Other great holiday gift ideas for kids

Instead of Toys for Christmas

by Beth Hering

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Sure, toys and children seem to go together naturally at holiday time, but don't think that playthings are the only gift option your niece or grandson will like. For adults interested in giving the kids in their lives something besides the latest and greatest hot item (which will probably be lost, broken, or buried in the closet by next Christmas anyway), consider the following holiday gift ideas:

Hobby Items

Childhood is a great time to learn new things and develop hobbies, but costs can limit experimentation. If the child has expressed interest in something, think about ways you may be able to find a present that supports that curiosity. Craft stores offer a variety of kid-friendly kits to help youngsters learn about sewing, woodworking, painting, jewelry making, scrapbooking, and cooking.

Other ideas:

  • A camera and blank photo albums for a potential shutterbug
  • Camping gear, fishing equipment, or a bug-collecting set for a nature enthusiast
  • A telescope for a budding astronomer
  • Ice skates for a future Michelle Kwan
  • A journal to collect the thoughts of an aspiring writer
  • A guitar or keyboard for a child with a passion for music

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Ready access to an assortment of books can help make children readers for life, but building a literature collection can be expensive. Consider expanding a child's home library with new material such as:

  • A bound treasury of stories by a beloved author such as A.A. Milne
  • A classic series of books such as those of Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Books of world records or fun facts
  • A few selections you enjoyed in youth
  • A magazine subscription

You may even want to establish a tradition of giving an award-winning book, such as annually presenting your godchild with the most recent Caldecott Medal winner for outstanding illustration.

Gift Cards

Many of the activities that children like to do are getting difficult for parents to regularly afford. Give kids an afternoon of fun with gift cards to these places:

  • Movie theaters
  • Pizza joints
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Skating rinks
  • Bowling lanes
  • Video game arcades
  • Amusement parks


Keepsake gifts can grow in importance as a child ages. A few to consider include:

  • A jewelry box
  • A music box
  • A baseball signed by members of a favorite team

Another thought is to buy a basic charm bracelet and add a new charm each year that symbolizes something that was important to the child during that year. Perhaps buy a dog charm for a new pet or a cheerleader charm to commemorate making the squad. The same type of thing can be done with Christmas ornaments. Pick one each year that represents something the child was into at the time, such as trains or princesses. When the child is grown, she will have a whole collection to put on her own tree and remember you.

Sharing Yourself

Children love to receive individual attention, so one of the greatest presents is the gift of time. With children off from school for a week or two and parents scrambling around doing last-minute Christmas preparations, the holiday season can be the ideal time for an aunt or grandparent to entertain the kids.

  • Spend an afternoon baking Christmas cookies together
  • Take in a holiday flick and then grab a burger
  • Dig out Monopoly, Scrabble, and Clue for a board game marathon
  • Drive around looking at Christmas lights before coming home to some hot chocolate

Toys may get broken or outgrown, but good memories last a lifetime!

Take the Next Step

  • From food to family to fun, save on every aspect of your holiday with The TDS Frugal Holiday Guide.
  • Visit our Christmas Countdown Calendar, a 5-week to-do list to help you prepare for Christmas.
  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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