What’s your favorite thing your kids have given you?

We have hundreds of thousands of families in our community and it struck us that it sure would be special to learn more about their holidays and traditions.

We asked 250,000 parents, “What’s your favorite thing your kids have given you?”

Here are some of our favorites. We’d love to hear from you, too – please add your answer in the comments below.

Last year my son gave me a magic wand and a book of spells which he had memorized so that when I would cast the spell of nonsense words, he would react appropriately
They gave me a birthday party and made all the gifts. One knitted, another did woodworking, etc. It’s my favorite because they planned it a month in advance which is an eternity for a kid.
Breakfast in bed (that fell on the way into the room so was covered in cat hair)
My child made a conversation jar. It is a beautifully decorated jar and on the inside are conversation prompts (things like if you could meet a famous person, who and why/would you rather live in the past or the future/etc). We use it at the dinner table. It is beautiful and thoughtful and gets good conversations going with guests.
Hand drawn picture of what she thinks she’ll look like when she is grown
A binder full of my own recipes. I type or collect and print a lot of recipes, and for most of their lives I had an ever-changing messy stack of these papers in the kitchen. A couple of years ago they got me a big binder full of page protectors, made divider-tab-pages for various sections, and sorted all my recipes into it. On each tab page they glues photos of me or of fancy meals I’d made that suited the section. What meant the most to me was that I felt seen. They saw how I love to cook for them; they saw my heap of recipes; they saw how they could help, and they made it extremely personal. I use it almost every day, but I still cry when it reminds me that my love and effort as their mother does not go unnoticed.
A plant. It was be first time my 9 year old autistic son specifically thought of me to give me a gift all by himself.
We’d love to know your answer, too! Please share in the comments below.

What makes a great gift?

We’re interested to know what makes a great gift. We asked 240,000 parents: Is there a childhood gift that you still think about?

67% said yes. When we asked parents to describe what they received, a pattern emerged: Adults most often remembered experiences and tools that helped them become who they are and what they love to do.

“Watercolors and acrylics paints. It led me to really enjoy drawing and becoming a huge part of who I am today.”

“I got a set of tools to take apart things when I was 8. It was special because it let me know that you could build things with your hands vs buying something.”

This is why we make our online courses for kids. We know that passion, creativity and confidence can forever change the trajectory of a lifetime.

We want you to be a our partner in this.

Please accept $25 from us to support your kid’s passion. Visit to browse courses and use code FUTUREGIFT during checkout.

PS. Here were some other responses we loved:

“My father made me a desk which was a great work station to do my homework for years.”

“A diary with a lock. It was special because as a young teen, it was a celebration of me becoming my own person with my own thoughts and dreams.”

“The love of reading. My father would regularly take me to old second hand book stores and would always let me buy as many books as I wanted. I developed my love of reading and an active imagination from those days, which i have passed on to my own children.”

“My parents gave us a scavenger hunt one year that led to $75 for us to spend on whatever we wanted. My sister and I had been saving up for ice skates and we were so excited to finally be able to afford them. We wore them out that whole winter.”

“I received a set of encyclopedias that I used for YEARS and read about everything and transported me to new worlds!”

“Piano Lessons. Because my parents saw and nurtured a desire/talent of mine, though it was a very expensive gift for our budget.”

Preparing Our Kids for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet

Childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, could be mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing.

When I was 11 I loved designing web pages and playing Sim City. Adults in my life didn’t recognize these skills as valuable, so neither did I. Actually, I began to feel guilty for using my computer so much. In high school I stopped making web pages altogether to focus on sports. It wasn’t until college, when strapped to pay my tuition, that I picked it back up and started making sites for small businesses. I graduated and teamed up with a few others I knew with these skills and moved to New York City to work on the Internet for a living. Three years later, in 2007, we sold our company, Vimeo, to a larger, publicly traded one. That passion I first developed quietly by myself, that went unnoticed by my parents and teachers, proved to be extraordinarily valuable to the economy just ten years later and the focus of many ambitious people today.

Childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, could be mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing.

It’s difficult to predict which skills will be valuable in the future, and even more challenging to see the connection between our children’s interests and these skills. Nothing illustrates this better than Minecraft, a popular game that might be best described as virtual LEGOs. Calling it a game belies the transformation it has sparked: An entire generation is learning how to create 3D models using a computer. It makes me wonder what sort of jobs, entertainment or art will be possible now. Cathy Davidson, a scholar of learning technology, concluded that 65% of children entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven’t even been invented yetI bet today’s kids will eventually explore outcomes and create businesses only made possible by the influence of Minecraft in their lives.

diy_logo_1024At least one business will have been inspired by the so-called game. In 2011, I co-founded DIY, the online community I wish I had when I was young. Our members discover new skills and try challenges in order to learn them. They keep a portfolio and share pictures and videos of their progress, and by doing so they attract other makers who share their interests and offer feedback. The skills we promote range from classics likes Chemistry and Writing, to creativity like Illustration and Special Effects, to adventure like Cartography and Sailing, to emerging technology like Web Development and Rapid Prototyping. We create most of our skill curriculum in collaboration with our members. Recently the community decided to make Roleplayer an official skill; It’s a fascinating passion that involves collaboratively authoring stories in real time.

JAM-negative-largeMost recently, we created  JAM to give kids access to online courses to help kids learn what they love – and for some kids to help them learn what it is they love! We do this by connecting kids with some of the world’s most creative mentors around subjects that are emerging in the world and likely to be more important when they’re older.

My objective with this wide-ranging set of skills, and involving the community so closely in their development, is to give kids the chance to practice whatever makes them passionate now and feel encouraged — even if they’re obsessed with making stuff exclusively with duct tape. It’s crucial that kids learn how to be passionate for the rest of their lives. To start, they must first learn what it feels like to be simultaneously challenged and confident. It’s my instinct that we should not try to introduce these experiences through skills we value as much as look for opportunities to develop them, as well as creativity and literacy, in the skills they already love.

Modern Cabin‘ made by a kid.

Why take any chances and build your dream house with blueprints alone? The Minecraft kid could easily make a realistic 3D model of one for you to walk through before you build. That’s why JAM treats Minecraft as a tool, not a game, and encourages our members to use it to pursue art, architecture and community-building.

Whether it’s Minecraft or duct tape wallets, the childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, can alternatively be seen as mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing. We’ve created a way for kids to explore hundreds of skills and to understand the ways in which they can be creative through them. Often, the skills are unconventional, and almost always the results are surprising. I don’t think it’s important that kids use the skills they learn on JAM for the rest of their lives. What’s important is that kids develop the muscle to be fearless learners so that they are never stuck with the skills they have. Only this will prepare them for a world where change is accelerating and depending on a single skill to provide a lifetime career is becoming impossible.

A version of this article was first published by edSurge on May 26, 2015.