Well the gift giving season is fast approaching. Many of us will be trying to think of Christmas gift ideas. Through the years I have kept a list of some of the non-traditional kinds of gifts that my kids have loved receiving and we have enjoyed giving to our kids and other kids in our lives.
I thought I would take this opportunity to inject some more unusual gift ideas that our children have enjoyed over the years in case you are looking for some inspiration for your own children or the children in your life. These are some tried and true gifts that my kids or other kids we give gifts to have received and loved. Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.
Memberships: Family memberships make wonderful gifts that keep on giving through the year. Museums, zoos, art centers, amusement parks, arboretums, historical sites, etc almost all have family membership plans for anywhere from 40-100 for a year. If you are planning on spending 20 per person on a gift a membership might even be cheaper and gives the family the ability to enjoy your gift throughout the year and provide unique and fun experiences. My kids have found that because we have memberships mom and dad might actually purchase ice cream or lunch there because we did not just spend 100 to get in the door. It also encourages us to go more than we might have. Our memberships have been treasured and well used on the years we have received them. Some of our favorites have been the history center, arboretum, science museum, children's museum, aquarium and zoos.
Theater Tickets : We have purchased or had purchased for us nice seats to a great play in our area. Other years we have purchased tickets to several smaller shows. If you live near a big city. Dinner and a movie downtown for a family is a very special gift.
Inscribed BookEach year for birthday and christmas we give each child a special storybook we pick for them and write an inscription in it. the kids love and treasure these. A very simple and wonderful tradition.
Classes or Lessons This has been one of our kids favorite things to get from their grandparents. It helps it feel more special when it comes from grandparents. Maria is finishing up horseback riding lessons that she got for her birthday from us and her grandparents. In the past they have received ice skating and dance lessons as well. If you really want them to open something purchase the uniform/supply like helmet, skates, etc or a book with an inscription from you letting them know of the gift of lessons. This is especially appreciated in families where the child might not be granted the chance to do it for financial reasons.
Books on cdRead aloud a story or chapter book and record yourself doing it. For young children ring a bell as you turn pages so they know to turn pages. Then send the cd and book together. What a gift for the child to have a special person grandparent, parent, aunt, uncles, etc voice reading them their favorite stories.
Field Guides: My kids love these books. We use them all the time through school, nature walks and yes even just to read them. Sirah loves the bird book and Ciaran the amphibians book, Maria her minerals, rocks and gems. They will often pick them up just to look at the pictures. I really like the regional specific guides by Stan Tekeila. They are small, easy to transport, colorful, very easy to use and inexpensive. We have also purchased the bird identifier and the book that lets you hear each animals call along with their picture. Always a hit!
Binoculars, Compasses, Telescopes: These are both tools to use and fun to use. The kids enjoyed receiving them and being able to use them. they go hand and hand with the field guides. Alone both are great, together even better. This year a high grade microscope is in the coming. Also those little science kits sold at Michaels and Target (making your own crystals, volcanoes, candy, etc).
Magazine Subscriptions: Kids LOVE getting mail. A magazine subscription is a fun way for them to get mail that interests them throughout the year and it feels special to them and they enjoy them because they are specific to their age. Some of our recent favorites are Ranger Rick, Highlights, Boys Life and Horse. For an adult Serona really enjoys First Things and I receive and archaeology magazine I enjoy.
Collectors ItemsAlong with a field guide we bought Maria a bead container, think tupperware with lots of compartments. She put all her favorite rocks in their and started her own rock collection. We found this in the craft store. I know another parents who uses ball jars with labels to contain collections. One of our daughters has started an American girl doll collection and our son has quite a frog collection.
Family Fun Jar This costs you little to no money but some creative energy and time. Use a jar or vase you have around or buy a pretty one. Then fill it with slips of paper that have fun ideas you can do together as a family or individuals. Some people call it the I'm bored jar. Pull something out and do it together. Great idea to give a family with young preschoolers.
Art Supplies My kids walk through Michaels and ask for everything and have enjoyed receiving paints, colored pencils, clay, play dough, beads, etc through the years. They keep using those throughout the year and it is a perfect opportunity for them to receive a few of the special higher grade items. One favorite was when my 4 year old received her very own watercolor pad and special watercolor paints that no one else was allowed to use. She felt special having that and it encouraged her in her art.
Hobby Supplies It need not be just art receiving baseball equipment, swimming or horseback riding items and other hobby interests have also been favorites. One family we know purchased a baseball camp with a professional ball player as their sons Christmas present, he was still talking about it in June when he was playing 2 years later!
Personalized Stationary and other items Receiving something with their name on it is very special. Towels, mugs, stationary and other items have been received through the years and loved them. There is also no doubt about whose items are whose.
Oatmeal/Rice Box You might want to clear this with the parents first as it can be messy but it is self contained and easy to clean up and all our young children loved it. Purchase a shallow rubbermaid tub with a top that snaps on. You probably have some in your garage or storage unit collecting dust. Wash it and then fill it with either oatmeal or rice. Then throw in some measuring cups, sifters, sand toys, small trinkets, treasures little animals. Anything a child can do with oatmeal or rice, hide and move things. It all stays in the tub and cleans up easily with a broom or vaccuum if it spills.
Play Silks If you are a seamstress these are easy to make. If you aren't they are easy to buy. a good one will cost you between 8-12 per color. THEY ARE WORTH IT. The key is using actual silk and making them big enough. It moves different and kids love it. My kids have about a dozen and along with our blocks have been one of our most used and loved toys. They use them for costumes, for dancing, for blankets, picnics, tents, forts, I can't even come up with all the creative ways they have been used. We have had a dozen or so colors for about 7 years now, they are very well loved and have definitely gotten their use!
Candy, slinkies, nail polish, lip gloss and yoyos Yes those sound cheap but they are always very excited for these little things. They are small and easy to ship in an envelope and kids from 3-8 love them. Think about it these are the little things they buy themselves. How much bubble tape can a child want in their life?
Outdoor ToysOkay so most of us are not thinking about the sun and being outside in Minnesota Christmas but they enjoy getting them and then use them indoors when they can and as soon as they can get outside they are excited again and it is new twice.
Make a mini-gym Last year we hung a punching bag in our family room for Ciaran and another year he got a mini-trampoline. That is a gift that keeps on giving all year. One you find rewards from if you are blessed with a child who needs to release energy.
Christmas ornamentIn our family each year each child receives their own ornament - then when they move out on their own they can have all their ornaments and have a good start to their own tree.
Handmade GiftsI find my kids do love a special handknit hat, scarf or sweater especially if it is in their favorite colors or something bright.
Blocks, Legos, Knex, Lincoln LogsAll loved all used for many many years and will be saved and passed on. Also great gift for a family as you can purchase a bigger set for all of them together.
Board GamesWe are a board game family. There are never enough and they are always creating new ones not to mention all the classics. Puzzles are also a favorite.
Well their you go some traditional and some non-traditional ideas. Happy
shopping. And remember it is not always about having something big to open under the tree. Sometimes those unsual gifts get treasured long after a plastic toy has been broken and you don't need to find a place to store them :)