by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™
In our family, we focus more on the fun of being together than on the gifts given or received. Some of the most memorable items exchanged are often inexpensive, handmade or ones that make us laugh. We'll admit that opening gifts is seldom boring, but it's quite a bit of fun to make the exchange itself amusing. We remember those chuckles for years.
Here are some simple and silly things you can do to make opening packages pure delight:
Enclose things in a series of boxes.
This is especially good if you have something small. Gift-wrap it and place it in a small box. Place it inside a slightly larger container and repeat. Do it one or more additional times until you have a fairly large gift to set under the tree. To make it more intriguing, we've been known to add a few cans of food, rocksm or some heavy used books to add weight and throw the recipient off course. This is enjoyable whether it is a token gift, an amazing one, or something just plain silly.
Make some noise.
If a gift will be sitting under a tree or in another place where children can reach it and try to guess contents, try to throw them off course by introducing interesting sounds. Add some jingle bells, a baby rattle, or fill a metal bandage can with a few metal items that will make noise when someone shakes the box. It the item is unbreakable, let it be loose in the box so it will move around. Just when the recipient thinks they have things figured out, they are usually surprised in a happy manner.
Use a container that will not make the contents obvious.
For example: a shirt or other clothing can be rolled up and placed in a cardboard tube or a cookie tin. Use an oddly-shaped package and fill in the spaces with packing peanuts or tissue so there are no clues to help with guessing.
If you have a gift with separate pieces, wrap each piece individually. They take longer to open that way and draw out the suspense. You can scatter these around the tree or put them all in a single box.
Try another type of camouflage wrapping.
(This doesn't mean camouflage paper or fabric, although that might be appropriate for some items.) Cut open a loaf of French bread or hollow out a salami and place the gift inside. Wrap the item carefully in plastic so the oil or bread crumbs do not affect it. Place a piece of jewelry or other small item in a jar of jelly beans or uncooked popcorn. (Just make sure to urge the recipient to keep looking for something more than jelly beans or corn kernels.) We've even wrapped small gifts in a ball of yarn and taped messages to the yarn so they become visible as the ball is unwound. (This one is more time consuming than others but the laughter is worth it.)
Use canisters, Chinese food take-out boxes, empty popcorn containers or even odd objects like an umbrella to hold a present. Some of the shopping malls have booths where you can have something sealed into a can which must be opened with a can opener.
Make your own gift baskets and cover these with tulle, cellophane or plastic wrap. Hide the whole basket and give the recipient clues to follow to find their treasure.
Based on our experience with years of doing this, the gifts are sometimes forgotten but the giggles resulting from the silliness are long remembered. The time it takes is an unspoken message of love.
Do you need ideas for more child/family activities? If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, childcare provider, or youth leader, there are many more listed on my website. Play today! Children learn best when they think they are just playing. Kas Winters, the Mother of Family Ideas™ provides resources to help families thrive. An author and public speaker, this grandmother creates books, offers hundreds of family activity articles on her website, EverythingFamily.net, and does workshops for parents and children. Kas is passionate about helping children develop a positive self-image, providing hands-on experiences to give them confidence, and building strong supportive relationships. Her basic philosophy is: children learn best when they think they are having fun. Discover more than 5,000 activities for toddlers through teens to keep them busy while helping them become successful and happy adults in her book, "Motherlode." Jump-start children's imaginations with unstructured materials and possibilities. Encourage creative play that builds skills, confidence, and relationships with active fun, the arts, science, literature, life skills, and hands-on experiences. Ideas use everyday materials, usually free, which help make parenting easy. Winters has written, illustrated and/or published almost 100 books for families and writes family articles for magazines. As the "Family Activities Expert" for Pregnancy.org, Kas posts articles and answers questions related to this topic.
Copyright © Kas Winters. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.