presence”. Would love a guest post someday if you’re interested. :)

  18. says

    When advertising, one must bestow intelligence that are useful|helpful} and appropriate, so that when they visits site for bargain for, they like it being suitable and develop faith in it. This will even help to render certain the old customer to always be associated. loyalty is the best way for branding also which is not an light work.

  19. Mohammed says

    Joshua Becker I love your writing. I read few of your articles already. I know I have learnt a lot. I am not a parent yet, but God willing one day I hope to be, I will surly keep these in mind. Although, I have read about these quality in different places but never in one summarised article. Thank you and keep them coming.

  20. Michael Dowling says

    Most of these are very worthwhile. However, #30 is silly and is contradictory with # 6, 16 and 19. If you value life long learning and critical thinking, which should replace #30, you would not try to brainwash them about spirits and souls, etc. Let’s stick with the provable and teach them to understand science and the need for evidence to support claims.

  21. Edna Babao says

    thank you so much for your wonderful sharing to all parents for having a such good ideas to developed the relationship for every family children for such guide for the healthy way of growing the children most of all is love and open the heart to understand the world for serve the invironmeint for the solution of the problem humanity and bring them peace joy and love for the saviour of generation to the next generation and dont let alone the children without family and break the heart all the parents must give the children a happy family childhood and freedom to fly for positive way the mother is the basis of good soul and good teacher for the future Love is all the matter

  22. says

    It’s perfect time to make some plans for the longer
    term and it is time to be happy. I’ve learn this put up and if I
    may I wish to counsel you few interesting things or suggestions.
    Maybe you could write next articles referring
    to this article. I want to read more things about it!

  23. says

    100% agree with the importance of the gift of Faithfulness to Your Spouse. “Your children will absolutely take notice,” is perfectly true. My father never hit my mother, never so much as disagreed with her in front of us, and never let us talk back to her or bad about her. He never entertained himself with sexually-charged material of any kind, and even removed the door knob from the door of the office so no one could hide in there on the computer – including him. My mother was equally faithful and devoted, and I often heard her telling friends about how good my Dad was to her. They went out on a date every Friday night – a time they still guard jealously. My parents didn’t teach us these life principles directly, but they didn’t have to. Now, five years into my own successful marriage, I am so grateful for the incredibly high standard my parents set for me and my then-future husband. They spoiled me for the excellent, and as a result I chose to wait until I found someone who would treat me just as well as they treated each other. Now my husband and I strive for the best in all facets of our relationship, for our own sakes and for our children’s. This is such a powerful truth!

  24. Lei Agcaoili says

    I just gave birth to my first child. I’m a single mom and have been blessed to have been given so many gifts for my little one, but oh my! The collection of clutter has me gasping for air. I have been a minimalist for years but now with my baby, I have had to downsize and organize and reorganize and still it feels like I haven’t made a dent. I love your tips listed above. I agree with every single point. I was not raised with love, affection, or attention and yet it comes so naturally to be loving, affectionate, and to give my undivided attention to my girl. I could lose everything materialistic but nothing would take away this precious moments with my girl. With less clutter and distractions, I am the most present I have ever been in my life-when it matters most-with my girl. Thank you for your site…Love it!

  25. says

    I’m extremely pleased to discover this website. I want to to thank you
    for ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part
    of it and i also have you saved to fav to see new things in your website.

  26. says

    This is absolutely perfect and I wish it was practiced by more families!

    Since before my two boys were born, I always said we didn’t want people to buy them “things” or toys. It still holds true today.

    Somehow we ended up with more toys than I would like so I’m in donation mode.

  27. HPWaugh says

    The word “discipline” for me has been uncomfortable. When I was disciplined as a child I got hit. A lot.

  28. Holly says

    This is a very beautifully written article and showcases how to be a good parent. It’s the daily grind, the not-always-so-fun times that help a child trust their parents and grow to love them and be raised in an environment where they can be themselves and have choices. I’m subscribing to this because I want to read more of what you write. :]

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