I have four kids, and this means we have a TON of stuff. In fact, when you have that many kids, who by the way are all the same gender, there’s a good chance that you will be able to walk down a toy aisle at Target and notice that you own it all…at least that’s what I’ve been told. 😉
The overload of stuff is something that I notice everyday, mostly because I notice how many toys go untouched after the first few weeks they’ve had them. They rifle through the ones they don’t want to play with to get to the “good” ones; the ones they go back to over and over again.
A few years ago, my husband and I committed to reducing the amount of stuff we own. It’s still a work in progress, but one big step toward that goal was being more thoughtful and intentional in the gifts that we buy. We’ve also gotten much better at not keeping things simply because we remember who bought it and we think it’s cute (okay, that might have been more my problem than his).
So, since it’s Christmas shopping season, I thought it might be helpful to share some gift ideas that have stood the test of time for our boys. On this list are items we own, and that my boys still use/play with. They all can be purchased on Amazon, and I even went a step further and made it easy for you to find them by including links (go me)!
10 of The Best Gifts My Kids Have Ever Received
Yes, you read that right. As an educator, I believe ALL little boys should own a baby doll. That being said, my two youngest actually requested baby dolls, and in fact they used birthday money to buy themselves one of these Adora 13″ Little Prince Baby Dolls. After theirs arrived, our oldest then declared he wanted one, too. So he got one for Christmas that year. They have held up extremely well, and the boys have asked for more clothes and accessories for them, too. While our oldest has now outgrown the baby doll stage, it is seriously heartwarming to see the other two caring for their dolls, practicing being a good daddy.
We didn’t buy this one, and truth be told, there was some groaning when C first opened this, but it gets played with at least once a week. This 5-in-1 Sports Center fits perfectly right on top of the coffee table, and is actually pretty self contained when it’s packed away while not being used.
This one isn’t limited to the book set I have selected, but the I Survived Collector’s Toolbox book set is one that T has read over and over again. I love that they’re actual stories from historical events. He gets so lost in the story that it’s hard to break him away, and he always has questions about the events in the books, which are great discussion starters.
My desk at work is metal. Since I work in the school my boys attend, they are often in my office after school for an extended period of time before I am able to leave. I wrapped my desk in dry erase contact paper (which was one of the best decisions ever!), but I also bought this Learning Resources Tumble Trax Magnetic Marble Run to give them something else to do. It comes with cards that show different runs that can be setup, but my boys have also taken to creating their own. I need to invest in some new marbles since all but one has been lost. The best part is that my kids aren’t the only ones who love to play with this; some of my co-workers in the offices around mine have kids who like to come visit and play with it.
I had no idea what these were until my then exuberant second grader began begging for one. So, we bought one for his birthday. Soon after, I learned they were all the rage in the older elementary classrooms, too, and sure enough, B then requested one for his birthday. I think we now own all of those created by any manufacturer because we have so many, but it also keeps them from fighting because when one boy has one out, the others usually follow suit. The Perplexus Epic is one of their favorites. Don’t let the age on the package fool you, though, because C was in kindergarten when we first got one of these and to this day he still spends hours “playing” with them.
6. Activity Tracker
A few years ago, John and I got FitBits. Our boys were fascinated with them: how they worked and why we wore them. The longer we had ours, the more they started asking for one of their own. Since FitBit doesn’t have a kids’ line, we started them with some simple trackers I found at Target that included challenges for them to complete to earn points that would send food packets to countries in need. They were great for a while but didn’t last. Garmin does have a kids’ version. We bought this VivoFit Jr. Activity Tracker for B last Christmas, and couldn’t be happier. He wears it daily and is always trying to hit his daily step goal. The coolest part is that several of his friends at school have trackers and they challenge each other to see who can get more steps!
To this day I’d love to know how kids learn about stuff that you are sure you’ve never talked about at home. In our house, it’s always about gadgets that they want. This year the two oldest have been begging for a drone. Really? What in the world will they do with a drone? I was shocked when T asked for a Go Pro for Christmas last year. Um…if we get a Go Pro it’s definitely not going to be for the kids. Enter this VTech Kidizoom Action Cam. It comes with a waterproof housing (which works) and two different mounting attachments, one of which is perfect for the handlebars on a bike. I’ve lost track of all of the videos he has made with this thing. All he asked for from my brother for Christmas this year is a micro SD card to add to it so he can record even more videos.
This is a classic staple for any mom of boys. In fact, I think it’s some sort of rite of passage as a mom of boys to step on LEGOs while trying to walk down the hall or through the family room or down the steps or through the kitchen or… I think you get the point. While the themed sets are a big hit in our house, the best ones always seem to be the big tubs of general LEGO pieces. Add in a baseplate, a free subscription to LEGO magazine, and he’s set for hours of play.
My boys LOVE board games. Checkers, chess, Monopoly, Trouble, Sorry, Beat the Parents…I could go on and on. We have an entire closet full of nothing but board and card games. That closet includes a wooden Chinese checkers game that uses wooden pegs instead of marbles. The pegs make it easier to keep track of the pieces, and make it less likely they’ll get stolen for other uses (like the marble run). Chinese checkers is great when you have more than two kids like we do because they can all play together. It’s a classic game and my kids happen to love it.
If you haven’t been able to tell, my boys seem to really like toys that leave room for imaginative play. And I don’t know that I’ve come across many little boys who don’t love to play with toy cars. From demolition derbies to races and everything in between, this Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack is an excellent choice to get him started or add to his collection.
Depending on her interest, any or all of these gifts would also be an excellent choice for any little girls you know, too!
What about you? What are some items you would add to the “stand the test of time” gift list?