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!|
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
glue - both stick and liquid
glitter glue - you get the sparkle without the mess
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.
garden apron with pockets
stakes to name the rows
3. Baker: Put items in a big mixing bowl.
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"
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:
fancy paper for fliers
order tickets (like waitresses use)
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
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
toe separator slippers
pretty head bands and clips
fun chapsticks/lip gloss
9. Bejeweled: When my niece got her ears pierced, I put this together.
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.
Have a lovely day!