Tag Archives: gift

Giving Gifts To Generation Z

I write this post in hopes to read it again next November in preparation for Christmas 2016.

My son is 11 years old, which puts him, most likely, as part of Generation Z (or iGen).  Wikipedia says the following about Generation Z:

By Cathy Wilcox (http://cathywilcox.com.au)

By Cathy Wilcox (http://cathywilcox.com.au)

Members of Generation Z have been affected by growing up through the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession, with some commentators suggesting that these events have given the cohort a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity. Patrick Cooper describes Generation Z as “innovative, entrepreneurial, and highly conscious of their futures and the challenges they face”.

Our kids, whether Millennials or Generation Z, have the added unsettlement of a broken family which adds to the unsettlement and insecurity.  This has emerged with my son regarding the topic of gifts.

Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, western culture has made gift-giving the norm.  If your inbox resembles mine, the pressure to give to others (or yourself) continues long after Christmas.  I still get dozens of marketing emails promising the sales will soon end.

Naturally, about one month before Christmas, I ask my son what gifts he might enjoy.  When asked directly, he rarely comes up with any practical answer.  Yes, a motorcycle, a Segway, and a machete (thanks Nacho Libre) consistently make the list…and he already knows the answer to each of those requests.

However, when we just walk through a store, he routinely makes comments about what he would spend his money on.  But he has a difficult time answering a direct inquiry.

He may feel guilty about asking for things when he knows we have watched our budget closely since the divorce.  He may have so many choices his brain simply shorts out when he has to choose only one or two.  I do not know what it is, but buying for him is difficult.

What my son asks for on a daily basis is time.  Time to play “Push Dad Off The Bed”, or time to ride a bike, or time with his friends.  Some days, those “gifts” can be harder to give than a Segway.  (Do not worry, he also asks to play the Xbox quite a bit)

So, next year, I may take the advice of others who write about giving experiences/time as gifts.  You can find one of my favorites by Zen Habits here.

Next year, instead of what he wants, I will ask what he wants to do or create or experience.

Let’s see how that goes.

What non-consumer gift have you given your kid?  How was it received?  Would you do it again?

Buying Christmas Gifts For Your Ex

My son and I braved Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target, and PetSmart this past weekend.  Our mission…to buy presents for grandparents, cousins, stepbrothers, and pick up a few things for the puppies.

My son will spend Christmas with me this year.  He departs on December 26 to visit his mom for one week.  It occurred to me I should help him out with finding something for his mom…my ex.

Photo Credit: RagingWhisper via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: RagingWhisper via Compfight cc

I asked my son if he wanted to shop for his mom so he would have a gift when he arrived.  He said he would think about it and he might just go with his grandparents to shop when he arrived.

Upon further reflection and discussion, he and I will go, probably today or tomorrow, to get something for her so he has a wrapped gift when he lands.  He may also get something for his half-sister so he can come bearing gifts.

Even though I have not bought a gift directly for my ex since 2008 (the year before we separated), it seems healthy to facilitate gifts for her with my son.

Granted, he will not buy her diamond earrings or an iWatch, but even something small lets him know I value the relationship between him and his mom.

Giving is greater than grudges.


Keeping Friend’s Birthdays Simple

My son went to one of his friend’s birthday parties yesterday.  He had a fun-filled afternoon go kart racing and eating pizza with some of his best friends.

When I asked his friend’s mom about gift suggestions, I did not get much to go on, so my son decided to get him a gift card to his favorite video game store.  I agreed and proceeded to ask my son a very important question…

“Do you want to make your own birthday card or give him a gift card for five dollars less?”

My son did not hesitate, “I’ll make the card!”

Unknown artist...but it's awesome!

Unknown artist…but it’s awesome!

I watched my son take out a piece of paper from the printer, pull a Sharpie out of the drawer, and write a very simple birthday message with a strange looking face drawn on it.  Pleased with his work, my son folded it up, got an envelope and stuffed it in along with the gift card.  He licked it and wrote his friend’s name on the front…and for some reason he capitalized the first two letters and wrote the next two letters in lower case.  I have no clue why, and when asked, he did not either.

Whatever your thoughts on gift cards, we can all agree greeting cards cost way too much and most kids do not read them anyway.  So why not have your kid make a DIY card and save five bucks?  Either pocket the savings or apply it to the gift…either way, everyone is happy (except maybe Hallmark).

What low-cost or simple gift/card giving ideas work with your kids?


What My Son Got Me For My 46th Birthday

He gave me $10.

And I am fairly certain he re-gifted it to me.

We both have birthdays in September and his comes before mine.  One of his friends got him a bag of candy and a card with two $5 bills.

Photo by author

Photo by author

On my birthday, my son’s card to me contained two $5 bills.

Of course I thanked him and gave him a big hug.  Part of me felt guilty he gave me anything.  So, we had a conversation.

“Thanks for the money, bud!  I really appreciate it.  You know you didn’t have to get me anything,” I said.

“I know, dad, but I wanted to give it to you.”

“Do you like giving?”

My son replied, “I like giving more than getting.”

Not too many years ago for one of my son’s birthdays, he asked his friends to bring diapers and supplies for a local shelter instead of giving him a gift.  He took all the loot and we delivered it to  the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center.  I know the experience of delivering and meeting some of the women and children moved him deeply.

As dads, we do not always know if the lessons we teach sink in.  But sometimes, when we open up an “Awkward Family Photos” birthday card, we know they do listen.

What lesson have you taught and been surprised by how/when your kid responded?