But not really. Because I really love my kids and want to make them happy not only long-term, but also in the here-and-now, (I love Christmas morning!) I’m really working hard to find the perfect gifts that will make them ecstatic and scream out, “Mom, I love this!”
Here is a list of ideas that I’ve done in the past, as well as ideas for this coming Christmas. I’ve also included examples of gifts that we have purchased and actually use! (Thankfully, I don’t think any of my children are CatholicMom subscribers so they won’t read what they may be getting for Christmas this year!)
Warning! Watch out for toy clutter! You don’t necessarily want more things. Keep it neat and minimal: “A place for everything wanted, and everything wanted in its place.” But unlike electronic toys and time-occupiers, these gifts do make messes!!! But it is worth it!!! Find the balance.
1) Books. Yes, this seems ho-hum-boring, but the right book can be exciting. I go out of my way to get just the right book for the right person. Most of my kids are readers, so they honestly love receiving their own special book. For those who are not “readers,” I find books about something they are really into, like a sports figure or weaponry, for example.
2) Music. I will get them anything that will encourage them to pursue some kind of music. Sometimes it’s actual instruments that I know they’ve shown an interest in. Sometimes they are upgrades to the instruments that they have. We’ve bought many guitars, amps, drums, and so on. I’ve also given them certificates for music lessons. For some kids, this might not seem like too much of a gift, but for a child whose been wanting to play a guitar, this really is an exciting gift for them. We’ve also bought music and song books from popular bands that they like. There are also fun music-lover gifts like guitar-pick holders, music stands, kazoos, bongo drums, harmonicas, and music t-shirts. Finally, we’ve given gift certificates to Guitar Center or other music stores.
3) Sports. What sport is your child into? Could they use something that would encourage them to practice more or to improve their skills? For example, a catching net for a baseball pitcher, a goal for a soccer player, or a basketball hoop. There is no end to these. And if you are already equipped with the basics, you’d be surprised at how many training gadgets there are to supplement this. Last year, we got my son a baseball training bat. Maybe for your swimmer you get the latest, coolest goggles. Every sport has something. Look online. Ask your coach.
4) Anything to get them outside. Think ziplines, swings, treehouses. What can you do to your yard to make it conducive to playing outside? Would a basketball court, 4-square court, or tricycle track be something you could add? (Yes — this could be gift.) Maybe things to ride on or in, too — like ripstiks, scooters, roller blades, long boards and sleds. Think outdoorsy, like pocket knives, bows and arrows, Enos, and rain boots. For little kids: sandboxes, water tables and wagons. Airsoft rifles, although not suitable to many suburban neighborhoods or parental tastes, have taken our pre-teen and teen boys out of the house for hours and hours on end. Find your “airsoft rifle.”
5) Arts and Crafts. And this isn’t just for girls, either, but there are far more options for our little ladies. If you just walk into Barnes and Noble, for example, you are hit with dozens of craft kits, like Dollar Bill Origami and Crocheted Cacti. Kids love to make things; yes, even boys. There’s also models and wood kits. I’ve also bought many of those drawing books, too. And with all of these, you can supplement the gift with new paints, new pencils, more yarn, wood, etc. Many times in the past, I’ve made my own kits. One example is a wooden sword “kit” complete with silver paint, sandpaper, wood, and so on. (I think this was the year I bought a saw, too.) Do you have a knitter? Get a cute bag with yarn, needles, and simple instruction book. I’m also going to include cooking in this category, too. For bakers at all levels, you can buy mixing bowls, aprons, and unique utensils.
6) Non-electronic Games. It is getting harder and harder to get my kids to sit down to play a board game, but if the screens are off, they will still resort to this option. My tweens still love Monopoly. There is a whole world of great board games and card games out there for all ages. Here are some of our favorites.
7) Building Blocks, Legos, and so on. I know Legos are so pricey, but to me they are worth it. This is a wonderful use of our children’s playtime, both boys and girls. Besides a new set, is there something else you can get them to enhance their play? Perhaps a table with bins. There are also other building materials for children that can be fun, especially for the ones too young for Legos. Simple wooden blocks can be a great joy for toddlers and preschoolers. Provide some quality “animals” to the mix. Let them experience “Mindcraft” in real life.
8) Imagination Play. For younger children, these make some of the best gifts. Besides restocking their toy kitchen or workbench, think dress-up. Little boys love being superheroes, policemen or army men. Little girls love being princesses and mommies and veterinarians. Provide a place to access these costumes easily — fix up an old trunk or, better yet, a space with hooks. Shop for Halloween costumes at the Goodwill, or find them new. Add shoes, hats, jewelry, purses, and fake guns. Dolls and action figures go under this category, too. Just remember, more is not necessarily better, but look into what would encourage them in this kind of play.
9) Experiences and Gifts of Time. Think of gift certificates either homemade or purchased. These could be for things like bowling night, putt-putt, batting cages, or even going out for ice cream. Perhaps you’ve seen “coupon books” that parents have made for their kids (see ideas on Pinterest). You could also go bigger. Concert tickets and tickets to musicals. A weekend in “blank.” (This could be NYC, Washington D.C., hunting, the beach, whitewater rafting, skiing, that expensive summer camp, ziplining, and gasp, Disneyworld or SixFlags or The Great Wolf Lodge.)
Think about what would totally delight your child–and see how you can make it happen.
Copyright 2017 Tami Kiser