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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Top Ten Gifts for Kids

Ems AND Jules here-

We decided to team up for a pre-Black Friday post on what to (and what NOT to) buy for kids!  Our focus is on the younger set of children, because as kids get to the pre-teen era usually only technology-related gifts and/or very specific requests will suffice. 

After a dozen Christmases between us, we have experienced many wonderful gift-wrap explosions on holiday mornings-- and we have come to know which presents are actually useful and which ones will be lost, broken, or forgotten before New Year's Eve. Before you delve into our fantastic list... here are a few disclaimers:
  • Know your child: Some kids love to play with toys, some do not. Don't buy your child something "just to unwrap" when you know they will lose interest very quickly.
  • Our list is a suggestion, not every gift is perfect for your child!
  • Our list is focusing on things you can wrap-- the MOST appreciated gifts for multi-children families are: gift cards (to stores, restaurants, etc.), movie theater tickets and museum or zoo family-passes. 
  • All toys CAN get lost or broken! Teach your kids responsibility in caring for their possessions and have them clean up parts and pieces thoroughly.
  • The point of Christmas is NOT about gifts... it is about the Savior, so don't spend all your money on a crazy day of presents that your kids may not appreciate.
10. Magnatiles- Definitely the most expensive gift on our list, but they are worth it! If you want to ask grandparents to buy them-all the better! They are magnetic blocks that easily make castles, rocket ships, farmyards, whatever they can imagine.  Kids ages 1 to 10 really enjoy creating fantastic sculptures.  These are definitely an always-played-with-toy in our house!

9. Dolls- Now, we have never bought a doll directly for a boy, but little boys enjoy dolls too! From washing them in a sink to feeding them a pretend bottle, kids love to mimic parents caring for little ones.  You can pick up cheap accessories at the dollar store, and try not to spend too much on the doll-- fancy dolls become boring very quickly.
Last Christmas Doll bed & Baby

8. Family Board Games- Start a new tradition of a family game night or simply let the older kids rule over the younger ones in some hefty competition-- board games are an awesome gift! Start them with Candy Land and work your way up to Life & Monopoly (well, only if you want some real arguments...). And although we are focusing on the younger set, there really are SO many spectacular games out there that older kids enjoy --Pandemic, Forbidden Island, Clue, etc.--so really explore this area of gift-giving.  It's a great change of pace from PlayStation.

Candy Land fun!

7. Little People, Figurines, and/or Superheroes- We received the Little People bus as an early gift and added to our Little People collection through hand-me-downs and garage sales.  They are quite expensive new, but very attainable in the Craigslist world.  Plus any figurines you can get at the Dollar Store or Wal-mart can be used for imaginative play.  Children love to set them up on blocks, put them in rocket ships, or make believe they are climbing the "furniture mountains."  

Boys love soldiers and the plastic kind are affordable and easily replaceable. I usually buy 4 bags every Christmas and watch them go town! Well, to battle. Just be prepared for the inevitable rubble of strewn soldiers to be found in random nooks and crannies of your home. Take comfort in the fact that you are not out the big bucks. If a toy is going to get lost, it might as well be cheap!

Lissie Little Person

6. Doodle-Pad- The reusable service is great for car rides, dentists office or even letter practice.  We received a cheap one years ago, and it has been a great way to make quick, non-messy drawings.  You can go high end or super cheap depending on what you want.

5. Legos- Good for all ages, these are a gift that can really stand the test of time. Literally hours of play potential here. Rivaling the Magnatiles in price and the toy soldiers in "spreadability" (I made up this word to describe toys that literally creep into all rooms of your home), however, these are not for the faint of heart. Be sure your child loves to build! If he or she does, they are worth the investment for sure. Stuck for storage? I use an under the bed rollout bin to house all the Legos. And a tip: take pictures of your kids creations! It will make scrapping them at cleanup time MUCH easier.

A Lego contraption of Nate's: I think it's a gun? He's made candy dispensers and banks, too...very cool stuff!

4- Wooden Blocks- At first glance, blocks can be the standard, ho-hum gift. In actuality, if you teach your children to make roads, castles, prisons, etc. their imagination will blossom.  Using the figurines from #7 above, kids can make forts, create battles, re-create fairy tales or simply knock them over with rubber bands.

Mom tip: Just like with Lego creations, be sure to take a picture of their castles & towers so when a younger sibling knocks it down there will be fewer tears...

3. Play Food- We've witnessed kids of ALL ages who like to make pretend food in a kitchen. Don't have room for a real play kitchen? Just buy the food. Give the kid a box to be a microwave or an oven and let them imagine. Younger kids love making meals at a restaurant and older kids even like to join in! From make believe grocery shopping to a tea party- nothing beats imaginative play! 

Just watch out for older boy siblings who may be tempted to use the plastic French baguette as a bat or the canned veggies as grenades. Just saying.

2. Craft Kits- From Wal-Mart to AC Moores, craft kids are an easily attainable and very entertaining gift. From jewelry to race cars, kids can make anything from these relatively-easy-to-use kits.  Parents don't have to buy extra supplies and it usually cleans up quickly!

1. Coloring Supplies- No matter how many crayons a family has, it's never enough. Good quality (i.e. Crayola) crayons, markers, water colors, paper, stickers, etc. are always appreciated. Coloring and drawing can occupy children for hours, and rarely do they outgrow the creative outlet of art. Affordable, disposable, and much desired-- art supplies are fantastic!

Many kids like to draw, as opposed to color, so a ream of paper and a bunch of colored pens would be a super gift.

And not to be outdone--- here's a mini-list of things to avoid:
1. Battery-eating toys (After two rounds of batteries, these toys will never work again...)
2. Super noisy toys (These will end up hidden in a closet by a mother with a headache)
3. Take-up-a-lot-of-space-toys (Oh you got a great deal on the life-sized space ship? Um... keep it at your house we'll play with it there...)
4. Stuffed animals (They already secretly multiply without buying new ones)
5. Million-tiny-parts toys (They are destined for the vacuum canister).

Do you have any must-have toys that REALLY entertain your kids? Let us know via comments!! We want toys & gifts that keep kids AND parents happy :)

Either way HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Now you better go shopping....

Easy Rule #35872- Don't go with the fad toys, because they put the "fad" in "fading interest."

Easy Rule #24532- Buy with storage in mind. Clear your home out before Christmas to make way for the new goodies!


  1. I may have bought one of your children a present that fits in a category of things to avoid. Oh well 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

  2. HA!!! You are the one who bought my kids the blocks AND gave the Little People Bus.. you are legendary with gifts.... Miss you!!!