Every year, before Christmas, I like to clean out my kids’ toys that they are no longer playing with, to keep the clutter to a minimum, before Santa brings more toys! One new thing I’m trying this year as I shop for gifts, is looking for four categories of presents:
“Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.”
When I came across this old but new-to-me expression, I liked its simplicity. I’ve also heard of people expanding on the types of gifts, like “something to do,” or “something to share.” I think these are a great way to incorporate experience gifts, like tickets to the movies or the zoo, or board games that families can play together.
Here are a few ideas for holiday gifts!*
Tracks, Trains, Cars, and Tiles
Magnetic Tiles — These tiles are so fun and versatile, kids and grownups alike will enjoy playing with them. My husband often plays these on the floor with our kids. They come in different sets with more or less tiles; there are a lot of options, and you can add pieces to the set like these train cars, too.
HABA Kullerbu — This wooden and plastic track assembles like a train set, and comes with wooden ball vehicles that roll along the tracks. You can combine different sets, to make higher tracks for the balls to roll on, add spiral or domino effects, or include different cars and tracks.
Simplay3 Carry and Go Track Table – This portable track can be used for trains, cars, and monster trucks, and has two different surfaces for rolling cars on. I like that it is small enough that you could put it away while kids aren’t using it, or take it with you to a friend or relative’s house!
Balance Board — A balance board is a sturdy, Montessori-inspired toy that lets kids use their imaginations: it can be a slide, a bridge, a tunnel, a rocker, and more. This one is less expensive than some of the other options I’ve seen, and has great reviews.
Rainbow Stacking Toy — Babies as young as one can enjoy this toy; it is brightly colored, made of sturdy wooden pieces, and lets kids use their imagination to stack and play with it in different ways. I originally bought this for my toddler for his birthday, and my older son plays with it as well!
Cardboard Blocks — These blocks are large, and can make anything from a fort, to a lemonade stand, to a puppet theater, to a wall to knock down, and more. My husband and I bought these for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I remember putting them all together on Christmas Eve. They are made of sturdy cardboard, and come flat in a box, and you pop up each box individually.
Play Food — Like most toddlers, my younger son loves play food and cooking! He is especially into grilling, and cutting food. I’m planning to get him a set of play food like this for Christmas, and they also have a BBQ set.
Toy Camera — I take a lot of pictures, and both my kids love pretending to take pictures, as well. I randomly bought this wooden toy camera when my oldest was a baby, and both my kids have played with this toy a lot! For slightly older kids, a kids’ camera that takes real pictures like this one, would be fun too!
Doorbell House — This toy has also been played with a lot by both of my kids; there is a little key to open locks on each door, and it comes with four little dolls.
I bought my kids cute matching pajamas, since they needed more PJs; and they will get new toothbrushes, too. I was brainstorming a few other gifts for this category, like bubble bath, new lunchbox or thermos water cup, or basic underwear/ socks.
Another cute idea I saw, is labeling the gifts with tags that say the name of the category, (want, need, wear, read, etc.) and I think this may be a nice way to teach kids this idea for intentional gift giving, as well!
My older son will be starting soccer this winter, so I’m planning to give him shin guards and cleats for Christmas. Dance shoes and leotards, new school clothes, jackets, pajamas, or shoes, would be great options for this category, as well.
I think you can never have too many books, and we have a lot of books that we rotate during storytime at my house. These are a couple of our current favorites!
Little Blue Truck’s Christmas — For any kid who loves Little Blue Truck, this book is adorable, and has real twinkle lights on the last page.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates — My son who is in Kindergarten laughed out loud at this book! He loves dinosaurs, and this is a great story.
These are a few ideas for holiday gifts, if you are still Christmas shopping! I like that most of these toys are open-ended, and let kids use their imaginations to learn through play. A general guideline I’ve seen is that a toy should be 90% child, 10% toy, so that kids are actively thinking and learning. I hope my kids are happy with what Santa brings them this year. Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!