6 gift ideas for children (that aren’t toys)
I don’t know about you, fellow parents, but we get absolutely slammed with toys this time of year. It’s compounded by a December birthday, of course, but wow. It’s a lot to deal with. We do a big fall decluttering every year in anticipation of December. The people who say ‘deal with the chaos by letting the child choose X things and then donate the rest as a valuable life lesson’ have clearly never met an actual child. If you’re shopping for a child - whether your own or someone else’s - this holiday season, here are some ideas beyond yet another toy.
We use these cute notecards from Dogwood Hill for Margaret’s thank yous. I remember getting boxes of stationery as a gift growing up - I loved taking them off to camp to write letters home. Your recipient can use the gift to learn how to write Christmas thank-yous.
If there’s a museum nearby your recipient that has a children’s area or other kid-friendly focus, consider giving a yearlong membership. The parents will thank you when they have an easy destination for getting out of the house in January! A similar idea is a gift card to the facility where the child takes after-school lessons, like a ballet studio or swim school.
Educational app subscription
Margaret loves ABC Mouse, which is a welcome change of pace from her zillion other apps that all involve taking care of virtual cats. There are also language-learning apps designed for kids like Studycat.
No household with a kid ever has too many books. Our goal at home is to read all of the Caldecott Medal winners, so that’s a good place to start. Margaret has surprisingly enjoyed some of the older winners, and it’s likely your recipient won’t have them. Just preview them first - we’ve had to skip some of the older ones due to their outdated views on race, gun-related content, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, Pottery Barn Kids has a wonderful selection of inclusive books for children.
Clothes or gift cards for clothes
A sweater won’t win you friends like a light-up mermaid Barbie might, but well-made clothing is something a child actually needs. Check out my posts on shopping for children's clothing (first post and second post) for ideas.
We have a large array of sight word flash cards and handwriting books, but it’s hard to get the child to use them. They’re too much like ‘boring homework.’ Hands-on learning tools are a lot more fun. A few years ago, we got a Melissa and Doug shoe-tying toy that she enjoyed. She’s also now proficient at shoe tying! The Monster Math scale is fun for learning addition and subtraction within 10. She also enjoys this Paw Patrol time-telling book with a moveable clock, and the Storytime Chess set was a huge hit. I also highly recommend Uncle Goose block sets - I think I’ve bought four sets of the Periodic Table blocks. They’re a go-to gift for showers and birthdays. For older kids, consider a chemistry set or geology lab.