Usually my Christmas posts tell you about what we do for Christmas… how we keep it minimal, our family traditions like Advent, how we budget for the holidays, and even the gifts we get for our kids. This year, we have decided to give our kids an “experience gift” so all of our gifts for them will focus around a specific theme. We want it to be a really fun surprise so we’re keeping that theme a secret until after they open up their gifts on Christmas morning.
But for now… I’ve had several family members begin to ask about ideas for Christmas for our little ones or friends ask for recommendations for their kids so I thought it would be helpful to put together a little Kids’ Christmas Gift Guide.
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But first, maybe you’d like a recap of last year’s gifts?? Aren’t you always curious to see which ones were hits and which ones were tossed in the corner a week later? I know, I am!
Here’s a Recap of What we Gave our Kids for Christmas Last Year:
- Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescuer – This one was played with for a few months until we moved into our now minimal space. It has remained in storage since then and hasn’t been asked for.
- Guess Who Game – We love games, and this one was a favorite, but it got destroyed by one of our little ones and so we had to throw it away.
- Scrabble Junior Game – We began to lose pieces to this one, and since it’s one where you have to match up all of the letters to the letters on the board, they are necessary. This game is still played despite that, and I’m wondering if I could find a set of replacement letter tiles for it or if we could use regular scrabble tiles with it instead.
- Checkers Game – We lost pieces and threw this one out. Apparently, we need to be more strict with our games as parents.
- Drone – This was loved for a week or two and then lost at our old house and never found. (Lawson got another one for his birthday in June, and he played with it for a week and then lost interest.)
- Ikea Kitchen – This one is still loved and played with, not every day, but pretty often. I love it because it’s very neutral and instead of being like a toy, it goes with the decor of our home. Baby Lyndon is starting to pull up to it now.
- LovEvery Baby Play Mat – We LOVED this play-mat and all of the things that came with it! Lyndon now crawls away from it because he’s extremely mobile, but he does play with all of the toys from it, and I need to set up the tent with it to see if that sparks his interest. My older kids loved using the play guides with him to teach him different skills at different ages.
- Play-Doh Tubs – This was a hit and always is. It just about lasted all year, as I’m that mom who only lets them get one tub each out at a time so it works. (We keep three current tubs in our everyday play-doh storage with our tools, and the rest are stored out of reach.) This one will go on the list again this year.
- Magnetic Building Set – These are by far the best toy we’ve ever owned! This was our second set to purchase for our kiddos last Christmas, and we even bought Linkin more for his birthday in May. They are so versatile and he plays with them in so many different ways.
- Wooden Play-Doh Tools – I can’t remember if someone gifted my kids with this set, or if it was a last-minute add on gift from us last year, but they’ve been a hit. I’m not a big fan of the plastic play-doh sets that make spaghetti and the playdoh gets stuck in them and dries out… These, though, are fantastic!
Nativity Sets and “Elf on the Shelf” Alternatives
I personally love the idea of having a kid-friendly nativity scene available at Christmas for your kids to see and learn the true meaning of Christmas. I saw a family that had a separate nativity for each of their children that they could set up and play with themselves, and I thought that was a really neat idea. We personally have the Melissa and Doug Wooden set.
I also really like the Christian alternatives to “Elf on the Shelf”. If you do Elf on the Shelf with your kids, I’m in no way saying that’s a bad thing, but it just wouldn’t work for our family since we’ve never done Santa. I like that there are now different alternative options as well.
Now… on to the 2019 Christmas Gift Guide for Kids…
Baby and Young Toddler Gift Ideas
- This ball tower was such a big hit with my kids. I think ours finally broke after we had it for several years, but it’s one toy I would buy again because of how much it entertained my little ones.
- Layten has the piggy bank, and it is such a fun toy!
- We’ve had a plastic set of the kids’ bar bell, and it was great to teach Lawson how to do simple and complex lifts before he was ready to move on to real weights.
- Lyndon is into balls right now, so that’s probably going to be what he gets from everyone this year.
- This Stella doll was a great first-baby doll for Layten. It’s so sweet and would be perfect for any little girl. They have LOTS of different options now!
Wooden School Blocks
When I say, “school blocks”, I’m referring to the really well-made, thick blocks we played with in preschool and kindergarten. I actually remember being hit in the eye with one of the really big ones in preschool, and yet I STILL want a good set for my kiddos. I just love these as open-ended toys where my kids can build and use their imaginations in creative ways! I’m a fan of the natural-look versus the painted sets, but I’m sure they will end up with crayon marks on them at some point too. I’ve included a few sets here, a budget-friendly set, a more valuable set, and an architectural set.
Apparently these are the hit toys for minimalists. They “spark joy” because they sit pretty on a shelf, but kids also love them because they are so unique, and they can be really creative and imaginative in how they build with them. They’ve been on my wish list for several years probably, but they are crazy expensive so I haven’t ever justified purchasing them. I would love to get a set just to see what all the fuss is about, and if you’re wondering… the large rainbow stacker seems to be the top favorite among these sets.
I feel like art supplies are a hit among most children, but be sure to make sure the parents are also on board with this one because art supplies tend to bring a mess along with them.
- I’ve heard great things about the Chunkies paint sticks.
- Layten got the Alex Art Kit – “Tots Art Start” for her birthday last year, and it was a big hit! It was perfect for her as a toddler then because there was no glue or anything too messy with it. There was sticky paper for her to easily attach the craft supplies to, stickers, and child-size crayons. The boys were jealous because since it was her gift, I didn’t let them play with it.
- Sketch books for painting and drawing are always necessary.
- Chalk pastels are something my kids and I have really come to enjoy this year.
- These watercolors are so much better than the cheapy ones we’ve used in the past. I thought all watercolors were created equal, but let me tell you – they are not. These are worth the few extra dollars, and they include more colors too. We have one now, but my kids share. I might invest in a few more of these pallets.
- I wanted to include water color pencils because they are pretty neat. Kids use them to draw the picture they are wanting to paint, and then they just use water over them to make the colors blend and come alive like watercolor paints.
- And Scotch tape, of course… A roll of this for each kid’s stocking – what kid doesn’t love Scotch tape?!
Technology is so important these days, and of course kids love it! I like the idea of educational technology and games because it gives kids a way to use it but not get sucked into the tunnel vision of “screen time” and watching all the meaningless shows (but hey! That has it’s time a place too. Kids also need time to relax and chill.)
- Lawson had one of these watches, and we loved it until the band of it broke. They now come with replacement bands so make sure yours has that extra band if you order. They have games to get kids moving with a timer, and my boys always took that as a challenge to do a good workout together.
- This globe I’ve heard really good things about. It’s pricey, but they also have a cheaper model that doesn’t do quite as much. It would be a great educational gift.
- I keep seeing these Osmo learning sets everywhere! This uses an ipad or fire tablet as the screen, but the kids use the included manipulatives to play the games and do the activities in front of it to learn.
Don’t underestimate the power of books as great gifts! The Treehouse books are kid-approved recommendations, and my kids love these other types of books that include lots of pictures and facts. The “anatomy” books offer hand-drawn images so kids could easily duplicate these into their sketchbooks or nature journals as you learn about different topics. I know the “Welcome to the Museum” Books would be a hit with my kids as well, especially Lawson. It’s a refreshing change-up from the chapter books I require him to read for school now.
Our family loves games! They pretty much play at least one game every day! I like these options to add to our collection.
My kids love to dig and play in the sand and dirt! We had a sandbox at our old house that they loved, and they have lots of dirt here now. They need durable tools that they can use when the plastic sets from the beach just don’t cut it anymore. They also love to get crafty and build structures. Lawson has gotten a few of these kits, and they’re always a hit when he has his own real tools and supplies he can use!
Boxes & Subscriptions
KiwiCo – These are subscription, craft kits that kids receive every month so it’s like a gift that keeps on giving. They receive a cool box of things to assemble for their age level. You can do the subscriptions for as short or as long as you’d like.
LovEvery Play Kits – This is the same concept, but the play items in these kits are more age-specific and are sent when your little ones hit another age milestone. They are also specific to infants and toddlers up to 24 months.
Raddish Kids Cooking Kits – These are like the meal kits that many are raving about these days, except it’s geared for kids and teaching them how to cook in the process!
We Craft Box is just like the name says… It’s a box of supplies to make a special art project or craft together each month. So fun!
I love making gift lists for my kids! Isn’t it so much fun to think about and plan for gifts you know they’ll love?! For Lawson’s birthday this past year, we told him we were just going to get him something we wanted to give him instead of getting what he asked for. We gave him his motorcycle, and he has LOVED it! He keeps telling us how much better it is than something he would’ve come up with himself. So, we might be doing that for Christmas with all of them this year as well with our “experience gift.”