Sunday, November 8, 2015

Off the beaten path gift ideas for kids.

I frequently hear parents and grandparents lament that they have “no idea” what to buy for their children this Christmas. While we can all agree that most of our kids have plenty and need nothing there’s something magical about watching a child open a gift on Christmas morning. Here are some ideas for gifts that step out of the box a bit. If you’re looking for more gift ideas for the whole family head on over to my friend Melissa at everydaysavvy and check out her lists! I’ve tried to stick to items that are low-tech and reasonably priced with a few splurges here and there. I supplied only a few age guidelines, as I find there’s a wide age range of when children are ready for most toys, as well as when they are ready to give them up. I am not being compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own!

For your tiny Picasso!

A subscription to Kiwi Crate, Doodle Crate, or Tinker Crate

These subscription boxes contain everything a child needs to complete a project, usually down to the scissors and glue! The projects are generally unique and most of them can be completed independently by the child. My girls have received crates from all 3 brands at one time or another and we have enjoyed them all immensely, though if I had to pick a favorite it would be Kiwi Crate for the age’s 4-8 crowd.The Kiwi Crate company also offers Koala Crate for younger children, but my family does not have direct experience with that option.

Shrinkable Fairy Tales and Pirates

Its designer shrinky dinks! These craft kits would be a great wintertime option for when your kiddos are tired of being cooped up indoors and in need of a distraction.

I can’t recommend Hearthsong and their sister company MagicCabin highly enough for low-tech high-imagination toys and crafts. This beeswax candle kit allows kids a chance to craft candles that can be used for family celebrations or given as gifts.

My 8-year old received one of these Lille Huset houses for her last birthday, and it’s been a joy to watch her craft furniture for it and decorate it.

These crayons have a lovely soft texture that allows for blending and mixing with ease. They can also be diluted with water brushing. The Chinaberry website is also a great resource for book recommendations.

For Game Lovers!  


Our family loves all the games from Think Fun, but Chocolate Fix is probably our favorite. The Think Fun games are logic based, and encourage mathematical thinking. They can be played solo, or with a parent sitting by to assist, and are a great size for travel.

Castle Logix is another logic based game. The quality of the pieces is lovely, and it can be played with for several years as your child’s skills grow. It’s also a ton of fun, especially for two children to work on the challenges together.

Elysium is new to me, but is on the shopping list for my Percy Jackson loving Greek Mythology buffs this year. It was a nominee mention the highly sought Spiel Des Jahres (Game of the Year) award. 

Eeboo tell me a story cards work for a wide age range, and can serve as a basic storytelling game for preschoolers, as well as to provide writing prompts for older children. Several different themed sets exist.

For Your Tiny Architect


Magnatiles represent the best money our family has ever spent on a toy. My 11-year old received a set for her 3rd birthday, but we have been adding to our collection ever since. These have been enjoyed (and sometimes fought over) by every child who has come to our home for a playdate, and even adults enjoy them. The cost is a bit steep, but they are well worth it for a quality kid-powered toy.  They are also quite useful when your children begin to learn fractions and geometric shapes.

Snap circuits encourage a basic understanding of electric circuitry, and allow kids to independently build operational items like radios, lights and alarms. They are easy enough for a 6-8 year old to figure out with some assistance, but interesting enough to occupy older kids as well. Pictured below is the junior set, but there is a wide assortment of sets available for a variety of ability levels and price points.

Shopping for a Lego fan? Both of these sets from Klutz contain some unique Lego pieces that can be hard to find, and provide lots of ideas for S.T.E.M. related Lego Play. They are also very well priced!

To spark tiny imaginations

Playsilks are one of the toys my children used the longest. They also fall in the category of one where adults wonder what they are for, but kids know. My kids used these to play peekaboo as toddlers, to make landscapes for pretend play as preschoolers and to dress up for years. They actually still get pulled from our dress up bin once in a while, which makes 10 years of play for our set. You can pre-made silks as linked above, or order blanks and die your own with Kool aid. 

This beautiful acorn house filled with felted wool animals would be a lovely addition to playtime for any child. Magic Cabin also carries several other styles of similar playsets. $24.95 is a steal for a playset made of natural materials!

This one crosses over to the truly expensive side of shopping, but if you’re in the  mood for a splurge and are a Sherlock Holmes fan you may want to check out this detective outfit from Land of Nod.

For Babies/Toddlers


Bijou Kitty Teddy Bear.

If you are seeking out a cuddly friend for someone tiny in your life look no further than Land of Nod’s selection of beautiful items. This teddy by Bijou Kitty is my personal favorite, but they have many lovely options. 

Haba of Germany designs heirloom quality l wood and fabric toys. Most are made in Germany as well. This Moby toy and first blocks set were favorites of both my girls as babies, but Oompa carries a vast selection of other items from Haba and other quality retailers. 

This “lawn mower” toy makes a lovely sound as it is pushed. Your toddler will love it, and the construction means you can hand it down to grandchildren one day. 

In search of a small gift for a brand new baby? These squeakers by Meia and Alvin are just the ticket.

If you need to make a splash for a larger baby gift the Be On The Sea floormat from Land of Nod will not only occupy baby, but will blend in nicely with any d├ęcor. This one is another splurge item.



  1. I gave Castle Logix to my nephews but I'm not sure it ever made it out of the box because it doesn't blink. Hmm. I love the idea of it. And those squeaker mice!!

  2. How did I not know you had a blog? Nice list! :)