Presents to Give Your Kids That Aren’t Toys

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Family time for holidays

This content is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop

As parents everywhere are planning their holiday gift-giving, they must go through the frustrating process of matching their dreams to their budget. Every parent wants to give their kid fun things. We love to see our children’s huge smiles and the way their eyes light up when they rip the paper off the biggest present. But no parent likes to invest hundreds of dollars in toys that are quickly neglected and ultimately end up in the thrift store donation bin.

This year, let’s think outside the box and give our kids what they really want. Even if they claim that their only wish is to have the newest game or toy, try something from this wish list instead. These gifts will last longer than the batteries on an iPad. In fact, they may help build relationships and strengthen your family.

Quality time

Most kids crave more attention from their parents. Let them plan a special “date” with Mom and/or Dad, where the child can choose the destination, the activity, and the food. You can also connect with quality at home. Give them a homemade coupon book for things like a cup of hot chocolate, two extra bedtime stories, family movie night, or a board game or puzzle to complete together.

New experiences

Open a world of possibilities to your child with activities like classes, winter or summer camp, or sports registration. If your child has been asking to learn a new skill, like cooking, sewing, or making slime, look for local classes they will enjoy (and don’t forget to ask for a military discount!). Also visit your base MWR office to learn about upcoming family events.

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Fun memories

Depending on your child’s age, you can help them capture favorite memories with a photo album or their own kid-friendly camera. This will be especially treasured if you recently PCS’d from a beloved duty station. Or gift them the promise of fun memories to come, with travel equipment like their own luggage or sleeping bag. Involve them in planning a camping trip or choosing the next vacation destination.

Exciting thrills

Want to see your child’s eyes light up? Instead of going to the local toy store, give them tickets to a fun event like an amusement park, kids’ museum, or the zoo. Visit your base ITT office to get the best military discounts on attractions across the country. To make the gift extra special, invest in a family membership. This makes a great idea for grandparents who want their gift to be enjoyed throughout the year.

Surprises in the mail

Kids love getting mail! Give them a surprise that lasts all year long with magazine subscriptions for kid-friendly magazines. There are also numerous subscription boxes that will send kids a monthly activity based on cooking, geography, reading, science, or art, depending on your child’s interests. If you aren’t sure about a year-long subscription, many of the boxes are available for individual purchase, so you can try one out before making the annual investment.   

Stimulating ideas

Feed your child’s interests and help their creativity grow with stimulating gifts like books (paper or audiobooks), music, musical instruments, science experiments, or arts and craft supplies. Set aside time to help them explore new projects, and praise them on all that they are learning.

Hands-on activities

Some tools can make great gifts for kids who want to be more involved around the house. Consider giving kitchen supplies like whisks and measuring cups, kid-friendly cookbooks, outdoor tools like a child-sized rake, or their own gardening supplies. A new watch or wall clock is also a good present for a child seeking more independence. These are reminders to your child that they are growing and becoming more responsible, so they can also be trusted with new tools and activities.

Space to relax

Sometimes our kids’ days are over scheduled. You can bring them peace and calm with gifts like their own bean bag chair, cozy pj’s and slippers, stuffed animals, or weighted blankets. To really surprise them, create a new play-tent area or reading nook somewhere in the house that will be their own quiet space. Present them with wall art, sticky decals, or even a new choice in paint color for their bedroom. Letting your child plan and control their own space is something special that they will appreciate for a long time.

When planning holiday gifts for your children, think about the activities and emotional connections they truly crave. Dream big and think about new adventures you want to expose them to this year. Sometimes gifts that aren’t toys are the ones that will be enjoyed the most — and remembered for years to come.