I say these gifts are clutter-free because they are something that we USE and enjoy – and we have decluttered the other stuff. But to some people, these gifts are coming in addition to what is already in the home so it might feel like clutter if you haven’t decluttered yet.
Either way, these are gifts that we have enjoyed in our home because they provide opportunities to be together, to be creative, to learn, to grow. So they are items that are in line with the values we have for our family.
I think this is the important thing to pay attention to when selecting gifts for the kids in your life – considering what is IMPORTANT to them, the passions and interests they want to nurture. And what is important to you as a family, the activities you value.
So these are gift ideas that THIS minimalist family of five has had value out of.
These are gifts we have bought our kids, things we love and own, and things we have bought other kids in our life.
And remember – it can be so exciting to want to give your kiddos all the things – but less is more. Too much is overwhelming for them and us. It also can create an unsustainable culture of an expensive Christmas.
So focus on the best (what they would LOVE the most) and let go of the rest! Make it an investment in quality and not quantity.
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Almost every year I buy my kids board games. We are a board game family and love ones that are simple enough to learn and fun enough for everyone to join in.
Here are some of our faves:
A game of strategy that kids as young as five can grasp. Or they will just make a tetris puzzle with it and that is fun too.It is also one of those games doesn’t feel like punishment to play as an adult – which is a big criteria for what passes as family games in our home.
Who didn’t love operation when they were growing up?? I loved this game as a kid and maybe I’m buying it for them to make up the years I lost playing it because we never seemed to have fresh batteries in stock.
We have the classic version, but this one is so fun too.
This one is a classic and I even love to give it away to other kids on their birthday. This has got us through many camping trips and Saturday afternoons.
We are also a family that loves books. We make space for them, we rotate them, and then we let them go when we have outgrown them.
Guinness World Records
Phoebe and Her Unicorn
My kids really love graphic novels and this one was so cute I had to get it for my daughter. It has a Calvin and Hobbes feel to it – which I think my daughter can relate to more than prim and princessy.
The Amulet Series
Find your local Usborne friend and get some MAZE books. They keep my 6 year old busy and he loves them. Also, the seek and find books are so engaging and you can go through them again and makeup even more things to find.
I Spy Books
Legos. Forever. The end
But really, all of my kids have loved Legos. You can find so many types of scenes and characters and they all fit together. They are the most versatile and used toy that we own. If you know, you know.
Mini hockey set
My sons are getting really into hockey which means they are practising slap shots everywhere. So this mini hockey set became an appropriate outlet for them, and I put it in the basement because my kitchen is for substandard culinary achievements and dance parties – not elk bulging and mini hockey.
I really don’t think a kid gets too old to play with foam or playdough or sand. It’s relaxing, versatile and can somehow get the kids sitting still for at least an hour. We bring out kitchen items like cookie cutters, garlic press, rolling pins, and maybe even lego men to add into play with these thigns
I know, bringing slime into the home seems like, unnecessary. But to a 5-9 year old, it is life. My daughter will spend her allowance on slime and play with it until it dissipates into the air. Then do it all again.
Gifts that are great for creativity
The great thing about gifts for creativity is that they are often CONSUMABLE – they get used up and then they are gone.
It is great to NOT have little pieces of plastic being lost to each corner of the house. Like anyone else find a loot bag whistle in their ensuite bathroom?? No?
So here are some consumables for CREATIVITY
This is what we gave our daughter this year for her birthday. A bin of baking supplies she could have free reign over.
It also makes great stocking stuffers – some cake mix, or jello mix – lets them bake ‘fun foods’ on their own and feel successful.
My kids go through a lot of glue sticks, and tape, and cardboard. Put supplies together in a fun bin and let your kitchen become a fantastic zone of creative genius. That might be the tough part, to deal with the ‘creative genius’ littered across your kitchen. But all in the name of creativity right??
This is what is on my daughter’s list this year and it is an easy thing to spoil her with. If you have a kid who is interested in art, fill up their toolbox for creativity. One of my fave hacks is to buy them this artist paper that can handle painting and lots of media (so you don’t have to spend all the money on canvases)
I loved craft kits as a kid and now I buy them for my daughter. Klutz has some great ones. She has done a sewing one, a crystal-making one, a soap-making one, and a science one.
Calendars, Pens, Notebooks
I love these for stocking stuffers. I probably love them for my kids because I am a nerdy fan of really great stationery.
I like to give them their own versions of what mom and dad have – so they can take their notes and sketch things. I often come across some interesting lists they leave open in their notebooks
The fun treats you “never buy”! I’ll put these in consumables because they get used up. They aren’t creative though, they are just fun.
Practical gifts you can give your kids
Lights, all of the lights.
Our kids have loved various forms of ‘light’ over the years. From flashlights, to nightlights, to lanterns, to reading lights. My kids love to tuck in and pull out their lantern to read at the end of the night. It feels so cozy.
Whatever activity your kid is into, you can gift them equipment for it for Christmas. Whether you upgrade a piece or give them something to make their activities better/easier.
This year I found some used hockey gear at the thrift for my boys who are into the sport but not in the league yet.
Get to know what activity they are into and learn what equipment can help them develop their experience.
I’m the mom who gave her toddler a toothbrush for Christmas one year. I like to think the chocolates balanced it out, and he’s nine now and doesn’t seem emotionally scarred.
Maybe this is funner when you get older. I loved to get fun hair accessories, nice shampoos, and quality brushes for my own stockings growing up.
This year I am giving my kids bathbombs and bubble bars from LUSH. It gets them excited about bathtime and it smells delicious. I’ll probably still throw in a bamboo toothbrush too (#thatmom)
Our current Christmas buying strategy for the kids is to buy
Something they want
Something they need
(something you would need to buy them anyways but you can splurge and make it a little more special: lunch bags, water bottles, stationery, stuff for their bedroom like cute hampers or a desk chair, shoes or coats, etc.)
Something to wear
(last year we did housecoats and slippers, this year we did hockey equipment, aprons and shirts)
Something to read
It feels like a good framework to be practical and spoil them a little.
But sometimes, we go outside the box and gift them something bigger. Particularly, an EXPERIENCE . . .
Experiences we have gifted instead of presents:
- bedroom renovations (this one, and this one),
- playroom renovations (right here),
- cooking classes,
- horse camp,
- art classes,
- magazine subscriptions,
- a little family getaway,
- tickets to an event,
I know how easy it is to get swept up in the holiday giving. For us, having a plan ahead of time and sticking to the list has been so helpful at staying on budget – and staying true to the spirit of giving we wanted to nurture in our family.
I hope this post has given you some fresh ideas on ways you can give without it being overwhelming.
And if you want more encouragement about embracing a more minimalist Christmas, no matter your kids’ ages, check out this post.