Want to know what to get the kids for Christmas? Look no further!
I've seen tons of posts out there wondering what to get their kids for Christmas. It's always a dilemma. You want them to be excited when they open presents, to see that grateful look on their faces. But too many toys can be both overwhelming for the child, and to your house too! I know that many of us have too many toys. So before skip forward to my lists, here are a few tips to keep from getting overwhelmed.
Make a gift list on Evernote.
Evernote is a FREE list-making app where you can keep track of who is on your list to buy for and what you got them. I keep all of mine, so I can remember what I got someone last year in case I can't think of what to get them this year! It also helps me not to miss anyone, as 7 siblings makes for a ton of nieces and nephews.
On the big family note - I've got a standing agreement with my brothers and sisters who have children that we do not get anything for each other, just the kids. Then all the adults do a gift swap, dirty Santa style. Most of the presents are usually wine!
Limit the number of presents you get each child.
I like the number 4. One from Santa, and three from me & daddy. Jesus got 3 so you get 3! It's a good reminder of what the holiday is really about. It also allows the kids to open and play with and appreciate each gift instead of just tossing it aside and ripping into the next one. We used to try the whole "something you want, something you need, something you wear, and something you read" thing, but the items that they really want are usually toys, and the items they need they usually need before Christmas as soon as it gets cold, so that method wasn't right for our family, but may be a good option for some!
Every year, we make a special event of our Christmas lists. I pack up the kids in the car and take them to Target. (I used to take them to Toys R Us, but sadly that's not an option any more!) We go through the toy and sporting goods departments aisle by aisle with a cup of hot chocolate, and I take pictures of all of the things they want. When we go home, we go through the pictures and add them to their wish list. (This can be a paper list, or if you have tons of relatives always asking what they want, an Amazon wish list can be really convenient!)
Make sure to preface the trip by repeatedly telling them you're not going to purchase ANYTHING NO MATTER WHAT. My kids are 7, 5, and 2, and we've been doing it since the oldest was 3, so the older two have it down, but the 2 year old does have trouble understanding. The hot cocoa (and usually a cake pop) ward off the worst of the upset.
Try to avoid electronics
I know that the older kids get, the more they tend to want electronics for gifts. TVs, tablets, video games, they are all very entertaining. But they are also addictive, and limit imagination in a time of life when children learn a great deal from using their imaginations. Nature Valley recently created a commercial in which they interviewed 3 generations and asked them what their favorite things were to do as a child, and this generation's kids answers were very sad. We aren't an electronic free household, but we do try to limit our kids tablet time to rainy days and travel, and have instituted a "no video game console in our house" policy. They can play if they're at a friends, and the good Lord knows I can't keep grandma from buying one if they really want it, but it can stay at her house!
If you have the means, let the kids pick out your donation for Toys for Tots. Make sure you explain why you're doing it and the good it will do.
We also go through all of our toys and pick out some to donate to the local Salvation Army every November. We literally dump the toybox out and go through it. We carefully find all of the pieces to each item we donate. This creates a sense of care - that we are gifting something to someone, not throwing it away. I never force them to donate anything, and sometimes don't agree with what they want to donate. My 4 year old donated all of his favorite Paw Patrol toys last year, because he wanted another child to have the joy he felt when he played with them. He cried, but stuck to it and he did it anyway, and it was a profound moment for our family, we were so proud of him.
Find a way for the kids to give back.
Volunteer together at a soup kitchen, go around your neighborhood asking for canned food to donate, etc. Our church has lots of opportunities during the holidays. I know that we are all busy and we don't have time, but these are the things we should be making time for. These events shape a childhood, and give kids a real world perspective outside their own home. It's hard to be grateful when you can't see others who have less than you. Make sure they are given the opportunity to be truly grateful for what they have.
An attitude of gratitude is one of the best gifts you can give your kids. It's not easy, and takes a lifetime of work, but it starts with you. Explaining the why behind the 4 gifts, take them on window shopping trips where you buy nothing, and show them what the true Christmas spirit is about, and that will foster the ability for your kids to be grateful this Christmas for everything they are given.
So without further ado, here is a list of our favorite Christmas items this year! There are lots of toys, but some other useful but fun gifts in there, and of course, the best gift of all, BOOKS! You may find that certain things are glaringly absent from these lists- electronics and accessories. Everything I chose is either skill building or imagination-required. Those are the items that I find "stick," the items they play with the most.
If you have anything to add to this list, please add it in the comments below!
*You will notice that I don't have separate groups for boys and girls. Boys should be able to play with dolls without reprisal. We are training them to be good men, good fathers. Girls should be presented with STEM toys at the same early age as boys. We are giving them the opportunity to be who they want to be, the princess OR the hero.