Time, love, attention, guidance: these are, of course, the best gifts we can give our kids, but sometimes we do need to give them an actual gift.  One big question, I have had over the years, is what to purchase for holidays or birthdays that they enjoy, doesn’t add too much clutter to our house, withdrawals from our bank account or extra stress to our day.

To figure out what that could be, we have gone through a lot of trial and error, watched what our kids played with at other houses and did a lot of research and asking around.  The following are some of our favorites.



Great for developing small motor skills and endlessly entertaining for most kids I’ve met. We got playdough as a gift 10+ years ago and it is still in our house today.  The key to playdough:  supervise, don’t mix the colors and have some good tools to go with it.  Here are some fun ones that Santa just might bring to our house this year.

Draw on cardboard house:

I was shocked how much my kids loved this one.  We could not pull them out of it the year they turned 6, 4 and 2.  It did get thrown away a month or so later, but at $15 it was well worth it.

Plasma car:

LOVE these!  Four years ago, we gave this to our then 4 year old.  It is still used every day today by kids and adults alike.  They say to only use them inside, but we’ve used ours outside and it’s been fine.


This is just a bendable track that you can drape over couches or boxes, but don’t let your eyes deceive you this is the #1 toy that gets pulled out whenever friends come over and it’s always a hit.  This would work best for  2-6 year old boys.

Don’t forget the cars that go with it!

A baby stroller:

So, this is simple, but I put this in just to say that sometimes we don’t have to go for something big and elaborate, sometimes our kids just want a simple toy.  We put this in our little girl’s stocking when she was 2 and she played with this thing non-stop until it broke 2 years later.  Be warned that they will try to push their little sibling around in it.

Clip dolls:

Dolls that are modest and age appropriate are sometimes hard to find.  That’s why these are so awesome, they have to be modest since their dress clips on their shoulders and underneath they have been nice enough to paint a swimsuit.  Bonus:  they are easy enough for little girls to dress and undress on their own.

Loving Family:

And while we’re on the subject of dolls, we have also really liked the Loving Family doll set.  The dolls have painted on clothes, so no additional money or hassle and they come in traditional family roles, which is awesome.

Floor puzzles:

Again, we get these for the 3-5 year olds.  They are great for quiet time and teach great problem solving skills.  We have a firetruck puzzle for our boys and a castle puzzle for our girls.

Balance bike:

This is a great little toy for the 2-5 crowd.  We tend to take these on walks with our family and whoever is on it at the time can keep up with us.  We first got this for our daughter when she was 2 years old.  Bonus: She rode it around constantly the year her little brother was born (inside the house-yea, we’re nice/tired like that), which got her energy out and gave mom and dad some extra time/patience.

Stocking stuffers:

Our kids have liked it most when we gave them toothbrushes, band-aids and bubble baths.  When I asked my kids what their favorite Christmas gifts were, this is what they said.  Really?  I thought, cuz those cost like 5 dollars.  We’ve picked at least one of these to put in their stockings each year along with a few of their favorite candies and a book.


Speaking of which, we’ve been giving books to our kids for years, but last year after listening to an interview with John C. Maxwell.  I began to think about the importance of getting the right kinds of thoughts and ideas into their heads via the types of books we give for them. Last years books were : 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, The Giving Tree, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective Kids.

This year the books will be:  Goodnight Moon, My Father’s Dragon, Charlotte’s Web and The Book of Three.  I guess I have more of a classic novel thing going this year.



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