Season’s Greetings! With the holidays upon us and so many cultural celebrations involving the exchange of gifts, I’m excited to share some ways to give the gift of creativity this year. Giving the gift of creativity involves thinking creatively about your gift ideas and which creativity skills each one might reinforce.

The book, Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of your Curriculum, by Dr. Cyndi Burnett and Julia Figliotti focuses on twenty creative thinking skills essential to a creative education, based on the research of E. Paul Torrance. With permission, I’m sharing these creativity skills here, with a brief definition and some gift ideas that support each skill. You can also download a copy of the skills here.

As you read through the list, think about your own gift plans and ideas, and try to place them under one of these creativity skill headings. I believe that, with some flexible thinking, most gift ideas can fit under one or more of these headings. The key to giving the gift of creativity lies much more in the behavior the gift elicits rather than the object itself. I recommend including an explanation of the creativity skill you have paired your gift with, and why and how this skill supports creativity. If you’re anything like me, you strive to choose great gifts for your friends and loved ones, and I think this idea will help our gifts be more meaningful. Have fun sorting the gifts you give and receive under the creativity skills they can support. May you have a wonderful holiday and a creative new year!

Embrace the Challenge: Define a problem and identify steps and strategies to solve it.

Puzzles, Rubik’s cube, computer components, mystery novels, logic puzzles, riddles, chess set, outdoor sports equipment, orienteering activity, skateboard, bicycle.

Be Original: Creating new, unique and/or unusual perspectives.

A gift certificate to a hair salon, a pizza-making session, a tattoo, the chance to put your art on a product as a gift, art supplies, custom design, commissioned artwork, vintage clothing, designing your own shoes.

Be Flexible: Be versatile, varied, and adaptable.

Yoga class, gymnastics, parkour class, trampoline, massage, cryptic crosswords, language courses, stretchy clothing, or workout wear.

Produce and Consider Many Alternatives: Generate many and varied possibilities.

Choose your own adventures, collectibles, soap-making kit, flavored popcorn, craft beer, wine-tasting, photoshoot, casting crafts.

Be Aware of Emotions: Recognize verbal and nonverbal cues and feelings.

A self-help book, laughter yoga class, a pet, romance novels, horror movies, historical social justice books, music, live performance, music concert, comedy show, poetry, sentimental gifts.

Elaborate-But Not Excessively: Add, finish, polish, and finalize details.

Personalized embroidery, Pandora beads, fancy socks, fancy tie, classic jewelry, accessories for a pet, hair accessories, clip-on accessories, decorative items.

Combine and Synthesize: Combine unrelated elements into something else.

Fusion cooking, upcycled clothing, chemistry kit, soap-making kit, wine or beer-making kit, cookbooks, blender, mixer, food processor.

Highlight the Essence: Identify what is important and essential.

Magnifier, microscope, highlighters, notebooks, calendar, agenda, history book, Pictionary, spices, tea, essential oils.

Put Ideas in Context: Put smaller parts of experiences into a larger framework; put things together in meaningful ways.

History books, museum visits, visiting monuments, tours of places and spaces, ancestry test, biographies.

Keep Open: Defer judgment; try the unfamiliar.

Amusement Park tickets, haunted house, new kinds of performances, contemporary art gallery passes, contemporary dance, fixed tasting menu, unusual foods, new music, foreign travel, gift card.

Visualize Richly and Colorfully: Engage the senses. See, use and apply vivid imagery, lush sensations, and color.

Museum passes, art classes, garden, flowers, trip to the candy store, art supplies, rich chocolate, fancy accessories, jewelry, sparkly things, beads, decorative rugs, art, diffuser, scented candles.

Make It Swing! Make It Ring: Experience, explore, interpret, communicate, and use sound and movement.

Concert tickets, dance lessons, musical instruments, phone, music lessons, karaoke machine, Apple Music or Spotify subscription, Just Dance game, a trampoline, play equipment, wind chimes, singing bowl, speakers, earphones.

Look at It Another Way: See things from different perspectives and points of view.

Camera lens, Adobe suite, sunglasses, hang-gliding classes, pilot lessons, scuba diving, photography classes, photography exhibit, VR and AR experiences, microscope, telescope, tickets to the top of a famous building, multiple player video games, life drawing classes.

Enjoy and Use Fantasy: Imagine, play, and have fun.

Role-playing games, costumes, makeup, hair coloring, video camera, abstract photos, journal, Lego, face paint, a make-over, improv classes, acting classes, tickets to the theatre, magic lessons, fiction books.

Visualize the Inside: Pay attention to the internal workings of things. See the inside.

Science kits, meditation classes, subscription to a meditation app, clear watch face, computer parts, raspberry pi, Operation game, ant farm, anatomy books.

Breakthrough-Expand the Boundaries: Think beyond conventions and stretch possibilities.

Travel, learn a new language, new hobby or activity, smartwatch, tracker, VR, AR, martial arts lessons, running shoes, gym equipment, changemaker biographies, things about space, coding lessons.

Let Humor Flow and Use It: Invite fun, joy, and the absurd.

Comedy tickets, joke book, tickles, clown school, comedy movie, dress-up photoshoot, improv class.

Get Glimpses of the Future: Explore things that do not yet exist. Predict imaginatively.

Tarot cards, sci-fi, palm reading, coding classes, maker space passes, 3d printer, laser cutter, 3d software, computer equipment, AR and VR, futurist books.

Tamara DolemanTamara Doleman is the Head of the Visual Arts Department at an independent school in Ottawa, Canada. A passionate K-12 art educator for close to 20 years, she completed her MSc. in Creative Studies at I.C.S.C. SUNY Buffalo State. Recognized as “Art Teacher of the Year 2018” by the Ontario Art Education Association, Tamara emphasizes creative process, self-expression, and collaboration in her approach to teaching art. She believes that teaching for creativity supports resilience as well as social and emotional learning in schools. She is a practicing art-maker, certified yoga instructor, a loving wife, and a busy mother of two teenage boys. Tamara has published articles, delivered a TEDx talk, run workshops, and contributed to several books on the topic of creativity in schools.

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