What should I get my mentee for Christmas?

Do you want to do something nice to celebrate the holidays with your mentee without breaking the bank or crossing a boundary? These ideas can help.

It’s that time of the year when many people are buying gifts for friends and loved ones. Mentors sometimes struggle with the decision of what, if anything, they should do for their mentee. Most mentoring programs advise mentors not to spend large amounts of money on mentees—indeed, your time is of far more value than material items. So what can you do? Here are some ideas from Michigan State University Extension:

  • Share a memorable experience. You can attend a holiday concert or play, go ice-skating or attend a holiday-themed event hosted by your program. Even spending time talking over a mug of hot cocoa can be special.
  • Frame a photo of the two of you having fun together. Even better, buy a blank frame for each of you at a craft store and decorate them together.
  • Bake some cookies and deliver them to a nursing home, police station, fire station or to someone else who would appreciate them.
  • Spend some time putting together a care package and send it to a soldier.
  • Include your mentee on your holiday card list. This sets up a tradition that might keep the two of you connected long after your match.
  • Help your mentee pick out a gift for his or her parents. Enjoy a treat together while shopping.
  • Box up some homemade goodies for your mentee and his or her family to enjoy.
  • Inexpensive gifts can still have a great deal of meaning. A holiday ornament, a book that you know he/she will love or a shirt (perhaps from his or her favorite team or your alma mater) will all be appreciated.

If you choose to buy a gift, remember your mentee may want to reciprocate. This is one of the reasons you want to keep things simple. You also might want to check in with a parent to make sure you aren’t buying something the family plans on purchasing.

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