I posted a list of children's gifts that are likely to turn into clutter the other day. Today, I want to follow up with a list of holiday and birthday gift ideas for children that are not likely to turn into clutter. After 12 years of parenting, I've seen which toys and gifts get used and which don't. This list is based on that experience.
1. Books. We love books in our family. Most children enjoy books, even if they aren't avid readers. The trick to buying books that children will appreciate is to know the child. Ask the parents if the child is reading yet and what books she likes to read. If the child is a non-reader, pick an age-appropriate book. Board books are great gifts for babies and toddlers. Lift-the-flap books and pop-up books are perfect for preschoolers. Beautiful story books are good for kids whose parents read to them regularly. For instance, check out books by Jan Brett for gorgeous illustrations and interesting stories. The Trouble with Trolls is a favorite in our house. Pick books for older kids that go along with their interests. Get a dinosaur book for a dinosaur fan or a kid's cookbook for a budding chef.
2. Craft Supplies. Kids love crafts. Pick age-appropriate craft supplies for the children on your birthday or Christmas list. Play-doh is a fantastic gift for kids under age 8. The truth is, older kids will play with it, too, though they may prefer to receive modeling clay or modeling beeswax for a gift. Painting supplies, calligraphy kits and origami paper with directions are super gifts for older kids. Younger kids will like markers, hole punches, stencils and good quality colored pencils.
3. Science Kits. Kids love to make messes and learn new things with science kits. They really are a lot of fun. I've made science kits to give to kids as party favors. You can also buy interesting, good quality science kits at various stores. Steve Spangler Science is a fantastic website for all things science related. Not only do they sell science kits, but they have several free experiments that you can put together with things around the house.
4. Fun Experiences. If you're a grandparent, think about giving a grandchild tickets to an event that the two of you can enjoy together. Take a girl that enjoys ballet lessons to see the ballet. Or, help her parents pay for ballet lessons, if they can't otherwise afford them, but it's something that she dearly wants. Give movie tickets, museum passes and zoo memberships.
5. Time. What kids really want from the adults in their lives is time. Spend time with your nieces, nephews and grandkids. Invite them over to bake cookies or take them to the park. Read the book you gave as a present to them. Do the science experiments with them. Don't just buy them a kite. Take them to the park to fly the kite. Don't give five gifts, give one, plus time to play with the gift.
Many of us complain that kids these days don't appreciate anything. Maybe that's because adults have inundated them with stuff. Stuff isn't special. Time with your loved ones is. That's the real message we want kids to get, isn't it?