If you have ever felt overwhelmed with the amount of toys your children have left around the hosue and the time spent picking them up I feel you. You are not alone.
In the glorious days of yester year my kids would simply enjoy playing with kitchen utensils, cardboard boxes, crunchy paper and other types of materials that were so easy to come by and tidy up.
As time would have it, older toys eventually go untouched and despite this, new ones keep entering my home and evolving into tactical landmines strategically placed between me and my routine bathroom march. Ugh.
When a birthday, Christmas or any other similar occasion is knocking on the door I often feel as if my children already have everything they need.
Moreover, I recently noticed that my children play and think a lot different than they use to. This made me think that perhaps this I should think outside of the box when it is time buy them a gift?
Maybe they do have all they need to provide an intelectually stimulating play environment for them? Maybe their basic needs are already met but what their “wants” do not come in the form of material things?
Afterall is not “Daddy Time” the best gift a father could ever give their child? However cheesy that might sound.
Well, I had to learn the hard way that mushy or not, setting up a day for one on one with each of my children individually is extremely valuable if not priceless to them.
The gift of uninterupted, undivided time works perfect for girls as well as for boys.
When we first started giving non-materialistic things to our children for birthdays or Christmas they responded with so much joy and appreciation. It became eminently clear that the best gift we have ever given them was the gift of precious time together.
Giving activities as gifts turn into memory making machines that do not clutter your home. How great is that?
A fun gift like a movie ticket and some popcorn at the local cinema for a special day, just the two of you can be epic. I started with buying a beautifully wrapped Visa gift card with a hand written note about how special they are and to buy whatever they would like to buy on their day with the gift card. It was fulfilling on many levels.
My children really enjoy the time spent together and appreciate the gift card a lot. This also gave them the opportunity to practice budgeting, calculating much they have left to spend on and using a credit card in a real world setting.
When considering what to buy for my kid, whether it’s your own child or someone else´s, always consider some sort of adventure first and foremost. My children absolutly love two types of Gift Cards.
Gift cards for any type of show or movie also work as a gift for almost any child, especially for those who may already have everything but the rare uninterupted Daddy time.
Coming in at a close second for the most appreciated gift we have ever given our son is a Little Passports subscription. Sure, this will bring packages of various books and materials into your home, but it is also be an amazing way to encourage reading, alone time and the possibility for your child to go on a very special adventure with the characters developed by Little Passports.
There are a variety of positive elements about Little Passports as well, not only when it comes to thier imagination but also in developing new routines away from computers, tablets and screens.
For example there are hands on experiments and rock collecting projects along with a broad plethora family oriented activites within their monthly packages and website. The reoccuring monthly give and variety of idea is quite impressive.
Treasure hunts are still able to add a fun twist using technology. Sitting down with my children and asking them to describe a toy they would really enjoy then making a game out of it, I see if I am able to find somethign like it on Amazon. Sort of like playing “what am I” with an online resource.
My green thumb child really enjoys gardening. Fortunately there are are variety of gardening kits available for him online as well. For me participation was key getting the most out of the Earth Box I purchased.
To go with the kit I wrapped a kid friendly garden tools and other items to help facilitate the growth of his little garden. This gift grew well with my child. He asked a lot of questions about the life process of his plants and the ecosystem around out home. His knowledge became something he was very proud of.
Sometimes the most perfect gift for my kids is to listen to them and let them decide exactly what they want to do. It seems that gifts for my children do not have to be so complex. Their biggest interests have helped guide my decision making process.
Having one day dedicated to finding every opportunity to tell them “Yes” is a major event in their lives.
Want to play entomologist and go catching butterflies? Yes, let us go to to the park and search for some. Want to go swimming? No problem, we can use gift cards for the purchase of a day or year long pass to the local water park.
One of my children enjoys paleontology, and anything related to dinosaurs. As a result, a museum with dinosaurs and or other creatures or subjects is extremely interesting. There are many different types of museums out there with great educational value and a fun experience for a decent amount of money. The only thing I might have to do is be creative with how I wrap these types of gifts?
My main goal is to create memories and thought provoking conversation with my children.
Understandably not all gifts have a price tag attached to them, there are great gift activities for a cost of almost nothing. Many cities have big playgrounds with many fun things to do all day long and this is where the gift of time has the most benefit.
By actively spending a whole day playing and engaging with them, my children receive something they will cherish for the rest of their life. Sometimes I just pack some lunch and snacks and take the bus or subway. If it is out of my norm it will be a perfect adventure for us.
The bus can be a strange place these days, but for my children it is like “Th Magic School Bus” since we primarily use our own vehicles. They love going new routes and seeing new things just for the sake of doing it.
Exercise and fresh air is always a positive and when the weather is right I get on the bike. We ride along the bike path and I bring something to eat, a ball or Frisbee and have fun hanging out. Sometimes I have the whole day planned with fun activities, other times I try to be as spontaneous as possible.
Either way the gift card and the time spent always ends up being the perfect gift regardless of the occasion.
When I do buy an actual gift I try to get STEM oriented intellectually stimulating items like puzzle boxes, or craft boxes with coloring books, stickers, paint, glue and beads. The perfect gifts for my children are often those which are custom-made.
One of my children loves baking so I purchased a gift card, and walked them through finding and buying a box and fill it with a new cook book, some new baking tools and beautiful cupcake molds or sugar paste to create their own decoration
The possibilities are endless, Get to know your kid and these types of gifts will almost wrap themselves. If you are unsure what your kids appreciate doing, just ask. Your child will love you for taking an interest in what they are passionate about and be very willing to share it.
Good luck with your gift idea and all the amazing ways they can enhance your relationship with your child.