What’s that you say? This is supposed to be a series about meaningful Christmas traditions? Surely shopping does not apply. Ah. In my world, giving Christmas gifts is not only great fun, but it can also be a very meaningful way of teaching my kids about God’s love. I wrote all about that here last year.
But on a less profound level, I decided to launch our Make Christmas Matter series with a gift idea exchange for a few practical reasons:
1. Priorities. Years ago, a mentor mom told me she finishes all of her Christmas shopping in November so that December can be dedicated to family time. Free from the pressure of comparing sale prices and making last-minute trips to the mall, she spends her weekends baking cookies with her kids and touring the neighborhood lights displays. This suggestion stuck with me, and most years I do aim to get the bulk of my shopping done early so that as Christmas Day nears, I’m thinking less about material things and more about Jesus, resting, and building family memories.
2. Stewardship. Um, hello, Black Friday. Who doesn’t want to save major moolah on toys and electronics and whatever else is scrawled on the kiddos’ wish lists? By shopping early, I’m able to research customer reviews, make a careful plan of what to buy within budget, and snag some great free shipping deals.
3. Solidarity. We’re in this together, moms. If you rave about a favorite family board game, you’d better believe I’m going to check it out on Amazon. And when you come to my house and your kids can’t get enough of my indoor trampoline, I’m all too happy to tell you where I got it and how it saved my life through last winter’s sub-zero play dates. So let’s share our best gift ideas, boost the chances that our kids will L-O-V-E what’s under the tree, and save each other some precious time and energy.
Now in the spirit of shopping with girlfriends, I thought I’d give you all a peek at my favorite finds for the kids this Christmas season. These are items I’m excited to place under my tree this year, and well as some of my family’s best tried-and-true toys from years past.
And, please return the fun! I’m always interested in hearing about new, unique, or family-proven toys, games, and other enriching gifts for my chickadees—and my nieces and nephews. Share your favorite ideas in the comments (click here if you’re reading this via e-mail) or on my Facebook page! Bonus points to anybody who can suggest what to get my two- and four-year old nephews. 😉
Favorite Finds for Christmas
Fashion Plates Deluxe Kit — Remember these? My sisters and I used to play with the original fashion plates; in fact, they were a favorite Christmas gift back then, too. My seven-year-old daughter is into fashion design lately, so I’m excited to give her this modern version of the classic fashion plates.
Spirograph Deluxe Design Set — Another classic. My seven-year-old loves drawing and coloring, and I have high hopes that this gift will entice her to lose a little interest in screen time this winter.
Teeter Popper — My four-year-old is constantly trying to stand and surf on bouncy balls and laundry baskets. So when I saw this new Teeter Popper, I added it to my shopping list right away. It’s supposed to help kids develop motor skills and balance while giving them a safe way to surf indoors. Plus the base is loaded with suction cups, which make a fun popping sound on hard surfaces (like the kitchen floor, where I’m seriously hoping my daughter spends a good 20 minutes at a time riding this thing so I can make dinner without interruptions). I’ll let you know how that works out.
Rain for Roots CD: “The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like This” — If you’re an Ellie Holcomb fan, you’ll love this sweet album of children’s music by Ellie’s band of fellow singer/songwriters, Rain for Roots. I heard her sing one of the tracks live in concert a couple weeks ago, and I made a beeline to the promo table to buy this CD for my kids. Each song tells a parable of Jesus from the Bible, with lilting melodies that children (and parents) will enjoy. We love new music in our house. You, too?
Praise Baby CD: “Born to Worship” — And speaking of music, this disc is our tried and true bedtime CD. My girls have fallen asleep to the praise songs on this album since my firstborn was a baby. It’s a wonderful compilation of classic praise and worship songs, sung like lullabies. A sweet gift for young children.
Connectagons — These connective building disks come in a variety of shapes and styles. My seven-year-old wants the butterfly set. They’ve scored very high customer reviews, and I’m on board for any toy that doesn’t require batteries or WiFi.
Hot Wheels Elimination Track — We bought this toy for my nephew last Christmas. Recently, the cousins got together and had blast racing Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars down the elimination track (together! multiple ages! peace and harmony, hurrah!). It seriously kept them occupied for an hour or more—and I’m talking about kids as young as age three. Amazing.
Switch and Go Dino Bots — My four-year-old is a dinosaur fanatic. And lately she’s really into cars. So when we discovered these Dino Bots on a play date last week, I immediately added them to my Christmas list. They’re both a dino and a car in one.
Potholder Loom — We got this potholder loom for our older daughter last Christmas and she loved it so much, it has become a staple birthday party gift for her classmates. It’s surprisingly accessible to young hands (I’d say age 6 and up), and my daughter enjoys creating different color combinations then giving potholders to her teachers, friends, and family members. The best part—the potholders actually work! They resist heat and work great as trivets. This particular kit comes with enough loops to make two potholders, but we also bought the extra bag of loops, which makes eight additional potholders.
UNO Moo — Hands-down my favorite preschool game. I’ve been playing UNO Moo with my girls since my younger daughter was two years old. It’s very simple to understand yet educational and fun for the entire family. My seven-year-old still enjoys a good round of UNO Moo on family game night. And so do Mom and Dad.
The Cupcake Game — Want to teach your kids the value of patience? Play the Cupcake Game. The object of the game is to collect all the ingredients for your cupcake recipe, using a spinner to randomly select which ingredients you can gain from the pantry. When the spinner lands on the rotten egg, you have to relinquish one of your ingredients. Fun, easy to understand, and slightly maddening. But my kids enjoy it.
Crayola Marker Maker — This one is a request from my seven-year-old, my artsy girl. Kids can formulate 16 markers of their own color creations. I fear we might end up with 16 brown or gray markers and a puddle of mess, but I encourage the creativity. Plus the ink is supposed to be washable. The Marker Maker comes highly rated on Amazon, and after some digging I snagged it on ChristianBook.com for nearly half off, plus it comes with bonus refills! (Use promo code 445305 for free shipping on a $35 purchase through December 4. I nev-uh pay for shipping.)
Long-sleeve Art Smock — My friend Heidi designs these stylish and highly functional long-sleeve art smocks for kids. Each one has a waterproof laminated front and easy enclosure in the back. Heidi has several smocks and other items in stock, and she takes custom orders as well.
American Girl Doll Dress from Kathie’s Fancies — If you have an AG doll fan in your house like I do, please visit Kathie’s Fancies on Etsy for a beautiful collection of home sewn, one-of-a-kind fancy doll dresses made by the ultra talented Kathy, a.k.a. Nana (my mom!). She once ran a custom bridal sewing business, and she made my wedding gown, which is one of my favorite memories from my wedding. Quality is not the question. Which dress should you choose? Well, that’s more like it.
Bazoongi Indoor Trampoline — Last but not least. Everyone who comes to play at our house asks where we got our trampoline. It’s a huge hit with all the kids, and it burns plenty of energy on rainy or snowbound days. My girls have been jumping and leaping and dancing on their trampoline for four years now, and it has taken every ounce of abuse without showing any wear. The padded and sleeve-covered handlebar is an excellent safety feature, and the base canvas covering protects little toes from the sturdy coils (we’ve never broken one—a coil or a toe, ha). In our house, the rule is only one jumper at a time. The only bummer is, the trampoline has a weight limit of 110 pounds so I can’t jump on it. But my girls have plenty of years still ahead to enjoy this sanity-saving toy. At 48 inches, it’s big enough to give the kids ample jumping space, yet still small enough to fit in the corner of a room.
Now it’s YOUR turn! What are your favorite toys and games? Anything special you’re excited to hide under the tree this year? Share in the comments or on the Time Out Facebook page. Blessings, happy shopping, and enjoy the spirit of giving!
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