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Alternatives to Toys this Christmas – Some Gift Ideas for Kids

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:36pm

Many parents and especially grandparents, friends and relatives are concerned about purchasing toys for their smaller loved ones this year. With the recent news out of China…i.e. another day another recall, toys may be slipping from many folks shopping lists. Yet, show me a child that doesn’t want a pile of presents on Christmas day…and preferably something with which to play. I clearly remember whining the years I received more clothes than toys…spoiled child that I was (am?)You too?

But, there are, quite fortunately quite a few gift items that while, not exactly toys, count as play things in most kids books. Some are old standbys, some new ideas. A New York Times article has a few . Here are my ideas.

1. Great books they may not have read but you enjoyed as a child – how about some Caldecott Winners or Great Illustrated Classics . Why not pick up some Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys or Little Golden Books? I was a Bobbsey Twins gal myself.

2. Bags and backpacks – kids love bags of all sizes and materials – small felt bags for shiny rocks or beads, bigger bags for play shopping, backpacks.

3. Sports equipment for a new or unusual sport they may not have tried – bow and arrow, juggling cubes, etc. Try to pass on the cheap plastic stuff that breaks - look for smaller versions of the real thing - Google "Child size authentic"

4. Costumes and accessories - this is one of my favorites and can be purchased cheap after Halloween.

5. Yards of play fabric, buttons or ribbons from any Fabric Store and silks – great for dress up!

6. Educational or Classic Movie Videos – Camelot, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang or The original Charlie and The Chocolate Factory anyone?

7. Classical music, Classical Kids CDs or Books on CD for Kids - we call them "Story CDs"

8. Science experiment kits or simple science book for parents to do with a younger child. Target also has a nice selection of kits.

9. Museum Store gifts - shiny rocks, exploration kits – you can buy online from many museums too!

10. Natural Crafts kits - felt crafts

11. Real art materials - oil pastels, oil paints, beeswax crayons. They're less expensive than you might think! Go to an Artists Store, not a craft store or

12. Unusual or kid sized real musical instruments . Smaller kids can never have too many instruments. Look for native or uncommon instruments, rainsticks, percussion frogs...

13. For a different take and a fine spirit of the season gift…a basket of chickens from Heifer International

Pottery wheel, and kiln - Skip the cheap plastic ones marketed to kids. You can get a pottery wheel and kiln fairly inexpensively at Michaels or buy some oven-bake clay and and real clay tools.

Knitting machine, Loom or small sewing machine,You can buy a realsewing machinefor $35.00 at many drugstores

16. Magazine subscriptions give all year round. There are some great titles for kids. Older children might like sports or craft magazines .

17. And don't forget the Gift of Experience - tickets to plays, shows etc.

For more ideas visit see:

Best Toys for the Holidays: Dolls

Best Toys For The Holidays: Books

Best Toys For the Holidays: Blocks

Links For Safe Holiday Toy Shopping

Now…what else shall I add to this list? What are you ideas?

More Thursday Thirteen

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