Thoughtful Kwanzaa Gifts: What to Give Your Kids This Holiday Season
Being together with family, enjoying each other’s company and celebrating the love and affection we all feel for family and friends is at the heart of the holiday season. It gives us a chance to express our feelings and set aside our daily routines to truly focus on what matters most… our most precious relationships.
Why Kwanzaa Matters
Kwanzaa was founded, in the words of its founder Maulana Karenga, an important figure in the civil rights movement of the 60s, to "give blacks an alternative to the existing holiday of Christmas and give blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society."
The term Kwanzaa is taken from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruit” and is based on the holiday traditions of multiple African cultures. This holiday has given many families and communities a way to celebrate holidays while still practicing and appreciating cultural heritage.
How to Teach Kids About Kwanzaa Principles
The central tenants of Kwanzaa (Nguzo Saba) have been clearly expressed from the very beginning. These seven principles are meant to be observed and expressed throughout the entire year but are showcased at Kwanzaa by dedicating each of the seven days to one of the founding principles. What are these principles?
- Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Help teach your kids this principle by using pictures and stories of your family, particularly family members that worked hard and struggled for unity. That could be serving in the military, leading organizations or any other great work.
- Kujichagulia (Self-determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
Give all your kids opportunities to define and name themselves, with the adults going first to show them how it is done. Explain why this practice is important.
- Ujima (Collective work and responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
Volunteer work and helping your neighbors are two ways that you can show your kids this principle. Spending an afternoon working for a worthy cause and then explaining its importance is a great way to practice Ujima.
- Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Going down to a local shop or having a friend or family member that owns a business discuss the value of supporting locally-owned businesses helps kids understand why Ujamaa is a key principle.
- Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Celebrating Kwanzaa reminds you that developing and growing your community should be part of your purpose and remembering your roots to bring that greatness to life is important. It keeps your traditions and heritage at the forefront of family celebrations.
- Kuumba (Creativity): To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
We benefit from the work and effort of every generation before us. It is easy to show this to kids as we walk on streets built by others, drink water that is brought in with plumbing others installed and use lights with electricity that someone else wired in. Going to visit local artwork and parks that you enjoy is another way of showing how your contributions today will help others tomorrow.
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
- Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Faith that the work is worth it and that your efforts and struggles today will lead to victory in the fight. This could be explained to kids by showing them how to have faith that the difficult things they do, whether it be learning to ride a bike or mastering a new skill in school, are worth it in the end. As they get older, you can continue that discussion but with broader and more complex topics of struggle and victory.
Gift Giving for Kwanzaa
Gift-giving is an important part of celebrating Kwanzaa. On the last day of Kwanzaa, the day that celebrates Imani, gifts are given that are meant to convey more than simple entertainment or fun.
Gifts are meant to express encouragement, achievement, and success. They are also meant to represent the love and commitment that parents have for their children. It means more than simply having new things. It is a show of love and compassion and is a way of showcasing all the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
These gifts can be handmade and often include a book and a heritage symbol. These gifts are meant to be educational and impactful so that they continue to add value to the kids long after they have received them.
What Are Seven Kwanzaa Gifts
Education and practical gifts are at the heart of Kwanzaa. Presents that add value and can have a benefit beyond simple entertainment are ideal for Kwanzaa. What are some great Kwanzaa gifts?
- Traditional Fabrics and Flags
Red, black and green flags, along with other traditional fabrics and garments make great Kwanzaa gifts.
- Beaded Jewelry
Traditional beaded jewelry that represents your cultural roots is a fun and exciting way to share that part of your children’s heritage with them.
- Homemade Art
Creativity and self-determination are important parts of Kwanzaa and homemade art is a great way for kids to see this expressed.
One of the most practical gifts for kids is books that can help them learn and grow. Educational books, like those from Cali’s Books, make amazing Kwanzaa gifts.
Most Kwanzaa celebrations include the burning of Kwanzaa candles on the Kinara, which is Swahili for “candle holder”.
- Kwanzaa Cards
Kwanzaa cards that showcase the beauty of African culture and its People are great gifts for kids and adults alike. They are fun to make and continue to give joy long after they are received.
- Family Photo Albums
The principle of Imuja, the first principle, makes family photo albums particularly special. They are fun to make and carry with them powerful memories and are a reminder of your family, your culture and your past.
Best Kwanzaa Gifts for Kids
What are the best gifts to give kids? This is the question that every parent asks themselves, every year! As parents you want these gifts to be fun, educational and memorable. What can check off all these boxes? Cali’s Books has an amazing collection of books that will not only entertain and excite your kids but will also educate them on different cultures and traditions while still being fun to read!
The entire collection of sound books ranges from songs and stories to traditions and cultural nursery rhymes. Your kids will begin loving the act of reading thanks to the interactive sounds and the bright and colorful illustrations. These song books make amazing gifts for Kwanzaa.
- Sing Along Bundle
Kids love to sing! Join them by getting them the sing-along bundle of sound books. You will sing about animals and learn about flowers and other classic nursery rhymes that your kids will love.
- Sing Along Alphabet
Learning the alphabet is a foundational milestone for your kids. There is no time too early to start. Kids love this beautifully crafted sing along book that focuses on the alphabet, turning this learning opportunity into a fun and exciting playtime activity!
Celebrating Kwanzaa with Your Kids
Kwanzaa is a cornerstone celebration for many families and communities that help them celebrate their heritage and history. Make sure to enjoy your celebrations this year and love your family, love your kids, love your friends and community and make the best of your time together. Happy Kwanzaa!
Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books
“I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”
I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!
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