No more impersonal gift cards and gadgets that pile up in the back of the closet… What if you gave your kids, grandchildren, nieces and nephews a truly useful gift for Christmas? Here are three suggestions that will let them know how much you care, while doing them a favour!
“Toys, clothes and video games are temporary, but education is a gift for life,” says Sophie Paquet, investment advisor and vice-president at National Bank Financial. “An RESP might not be the most glamorous gift under the tree, but years from now the whole family will thank you.” While this gift idea undeniably has its advantages, it’s true that it might be a bit intangible for a child in the moment. One way around that would be to give them a little message accompanied by a symbolic object like a book, a piggy bank or a wallet, that would allow the child to make the connection with the idea of studying or saving, and understand the impact that today’s gift will have on their future. “You can also make this gift more appealing to older children by discussing the investments you selected to grow the funds in their RESP,” adds Sophie Paquet. “For example, if you invested in exchange-traded funds for large companies that they know and like.”
To open an RESP, visit your banking institution and bring your Social Insurance Number and that of the beneficiary. An advisor will let you know what type of account you can open based on your relationship to the child, so you can get the most out of the RESP.
Give your progeny the opportunity to discover a new passion, and acquire knowledge that will serve them throughout their lives. For kids who are curious, artistic or into food, these on-trend examples are available across Canada and cost between $10 and $120.
- A science workshop
A smart mix of fun and learning, this activity lets the most curious kids do cool experiments using safe materials. “Making glue-slime and dry ice, rocket launchers and optical illusions are activities budding scientists will love,” asserts Katherine Rivière, Director of Operations at Mad Science. Workshops are available for $10 each.
- A cooking workshop
Cooking classes are a great way to ingrain healthy habits while developing a love of food. Macaroons, sushi, baked goods or vegetarian meals: young chefs learn techniques they can apply at home, and leave with the food they’ve made to try with their families. The concept is also very popular as a parent-child activity, and courses start at $120.
- A music lesson
Starting at $90 for four lessons, a few hours of practice with a teacher will let little musicians test out their interest in music and make sure they like the instrument they’ve chosen before committing to anything.
- A photography course
In the era of smartphones and applications like Snapchat and Instagram, photography has become an indispensible communications tool. Learning from a professional will give kids basic techniques they can they put into practice in their daily lives. There are 3.5 hour group classes available for approximately $80.
“Giving your child the gift of time by taking them on an outing demonstrates that you want to be involved, and that you want to show them your devotion and affection,” says psychologist Caroline Cohen. She adds that the choice of destination can also show the child how well you know them, and that you know how to pick just the right activity to make them happy. Here are a few ideas of activities you can organize, with a little help from Santa.
- An outing in the city
Beyond the traditional trips to the bowling alley, there are an increasing number of fun and original family activities available. Indoor rock climbing, axe-throwing, laser tag, escape rooms (where you have to solve puzzles to escape from a room) and even indoor surfing are on offer to tighten up the family bonds while sharing an afternoon of fun.
- Tickets to a show
Show them how well you know them by inviting them, depending on what they’d prefer, to support their favourite hockey team, sing along with the artist they’ve been listening to on repeat or marvel at the latest Cirque du Soleil show.
- An outdoor adventure
Whether you’re hitting the slopes or visiting a magical outdoor skating trail, take them to the great outdoors. You can even extend the adventure by spending the night in an unusual lodging, like a night in a treehouse or a hobbit house!
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