10 Gifts Single Parents Really Want

Cheryl Dumesnil
Mother receiving presents

10 Gifts Single Parents Really Want

Have you got a SPOYGL? You know, a Single Parent On Your Gift List? Someone who raises the kids, earns the money, coaches the team and donates a dozen brownies to the bake sale? Before you buy that "Keep Calm and Carry On" coffee mug, check out these gift ideas lifted from real life single parents' real life wish lists.

Family Photo

A (Non-Selfie) Photo Shoot

Nothing says "family" like "photos." Yes, your SPOYGL has become a selfie aficionado, squeezing three children, the Grand Canyon and herself into that vacation snapshot. But secretly she'd love family photos that don't require a stick or an unnaturally elongated arm. Offer a photo shoot, and load the files on a thumb drive. Or take it a step further: print and frame a few poses (because lord knows, your SPOYGL won't have the time).

Home Projects

A Handy Person

Everyone has unfinished house projects, but single parents have more. Do a little recon to find out what your SPOYGL needs. Weed the garden? Clean out the gutters? Fix the leak? Then, give the gift of labor--yours or a handyperson's--to help get the job done.

Check cooked meal

A Grown-Up Meal

Most single parents end up eating what their kids eat, not because they like macaroni and cheese, but because they're too freakin' tired to cook two meals. Offer your SPOYGL a homemade, hand delivered, grown-up meal (you know, one in which the meat and the vegetables are actually touching), or order one from a favorite restaurant. Better yet: offer a meal every month.

Get Out of Jail Card

A Get Out of Jail Free Card

To a SPOYGL nothing says "freedom" like "How about I take your kids for a while?" Gift your SPOYGL with a few hours of childcare, with this disclaimer: "This time must be used solely for self-care purposes, including but not limited to, taking a long bath, reading a book, sleeping in the middle of the day or your choice of entertainment." Warning: your SPOYGL will try to convince you that "cleaning out the garage" is a form of self-care. Don't believe it.

Girls Night Out

A Grown-Up Playdate

Sure, your SPOYGL enjoys miniature golfing with the kids, but every once in a while (or every once a week) it's nice to hang out with folks who can cut their own meat. Gift your SPOYGL with the kind of fun you can't have with kids: dancing, wine tasting, bookstore browsing, a long hike up a steep hill. If you really want to flip your SPOYGL's lid, put your phone number on the babysitter's emergency speed dial. Then you can vet the inevitable "Is Sandra really allowed to sleep in her wet bathing suit?" phone calls.

Gift Card

A Choose-Your-Own-Gift Card

A gift card? Isn't that, like, the ultimate cop-out gift? Not for your SPOYGL. Most single parents spend the majority of their budget on basic living expenses and kid stuff. A gift card, accompanied by your insistence that it must be spent by the SPOYGL, on the SPOYGL, is a rare opportunity for self-indulgence. Warning: your SPOYGL will try to convince you that a Swiffer is a much-coveted indulgence. Don't believe it.

Listening to music

A Song for Every Mood

Your SPOYGL runs a metaphorical marathon every day. Put your DJ skills to the test and compile a custom playlist to soothe, energize or inspire. Hint: Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" and Glen Hansard's "Song of Good Hope" are standard operating procedure for SPOYGL playlists.

Care Package

A Care Package

Small indulgences can make a big difference. Put together a care package filled with simple items that will bring a smile or a spark to your SPOYGL's day! A favorite candy, a book of inspirational quotations, a candle, a special bar of soap, a snapshot of a moment you shared together or, you know, a mini bottle of Jack Daniels may all do the trick to remind SPOYGLs that they may be solo parenting, but they're definitely not alone.

Running Late

A Rescue Coupon

It's one of the solo parent's biggest stressors: the meeting runs late, the childcare center closes in ten minutes and the freeway's jammed with traffic. Who is going to pick up the kid? Offer your SPOYGL a book of "rescue coupons" to cash in for emergency situations: last-minute pick-ups, sick kid childcare or forgotten backpacks that need to be delivered to school.

Making Paper Hearts

A Gift From the Kid

During special days like Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays and the holiday season, the "single" in single parent can loom large. To amp up the magic, take your SPOYGL's kids on a top-secret gift shopping (or making) mission. Enrich the gift by filming the kids selecting (or creating) their gifts. Ask them to describe what they chose, why they chose it and how they hope their parent will feel about it. Toss in a fresh box of tissues and your gift is complete!

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10 Gifts Single Parents Really Want