Christmas Day arrives.

Sally gets a new doll.

Johnny gets a new truck.

By mid-January they have joined the pile of their other toys leaving the purchaser wondering if there is a better way, a better gift to give that will not be so short lived. There are some better ways. You can be the one to give a gift that ripens with time. A gift of this nature will be truly appreciated in crucial times of people’s lives, not just in the moment.

Here are some suggestions for gifts that keep giving after any initial joy of new toys wears off:

  • invest some money on a child’s behalf in an RESP or some other tax-deferred savings for their post-secondary education. This money will have lots of time to grow and will likely be given at a time when the parents can’t afford it. When this amount matures for college/university, they’ll remember that you were a big contributor since that money will have grown significantly!
  • Buy a short-term GIC for an older child. While this will only grow a little, it will show them the importance of investing, and they will have confidence that they have some “money in the bank”. These can be purchased from any bank.
  • charitable donations on behalf of someone… while I’m not a big fan of this it can work for some people. If young children are getting this, maybe its better with a personal explanation and a cheque that they actually mail.
  • Sponsor a child in a 3rd world country. This person can be a pen pal and Sally or Johnny have new friends throughout the year.
  • A book. Perhaps a classic which are “books everyone wants to have read, but no-one wants to read”. Gift a classic and take the time to read it with the child. This experience will pay off in the future both because of the 1-on-1 time and because of the knowledge of the classic which will be used in common speech in the future.
  • A pet. So long as the parents are ok with it, the child will always remember you got them the pet.
  • A musical instrument (after consulting and agreeing with the parents) that Sally or Johnny will be interested to learn and practice. Learning a musical instrument builds math and creative skills and teaches discipline.

What gifts that keep on giving are you planning to give this year?