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About a month ago I started receiving Christmas list requests from family. Just a few weeks ago the Toys R Us and Target toy catalogs found their way into our mailbox. This is the time of year I like to look around my house and think to myself “can we really squeeze one more toy in here?!”. It sure doesn’t seem like it.
My kids are blessed with tons of grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends. PLUS they both have birthdays during the holiday season. It is a challenge to come up with ideas that will last them until next Christmas. It seems like they grow out of toys as fast as they grow out of clothes. Something is played with for a few weeks and then forgotten (except for a certain purple stripped sock monkey that I will have to blog about another day…worst Mom EVER).
Last year we put a few non toy gift ideas on our list and it was a huge hit. Both kids got some gift cards they used on summer outdoor toys, sweet treats throughout the year and some special “coupons” that my daughter cashed in during our trip to NYC. I’ve expanded the “no toy” section of our lists this year to include a few more different items and wanted to share some of those ideas with you!
– Sweet treat gift cards. I love this idea because you can spend as much money as you’d like. This could be anything from a gift card at their favorite restaurant or favorite ice cream place/candy store. My grandparents always get my daughter her own McDonald’s gift card so she can get her own sundaes. She LOVES having her own card to swipe…it makes her feel like a big deal. If you are thinking of a place that doesn’t offer gift cards, just make a homemade voucher to give to the kids and then hand cash to their parents to save for later.
– “Big kid” activity. My 4 year old got her first pedicure this year and it made her feel like such a grown up. It was fun to watch her and hear her talk about doing something that she knows is really not a kiddie thing. If pedicures aren’t your kid’s thing, maybe consider movie passes, bowling or putt putting.
– Sign them up for a summer camp or winter activity. Ash W mentioned to me that they use some of the money their kids received for Christmas to sign them up for things like dance, soccer, gymnastics…whatever! I think this is pretty genius. This is another idea where you could use a homemade voucher instead of an actual gift certificate and give in combination with something they can unwrap like a voucher for tennis with a racket.
– Purchase a membership to the local zoo or children’s museum. This is a fun idea so the kids can go with Mom and Dad, their Grandparents or friends as often as they’d like. Our local zoo’s membership even includes unlimited carousel and train rides!
– Money for later. I know this isn’t as fun as some of the other ideas but it is still very useful. This is a good idea for the super young kids on your list that don’t really “get” gifts yet. My mom has savings account for each of my kids that she contributes to. It is nice to not have to worry about keeping another account from my end, plus it will be a nice surprise to the kids when the get old enough to receive the gift. Saving bonds or gift contributions into college saving accounts are nice too!
– Magazine subscriptions. My kids get the National Geographic kids magazine every month and LOVE it. It is fun for them to get something in the mailbox and the bonus is that the magazines are super educational and age appropriate. We all know Highlights but did you know they also offer different magazines based on age?
– Puzzles, books and art supplies. Some people might put these in the “toy” category because it’s just more stuff…but I feel like these are items that foster creativity and keep kids busy. I rely heavily on puzzles and art projects so I can vacuum or wipe lick marks off my windows so I’m adding them to our list. We LOVE Melissa and Doug puzzles in this house. And books are kind of a no brainer. It’s fun to see what their favorites are.
– Gift cards to use during the summer. Maybe for clothing or new summer/outdoor toys. If your kids are old enough you can take them shopping and let them pick out their own things! We used a couple of our Walmart give cards to get the kids’ swing set this year.
– Travel items. We’ve gone on two plane trips this year and I’m started to realize the need for my kids to have their own rolling bags and travel accessories. Cute luggage tags, sleeping bags, kid size luggage, quiet activities and small pillows would all be great things for a tiny traveler. You could also do kid specific travel books or gift cards if your family has a trip coming up (think Disney World gift cards).
– Practical items. These are things you’d buy anyway but you can make it fun by gifting them. Ha! Really you make it fun by buying cute versions of things that are necessary- themed towels for the kids’ bathroom, Hello Kitty toothpaste/brush, foam soap (a huge hit in this house) for the tub…etc. And think outside the bathroom too! My kids love to get their own new plates, cups and utensils.
– Photo keepsakes. I did a Florida vacation photobook for my kids after our trip this summer. Shutterfly has some great deals and sales around the holidays. Some photo book ideas- travel, Grandparents, friends, favorite things, pets, a year in review…these are great for the kids AND their parents.