Children are dropping letters in the mail to Santa and letting parents know what they want for the holidays.
For many parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents however, the idea of bringing toys into the house that aren't likely to be played with past New Year's Eve has them looking for alternatives.
The good news is that there are plenty options for great gifts. This year we have 10 bright ideas.
1. Exercise equipment
While children might not appreciate the gift of good health, they can appreciate fun that makes them fit. Try a mini trampoline for indoor use or go for a larger model for outdoor use. Or consider a moon bounce. As with trampolines, small ones may fit indoors (measure your ceilings before buying) or large ones can be used outdoors.
If bouncing isn't your thing, try a basketball hoop (even a small indoor version), a jump rope, or new two wheeler. There are Backyard Ninja kits and colourful river stones and hilltops that can be used to create in-home obstacle courses.
Nearly every child likes to draw or write. Any simple book with paper will do, but kids will love a real journal with a lock or personalised with an initial or photo. Fans of Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer will love a Peck & Revere Journal designed for noting down bright ideas. Many kids love the Wreck This Journal with creative prompts throughout.
3. Books and beyond
Books are an obvious non-toy gift, but think beyond the ordinary for the holidays. If you are always on the go or your older child reads a ton, try a subscription to Audio Books that syncs your reading progress across multiple devices.
Younger kids will enjoy a personalised book that can put them in any story from a Christmas adventure to a Frozen or Star Wars story. Or, go the more traditional route with a boxed set of books for little kids, choose from a set of classic series that come with a personalised book band with the recipient's name or make your own set like one from Puffin Classics.
While kids likely won't be excited about a new living-room sofa, they would love their own kid-friendly piece, like a comfy beanbag chair, a new desk, or a kid-sized table for play and snacks. Or, try something fun like a race-car themed bed that will last for years.
Clothes are a necessity, but they don't have to be boring. Does your grandchild want an expensive pair of jeans or sneakers? Do your grandkids clamour for every Pokemon shirt they see? The holidays are a great time to splurge on these types of clothing items. Specialty clothing your kids need for activities like dance, soccer, or even playing in the snow make great gifts.
6. How-to and then do
Does your grandchild love to help you make cookies? Try a pastry cookbook, along with a package of ingredients and an apron. Has your child shown an interest in photography? Try a book like Photo Adventures for Kids along with something kid-friendly like the Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Share that allows users to print or share directly from the camera.
The possibilities are endless from gardening and building projects to coding and travel planning.
7. Pocket knife and tools
Many children get a lot of joy from handling something grown-up and making something with their own hands. Other children take pride in having their own hammer to help with projects around the house. As long as your child is old enough to understand safety parameters, they will be delighted with a gift that shows you trust them and that they can use to help out around the house or create.
8. Book of their artwork
Many kids create artwork at an astonishing rate - and get very upset if they find one of their masterpieces in the trash. Solve your clutter problem and address your child's attachment issues with a book of their artwork. Snap a photo of any piece of artwork then print a book of their artwork.
Find a way to incorporate music into your holiday giving. Make a new "mix tape" on a CD or phone of your child's favourites. Or, take the opportunity to introduce her to all new music. Another option is to create a personalised song, such as those available from Instasong that you can create online in about three minutes. Try a kid-friendly Karaoke machine like a Singing Machine that has a large screen from which kids can read lyrics and comes with a real microphone.
10. Anything they need
Think creatively about upcoming purchases that can double as gifts. Will your son need a new bike helmet? Does your daughter have a camping trip coming up and needs a sleeping bag? Are your paints and crayons in need of replacements? The holidays are a perfect time to give these things to your children.
If you feel a little guilty buying something for the holidays that you would purchase anyway, consider an upgrade such as a backpack with a character if you would normally buy a solid colour or a bike helmet with a Mohawk or fun animal ears.
What are you getting your grandkids this Christmas?
Written by Jamie Davis Smith. Republished with permission of Stuff.co.nz.