Gift Ideas for the Holidays

It’s coming.

You know it because the day after halloween our Wal Mart Supercenter had the floor to ceiling tree hung and decorated.

You know it because everyday a new covet-R-us catalog comes in the mail – and the toy magazines come as well.

You know it because the frugal girls are blogging all about how to afford the holidays with various clever home made gifts, while the simple living girls are blogging about how to plan far enough in advance to avoid stress and last minute spending.

You know it because there are various rehearsals at church for cantatas, pageants, and other special Christmas services.

It is coming, and I love it!

I can’t wait to put on the Christmas Carols. I can’t wait to deck my halls. I can’t wait to bake cookies and side dishes and desserts that will accompany our traditional holiday feasts. I can’t wait to be with my family and my extended family opening presents, singing carols, and playing games til the wee hours. And most of all, I can’t wait to have my mind blown once again as I spend a season pondering the fact that the Creator of the Universe, the Prince of Glory, came to earth in the form of a helpless baby born in a manger in Bethlehem. I love Christmas! I’m so glad it’s coming soon.

Keeping in mind my simple-living friend’s counsel, I want to get a head start this year on the Christmas shopping. Yes, for some of us November would be an early start. I just thought I’d throw out the question:

What are some of your favorite, stand the test of time Christmas gifts for children?

My kids are 11, 11, 10 – boysย  and 7 – girl. I’d love to hear your suggestions for gifts for these ages. I would love to hear in the categories of books, board games, and brain building things.

If you’re interested, here is a small sampling of our tried and true gifts from over the years:

pajamas, slippers, robe (we give this on Christmas Eve every year so they can wake up in their new duds for Christmas pictures – we don’t get a robe every year, it just depends on if last year’s still fits. My kids wear their robes every morning. It’s funny to me that they love them so much, but they do.).

Nerf guns (we get one for each boy and for daddy because he loves to chase them around the house shooting at them. over the years we have collected a complete arsenal so when other boys come over to play, they have plenty of guns to go around. I try to stock up on bullets a couple of times a year.)

legos (this is something we play with every single day of our lives – for our family it has been completely worth the money. We started with the Duplos, but moved on to Legos early on because the Duplos can be frustrating due to falling apart easily. We still keep duplos for making weapons and large robots ๐Ÿ™‚ . )

Thomas trains (this was also a daily until the boys were about 7 or 8. One of my boys had a train in each hand everyday all day for a couple of years of his life. they still pull out the tracks once in a while to make a new train…totally worth the money and I recommend getting the real stuff, not the cheap kind. I don’t know if they resolved the led paint issue – does anybody know?)

Hidden Pictures books from Highlights. We used to order Highlights for them, but honestly, they mostly loved the hidden pictures so we get a collection of them each year. We like I Spy books too, but we borrow them from the library so it’s not such a novelty to get them.

Action Figures for the boys. It can be super heroes, star wars guys, g.i. joes, any action figure that fits in your hand (4-6 inches tall) and it gets well used in this house. The accessories like space ships, jeeps, other devices really don’t get the longevity that the actual guy gets.

Stuffed animals for Maggie. This girl would prefer a stuffed animal anyday to a doll.

army men. The super cheapy kind you get at the dollar store will work. we have a ton of them and they get pretty consistent play action. The boys set up vignettes with old fashioned wood blocks as barricades and such.

paper, scissors, tape, markers, stickers, pipe cleaners. This is what Maggie plays with every day. Give a kid a whole thing of tape all to themselves, and they think they hit the jackpot. This year I’m going to put together a crafting kit in a tackle box. I think the idea came from simple mom, but I’m not sure. It seems like a good way to store all of her crafting stuff. If youย  haven’t before, try the pipe cleaners. My kids play with these for hours sometimes. Who knew?!

Your turn! Please!!!! Leave some ideas for gifts that you believe will really get played with for the long haul. It doesn’t matter what age group because we can all help each other. I can’t wait to hear from you ladies.

20 thoughts on “Gift Ideas for the Holidays

  1. starting next week, I’m going to be doing a post a day on gift ideas by recipient (boys, girls, moms, families, etc)… stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Nothing new here. You covered all the familiar bases, I think. One idea you may have considered instead of the tackle box/craft holder is something we gave Joel a couple years back. Take a new five-gallon paint bucket (w/ handle) from Home Depot (I mean buy it, not take it:) plus a nylon tool caddy (available in the tool corral of HD) . The caddy slips over the bucket for handyman tools, but a young artist/crafter (or not so young) enjoys stocking the pockets with scissors, glue, TAPE!, all types of markers, paintbrushes, etc. In the large open bucket part, you can put a new pad or 2 of watercolor paper, fingerpaint, or whatever else you want. The inside of the bucket is roomy enough to house a bunch of things that might be too big for the tackle box, plus it’s easy to see all the “gear” at a glance on the outside. They can carry it and plop it just about anywhere. (Just liek your toolbox, so maybe you’ve already vetoed this idea.)

    Do you think Mags would get into cross stitch or latch hook? It’s a great wintertime occupier.

  3. We have Thomas guys. In fact, LA now brings them a new engine whenever he comes home from being out of town. Hope he doesn’t go out of town so often that the boys end up completing the collection. I’m sure that’s impossible. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like hearing that yours played w/ Thomas until 7 or 8 b/c LA wants to get them MORE tracks (I think we have a gazillion pieces already).

    LA LOVED his army guys. He remembers playing for hours w/ them. We haven’t ventured there yet w/ the boys; they’re so funny that way..not into fighting and good guys/bad guys scenarios. They’re getting there, but it wasn’t intuitive like it is for most boys.

    And, LA is dying to get them the nerf guns. I think he started looking at them when they turned 2 or something. We’ll have to re-visit that possibility this Christmas since they’re older and hopefully can handle one now.

    I’ll have to give some thought to gift ideas for your kiddos and others. I have to say I don’t count myself a good gift giver, but this post will make me think about it which will be good.

    Oh..and I put highlights mags and Thomas mags. on the boys’ Christmas list this year, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Yeah I think the lead paint thing is all cleared up. Believe it or not, my 2 year old daughter is obsessed with Thomas and anything train right now… the influence of her boy cousins and grandfather I’m sure. Lego and Duplo also make Thomas the Train sets that we are considering since she also loves building things and has lots of Duplos already.

  5. I think our gifts this year may the gift of Jesus alone!! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s certainly going to be slim with the economy like it is. For my boys I know they’re getting wooden blocks and a tool set. For those who have the store “Tuesday Morning” nearby, it’s a fantastic place to find kids toys at a great price! And magazine subscriptions, which Briana mentions, are great for older kids. We used to get “Ranger Rick” and National Geographic Kids.

  6. Natalia totally loves Thomas too–though we haven’t bought any for her. Our local library has a train table and so do a few of her friends.

    This year I decided to start building our board game supply–I grew up playing them and still love ’em. On the list this year are Candyland and Memory, but for future years I’m thinking of Pictionary, Yahtzee, Connect Four, Sequence, and Scrabble. (Anyone out there remember “Uncle Wiggly”?)

    Love the Hidden Picture and tackle box/bucket o’ art supplies ideas!

  7. Another gift idea if you like to give a “family” gift for all to share. A birdfeeder, songbird food, and some binoculars. We started a birding unit for school when our older kids were about the ages of yours. They all enjoyed for a while( Sarah moreso –the nurturing babies thing, no doubt) and I’ve been hooked ever since. You can find all sorts of inexpensive birdfeeders out there. In the winter it’s a special delight to see how faithfully they come (hungrily!) each morning and “chirp chirp” God’s praises. Budding photographers will love to snap pix of the birds, too.

  8. I have a 7 year old daughter. She loves it when I braid her hair when it is wet and let it dry to become super curly. I am going to look for a type of crimper. I have no clue if they still make them but I thought she would have a ball with that. Or I could get curlers or something similar to that. As for boys, my 9 year old son and I have started to read the Hardy Boys Mysteries. He loves them. Hope this helps.

  9. Strange but the boys love the $10 rope from home depot and duct tape. They are outside quite a bit and find some unusual uses for it. No they haven’t tied each other up yet but they have made some cool ropes courses. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I can’t speak for the boys, but I do know a little about girls! My girls love to get craft things. A big hit that goes a long way with my girls is sewing projects. That may mean lacing beads and lacing cards for the younger set (2-5) and little needlepoint and cross-stitch kits from Joann’s for the older set. We especially like to work on these while Daddy reads before bed at night (which means these can take a LONG time to finish since we rarely read two nights in a row!).

  11. My son Evan loves the nerf guns, and last year we “moved up” to air soft. He has a blast!

    For books, I give my kids a catalog that has good books I approve of, Vision Forum, Timberdoodle and Veritas Press. They get to read little snippets about the book and see the cover. I have them circle the ones that look interesting to them. And if you don’t have the Dangerous Book for Boys and the The Daring Book for Girls, they are a lot of fun!

    My older two like to craft a lot too. This year they discovered making beaded jewelry. They also really like sculpy clay, the kind you can bake.

    For games, we like Apples to Apples, Blokus, and the classics like Clue, Monopoly, and Pictionary. has a great selection of brain building games.

    I love all your great ideas! What a great post!

  12. Okay, I’m new at this. My first comment didn’t take…will it come up somewhere else? Is it out there floating in internet space?

    Anyway, great idea for a post! Danielle, we are in the same situation. The Lord is good. My oldest (12) only wants a Newsboy CD. She even has me hooked on them, too!

    I have one suggestion for a game:Stratego the Narnia version. It is like Battleship, with a cool twist.

    Also, Ello is a creative building toy like Lego, for girls. It does have a lot of small parts like lego.

    I like the craft box idea! Happy hunting and Merry Christmas! I love this season too! Joyce is already listening to Veggie Tales Christmas on a portable tape player, with ear phones so she can be like her sister!:)

  13. I’m enjoying getting ideas from everyone else. We aren’t the biggest and best gift givers here. I guess my “love language” is time, so I gravitate toward creating experiences for my kids (note: their birthday extravaganzas) ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m also way too practical, and my gift ideas tend to lean toward the practical which is just annoying to some and likely to my kids as they grow older.

    However, I know gifts speak love to others, so it’s an area I’m trying to grow in. Your post is helpful. I’ll keep coming back to see everyone’s thoughts.

  14. Ladies, thank you so much for participating. I love these ideas. I’m definitely getting a couple of the games mentioned. And I’m going to buy Maggie and one of my boys (who actually learned to crochet – and is very secure in his manhood) a latch hook kit, I think. I’ll look for the Ello. Maggs does legos with the boys, but it might be fun for her to have something a little more girlie.

  15. If it’s any comfort, one of my manly boys sat longer w/ needle and thread than his sister did (doing her craft for her, basically). He gave it up for football, eventually.

  16. Zo, I was all excited to see that Stephen commented thinking that surely he would have the corner market on cool guy toys for the age bracket. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your idea about the family gift is really great. I’m going to ask Jason about it. We (Jason and I) have always wanted to have a really nice salt water fish tank. I think it might be too pricey, but you never know until you look into it. thanks for the suggestion on the birding.

  17. For Maggie- Pop Beads maybe–my boys get just as into it as their sister! plus it has the building thing with a girly twist.
    Games- My brothers played this game called HOTELS non stop for about 5 years- They got it the Christmas they were in 4 & 6th grade. It’s like monopoly sort of, but easier/not as long. My kids aren’t old enough for it yet, but I’m hoping to get it for them.

  18. I LOVE Christmas!!!

    Constant gifts when I was little – books and board games (my sister and I loved the Mandie series when we were little). But we always got Misfit toys. My father worked for a company that had a science store attached to their warehouse, and once a year in October they would have the “Edmund Scientific Yard Sale.” I believe my parents would clear the place out. So come Christmas morning our stockings were full of things like Magnetic Marbles that were demagnetized or Science Lab kits missing items. Or a microscope with a missing lens or a chipped prism….go figure…but we were kids, and happy with whatever we got. Favorite item: an alarm clock that ran off of a potato. Not kidding. They still sell it, and it works. It’s just a waste of a potato. (

    One of the better ideas my mom got was to buy a family membership to the zoo as a “group” gift. Great idea, as it gave us something to do all year round….just an idea. I would imagine it wouldn’t even have to be the zoo. It could be a local children’s museum maybe?

  19. This has been an interesting and helpful post/comments. This year I got costumes (super- hero types) after Halloween at Target for 90% off-yes they were $2-$3 each ! For the girls I made costumes which are a fairy headpiece and tutus and a flower scepter. Very easy and inexpensive (and fun for me to make:). Also, I made them little rag dolls using a little pattern my friend saw on Martha Stewart. They turned out really cute and only take an hour of so to make! And I’m no seamstress! Other than that, I bought a few toys/books/clothes/etc. And the big item is I have been buying bikes/helments/elbow & knee guards at thrift stores and craigs list. I have two more bikes to buy and a couple guards, but I’ve only spent $50 so far. Do you know how much bikes for 5 kids costs???gasp! And being that they are 5,5,6,6,&7, and have never had bikes, I have no idea if they will even like them. Also, my husband found a catalogue called The Vision Forum. This year the focus of the catalogue is “reformation and revival”. There are some excellent books in there for the whole family! One last thing on my rambling post: last year by the end of Christmas day 85% of our toys were broken! I am not kidding! It used to be that if you spent money and bought good toys they would last-NOT SO TODAY! The expensive toys don’t seem to last any longer than the cheap stuff. The only thing that lasts at our house is legos and super heavy plastic action figures and my little ponies. Everything else ends up in the trash. So I think swimming lessons, zoo passes, art lessons, art supplies, books, games are the way to go.

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