Top Ten Gifts For Little Ones That Aren’t Toys
Five Things to BUY the Child/Family:
- This is a great way to nurture children’s creativity, encourage their interests, and let them learn and grow mentally and physically (let them spend all that pent up energy)
- Look up your local Music playgroups and classes, or dance, gymnastics, art, etc.
- This is perfect not only for the child but the whole family. Countless rainy/crabby/lazy days can be spent exploring local museums, playing at an indoor park, going swimming, etc.
- Check out the websites of your local museum, indoor play facility or community centre (close to where the child lives) and check out their pricing and membership details.
- In Ottawa museums have grouped together so you can get combo memberships for more than one museum with one membership. Check out:
- http://nature.ca/en/about-us/support-museum/membership which actually gets you into Hamilton and NB museums
- http://www.warmuseum.ca/about-us/get-involved/membership-program/ gets you membership to the: Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Children’s Museum, and the Canadian War Museum
- For Ottawa there’s also:
3. Recipe and Ingredients.
For Christmas this year I’m giving all the individual families in my life mason jars filled with hot cocoa. I think next year I might give them cookies, soup, or some other kind of cooking activity they can do together.
- Kids love cooking and baking! It’s not only fun and a special bonding time with parents but it also gives them a sense of control and accomplishment in their little lives. with their parents.
- You can google or pinterest search mason jar recipes or package the ingredients and hand write your own favorite recipe!
4. Dress-Up Clothes.
- Kids get tonnes of toys and clothes every holiday and birthday…but they often only get to dress up in their old halloween costumes! Parents aren’t going to want to house dozens of costumes, but a couple of hats/accessories, dresses or uniforms won’t hurt!
- Seriously check out your local dollar store first, there is also thrift stores (Value Village trip anyone?) around halloween, and then finally check out costume shops, local independant children’s stores, etc.
- For Ottawa I would suggest:
5. Outdoor Supplies.
- Another way to encourage kids (and families) to get out and be active is to get them some outdoorsy stuff. These are also often items that while valuable can be pricey and parents often don’t get around to buying.
- On the less expensive side there is: gardening equipment, beach toys/floaty toys/noodles/chairs/umbrellas and on the more expensive side there is: toboggans, skates, skis, snowboards, snowshoes, etc. Buying things end of season or “previously loved” always helps bring down the cost.
Five Things to Do with the Child *FREE OPTIONS*:
- Kids love having a special day where they’re taken out by the adults other than mommy and daddy in their lives. *Parents will obviously also love getting some alone time.
- Take them to a local free drop-in playgroup, storytime, or pool. If they’re a bit older you can take them to mini golf, go-carting, laser quest, bowling, or skating.
- In Ottawa there are so many FREE options, here’s a few:
- Another way to spend time with the child in your life is to take them to a special one-off event.
- Movie tickets, or tickets to a play, concert or sports event are really exciting! Having an event to look forward to makes the rest of life more enjoyable.
- You can create an envelope of coupons that they can “spend” at any time. Couples often do this for a valentines gift…but it works great for the kid in your life too!
- Some ideas:
- Help them out with chores
- Help them learn a skill: playing catch with them, or teach them one of your talents or hobbies
- Movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie! (This could also DOUBLE as a babysitting night for mom and dad)
- Game night/day: cards, board games, basketball, etc (whatever the child’s interest is in)
- Storytime (sit and read some books with them)
- And if you ARE the parent there’s always:
- Stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime.
- Extra 1/2 hour of screentime
- Sleepover with friends
- One Day/Week free chores
- Candy and Pizza night
9. Crafting Date.
- All kids LOVE making things with their hands- it helps develop hand eye coordination, again gives them a sense of control and accomplishment, releases energy and creativity…the benefits go on. This is another activity to do with them and a way to bond.
- Here’s some options:
- Buy a kit from a local small business craft or kids store
- Google/pinterest search specific crafts and buy the supplies, and print out the instructions
- Hit up a local arts and/or craft store and create a basket of arts and craft supplies for them to create their own vision.
10. Homemade Snacks.
- If you love to cook and/or that child is a foodie, they will love this!
- Here’s some ideas:
- Homemade granola
- Bite sizes treats: cookies, brownies, cupcakes
- Fresh made juice, eggnog, cocoa or any other of their favorite treat drinks
- If it’s a baby: fresh pureed fruits and veggies or tiny jello squarea
i. Restaurant Gift Card.
- Something else you can treat the family to- a stress free meal and a special treat to get them out of the house.
- Find out their favorite restaurant and ask them how much a dinner would cost the family, or you can always get a gift card for the local ice cream/frozen yogurt shop, local coffee place near their house, or local cupcake shop!
- If the kids are older you could buy enough for two and give them the freedom of inviting whomever they wish: it may be mom or dad; it may be a grandparent, aunt or even teacher they would like to spend more time with.
- Kids can never have too many books (and if they do, they can always donate). I know parents will love a change from the stories they’ve read five thousand three hundred and twenty two times.
- You can find out which books they repeatedly take out from the library, check out online book reviews or even just ask a staffer at your local bookstore what is new and hot for their age group.
iii. Telling Time.
Can I be honest? I STILL as a grown ass woman have trouble reading clocks with no numbers. I actually couldn’t tell time until possibly adolescence. Start them young!
- Getting them a cool watch (if they’re young one with numbers on it) that will makes them want to be able to tell time on it.
- How to make sure they think it’s cool? Well things that light up, sparkle and shine are always great, but find out what they’re favorite character is and get one of those.
iv. Games and Puzzles.
- These are a great way to keep kids entertained (and away from entertainment that requires a screen) when thry have to be indoors. It’s a good practice to have individual quiet times during the day, and having a puzzle to sit and work on by themselves helps brain development and problem solving skills. Games can teach kids too! Risk can teach geography and history skills; Monopoly and Payday can cement math skills. Memory games (like match the cards) are great for younger children.
- Learning the concept of time is great for little kids, and even as they get older they LOVE counting “how many days until ____”. Children require stability and security- they need to know what the plan is for the day, the order in which things will happen, what time friends are expected over, etc.
- You can buy a pre-made calendar with their favorite characters or you can make the family a calendar by stealing photos from each month of the past year (or years) in their social media. You can also help out the parents and kids by pre-entering family birthdays, local events, etc.
- If you’re the parent can even schedule “spontaneous days,” so they know that something different will happen that day.