Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Q/A: Gift Ideas for Children

I just realized today that Thanksgiving is next week. Don't ask where I've been, but obviously not somewhere that has a calendar. Maybe in the laundry room?

We try to keep Christmas simple at our home - especially in the gift giving department. But we do like to find a special gift for each of our children. Our children also like to give small gifts to their siblings. This year for the first time, our four oldest children exchanged names so that they only have one sibling to buy/make something for. I admit that I suggested a name exchange mostly for my own sanity as I usually get the task of helping come up with ideas. Four children times four. Too much for this mom's brain.

Recently a Home Joys reader asked for some gift ideas for older girls. I thought I'd share some of my ideas in hopes that all of you would contribute some more ideas.

For our older children we have attempted to find gifts that would help build skills or give experiences. We want gifts that are not just going to add to the clutter of our house or feed the "gimmie" attitude.

I'm not sure how well we have succeeded, but here are some ideas we've done in the past.

1. Crochet hook and yarn with some directions for an easy project such as a scarf.

2. Binoculars for a budding bird watcher.

3. Wood working tools with scrap wood, paint, and nails for hours of creativity. (And this can be for both boys and girls.)

4. Leatherworking kits.

5. Whittling knives and whittling book.

6. Para-cord and knot-tying book.
(I wrote about our favorite whittling and knot-tying book here.)

7. Scrapbooking supplies with some photos.

8. Music instruments. We've given simple instruments such as a harmonica and a ukulele. Music lessons could also be given for an experience type gift.

Games are also a gift that our children enjoy and can be enjoyed by the whole family. But maybe I'll save our favorite games for another post.

Shari did a recent post on inexpensive gift ideas with a focus on younger children. Check out her list for some great ideas.

Your turn. Do you have any good non-clutter gift ideas for children?


  1. Color by number books are really fun.

  2. Although you've covered the ideas I'm about to share,I thought I'd expand on them. My oldest son got a tiny piano at age 2..he now accompanies the music at his church. This year,he is in charge of the Christmas concert. He also has been in the choir for Michael W. Smith at both Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. My middle son received a book from a library book sale when he was is an old book from the 1950's called "Carpentry for Children". He has built his life doing that type of work. My daughter has inherited my love of sewing and creating. I gave her many small kits to encourage this. She makes soap, lotions,etc. as well as knits and sews. I share these things not to boast, but to encourage. We never gave expensive gifts, nor a lot of them. We tried to focus on each child's strengths and interests. I think you are on the right path and hope I have helped. In this materialistic world it is so hard! I wish you success. Also, my daughter did a name drawing for her kids this year..they are doing home made gifts. Should be fun!

  3. Books and audio books...
    I also find it helpful to give one "nice or big"thing rather than a bunch of small things. I narrowed down the girl's doll things to basically one "mommy size" purse, but they have real to life clothing in there. Sometimes i'll even purchase preemie diapers as a special gift. Real life accessories are easy to pick up at thrift stores, and as long as you keep stuff rotating or contained to the space you choose, they can have hours of concentrated fun being little mommies.

  4. Our girls enjoyed getting a nice journal, stationary (and stamps), a set of nice pens or colored markers. I still remember the aqua Flair marker I received as a teen......was an odd request for Christmas, but mother indulged me and I had that marker for years. I still remember 40 years later.....

  5. In the past we've done many things I'm sure lots of people have thought of but I will share anyways...we've done the typical books, art supplies, lego blocks, flower press, outdoor toys like snow shovels or sleds, their own pillowcase made out of fabric that matches an interest, kitchen related toys, camping supplies, stationary, rubber stamps, magazine subscriptions, doll clothes (we find the preemie sized sleepers usually work well on their dolls and I get them second hand.) I find it much easier when the children are younger to come up with ideas. :)

  6. The Trapp Family Singers book, authored by one of the Trapp children after she became an adult, with a companion CD with Trapp Family music.
    Fun fabric, stuffing and embellishments for sewing pillows etc
    Models to build (my grand daughter likes building robots from the hobby store ..encourages an engineering bent)
    Baking items, last year grand daughter got a waffle iron from a neighbor, cookie cutters, rolling pin, special things young teen girls can use now, and start collecting for her someday marriage home.

  7. One approach is to fill a box with items the recipient can use to pursue an established interest. I've given a box of craft items, and a box of items for baking. Another idea is to give something such as an item with a book and a journal: binoculars for birdwatching (as you gave, Gina), a guide to the birds in your part of the country and a journal to log which birds were spotted and when and where. I use and craigslist to find free items. For example, someone in my area is giving away a beautiful piano because she can't afford to move it to her new home. That would be great for a family gift. Estate sales can be a good way to find items of quality and value at low prices, too, especially good hand tools.

  8. My children live extreme dot-to-for books.

  9. A few times we have skipped physical gifts altogether and done a trip or an experience. One year it was an airplane ride as a family. Another time it was a winter weekend in Washington DC as a family - and the hotel pool was the favorite part.

  10. And I had to laugh about Thanksgiving - I just realized this last week that Thanksgiving is this week!! It was shocking and rather unlike me.

  11. These are all great ideas... We gifted our daughter with a (writing)course she really wanted. I'll add that we like magazines as a gift - my daughter enjoyed King's Blooming Rose, which her grandma got her. (FYI, their website shows they are also having a sale this week, not including the actual magazine, but applicable to other fun items for girls like their books, Scripture cards, wristbands, etc.) Thanks for all the great ideas! - Suz


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