Unless you’re one of those parents – you know, the kind that have all their gifts wrapped before Halloween – you may still be in the throes of the holiday gift shopping season. And you may be tempted to pick up one of the hottest toys of the year.
But what happens when the holidays are over? How many of those toys become one-use wonders? Well, I have a few ideas for Christmas gifts for kids that they will play with over and over again.
Christmas Gifts for Kids
I originally posted this list in 2007 on The Journey Mom, but it’s as good a list of Christmas gifts for kids now as it was then. It’s had even more years to pass the test of time!
- Office Supplies – To this day, my son raves about the best Christmas gift he ever received – a full box of letter-sized white paper that he got when he was 4-years-old and used continuously (and through multiple restockings) to make flags, pop-up birthday cards, boats,and sometimes even drawings. The collection of office supplies included markers, crayons, scissors, a stapler, staples, brads, and a tape dispenser were from Staples. But the paper as well as tape and glue sticks were bought in bulk at Sam’s Club.
- Easel – We have been using my daughter’s Community Playthings easel for well over 10 years. At first, she just used it for art projects, but its dry erase boards have been used for announcements, project planning, and displays.
- Art Supplies – Specialty art supplies are available online from Michael’s, Aaron Brothers, Pearl Paint and Dick Blick Art Materials and locally from artist supply stores such as Arlene’s Artist Materials. I like to put together a how-to book with the supplies necessary to create that craft. Here are a few of our favorite art books: The Usborne Pocket Artist; Art Smart Painting; Polymer Clay for the Fun of it!; and The Jumbo Book of Art.
- Crafts – Be careful purchasing craft supplies; we have started many craft projects that sit uncompleted for years. My suggestion is to purchase craft supplies that can be used for a variety of projects. For example, avoid the Bejeweler but do get beads that can be used for jewelry, scrapbooking, and a multitude of decorative arts. Other multi-use craft items: sewing supplies, glue gun; yarn; felt; fabric; lanyard cord; fabric paint; ribbon.
- Ball Collection – One year my kids received a set of huge exercise balls that have become a treasured addition to a collection that includes marbles and balls for ping pong, golf, tennis, soccer, racquetball, basketball , and volley ball. Not only are these balls used for their intended purpose, but they come in handy for all kinds of games and experiments.
- Books – Books might seem like one-use wonders, but they open a priceless world. Although I believe that all books are worthy gifts, there are a few treasured books that we return to again and again. These include: The Complete Tales & Poems of Winnie-the Pooh; The Classic Tales of Beatrix Potter; Mother Goose; Aesop’s Fables; and Greek Myths.
- Pretend Play Collection – Our dress up collection has been in constant use since my daughter was a toddler. Over the years, we have added costume jewelry, exotic fabrics, garage sale hats, and various costumes. Consider starting out with a pre-assembled collection in a box. Then, add items of special interest such as a tea set or doctor’s kit. This collection can be a great resource for Halloween costumes, theatrical productions, or elaborate pretend games.
- Blocks – Perhaps the most used toy in our home has been the set of wooden blocks that I picked up at Costco when my daughter was one year old. They have been used to build castles, forts, ramps, tallest structure competitions, Pokémon homes, race tracks, and lots of edifices that are beyond the comprehension of mere adults.
- Camera– The year my son received a Flip camera was the year he learned how to tell stories in a whole new way. Fast forward a few years, and we’re both still using the Flip camera – even though we both have iPhones, and a multitude of other video and photography equipment. The Flip camera is just the easiest one to use to create and edit videos. As long as it’s easy to use, and not too delicate, any camera is a great gift for a child. Who knows? It might even lead to a lifelong passion.
- Video Game Console– This is a big ticket item, but these are really family Christmas gifts that receive a lot of use in our home. Over the years, we have collected a Playstation, XBox, and the Nintendo Wii. All of them get a good workout in our home, and on special occasions, my husband has been known to treat our son to a new video game so there is often something new to look forward to.
- Hand-held Games – Nintendo DS was a big part of our lives from about age 2 until each child received a cellphone upon entering middle school. I still credit Pokémon for helping my son become an early and avid reader. Now both kids still play video games on a portable device, but the the DS has been replaced by the iPhone – another cool gift! While my children have proved that they can easily live without their cellphones (did I mention it’s a great disciplinary tool?,) my husband and I depend on the kids to be accessible via text or phone to arrange chauffeuring and the chore list. And with multiple phones we were able to get rid of the landline!
- Tool Kit – When the kids were little, they had pretend tool kits. And while they did get a fair amount of use, nothing compares to the real thing. Even the kid-sized tool set that we picked up at Home Depot was soon discarded when our kids realized that they could use the tools in Dad’s workshop. Consider assembling basic tools like a hammer, handsaw, nails, measuring tape, and including a stack of boards.
- Makeup Kit – I’m torn even as I recommend this, but there is no denying that most girls do appreciate a makeup kit. This is a gift that got full use – and then some! Pick up an inexpensive cosmetic case at Target or Wal-Mart, put in some lip gloss, and include a gift certificate. Or, give a girl a manicure set. You can even find makeup for preschoolers who love to play dress up. (Think of this as an opportunity for lots of life lesson discussion, while the child is actually willing to listen!)