I don’t know about you, but last year when my daughter was 1.5 years old I went totally overboard for Christmas. I guess I was just super excited that she could finally participate and join in on my excitement for the holiday season. Boy was I wrong! I bought way too much stuff, and she was still too young for a few of the gifts that I purchased. At one point, we had to stop and take a break from opening gifts because she was so over it.
That was sign number one that I had gone completely overboard. Sign number two came when we were leaving our family Christmas and we were having trouble stuffing boxes of gifts in our car that our family members had graciously given us. Sign number three continues to resonate with me as I frequently trip over little nic-nacs and toys.
I’ve vowed to myself that this year will be different. Not only will I down size, but I am going to choose toys that are functional and educational, resisting with all of my might to splurge on items that will simply be tossed in the corner. Here are some of my top gift ideas for Christmas 2016:
Top Gifts for Toddlers & Pre-K
VTech Write and Learn Creative Center
My daughter (2.5 years) really loves this. It has an animated screen at the top that shows you how to write letters, draw shapes and more. You can personalize it so that when you power on, it will teach your child how to spell their name. It’s better than tracing letters on paper because it can be reused over and over and most importantly it is perfect for on-the-go!
ALEX Toys Art Kits
This button art kit is an item that I’ve already stored away for Christmas. The buttons are large for little hands and the project requires kids to match colors, while utilizing their hand-eye coordination and other fine motor skills. Once again, the 10 pictures are re-usable, all you have to do is remove the buttons and start again!
Top Gifts for Grade School Children
Games That Make You Think
Games are always a hit and I’m not talking the digital version. One particular game is called Suspend and it is manufactured by the Melissa and Doug brand. This awesome game will test your critical thinking skills and ability to keep a steady hand as you add another piece (think Jenga, but adding instead of taking away). Suspend is recommended for 8 years and up, it can be played as a team or or as an individual. I like that you can play alone, your kids will never have an excuse to be bored again!
Science Kits or Crafts
After the hoopla of opening presents dies down, I know I always enjoyed having something to do. What better to do than open up your new craft or science kits? Choose something that will let your child think outside the box and use their skills. Another great gift idea is to give them gardening supplies and seeds. Children can learn how things grow and watch as the plant changes throughout the year.
Top Gifts for Teens
Gift cards are great because they give your picky teenager the option to choose what they like. Various gift cards for clothing let them choose what they like, and movie tickets allow them to hang out with their friends, go on dates, etc. Gas cards and car maintenance certificates (think oil change, car detail, etc.) are also functional gifts for those who have drivers.
For All Ages
Books, books and more books! This is one thing a child of any age can never have too many of. One of my daughter’s favorite books right now is “My No, No, No Day!” by Rebecca Patterson. The book tells the story of a young girl named Bella who is having the worst day ever. Bella’s bath is too cold, her supper is too hot and coincidentally she doesn’t like eggs on that particular day (sound familiar?). At the end, Bella apologizes to her mom for having a bad day. Bella’s mom let’s her know that we all have those days once in awhile, and that tomorrow will be better. My little lady loves interacting with the book and I think your children will too!
Classes and Experiences
This is one of my favorite gifts and quite frankly, one of the most important! Giving the child the ability to participate in a class or experience can give them the chance to meet new friends, socialize, expand their skills and get out of the house.
Here are some ideas for the CNY area: Membership to places like the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, The MOST Museum or Beaver Lake Nature Center. Gift Certificates for classes like gymnastics, karate, swim lessons, art classes, music lessons, kids cross-fit, etc. or consider taking a day trip with the family to places like Cascades Indoor Waterpark.
Volunteer and Give to Others
Lastly, don’t forget to give to others in need. There are many families in the CNY area whose children are without clothes, winter coats, snow-pants, boots and food. While some of our readers are lucky enough to buy gifts for Christmas, others are not. Our family will be giving to others this year, and I encourage you to help a family if need too, if you can. If you’re looking for some great organizations that are always accepting donations (money or time): CNY Diaper Bank, CNY Food Bank or visit Volunteer CNY to find an opportunity that suits you.