My son recently celebrated his 4th birthday, the week before Thanksgiving. I posted an all-call for ideas on facebook on how to reduce the amount of toys he will receive for Christmas in just a few short weeks. I got some great ideas from social media, and then a friend sent me this!
1 . Gift cards/vouchers for experiences. My kids love going to the movies, minigolf, batting cages, bounce houses and roller rinks. But those things add up for us parents! Children should have access to mind-expanding activities so consider vouchers to their favorite (or new) experiences. (I think this is GREAT.)
2. Suitcases. Even if they are going for a sleepover down the street, kids need suitcases. Plus, they get excited to have their very own to pull behind them. (This is good, too; my son uses a duffel bag from County Seat when he travels. Remember County Seat? The home of Southwest-style sweater vests in the 90s?)
3. Sleeping bags. They will get used more than you might think.
4. Car travel games and activities. We spend a lot of time in the car and while movies are great, they can’t fill ALL the time. Melissa & Doug makes some wonderful Water Wow (like Melissa & Doug On The Go Water Wow Bundle – Vehicles. Animals and Alphabet), color by number, and other activity books.
5. Audible/Audiobooks. We do chapter books in the car on long road trips but Audible is pricey.
6. Restaurant cards and rewards program. My kids get SO excited to eat at Chick Fil A and Subway. They see the logos and start salivating. Gift-givers would be surprised as to how excited kids are to get gift cards to their favorite places. (I can see where this would be ideal for older kids who have an idea that things like eating out actually cost money. Although my preschooler might get a kick out of getting to “pay” with his “credit card.” Plus, Mommy gets SO excited about Chick Fil A, too.)
7. Wall Calendars. A custom-made photo one would tickle my kids. (I like this plan; he loves seeing photos of him with friends and family.)
8. Watches/clocks. Learning to tell time is hard. Help make it fun with a LEGO watch or something similar. (We are actually about to purchase a digital alarm clock for our son so that he’ll know when it’s okay to get out of bed. Because I’m sick of waking up on Saturdays when it’s still dark. Never thought about getting a really fun one and making it a Christmas gift!)
9. Subscription boxes. There are so many options for services, plans and type of boxes but these give year-round! Take kids on a journey every month with Little Passports, encourage their art with Kiwi Crate, for the LEGO and K’NEX lovers gift Pley, do GiftLit for the readers or get something for the scientist with kits from Bill Nye and STEM projects with Genius Box. (A great local spin on this is a subscription to Kids Prize Pack, based here in Rogers County!)
10. Outdoor kits. Kids love ant farms, bug collection kits, flashlights, stopwatches, gardening, bird watching, star gazing, and more. Help them embrace a love of the outdoors! The local Toys R Us or Target will have good options.
11. GPS and geocaching. Speaking of getting kids outside, consider geocaching. Get kids a little GPS and geocaching kit they can use and get them started. I love this Brand 44 Geomate.Jr 2.0 Geocache GPS and Update Kit Combo. If you aren’t familiar, geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt that makes being outdoors fun.
12. Memberships to museums. Think zoos, aquariums, kids museums, all in the local area.
13. Clothes. I know that clothes aren’t the most rewarding to give to kids. But they actually do love getting things like hats, shoes, and pajamas. They especially love when they match other family members so think pajama sets for the whole family!
14. Apps and digital videos. Always. We live in a digital world and parents want to make sure they are providing their kids good options when it comes to screen time. Help make their choices easier by giving them money to pay for good ones to own. Some of our favorite apps are listed here and while some great apps are free, some require payment for advanced user options.
15. Books. Always on these, too. Real books that you hold, not electronic ones. I share some of the best books for younger children, chapter books even preschoolers will love, and others that might surprise you.
16. Education money. Again, not exciting for the gift giver but college funds matter. My parents established a Monetta Education account for both of my boys when they were born and, so far, we’ve been really happy. But if this is just something you can’t get on board with, consider money for music lessons, sports, or anything extracurricular the child loves. (We also have a college fund for our little guy and were thinking it might be tacky to ask people to donate instead of giving a gift. Still not sure about it, but it would be awesome.)
17. Art supplies. These always need to be replenished.
18. Magazine subscriptions. Kids are people, too, and like people they like getting real mail! We have been subscribed to Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr. for a year and every issue is a hit. Consider Highlights For Children, Highlights High Five, National Geographic Kids, and National Geographic Little Kids. (C loves magazines! He has two issues of Reader’s Digest that he’s really attached to, because he likes the photos.)
19. Bike, bike accessories and gear. Every kid should have a bike. And a bike helmet to go with it. If a bike isn’t in the cards, consider skateboards (super-cool again … still?) and scooters. Obviously with helmets. (My kid needs a new helmet, if anyone wants to offer!)
20. Games, especially family ones. I shared our favorite classic games for preschoolers but since then we have become addicted to Qwirkle Board Game and Battleship Game. We are always prowl for new games, too, since family game night means a lot to us. (We’ve already committed to buying ours Pie Face for Christmas, but I love the idea of family game nights that even the littles can play.)
Best of luck this holiday season.
Originally published on Today.com.
Commentary by MCM Staffer Ashley.