Thursday, December 7, 2017

Need Gift Ideas For Your Loved Ones? I Can Help!

With three kids and numerous other loved ones to buy for, Christmas and birthdays are often a challenge for me.  Over the years, I’ve realized everyone is happier if we spend a bit of time planning and shopping around. 

First, let’s focus on your mindset.  Decide a budget and number of gifts and stick to it!  Try to release any guilty feelings – most of our kids have too much already, right? Also, DON'T expect every gift to be a hit – what pleases one kid will turn off another. 

Decide what you’d like to encourage with each gift. Examples are a love of reading, love of learning, creativity, getting outside and being active.  Spread the gifts around in different categories like books, bikes, board games, computer games, outdoor toys, etc. The variety is important for their development and they will appreciate the variety over time. Consider non-traditional and homemade items.  You might create a coupon book with passes for specific events they would like – “free coupon for ice cream with Dad”, “free coupon for playing cards with Mom”.

Here are some gift ideas by category:

             - Books – Giving kids books at Christmas and birthdays encourages a love of reading.  Look for lists of award winning books, such as Texas Bluebonnet awards, Newberry and Caldecott Medals. In addition to popular books, consider classic, age appropriate books like the Dr. Seuss books and “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” series.
             - Educational gifts – Giving kids educational items at Christmas and birthdays encourages a love of learning.
             - Science projects, art supplies, hands on projects, fun and messy things
Kids get a lot of benefits developmentally out of hands on, messy, creative projects – it encourages their curiosity and creativity; educators highly encourage this sort of play.
Consider a science book or simple kit with at-home experiments. For artists, create a kit with paints, brushes, an apron and an easel.
            -  Hobby items – Look for kits or other items from your local craft stores.
             - Fun, active gifts – Get out there and play with your kids with kites, frisbees, scooters, and soccer balls.
            -  Classic gifts – These are classics because of their lasting play-ability.  Slinky, dominoes, play doh and playing cards are great examples.
            -  Board games - Try to choose games that most of the family can and will play and schedule special game nights.
            - Electronics – If you are like most of us, you will choose to give your kids some electronics.  If so, make sure it is age-appropriate.  Ratings (P, PG, PG-13, etc) are there for a reason.  Otherwise, this can start to snowball on you.  Use ratings as a guide and then read up on product reviews and check with other parents to make a final decision.
            - Gift certificates As I mentioned above, create a coupon book for special times with mom, dad, and other loved ones.

Here are some of my favorite websites:

Toy and game reviews:                Oppenheim Toy Portfolio                                 From Time to Play Magazine
GOOGLE "TIA Toys of the year 2017" to see toys that won awards for 2017 awarded by the Toy Industry Association

Educational Software Reviews:

Great websites with unique gifts:                    3D puzzles, unique games, crafts          Great selection of educational and fun toys                Unique toys and crafts                           Great books and other items                            Books and fun, educational toys and crafts                 Variety of items for older kids, great hobby sets and games              Educational and fun
AMAZON.COM is a great place to see what other parents think.
REMEMBER – If, like me, you want the focus to be more on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, exercise a bit of restraint in how much you give your kids. We encouraged the attitude in our kids of "look at the great gifts you got from everyone" rather than "I don't like this" or "why didn't I get more gifts".  Otherwise, like Harry Potter's cousin Dudley, they'll count and compare and complain instead of appreciating what they get!

Please share this post with other parents who might find it helpful.  Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

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