Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Step Away from the Toy Store

Still have little bundles of children for whom you need to purchase gifts?  Wanting to avoid any and all toy stores like the plague?  I have a few ideas for you.

Regardless of what you buy, keep the child in mind.  If you want your gift to be the one the kids want to open first, purchase a gift that goes with his/her personality.  Don't just get generic toys for a certain age group.

Here are some ideas that parents will love for their lack of plastic, battery requirement, and noise.  Kids will like them, because they are just plain fun.  And cool.

 I love a good theme.

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.  I just gave these to a few nieces, and their boxes included:

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 - When my brother and his family moved to a farm, I gave a garden kit to my niece.  I put the following in a basket:

child-sized tools
watering can
gardening gloves
garden apron with pockets

3.  Baker:  A different niece who likes to cook with her mom was given this present.  It included:

mixing bowls
measuring cups
measuring spoons
chef's hat
children's cook book

4.  Farmer:  My nephew received this gift this year.  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, and had a smile on his face doing it.  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.  Books:  I give a whole lot of books as gifts.  Each niece, nephew, and child of mine gets at least two each year.  I get a lot of them from Scholastic Book orders the kids bring home from school.  I also go to the local resale book store.  Of course, sometimes I do go to Barnes and Noble.  Paperback books are very reasonably priced.  Some you might consider:

I have yet to meet a boy who doesn't like the trivia books.  Be they about gross things, world records, or animal things, boys like a good trivia book.

They also enjoy comic books.  Favorites are Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes.

Junie B Jones, A to Z Mysteries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Geronimo Stilton are good series.

On my sidebar are a few of our favorite picture books.  You can't go wrong with a funny picture book.

As always, think of the child and his or her interests.  A book on dinosaurs for the dinosaur fanatic would be good.  

I have also just gone out on a limb and gotten books I think the kids will like.  Every once in a while it flops, but sometimes I get a child started on a desire to read each and every book in the series or on that topic.  I love it when that happens.

10.  Clothes:  You need to be careful when purchasing clothes for kids/teens.  Some kids, like two of my nieces, love to get cute clothes as gifts.  Any cute clothes will do.  However, not all kids are thrilled with a gift of clothes, so you have to put more thought and effort into it.  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.  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. 

Have fun purchasing and giving gifts to kids.  Be creative and think outside the plastic, battery-powered box.  The kids will certainly appreciate it.

Have a lovely day!


  1. You are very creative. My 12 year old still loves the Diary of a Wimpy kid series so I was thrilled there was a new book this year for Christmas. Of course I couldn't resist a DVD of one of those hilarious movies either.

  2. HELP i'm one gift short for the BIG kid. We LOVE books! love might be an understatment! I give the kids books too but wrap them all as 1 gift incase I get a few in a series and they don't open them in the wrong order. I think the people in the house are getting a total of 30 books. I like using books a million for bargin books, but be prepared to search if you dont have any ideas, their site is not the easiest to navigate. But for free shipping, no tax, and doing it in my jammies for a few nights I am good. Also the childs teacher can recomend books by Christmas time they know you kid well enough to help out. Giving E an small stationary set (I assembled) because she writes letters all the time.
    So any suggestions for the Big kid??? I only need 1 more thing.

  3. All good gifts!
    Our boys are getting books, among other toys. Theater tickets are another great gift for kids--to the right kind of show, of course!

  4. You did say kids of all ages, right? I would like to receive either a #1, #3, #8, or #9...can you make sure Santa gets my list? ;)

  5. I heard a speaker once who said her grandchildren know she's the "book grandma" who always gives "pre-loved" books. I thought that was brilliant.

  6. Great post! Do me a favor and repost this around Thanksgiving next year. Lord knows I won't remember. I hate Christmas shopping and love practical gift giving. Seriously this is the most helpful post on holiday shopping I have seen all season.


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