11 Gifts for Kids that You Won’t Find on the Toy Isle
I’m tired of toys.
Have you ever noticed that kids often play with random household objects more than they play with the stuff you buy them? I have a camera tri-pod that has been played with for countless hours by all four of my children; they think it’s pretty cool that you can turn the crank to make the top get higher. I have also noticed that by the time a kid is about 5 years old everything seems like ‘old news’. I’m sure there are things I could have done to prevent this but I didn’t. It all boils down to the fact that our lives revolve around enormous amounts of consumerism, we buy, and buy, and buy some more. I’m as guilty as the next mom and it makes Christmas and birthdays very difficult.
When my children were young I tried to stick with the classics: babies, blocks, balls, books and cars but the older they got the more difficult it was to buy more of the same things we already had. So I’ve tried to get creative and find things that will keep the kids interest and be fun for them past New Years. Here are some of the non-toy items my kids have loved!
1- Ace Bandage (J5 and A12 both LOVE to doctor up their babies and stuffed animals. Our Ace Bandages have done hours of triage.)
2- Dog Kennel and Leash (The toy version of a dog kennel just doesn’t cut it. They are cheap, flimsy and won’t last a month. A real dog kennel doesn’t cost much more and will last forever. I also recommend buying a few real dog leashes and cat collars. I realize they are longer than the toys ones and might be considered dangerous but most kids over the age of 3 can understand basic rope safety.)
3- Stethoscope (When J5 was constantly playing doctor her toy stethoscope didn’t help her to understand that you really can hear a person’s heartbeat. I was happy to see how inexpensive a real stethoscope and blood pressure cuff was.)
4- Non-prescription glasses (My kids have always loved to steal their grandpa’s reading glasses. Then my Mother-in-law bought a pair of these non-prescription glasses for J5 and she loves them! These are so much better than any other dress up accessory in the box.)
5- Sprinkler (I never liked turning on my automatic sprinklers for the kids; I was always afraid I would mess them up or forget to turn them back onto auto. This oscillating sprinkler is great fun for hot summer days.)
6- Photo book (Have you ever noticed that older kids end up with far more memory books than the younger ones? Scrapbooking has been placed on the list of things I USE to do, which of course makes my younger kids feel bad when the older kids drag out the beloved memory books. Now, with the wonderful technology we have throwing a hundred pictures into a book takes less than 30 minutes and the kids LOVE them!)
7- Piggy Bank (From the time a kid can handle money without eating it, a piggy bank is a must. Sometimes when I have loads of laundry to do I will dump a cup of change on the ground and make my 3 year old fill up her piggy bank.)
8- Digital Camera (Again, I’m not sure why people continue to buy the toy versions when the real thing is so much more fun and often times even cheaper. Kids love to take pictures and it gives them great sense of ownership over their activities. Give them a digital camera, but NOT A TOY ONE!)
The new Polorids are cool too!
9- Tools (Thus far our family has been lucky enough to live in a house surrounded by empty fields. Because of this there have been a series of great summer tree houses. Somehow tree house building goes hand in hand with dad’s tools disappearing. But not anymore! Most expensive tools are too heavy duty for kids to use on their own so buy the small, cheaper versions, but stay away from the toys. Throw in a few 2x4’ and some nails and you’ll have hours of entertainment.)
10- Tackle box (K5 is obsessed with Hotwheels. Every time he gets some money he wants to run to the store and buy another car. Anyone who has had a car crazed boy has watch their kid line up the cars by size or color or alphabetically (all Hotwheels have names, did you know that?). A large tackle box is the perfect way to store cars so the kids can see them and keep them in which ever order they choose. (Check out this post about Hot Wheel Storage) Tackle boxes also work great for storying Playmobils, Legos, jewelry, and finger nail polish.)
11- Karaoke Machine (Some days I regret having bought a Karaoke machine but kids LOVE to talk into a REAL microphone. Most Karaoke machines come with pre-downloaded songs that the kids either already know or can learn quickly.
BONUS ITEM: 5 Foot Cotton Rope (My kids love to tie knots and our small sections of soft cotton rope have been as well used as any toy in our basement. Head to your local hardware store!)
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