The best gifts don’t always come from the store. It’s not the stuff you can tell someone the model number or details of a box. The best gifts are often experiences, shared memories, time spent together, or you…just YOU. Asking for these things is appropriate for all gift-giving occasions.

She is a loving grandmother to 6 (and soon to be 7!) grandchildren. She loves to encourage the little sparks of interest that each one has. One granddaughter had a book on her wish list this year. Mary was sure her grandchild had already read the book she wanted to put on her list.

“Oh! “Grandma, I’d like you also to read it so we can discuss it together!”

Mary’s face lit up when she told me about her special request. This simple idea of spending time together will be a gift neither can forget.

A wish list is less about listing things you think you should receive and more about helping everyone spend less time worrying about gifts they want to give each other. It also allows us to spend less money and create less waste. This gives us more time to spend with family and friends and make memories. Combining a wishlist item with family time and creating memories can make the holidays more magical.

Mary Laura Philpott, a columnist for the New York Times and author of a recent column, noted that she personally “resisted materialism” while creating wish lists. Wish lists are a great way to teach our children and ourselves. We can teach our children to be grateful and not to feel entitled in a world where many younger generations do.

I am a mother of two and understand how difficult it is to teach our children the difference between telling others what they want and giving them ideas about their interests. It can be challenging for the kids not to feel entitled to these items. I tell them these are only ideas and that adding other things they don’t need is okay.

Here are a few of my favorite alternatives to wish lists:

Experiences Art Classes or Outings. Bowling, Mini Golf, Movies, Special Trips to the Library or Park. These experiences are even more enjoyable if your gift-giver is willing to participate in the activity with you.

Hobbies & Crafts: I’m a crocheter or knitter, and this is a YES!! I love anything that encourages creativity in our children. It’s also an excellent way for the gift-giver to spend time with your child.

Sharing family photos: Will your child be experiencing a significant event in the coming year? My son will be making his First Communion in the next year. I would love to have family members share any photos or memories of that event.

Favorite recipes: These could be family favorites from generation to generation or just ones you like. You can add a special touch by hand-writing the recipe onto paper or a card. You can make this gift even more special by planning to cook the recipe with the child. It was not typical for my great-grandma Lavalle to allow us to help her in the kitchen, but she taught me how to cook her baked pasta with cauliflower.

Share family stories: We spend so much time living in the moment that we forget to honor the people who have come before us. To help preserve history, share your family history with your children. Record stories. You can spend time telling them stories or teaching them how to do things you learned as a child. Please show them your childhood home and share some of your memories from when you were their age.

Support a Favorite Cause: It is the season to give and receive. It doesn’t matter if it is for those less fortunate, animals that need a home, medical issues, or any other cause close to your heart. Receiving a gift in which you invest time supporting your favorite family causes will give back tenfold. This is a beautiful way to teach your children the joy of giving to others.

Babysitting: Okay…so, this is a triple-gift. You’re spending time in their home with the children, creating new memories. You’re giving Mom and Dad the gift of time for themselves to have a date or do something fun. You get to spend quality time with the little ones who light up your life as much as you do theirs.

Giftster allows you to add all of these items and other material goods to your wishlist. This electronic version is a universal way to share your list with your family.

Giftster was not created in the spirit of Ms. Philpott, who said, “God forbid that someone shows you generosity when you haven’t asked.”

It’s the perfect place for busy parents like myself to keep track of everything my children want or need and budget for the gifts I give, mainly when the family is miles away. It’s the perfect place for those who are stressed about gift-giving. They can find gift ideas and answer questions about size, preferences, or allergies to foods or materials. This is a lifeline for people who can’t remember the gift ideas or measures their spouses and siblings mentioned. We are happy to offer a tool to help families reduce stress and focus on the family instead of buying gifts.

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