Listening to the radio this morning in my shop, I heard a news blip about Amazon releasing the top 20 toys for Christmas 2018. It got me to thinking about my favorite toys of Christmas past, in comparison to today. This post isn't about comparing the two- it's about alternative gifts this year, prompted by my memories of what meant the most to me.
I'm sure that you've heard, many times recently, about the drought of skilled craftsmen today. Carpentry, HVAC, welding, autobody, electrical, and on and on. There is less interest, and drive, to go into the service fields. It is possible that Christmas gifts, this year, could ignite an interest in your youth for one of these fields. They are more lucrative than ever (primarily because of the huge demand for skilled craftsmen), and a viable alternative to college and the attached expenses.
So, consider these (not an exhaustive list, but a good start on ideas)- if your youth is interested in electronics, get them a quality soldering station and supplies; or depending on interests, a good starter socket set, a hammer and accompanying woodworking tools (along with an idea book or magazine, which are plentiful at hardware stores), even an inexpensive welder to get them started. For what a large LEGO set costs, which is often built and then put on a shelf or in a closet, you could get one of these ideas- which will go much further. Like the idea, but get intimidated by buying something that you don't know how to use yourself (especially when your youth want you to show them how to do it)? Youtube is a great resource to learn from- you don't need to be a master yourself, for them to get the most out of the gift.
Erector sets, tools, a free riding mower to fix up and snort around on (my dad wasn't about to buy me a motorcycle or atv, so me and my friends made our own fun)- these things are a large part of what lead me to having abilities today. And even more than those abilties, is the confidence and creativity to use those abilities. I predict that alternative gifts, not on the Amazon list, could make a big difference in a youths future.