I just left Target with the kids. Before I go any further, you should know: I am not above bribing my kids. So I bribed them with a trip to the toy aisle for smiling nicely for family pictures.
The joke’s on them, though, ’cause I was already going to take them to pick up a few things to stock the apartment we’re temporarily living in with some things to keep them busy. It’s a win-win, honest. But mostly I think anything is fair game to get kids to smile for the camera, especially when you’re the mama of four rowdy boys who simply do.not.sit.still. Ever.
So we got our holiday pictures done and I feel like a superstar because they smiled and had their hair combed and everything. And we made our merry way to Target where they picked out toys that will soon be forgotten. And there was bickering and mind-changing and it basically was zero fun.
Which leads me to the point of this post. Every year when the holidays roll around, I obsess over not buying a bunch of junk for my kids, and then I buy a bunch of junk for my kids. And it’s all soon forgotten and discarded and they aren’t really all that grateful for it. And I’m left feeling deflated and swearing I’ll do something different next year.
It’s next year and I’m brainstorming some fresh ideas. If you need some ideas too, browse below. Maybe you’ll find something new you haven’t yet thought of!
Magazine subscriptions- my boys have a special pseudo-family member who has subscribed them to a variety of magazines for years and they just love them. They look forward to checking the mail and seeing if any magazines have come in. Our favorites are Ranger Rick, Highlights, and High Five.
Lessons- Christmas is the perfect time to get the kids signed up for martial arts and present them with their gear and uniform as a gift, or register them for another lesson like gymnastics or piano.
Special trip or getaway- whether you’ve got a trip to Disney in the budget, or a special one-on-one trip to the movies (with four kids, one-on-one time is a super coveted and special treat!), giving your children a gift of experience will create memories not soon forgotten.
Memberships- in the same vein, gifting a child a membership to a children’s museum, local amusement park, or club will bring joy all year long. This is a great thing to ask the grandparents for in lieu of toys, and every time your child enjoys time in a special place, they’ll be reminded of the thoughtfulness of the gift giver.
Natural and Imaginative Gifts
Wooden toys- I love buying my kids non-electronic toys for two reasons: electronic, noisy toys are annoying, and wooden toys encourage imaginative play. Try a fierce dragon or an animal-filled barn.
Legos- the ultimate gift for little builders, Legos never get old.
Snap Circuits- I was thrilled to discover this brain-boosting toy that allows kids to create everything from an AM radio to a light bulb.
Magnetic building toys- a unique take on blocks, magnetic building toys allow extra imagination! My kids love these.
Wooden blocks- this classic standby never gets old. These are my kids’ favorite, and they’re super inexpensive!
Indoor gym- a great way for your monkeys to get out some energy during cold winter months (and any time of year!), this indoor gym attaches to a door frame and offers lots of activity choices.
Special Needs Gifts
I can’t leave out the special kid in your life- or the extra specials gift they’ll enjoy! From sensory toys to calming gadgets, speak your child’s language with these gift ideas.
Indoor/outdoor pod swing- very calming and soothing, your kiddo can gently sway back and forth in this inexpensive swing while reading or just having quiet reflection time.
Fidget cube- my son loves the different buttons on each side of his fidget cube, and it keeps his hands busy when he’s bored, feeling overwhelmed with emotions, or overstimulated.
Buddha Board- this drawing board is relaxing, and it only needs water to create images that slowly disappear, so your kiddo can create again and again.
Newton’s Cradle- a calming and soothing sensory activity, a Newton’s Cradle provides endless sensory stimulation.
Jacob’s Ladder- for kids who love repetition, a Jacob’s Ladder is a great stocking stuffer.
Weighted blanket- one of my son’s favorite Christmas gifts ever, a weighted blanket helps with sleep and the deep pressure sensation many special-needs kids crave.
Super soft blanket- for kids with sensory processing disorder, the texture of regular blankets and sheets can be intolerable. An especially soft blanket can be soothing and may decrease bedtime battles. Choose your child’s favorite character for a special touch.
Gifts for Her
Natural cosmetics- many of us mamas don’t spend money on lovely things for ourselves very often, but Christmas is the perfect time to invest in makeup and skincare with natural and organic ingredients like 100% Pure Cosmetics and Skincare, which offers beautiful makeup palettes and skincare for all skin types.
Tea- one of my favorite gifts to receive, teas rock my world! Whether you go all out with a special gift set, a box of special tea (this is my current favorite), or a gorgeous teapot, tea is perfect for that naturally-minded lady in your life.
Himalayan salt lamp- there’s a reason I have salt lamps in every room: they help to purify the air, are a perfect orange-tinted nightlight for kiddos, and are beautifully soothing.
Blue light-blocking glasses- take care of her adrenals and get her special orange glasses that block blue light, making it easier to fall asleep and sleep more deeply.
Essential oils set and diffuser- sure to please any crunchy mama, essential oils are always a safe choice. Choose a set of organic oils, then be sure to add a diffuser to keep her home smelling lovely.
Gifts for Him
Salt block for grilling- if your hubby is a grilling connoisseur, he’ll love trying his hand at grilling on a salt block. It’s also good for curing and indoor cooking.
Garmin Forerunner Fitness Watch- my hubby has asked for one of these watches for Christmas, and it’s perfect for the active guy in your life too!
French press- since getting my hubby a French press last year, he has never gone back to regular ol’ coffee pot coffee! This stainless steel press gets top ratings on Amazon and is super affordable.
Chemex- another popular alternative coffee maker, the Chemex is said to make even better coffee than a press, so it’s on my list to get for my hubby this year so he can decide for himself!
High roller kitchen gadgets
If you really want to go all out and get your mom, sister, or significant other a truly stellar gift, the fancy kitchen gadgets below will be sure to impress and delight!
Hurom slow juicer- I recently bought myself this fabulous juicer, which better preserves nutrients and is easier to clean than cheaper units. Use code HOLIDAY25 to get 25% off a Hurom Juicer until the end of December.
Vitamix- perhaps my all-time favorite kitchen investment, my Vitamix gets used every day. If you really want a gift with wow-factor, surprise your loved one with this fancy do-it-all machine (it’s not JUST a “blender!”).
Blendtec- like a Vitamix, the Blendtec has a cult-following for a reason, but is slightly more affordable.
Instant Pot- if your lady still doesn’t have an Instant Pot, bring her kitchen up-to-date with the must-have kitchen appliance of 2017. It sautees, it slow cooks, but best of all, it gets dinner on the table at lightning speed.
Berkey water filter- believe it or not, I know tons of people who would be thrilled to find this water filter under the Christmas tree! Because of its unique black carbon filter, it removes impurities while leaving beneficial minerals.
I hope the above lists got your creative juices flowing and gave you some great ideas giving gifts to the loved ones in your life. Most of all, I hope these gift suggestions provide years of use and enjoyment, rather than the emptiness that accompanies many gifts a week or two after the big day.