Growing up, we had a few close family friends with kids our age. We would visit back and forth and go on vacation together. We were close enough to two of them to call the parents aunt and uncle even though they were not blood relations.
One year we were exchanging Christmas presents, and Uncle Carl gave me a flat, curved gift. Before he would let me open it, he lectured me on its dangers and how important it was to use it safely so I didn’t hurt myself or someone else. Convinced it was a bow and arrow, which was a mighty gift in the eyes of an 8-year-old, I solemnly promised to be careful. Finally, he released the wrapped box into my possession. I ripped through the paper, only to find it was a bow saw, not a bow and arrow. I was crushed with disappointment.
In hindsight, this probably made a great deal of sense. We had a wood stove in the basement and a fireplace upstairs and burned quite a bit of wood. One of our weekend activities was to gather fire wood, either harvesting it on my grandfather’s farm or scavenging it from nearby neighborhoods where trees had fallen.
But that didn’t matter to me at the time. I was disappointed but tried not to show it.
More than 40 years later, I still have that bow saw in my garage. It’s small, but useful for trimming limbs. Maybe one day a grandchild will use it to cut firewood. I also have a much larger, adult-size bow saw and somewhere along the way, I inherited a bucksaw, which works on the same principal but actually has a wooden frame.
When I look back at all the gifts I received over the years, two kinds made the cut when we moved: Those that are useful, those that are sentimental. While some may be both, there are for more of the former. Things that didn’t make the cut were pretty, fluffy, ornamental, or useless.
I know you aren’t supposed to give your wife appliances as gifts, and I can understand how a young, newly-married wife might feel if you gave her a new vacuum cleaner when she was expecting jewelry, but I am blessed with a woman who actually asks for small appliances and doesn’t look disappointed to receive an apple peeler, a juicer, or grain mill as a gift. Neither of us are frivolous and we both like useful, practical gifts.
Prepping Gear as a Present
One of the members in our old prepping group bought his wife and two kids flashlights for Christmas one year. These were not cheap flashlights, but powerful tactical flashlights in the $60 to $80-each range. He was also blessed with a wife who saw the value of a prepping-related gift.
I encourage you to give prepping-related gifts to your friends and family. I’m not suggesting you forgo buying the kids toys, but mix in some useful items as well.
Here are some suggestions:
- Stocking stuffers: fire starters, pocket survival kits, paracord, a compass, a whistle, a signal mirror, trail mix, beef jerky, headlamps, and MRE desserts.
- Reading materials: How-to books for adults and outdoor adventure titles for kids. Books that tell of outdoor perils or people who overcame adversity. A magazine subscription to Backwoods home or another prepping or firearms-related magazine.
- Bigger gifts: trekking sticks, a water filter, a comping stove, or other camping gear. Seed starting kits, cast iron cookware, walkie talkies, a dehydrator, a sprouting kit with lots of seeds, a folding knife or belt knife, a pressure canner, or a chain saw. If you wish to give someone a gun, be careful not to violate the straw man laws, but giving ammo, firearms accessories, or
- Skill and experience-building gifts: Rent an off-grid cabin and take the family on vacation for a long weekend. Go camping and hiking. Buy your spouse a class on something they have expressed an interest in, whether it’s on raising chickens, cooking in a Dutch oven, or long range shooting.
If there is something you have on your prepper want list, why not put it on your Christmas list?
Experiences vs Stuff
Physical gifts don’t always have lasting value. The book get read, the movies watched, and the stuffed animals are outgrown. But an experience can stick with you and create memories that last for years.
In our house, we’ve reached the point where it is hard for our kids to get us gifts because after so many years, we have pretty much everything we want. (Yes, we know we are lucky, but it’s also because we worked hard and didn’t squander our time, money, or opportunities.) So we ask for food and group activities.
Last year, I received Epic Food meat bars, which I had never seen or heard of before. The best buy date is only six months away, so they are not great for preppers unless you freeze them, but it was a new take on a protein bar and I had never seen before. I liked the buffalo bars the best.
When you have more than one kid, taking the birthday boy or girl out on a one-on-one excursion where the sibling(s) is left behind can be a real gift. Fishing, shooting, or even going to movie and out for ice cream is a great experience for the child when they are the sole focus of your attention. And if you have kids at home, arranging for a babysitter and taking the night or a weekend off just for the two of you can also be a great experience.
Make it a Prepper Christmas
Prepping for the end of the world as we know it may sound depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a fun and exciting as you make it. Make it even exciting family activity by encouraging your kids to enjoy the outdoors, to like digging in the garden and exploring the local flora and fauna. Maybe get them that bow and arrow I always wanted.