If you are like me right now you are chanting “I will not bring more garbage into my house, I will not bring more garbage into my house” followed quickly by, “I will not spoil my kids this year. I will not spoil my kids this year. I will not spoil my kids this year”. While I can’t control grandparents (can’t I?) I can control what we buy and bring into our home. I will be intentional. I will not buy them stuff they don’t need, won’t play with, or will just turn into a landfill. I PROMISE (I’m lecturing myself in hopes of prevention). Also, we won’t buy A LOT. We made that mistake two years ago and it was the most disgusting ‘present exhaustion’ where they would yell ‘NEXT PRESENT!’ Rip it open, react, then impatiently wait for their turn again and we realized that we are officially terrible parents. No, that will not happen this year. NO WAY.
So this list is a bunch of stuff that I’ve either given them in the past and they’ve loved or I’m considering giving them this year (and hopefully they’ll love and use for years). More discussion about parenting during Christmas at the end for those of you interested 🙂 Let’s dive in.
1. Meri Meri Cape & Wand Iridescent Sequin | 2. Kitty Stuffed Animal Adoption Set | 3. Superhero Smartphone Movie Kit | 4. Tiger Tribe Beat The Clock Stopwatch Set | 5. Jetpack Backpack | 6. Kids Code Electronic Piggy Banks
1. Meri Meri Cape & Wand Iridescent Sequin: We do a lot of dress up here (like a lot) and Birdie doesn’t tire of wearing anything sequin or princess-y. A cape is a small addition to this very fun activity. Not every present can be educational, but I know she’ll love this one.
2. Kitty Stuffed Animal Adoption Set: While you don’t need this kit, our kids LOVED to adopt pets and take care of them. Since we got real pups they don’t really do this, but if you are staving off the pet conversation for a while I can say that your kids would love this.
3. Superhero Smartphone Movie Kit: Brian wants to “make movies” with the kids for home school and wants us to get this set up for them – it’s a stop motion film setup for a superhero movie. So cute!
4. Tiger Tribe Beat The Clock Stopwatch Set: We bought this “stopwatch challenge” game last year – and it devoured HOURS. It’s fun physical challenges around your house, timed (you could also just use your watch and imagination).
5. Jetpack Backpack: Charlie’s favorite backpack that was a HUGE hit. Cutest kid’s bag ever.
6. Kids Code Electronic Piggy Banks: I had no idea these would hit last year but they did and they STILL use them all the time with their chore money. It’s an ATM piggy bank and I think because there is a pin number, etc, it just feels so grown up.
1. Walking Dino Kit: These dinosaurs are robotic!! You build it, and then you can move it. I’m very tempted to get Charlie this.
2. PicassoTiles 60 Piece Set 60pcs Magnet Building Tiles: If you have a preschooler under 5 and you don’t have magnet tiles, you are missing out. They will play with these for hours and for years.
3. Natural Log Wooden Toy Building Blocks: Our kids are a little too old for blocks, but these are epic (and pretty wooden sculptures).
4. Beetle – Giant Lady: This is a paper bug that you make and can put in your room!! We don’t need it but it is just so pretty and cool.
5. Color Puzzle: For the 2 to 3-year-old who loves puzzles, this one is so cute (and could be art afterward?)
6. Big Wood-Like Blocks: We invested in these blocks when Charlie was 1 year old and they have played consistently with them for years. YEARS. They are foam (and look like wood) and big. Now that they are older they use them to play ‘the floor is lava’ and step all over them.
1. Augmented Reality Interactive Globe For Kids: I want to get this, but Brian is afraid they’ll get over it fast. It’s an education app that gives them a lot of info on each region. I know my kids will like it if it’s good.
2. Fractions Learning Kit: I like any Montessori anything. This fraction kit might not be their favorite toy, but I love how hands-on and visual it is to teach fractions.
3. Montessori Anatomy Vest: How cool is this??? They are super into organs and the human body and one of them could wear it while the other has to place everything. It’s pretty expensive (all handmade) and Brian thinks it’s weird but I’m super into it.
1. Little Talk – Conversation Card Deck: Everyone is talking about this conversational prompting game. Of course, you could just do it on your own, but I know from experience that when it’s packaged and looks like a game they engage with it more.
2. Electricity Experiment Kit: Charlie is super into science kits and Brian did the research that this is a great one.
3. Magic of Science Experiment Kit: We’ve got some magic lovers over here. We have a kit they use, but I like that this is more educational and makes it more science-oriented.
1. Crazy Forts: We bought a family fort making kit 3 years ago for Christmas and it did get some heavy play but it was also pretty expensive and cumbersome. This one is cheaper and looks easier to put together for the kids to do alone (we still have ours and aren’t replacing it but I would buy this one instead if I needed one).
2. Peaceable Kingdom Race to the Treasure!: Collaborative games!! A lot of you recommended this one and it was on a lot of ‘best gifts’ list so we are getting it. I feel no guilt about adding to our family game inventory – we play A LOT.
3. Peaceable Kingdom/ Gnomes at Night: Another game you guys recommended. Not sure if we need both?
4. Outfoxed!: The current favorite game at our house (but we play A LOT thus my need to buy either #2 or #3).
5. Gravity Maze Marble Run Brain Game: So many of you recommended this Gravity Maze and we showed it to our kids and they both really want it so it’s going to be one of their main presents (for those who love marble run or magnatiles but are a little bit older).
6. Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza: People are talking a lot about this game and we are excited to try.
1. Kid’s Classic Banjo Isn’t this the cutest, banjo ever?
2. Loog Guitar: This is the guitar with bought Charlie last year that he loves (but rarely plays)
3. Kid’s Classic Drum Set: The cutest drum set that I’ll never allow. Now I’m not convinced that Brian and I are ready for any of these (we thought we could teach piano and guitar ourselves and we didn’t) but maybe this is the year we try.
1. Emma, the Sperm Whale: This stuffy is more for you/their room than them. I have the sloth and alligator version in their room in LA and they are SO GOOD. They aren’t cozy, but they’re handmade, whimsical, and huge.
2. DIY Sewing Kit “Make Your Monster”: Birdie wants a lot of sewing and knitting kits so this ‘make your own monster’ kit is on our list (you could also just use scraps of fabric).
3. Ty Beanie Boos PIXY: For stuffies that they LOVE and get OBSESSED with, get these Ty big-eyed ones. Not sure why (so many moms know what I’m talking about). They are always a huge hit (and a good stocking stuffer).
4. Handmade Crochet Stuffed Bunny: I found these sweet handmade rabbits on Etsy and thought they would be such a cute gift for a little one.
5. Gilles le Koala: Goodee has such a great and weird kids stuffies (we have this in LA).
6. Crochet Solar System Toys: How cute is this stuffed handmade solar planet collection?? Maybe it’s better for a classroom (and we are homeschooling) but it’s just so cute.
1. Mono Mama: Another stuffie we have that looks GREAT in their room.
2. Handmade Keepsake Doll: This doll is selling out fast, but if you are lacking diverse representation in your home (we were), this doll is awesome.
3. Pirate Paper Doll: Grab this articulated pirate puppet for your pirate obsessed little one.
1. Ask Magazine Subscription | 2. Children’s Favorites with Mickey And Pals | 3. Kids National Geographic Subscription | 4. Lego Magazine Subscription | 5. Honest History Magazine Subscription| 6. A Charlie Brown Christmas
Now those magazines 1, 3, 4, and 5 – are all subscription-based. We have found that those (as well as Kiwi Crates) are an awesome monthly surprise. Our kids get so excited when they arrive and we usually dive in and read and do all the activities. I’m especially excited about ‘Honest History’.
Brian upgraded his record player recently, so we put his old one up in the attic with some vintage Disney, a Christmas Carol Story, and music records with it. They will play up there and listen to records for much longer than we could have imagined (sometimes 2 hours will go by). So we are getting them more records for their collection. You could also just have an MP3 player or Alexa but there is something sweet about them going so analog.
1. Household Recycling Toy Kits: This kit helps you take all that recycled stuff you’ve been saving and turn it into motorized robots and cars!! This is definitely something we want to get for all of us to do.
2. Young Engineers Set: This is an awesome engineers kit that assembles into a dinosaur.
3. Bavarian Toy Crossbows: Charlie is BEGGING for this suction cup crossbow, from Santa (he saw me pinning it for the GG a while ago so sadly I’m the one that exposed him to this!). Of course I’m on the fence, but we have been watching a lot of Alone (a survivalist show where they have to hunt their own food) and just avoiding these types of ‘games’ forever seems, well, dumb and impossible.
1. 5-Star Little Climber: For those with toddlers (grand-toddlers) I love these Montessori style jungle gyms for how flexible they are AND pretty. There are a lot on Etsy to choose from and might make a winter inside a bit more fun.
2. Balance Bike: The cutest little strider for a cute little 2 to 3-year-old.
3. Magni Classic Racer: I’ve found that ride-on toys get about 5 minutes of use a month, but this one sure is cute.
4. Archery Wooden Set: For the more traditional ‘bow and arrow’ type with cute felt tips. Hot Tip: If you have two kids, buy two…
5. Indoor Snowball Fight: A family favorite of ours FOR YEARS. These indoor snowballs are weightless, seriously so you can chuck them at each other HARD and not hurt. Sadly our pups chewed up most of these, so we might need to get a new set because it’s a great weekly physical indoor activity that is very fun for grownups as well.
6. Build A Snowman Kit: We make a lot of snowmen up here and while I prefer the kids having to scavenge for all the “ingredients”, this kit would make a great gift for a family with a snowy climate.
1. Gingham Coat: Birdie’s new coat is SO CUTE on her, and would make a great holiday coat (and year-round). Size down, her’s is a bit big (got a 5-6).
2. Leather Boots: These are new cute boots for her as well that have such a sweet English school vibe (there are zippers on the side, don’t worry).
3. Wash-Off Nail Polish Set: The cutest nail polish that washes off. I usually buy one color and put it in their stockings (charlie likes the blue and green).
We are a sledding family (it snows a lot up here and we have amazing sledding hills near our house). I’m debating between these three but they are all so cute!!! Bu-bye plastic cheap sleds that break!
1. Yoto Player – Kids Audio Player: Brian bought this for the kids a few months ago – it’s a storytelling machine, with different cards that have different stories. Our kids go in phases, sometimes they LOVE it and some stories they skip. We also like that it has a nightime clock on it.
2. Bluetooth 5.0 MP3: I’m not sure if Birdie is ready but Charlie has reached the ‘I want to listen to music by myself with headphones’ phase. This one is only $20 but will be his first bit of tech, which I know he’ll love.
3. Crosley Voyager Bluetooth Record Player: This is the record player that we have in the play attic and they can easily navigate it (I’m sure there are more affordable ones but I can vouch for this one).
1. The Story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Biography Book for New Readers: Charlie and I recently read this book cover to cover on the hammock and it’s really digestible for kids. What I love about it is that at the end there are questions for them to help their comprehension and retention. It’s definitely more on the educational side (and we have the Obama and MLK versions, too) but for an early ready it is GREAT (especially for home school).
2. Antiracist Baby Board Book: I ordered this when it first came out thinking that it was more for kids, and its a full baby board book but GREAT for any baby 🙂
3. How To Spot An Artist: My friend, The Jealous Curator, just launched this book and it’s so cute and fun to support a friend. Birdie loves it because she is an artist.
4. Oh So Kind!: Joy’s series is also sweet and I’m so proud of her for using her time and design skills to put such a great series into the world.
I want all of these FOR ME. The Obama one comes as RBG version as well (and as a baby onesie) and there are many others in the series like 1 and 3. So awesome. Great for prompting conversation, learning, supporting these designers, and representing.
1. Really RAD Robots MiBRO: This cute robot can be programmed to do a lot of fun things via remote. I’m going to read more reviews, but it seems so much fun (can even go pick things up and bring them back).
2. Montessori Toddler Busy Board: Hey toddler parents – these busy boards are expensive, but awesome. They will engage with them for a long time and are great for their motor skills. You can definitely make this yourself, but if you don’t want to take the time there are a lot on Etsy (great gift for a new mom with a baby since they are splurgy).
3. Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow!: Best restaurant activity ever. These ‘Water Wows’ initially look like garbage, but they are reusable (they disappear once they dry) and they don’t require pens that dry out (just these little water pens that are easy to refill and store in the front). STOCKING STUFFER ALERT.
1. Wood Carousel Music Box: I audibly gasped when I saw this handmade custom music box. I’m going to have our kids each pick out one, and personalize with their name and year. They are splurgy but handmade, so sweet, a great collectible, and supports a small maker.
2. Sailing Ship Kite Large Ghost Ship: This kite makes the best corner hanging sculpture. We had a green one in Charlie’s first nursery and have this white one in their current room. Big impact for how affordable it is.
3. Green Toys Submarine: This seems dumb to include but we’ve had this bath toy for years because it’s the best to rinse their hair with. They played with it when they were 1,2,3,4 years old and now it’s just our tool. But it’s a good one.
1. Leanne Ford Motorcycle Ride On: I would NOT be upset if this wood motorcycle was next to the tree with a big bow on it Christmas morning. We don’t need it (and we still have that adorable Monroe Workshop rocking horse that gets 10 minutes of use a week), but Leanne Ford, you are SO GOOD.
2. Gray Striped Baby Swing: The cutest infant swing I ever did see. It would work so well here at the mountain house, if only I had an infant.
3. Wild Baby Elephant Stuffed Animal: This stuffy is special because you put it in the microwave and it stays slightly warm for a LONG time. My mom got Birdie one for her birthday and she loves it. We could all use one of these right now, so comforting (and weighted, too).
So that’s what I pinned for kids this year. It’s just so hard to know what they’ll love and use! Our kids mostly just love legos/building things and markers/art so we have to control our desire to shake things up or buy the latest thing that seems “fun”. Last year we TOTALLY blew it. Charlie wanted ‘battle bots‘ (on Brian’s prompting) and Birdie said she wanted a baby and stroller so I latched on to that and got her this one from PB kids. They were both from Santa and their big gifts. The Battle Bots got a decent amount of use the first week but it was SO LOUD AND ANNOYING AND AGRESSIVE, SO MANY PARTS all over the place and he hasn’t touched it in months and months. I recently packed it in a box hoping to rotate it back in later, but it feels like a waste. Birdie changed the baby “Butterfly’s” diaper a few times, adorably fed her with a bottle, tucked her in a few nights in a row which was obviously painfully cute, but then she got bored and abandoned her child. Recently as I was purging I asked if we could give it (with carriage, diaper bag, the works – perfect condition) to our 2-year-old neighbor daughter and she happily said yes, and you know how rarely that happens so she clearly was over it.
Any advice on this would just be lovely. They are at an age where I feel like we really need to set up how we do this. Are they old enough to start using their chore money to buy us presents? Grandparents? Should put together a toy exchange or have them save to buy toys for underserved kids? Make presents for friends/family? What are your present traditions? How do you guys prevent the overconsumption? The accrual of garbage? And also we are SO close to Charlie asking us point blank about Santa and I’m refusing to lie…. EEEEEKKKKKK
This is my last personal gift guide, y’all (well, besides some more thoughtful ones in a few weeks). Hopefully, it helped you find some things you feel good about in time for the sales this week and weekend. We’ll have a big Black Friday roundup with a lot of our best home and fashion picks from our guides on huge sales. I’m hoping to be done with all of mine by Sunday so that box can be checked and we can get to our month of baking, ornament making, and watching SO MANY HOLIDAY MOVIES. Expect a holiday movie review post in your future. 🙂
For ALL of the gift guides head HERE!
Opener Image Credit: Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Decorating For The Holidays – Family Friendly Style