Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gift Ideas for Young Children that Aren't in the Toy Aisle

 As I look around my house at the overflow of Christmas abundance and think about my youngest son's birthday in six weeks, I can't help but feel like the last thing he needs is more toys. But I know his relatives love him as they love his brother and I know they want to treat him and let him know he's loved.  I just think that sometimes inexpensive gifts and gifts outside the toy aisle are what my boys need most, so here are some gift ideas for young children that don't involve the toy aisle.

1.  Scarves
Not winter scarves, but fun silk/printed scarves.  I used to play with my grandmother's as a child and now my sons play with her collection as well as my collection.  Almost daily, those scarves are used to play dress up, peek a boo, or just be tossed in the air. $5-$15 new or go to a thrift store and buy them for $.50-1.00. Prewash and they are ready for play! Buy a bunch and watch a baby pull them out of the box one by one.  Magic!

2.  Kitchen utensils
Measuring cups, spatulas, whisks, cookie cutters, almost everything that doesn't have a blade is a fun and multi functional toy! Go to the dollar store and stock up! If the kids tire of them, they can be used to make dinner.

3.  Card board box collection
Keep a number of card board boxes, buy some crayons and markers, maybe even some paint.  Help the child make robots/cars/airplanes/houses/whatever!  You will be the coolest gift giver at the party!

4.  Gift memberships to zoos/science centers/local play areas.
  These are great! We have a few and use them often on the weekends!  The child gets fun, free, quality time with the family.

5.  Spend an afternoon teaching a skill
Do you sew, whittle, hunt, fish, cook, knit, paint, garden, camp, play an instrument or have another skill?  Wrap up some representation of it and spend an afternoon (or more) teaching my small child about it. Even if s/he doesn't like doing it him/herself, chances are they will enjoy your demonstration or just getting the chance to spend time with you!

6. Get tickets
Take my children or my family to hockey games, baseball games, plays, or concerts.  Take them to historical reenactments or renaissance fairs.  Help me show them the world in its variety.  Give the gift of a memory that lasts a lifetime.

7. Wooden Craft or Toy Building Kits
These are a huge, huge hit with my four year old.  Most large craft and home improvement stores have them and each one has been a hit at my house.

8.  A Whole Bunch of Stickers and Paper
No explanation necessary, but best for kids over two who won't try to eat the stickers or place them in inappropriate places.

9.  Old Magazines and Newspapers
These can be used for a variety of projects and skill building, from ripping and cutting to paper mâché.  Throw in some other craft supplies and you have kid heaven.

10.  Crazy Hats
Babies to big kids love playing with fun hats.  As a teen, I used to keep my littlest brother entertained for a good half hour to hour every time we went to the store by playing in the hat department.  You can afford a variety by buying used, but prewash and if possible dry!

11. Magazine Subscription 
(Idea suggested by Monica!)
Get my son a magazine subscription and he can do all of the craft ideas suggested  in number 9 and have something new in the mail every month.

What toy less gift ideas do you have?

Thanks for reading! 


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