Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Best Gift-Giving Guide on the Internet

I say I have no goals, but I guess I do have a few.  One thing I strive to be is the Best Gift-Giver on the Planet.  I want kids to be excited to get a gift from me, so I put lots of thought into buying their gifts. 

I also want to be on my siblings' good side, so I don't buy anything that would annoy them.  We have received plenty of annoying gifts from relatives (as they have goals to find the noisiest, most obnoxious gifts on the planet.  I'll do a "Don't Ever Do This" post another day.) and I don't want to do that to anyone.

I will not be named Best Gift-Giver on the Planet if I simply buy generic toys from the toy store based on the children's ages.  The first thing you need to do is put some thought into each child to whom the gift will be given.  What does he like to do?  Has she taken up any new hobbies?  Is there something new going on in her life?  Even if you don't know the child well, as she lives in another state, her parent's Facebook page should be able to give you at least a little bit of an idea.

Next time, I'm writing a button-making lesson, 'cause boy, do I know how to make an ugly button!
Why the "Best Gift-Giving Guide"?  Three reasons.  Firstly, not one of these gifts requires you to step into a toy store or even a toy aisle.  Secondly, not one of them requires batteries.  Lastly, video games are nowhere to be found on the list. 

On to the tips and ideas...

If you are going to give clothes, be careful.  Some kids, like two of my nieces, love to get cute clothes as gifts.  Any cute clothes will do.  You can purchase clothes for any youngster, but make sure it is something that would be interesting or fun or "cool" to him/her.  My farmer brother's family had just gotten a wiener dog, and I found a T-shirt with a blingy wiener dog on it.  My niece loved it.  For boys, T-shirts with funny sayings or favorite characters are a good choice.  (If you can score a "What does the fox say?" shirt, you are golden.)  Perhaps a hat or shirt with a favorite sports team logo.  Star and Phoenix have been thrilled to receive pairs of the "cool" brand of basketball socks. 

I found this here.

I really should just own a book store based on the number of books I give as gifts.  In order to stay in a budget, I have purchased lots of books through Scholastic Book orders the kids bring home.  Half Price Books is a great store for purchasing books at a reasonable price.  Not all of their books are used, and you can even find used ones in great shape.

Some book ideas for you:

For boys of all ages, stick with trivia.  It doesn't matter if the book is about world records, gross things, animal things, or sports things, trivia is usually a hit.  As are comic books like Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield.

Finding a series the child likes is fantastic.  It will give you a pass on that child for years, as you can always just buy the next book in the series.  Some good ones for early-ish readers are Junie B Jones, A to Z Mysteries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Ready, Freddy!, 31 Clues, Magic Treehouse, and Geronimo Stilton.

Picture books for the youngest kids are the easiest.  Just read it to see if you like it.  Bold photos with details, but not too many words are ideal for reading aloud.  Bear Snores On, Elmer, Happy Hocky Family, Clifford, Moostache, any books by Dr. Seuss or Robert Munsch...aaahhh, so many good picture books.

All of Mr. Munsch's books are here.

Board games have gone over very well.  Always keep in mind the number of kids in the family, as you don't want to give a game that works best for four players if there is only one child in the family.  Don't pay too much attention to the age level on the box, but the ability level of the child for whom you are buying.  The biggest worry is whether the child can read or not.  Chose accordingly.  Browse the internet, talk to small store owners.  Find one that sounds fun or one that your family enjoys playing.

The site.  This game is on the expensive side, so you can get it as a family gift.  My kids love it.

Lastly, the easiest way to buy a great gift is to pick a theme.  The pieces will fall into place once you have a theme.  Choose the theme based on the child and his/her interests. 

I'll make it easy for you. Here is a long list of themes and items to go with the themes.  All of these have gone over very well with the niece and nephew set.  Pick and choose the items to go in them in order to stay in your price range.

1.  Arts and crafts:  Buy a small tote box or other container with a lid and fill it up with crafty things.  Keep the parents in mind when choosing the items.  Glitter is bad

box of 64 crayons
colored pencils
glue - both stick and liquid
glitter glue - you get the sparkle without the mess
construction paper
make your own greeting card pack
colorful index cards
fun Post-It notes

2.  Garden: Put the items in a basket or tool-type box.

child-sized tools
watering can
gardening gloves
garden apron with pockets
stakes to name the rows

3.  Baker: Put items in a big mixing bowl.

measuring cups
measuring spoons
chef's hat
children's cook book
ingredients to make one thing from the cook book

4.  Farmer:  My nephew received this gift.  He is a child who rises on his own bright and early every day and immediately heads out to do things around the farm.  He loves farm life, so I went to Tractor Supply to buy:

a book titled "Raising Chickens for Fun or Profit"
work gloves
a face mask type hat for the coming cold weather
a T-shirt that says "I do more by 7:00am than most people do all day."

5.  Entrepreneur:  This will work for any child who likes to pretend play.  I got it for my nephew in Hawaii who was baking mango bread and other delights to sell on the beach.  I went to Office Supply and purchased things like:

receipt book
debit/credit book
fancy paper for fliers
order tickets (like waitresses use)
money apron

6.  Carpenter:  Star has always loved to get in and help Hubby build things (on the rare occasion that he builds)  One year we got him started on his own tool set.  Bonus on this one, he actually uses it to help around the farm.  I can't tell you how many tree limbs he has cut for us, smiling the entire time.  His starter set included:

a tool box
work gloves
protective goggles
screw drivers
measuring tape

8.  All dolled up:  Girls of any age like this, as long as the girl is a "girly" girl.  Don't get this for a girl who clearly leans toward the tomboy personality.  Some options:

a variety of nail polishes - colorful, glittery, crackled
stickers for nails
nail polish remover
cotton balls
toe separator slippers
pretty head bands and clips
bobby pins
fun chapsticks/lip gloss

9.  Bejeweled:  When my niece got her ears pierced, I put this together.

jewelry box
fun earrings

10.  Teacher to be:  Put the items in a canvas bag, since most teachers carry them around. 

pens in a variety of colors
stickers, even better if they say things like "Good job!"
lesson plan book
variety of workbooks (With the number of people homeschooling, these can be found everywhere, including Wal-Mart.)
teacher-type posters for the wall
fun-shaped pads of paper
Shoot, just walk around a teacher store and grab a few things that remind you of when you went to school.

11.  Sports fanatic:  Make it specific to the sport the child plays.  Don't just give the ball, but some things to go with it.

If you give a football, perhaps give a hoop target, t-shirt of his favorite team, or a book about his favorite player

If you give a soccer ball, include some cones to dribble around or a trivia calendar about soccer.

For the baseball player, a rebounding net and some new balls.

12.  Movie night:

favorite movie or gift card to rental place
blanket to snuggle under
bean bag chair to sit in when watching

13.  Thank you, Kristi, for your suggestion.  How could I have forgotten this?!  Dress-up clothes always seem to be a hit with the preschool set. One friend of mine used to shop at the thrift store for "princess" gowns for her daughters. (Princess gowns can be found among the lingerie section, by the way.) Add some costume jewelry, and her girls were ready for the ball. My sons loved hats, capes (baby receiving blankets worked well), and accessories like pretend swords or binoculars.

14.  Lizzi was kind enough to add a suggestion for teens.   For teens just getting into the world of work, a 'coffee break' kit, with a bag of good coffee, an individual percolator and a packet of biscuits is always fun

Regardless of what you choose, the gift goes over best if you actually spend time with the child using the gift you purchased.  Play the game, read the book, bake some cookies, throw the ball.   You can't go wrong with the gift of time.

If you have any of your own theme ideas, let me know in the comments.  I'll be happy to add them to the list and give you credit.

Happy Shopping!

Have a lovely day!


  1. I guess nobody will be giving away a gift from you at my annual Christmas Crap party ey?

    1. Oh, no. I can give Christmas Crap stuff, too, if that is what's called for. One year, I simply took out all the worst coffee mugs out of my cupboards, wrapped them up, and took them to a white elephant party. People beg to get rid of my stuff. If I came to yours, I would probably bring a pig skull. :)

  2. Just wait until you see what I'm getting for YOU for Christmas...

  3. You really did your homework here. Impressive. We give folks cash and they can buy what they want. At our ages we can get pretty corny gifts. Old people just don't know what young people want.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Thanks. It took years and years to observe enough kids opening gifts to come up with this.

      Very true. I'm sure at some point I'll just give money, too.

      Perhaps you should write a post about gifts old people want. (I did not call you old!)

  4. Love this post!

    Dress-up clothes always seem to be a hit with the preschool set. One friend of mine used to shop at the thrift store for "princess" gowns for her daughters. (Princess gowns can be found among the lingerie section, by the way.) Add some costume jewelry, and her girls were ready for the ball. My sons loved hats, capes (baby receiving blankets worked well), and accessories like pretend swords or binoculars.

    1. Thanks!

      How could I forget the dress-up theme?!?!?!?! That's the easiest one of all! I shall add it immediately.

  5. You have my vote for Best Gift-Giver on the Planet!! I'm with you. Nothing like the feeling of finding that perfect gift for someone. I am loving that Ticket to Ride game!

    Thanks for the fabulous ideas!

    1. Thank you, Friend!

      It is a great feeling, isn't it? I really do like the giving better than the receiving (usually. I did mention my family isn't the best, but every once in a while someone will find a great gift.)

      You are welcome!

  6. I love that you divided this list by interest! That being said, I still don't know what the kids want for Christmas. I'm stymied.

    1. I know. I find it much harder to purchase gifts for my own kids than other people's kids. Mostly because I know whatever I buy is what I will have to step on or over for the next 6 months.

  7. Ummm girls can like Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes too, yaknow. Might even be their favourites.

    For young teens, have you tried the Artemis Fowl book series, by Eoin Colfer? They're AWESOME.

    And for teens just getting into the world of work, a 'coffee break' kit, with a bag of good coffee, an individual percolator and a packet of biscuits is always fun.

    1. Very true. And I'm guessing you are one of them. :)

      I do believe my kids have read those. I can't keep up with what they're reading anymore. I'll ask them.

      I know, I didn't even get into the older teens. I don't have any to buy for, so haven't been able to try them out. I shall add your suggestion!

  8. Note to self: buy Cuckoo a large container of glitter and send it to him hidden inside a chef's hat.

    1. You are one meeeeeaaaaan lady.
      Fortunately, I am a preschool teacher as well, and I know how to control glitter without fiasco. Glitter doesn't scare me.

    2. But just think of the damage he can do before you find out he has it....

    3. Ladies, he doesn't get the mail himself, so no damage before I find he has it. And no, I'm not afraid.

      I realize that sentence just got the two of you scheming to find a way to beglitter my entire house. Not afraid.

  9. How awesome those gift boxes are! I admit, I'll mostly buy off Amazon for the family overseas, as shipping is crazy expensive. But we definitely try to buy thoughtful gifts for the girls. Instruments are always a favorite at our house ;-)

    1. If I lived in a country different from my nieces and nephews, I'd do the same thing. My kids have always enjoyed instruments, too. Unfortunately, not all parents like instruments. I don't recommend buying them for others unless it is clear the parents of the recipient are ok with it.

  10. A very helpful post with some great ideas, some of which I'll be taking on board.

    I never used to have problems buying gifts as there was only my son, parents and partner to buy for, and as my son grew into an adult I got out of the habit of buying stuff for kids. Then a few years ago he married a girl with six kids, meaning I instantly gained an extended family of various ages and the gift-buying problems which go with it and which get worse every year. Sometimes I think it would be easier to ignore Christmas and go camping instead! :)

    1. Good! I'm glad you found it useful!

      Oh my goodness! Doubling your gift-giving in one fell swoop! Well, I'm sure you could show them the best way to camp, as well as the best places! Are they campers? My kids would think a camping trip would be a fabulous gift!

  11. Glitter is SO bad. I can't believe my son's class even uses it. Or sends it home. Sorry...moving on. LOVE these ideas. My hubs and I just had a convo recently about NO MORE plastic crap. We make it from the yard or we don't have it (when it comes to toys). While we haven't made it from the yard, our son made his OWN (Huge, in our world) Robot (ish) Robot from legos today... I'm totally doing your gift boxes. And putting stuff we already have in it. SO thank you!! <3

    1. It really can be horrible. We have a diagnosed OCD janitor at our school, and glitter is completely banned from the entire building. (The school has almost 600 kids in grades K4-8.)

      Glad you like the ideas. Plastic crap is the worst. Especially when it makes lots of horrible noise, which most plastic crap does.

      Glad you found the ideas helpful. Even better that you can get it out of the house and regift it.

      He made a robot all alone?!?!?! Fantastic!


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