truly the best gifts for kids

Another re-post because this is too good to be buried deep within my massive site. These are damn brilliant ideas that keep even me on my toes.

Half the joy of any cool home gifts is the anticipation of it. Look at the pleasure we get in planning a trip, for example. It’s part of the fun to choose the destinations, research the restaurants, collect recommendations from friends, plan the outfits to pack, etc. It’s why we choose, among all the toys featured in circulars, to offer up gifts of experience to our children, truly the best gifts for kids, along with one or two of those featured dreamhouse toys.

Tickets to a show, however, aren’t much fun to unwrap. The below items are gifts that are fun to receive, in and of themselves, but also are presents that can be linked with an experience.

Gift socks and stuff with coupons to local bounce house!
Stuff coupons to the nearest BOUNCE HOUSE into fun new socks! And yes, Dad gets new socks, too, so he may be the one to take the kids to the bounce house while mama stays home and eats bonbons, thanks.

Personalized Penguin Sleeping Bag

First, personalized sleeping bags are just special. They’re thoughtful and sweet. If you had a sleeping bag as a child, I’m sure you remember it in remarkable detail. It’s odd, but true. Whether the card to this gift includes a promise to an upcoming sleepover at a friend’s home, with cousins, at their grandparents’ homes, or for a family sleep-out in the living room or backyard, it’s a gift they’ll relish.

 - Smore the Merrier Plush Campfire Set

The S’more the Merrier Campfire – it’s not only the perfect prop for any sleepover, but it’s also awesome for family meetings. You sit in a circle, and whomever is holding the stick with the marshmallow does the talking. It’s also wonderful for imaginative play, and particularly for story telling. What a delicious setting for the sharing of stories and songs. I love this! It also makes the perfect gift TO GIVE when your child is invited to a pajama party!

Kids Winter Toys: Kids Snowman In A Sack Kit - Snowman in a Sack Kit

I LOVE this Snowman in a Sack as a gift idea to give the experience of a trip to somewhere cold. If you live somewhere warm, to give this gift with a note, promising a trip up to New York, or off to a weekend of skiing! It’s also a wonderful gift to give, “For our Family Snow Day!” I’d also throw in some packets of hot chocolate mix.

The Piccolo Chef Cookbook
The Piccolo Chef Cookbook: Healthy Cooking with Your Kids
, along with a Zyliss Lettuce Knife (shown in the pages of the book, where children can learn to properly use, and hold, a chef’s knife, makes an exciting gift, with a promise to spend time together in the kitchen… where your child gets to choose the recipe from the book that you’ll create together. The bookmark inside might say, “For an upcoming afternoon with a friend of your choosing.” When you make it social, it’s even more exciting to kids. Personally, I’m wrapping this book and knife in Natural Canvas Kid Aprons along with fabric markers, so the kids can decorate their own aprons, and the friends may leave the play date with a keepsake.

Secrets of Space Kit with Tickets to the Planetarium
Tickets to the planetarium or science museum along with a science themed gift, like this The Magic School Bus: The Secrets of Space kit.  Mind you, you can print the logo from your local museum’s website, or the schedule, whatever. The point is to link the future experience with the gift in front of them.

Gift Rainbow Loom with a card for an art class or tickets to an art museum
Anything from Rainbow Loom to Sun Art Paper, include tickets to an art museum or a note about art lessons or with an invitation for your child to invite a friend home to create something special together.


Tea cups, good for an afternoon of tea OR an invitation to tea used as a bookmark in a Fancy Nancy book.

Other ideas for experiences we’ve gifted in the past:

– Train-related toys for Lucas, with “tickets” to the train museum
– Went to the local frozen yogurt shop and took some cups and plastic spoons, flyers, and labeled the gift as an afternoon of frozen delights! It’s something you do anyway, but unwrapped, it’s an experience to anticipate!
– A bathing suit, goggles and pool toys, along with a note about swim lessons!
– Leotard with a card about gymnastics classes
– Trip to feed the giraffes at the zoo with a stuffed giraffe
– Fishing & Seashore themed gift (either gift books, fishing poles, sand toys) with a note about a trip to the beach or out fishing

– Family Pirate Picnic at Pirate’s Cove: (We bought a Thomas the Train Pirate’s Cove Pirate Ship and also Jake & the Neverland Pirate’s costumes, along with an invitation to a Pirate Picnic!)

The key is to give gifts tied to specific experiences, so it’s not about “the toy” and it’s more about “the event” and time spent together as a family. Although some gifts will be just that, a gift, no strings or promises attached…

It will all go by too fast. The wrapping paper stuffed into a garbage bag, piles of toys to be put away, a mention of who got to open more gifts than the other (despite it being even), then the cleaning, the company, and thankfully, the wine. I love every sip of it, the dress to unimpress clothes, treat bags filled with homemade cookies, hot mulled alcohol in one version or another, meeting parents, meeting friends, remembering names, forgetting rules and yourself, coming, finding, and going… home. Experience it all!

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  1. I love these gift ideas!

    This year one of the gifts I’ve given our family is season tickets to a nearby theatre, which by calendar necessity I had to pre-give. My husband and I saw John Oliver last weekend, next up is Blue Man Group for me and my youngest son, then my husband and oldest son are going to BB King, oldest son and I are going to see We Will Rock You… and so on. We’re all pretty excited to have a slew of cool things already on the calendar.

    When my sons were younger, I did Christmas gifts by areas. Each child got a book, an art item, an outdoor play item, an imaginative play item, an item of clothing, and one thing for his room.

  2. This is the best gift my son has ever received. If your kid likes dinosaurs, this is the educational toy to get. It lets you do an ‘archaeological dig’ to find dinosaur bones, learn the skeletal system of dinosaurs and we could all do it together.

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