Not long ago I wrote a guest post describing what not to buy children for gifts. They were the things every parent cringes at when they see the wrapping paper come off: Toys that make noise, junk food, STUFFED ANIMALS, etc.
Clearly, after telling you what not to buy, a follow-up post telling you what to buy is in order. So I’m once again gleaning from personal experience and the suggestions of friends to bring you:
Five Gifts Parents Want You to Buy Their Kids
1. Educational toys/games/books
I feel like this should be kind of obvious, but when shopping for gifts, many people’s first instinct is to go to the latest fad toys and ignore everything else. The thing is that those fad toys lose their appeal very quickly, but educational items withstand the test of time.
For example, one Christmas my parents bought Eli a foam floor puzzle of the United States. It’s been several years and it’s still a favorite. We don’t play with it every day, but when it gets taken out, we put it together at least half a dozen times before putting it away again. It holds interest for all three of the kids, and it teaches them a number of things, from learning state names, to learning their shapes and locations, to learning their capitals and famous landmarks. Plus every time we do it, I get to start singing all the songs I know with state names in them (the kids’ favorite: ‘California knows how to party…’).
If you show up to a birthday party with an educational gift, even if it will add to the million books already lining our kids’ shelves, we will be happy adults.
This one is gifting gold. There are many reasons a parent would love for their child to receive an experience gift, but first let me explain what I mean by ‘experience’.
This is a gift to go do something. It could be passes to the local children’s museum, a gift card to the movies, swimming lessons at the local pool… you get the idea. We like to give our kids opportunities to try different things and go different places, but it can get expensive, especially when multiple children are involved. We also know that memories last longer than material goods and our children will talk about their trip to the zoo for years to come, even while that toy truck is collecting dust in the basement.
One final bonus: experience gifts take up absolutely no space in our house!
3. Art Supplies
Crayons, construction paper, paint, stickers, googly eyes, feathers… the options are limitless. Yes, this stuff can be messy, but our kids love doing projects and crafts, and we love encouraging their creativity. Art supplies can be put away when we don’t want our kids to use them and they eventually run out, which is why it’s always great to receive them as gifts.
4. Things for Later
Okay, I’ll be honest, if you’re hoping to be the favorite aunt/uncle/adult, this is not the way to go. No kid wants to receive a deposit into their college fund for their fourth birthday. However, if you’re willing to wait 15-20 years, they’ll change their minds and think you were the smartest gift giver ever (and the parents will know it right away!). Parents are also happy when their kids receive clothes that are too big because those little buggers just will not stop growing, even when we tell them to.
5. Open Ended toys
You may have noticed that everything I’ve described so far isn’t a toy. (Yes I mentioned toys in the first one, but the things that fall into that category are more along the puzzle/book/game line.) Our kids have a lot of toys. They really don’t need any more toys. But if you are insistent on buying them a toy, please choose one that allows them to use their imagination.
Open ended toys are toys that don’t have one specific way that they are supposed to be played with. You know how babies like to play with boxes more than whatever came in the box? Well, think of that when you’re purchasing something. Find a toy that can be used a million different ways. The parents will thank you, the kids will love you, and you might even want to hang around for a while to get in on all the fun.
Did I miss any big ones? What would you add?
Hmmm, how to get this article in front of our daughter’s gift givers and remain anonymous?? LOL I would add gift cards too. Another gift that isn’t super exciting in the unwrapping moment. But my daughter is always broke and she loves getting gift cards so she can finally go shopping.
Agree! Gift cards are awesome. And hmmm, maybe you can print it out and accidentally leave it laying on their counter??
This is awesome! I completely agree with all of these! I would love tickets to the Science or Children’s Museum over noisy, useless toys any day!
Definitely. The kids love going to those places and a membership pays for itself in just a few visits.
when I saw ‘experiences’ I immediately thought of my Uncle John. Every Christmas, my brother and I would receive a plain white envelope. In it was a note from our uncle, with a list of three choices of trips that he would offer. For example: go camping in Chimney Pond and climb Mt. Katahdin or go panning for gold in central Maine. The trips usually cost nothing but the gas and some campsite grub but the memories have remained my entire life. He gave us his time and instilled in us a love of nature.
I love that! What a great idea to give you a few options to choose from!
Would you post a link to the post about what not to buy?
Here it is 🙂 http://www.genpink.com/five-things-parents-dont-want-buy-kids/
This is AWESOME! And so spot on – love it!
This is a GREAT list and I agree with every single one!
Leesha @ Living Contently says
Great gift ideas! I love the suggestion to give an experience! We are trying to focus more on this just in our family, too. 🙂
I really want to do more of that too Leesha. It would be fun to get creative with the experience ideas too. I bet there’s a ton of things to do in our area that we’re not even aware of.
Tiffany @ A Touch of Grace says
I 100% agree with all of these. My daughter for sure doesn’t need any more toys. She has 2 rooms full! But educational toys and games, experiences (yes!) and things that help her create are the best.
Absolutely! Thanks Tiffany!
I highly agree with experiences! How wonderful it would be for family members to give my kids gifts of “day with grandma”, or “trip to Mobius Kids museum”. Way better than new toys and it takes up NO space!
Definitely! I’d like to move towards more of those gifts and fewer toys in the coming years.
Great list! When I buy gifts for other people’s children, I try to think of what I would, or wouldn’t, want given to my own kids. I don’t think you missed anything- and your short list of what not to buy kids was right on too.
Thanks for linking up through the Shine Blog Hop!
Amber at OurCharmedLife.net
Thanks Amber! It’s definitely a good rule of thumb to not buy anything you wouldn’t want your own child to have!!
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
Absolutely on all of these gift ideas! These are very much the types of gifts I want to buy for my kids… although now that they’re getting older the “something they want” gift tends to not fit in any of these categories.
Thanks so much for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).
Wishing you a lovely weekend.
Charlee Anne says
These are the kinds of gifts I definitely want to give my kids. My oldest is 2 and somehow she has a million toys, even though we’ve bought her 2 during her entire existence! My mom thinks she needs anything she glances at in the store!
It’s amazing how quickly they accumulate, isn’t it?
Id love toadd some… Sports or active out side (or even inside) stuff. That would be awesome! As a first time mom, I always need something to keep my kiddo busy and active toys are an easy choice. NOT toy balls. Those come a dime a dozen. I’m talking roller skates, helmets, scooters, bikes, hula hoops, jump ropes, Chinese jump ropes, marbles, jacks, pool toys, water toys, tents, gardening stuff, man, the list goes on! And that’s just out side. Inside would be great to have a kid chef kit, 2-step stool for the kitchen, board games, let’s pretend toys, a small trampoline, baby friendly cosmetics (lotion, chap sick, stuff mom uses), telescopes and so on… even musical instruments would be nice (since they are removing music from Lots of schools these days)
These would be nice. 🙂
Those are all GREAT suggestions!!
Oh, and shoes. Their feet keep growing just like their bodies, and they need good sturdy runners for all that outdoor play we encourage.