A Parent's Guide to Buying Christmas Presents

A Parent's Guide to Buying Christmas Presents

What shall I buy the kids for Christmas?

 I’m sure your children will have some very definite ideas about what they want for Christmas if they are old enough to understand how the, ‘gift thing’ works.  But what children want and what they need are not always the same thing! I thought I would offer some thoughts about what you could give your children, which they will enjoy and hugely benefit from.  Here’s my Christmas shopping list for parents!

  • A gift of time. Last year, my brother-in-law gave us, his sister and her partner a gift of a weekend away together and it was priceless.  Perhaps you could give your child a voucher for a picnic, breakfast together at a café, a day out as a family, all paid for, with tickets and set in stone in your diary. Or even ‘stocking fillers’ such as a walk in the woods with a stick fight, obstacle course or fairy den activity at the end of it, or perhaps a games night or film night.  Whatever you choose, please know this – no gift is worth as much to a child as your undivided attention and special time spent together. 
  • A special book that you will read or share with your child. Snuggling up with a book or two is something else children crave, where you are reading, so no pressure on them, just a lovely chat about something you are both really interested in. There are lots of websites these days that tell you some of the best books available for your child’s age group. 
  • Something you have made for them. Even if it’s just a Christmas Card, nothing says you are loved more than a home-made gift
  • Toys – this is tricky because I don’t know how old your child is, but these are the types of gift I have tried to give my children over the years: Open ended toys such as wooden bricks/blocks, wooden train track, small world figures, animals, dinosaurs, cars. By open-ended, I mean the opposite of those toys where you press a button and it does or say something.  Open ended toys require children to bring something of their own imagination to the play and are much better for them as a result.  Duplo (for 3’s and under), Lego, Knex, Cleversticks, are all good examples of toys that require your children to think, problem-solve and be creative. 
  • Board Games – please play board games with your children – for a huge number of reasons. Firstly, they require turn-taking, following rules, strategy, problem-solving, processes and so on.  Secondly, they give children the opportunity, in a safe place, to learn how to win well, lose well and control their feelings of disappointment, while learning how to congratulate others.  Next, there are all sorts of Literacy, Maths, Citizenship, History and Geographical knowledge and skills to be learned from games.  Our family favourites include; The Great Game of Britain, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Draughts, Chinese Chequers, Chess, Risk, Splendour, Sequence, Linkee, Rummikub and Boggle.  (My favourite is Scrabble but they won’t play and don’t mention Monopoly)
  • Stationery, arts and craft items, including tools such as hole punch and scissors, connectors such as Sellotape, masking tape, pipe cleaners, PVA glue and so on. Give them coloured paper and card, shiny paper, buttons and see what they create, especially if you save a few junk items such as boxes, cartons, pots and such.  My Mum gave my sister and I a box with these items plus felt pens, coloured pencils every Christmas and we spent hours making things. Please don’t buy colouring in books – you will not grow your child’s confidence in their own creativity unless you stick to plain paper.  Let them draw their own outline and colour that in!
  • Convert an old bureau into a desk/workstation. This is the best gift we gave our daughter and we should have done the same for our sons.  These old dark wood items cost as little as £30 in junk or second-hand furniture shops.  They easily upcycle with chalk paint and you can fill them with themed stationery such as fairy stuff, Marvel Characters or whoever your child is in to at the time. 


    • Outdoor toys. If your child is into a sport, then Christmas is easy!  Otherwise, what about a little woodland kitchen in the garden?  You can easily make one from a couple of wooden palettes and add old kitchenalia to furnish it.  Make sure your child has a small amount of mud and water and add sticks, seeds, petals, leaves and anything else that you can pick in the garden or from the woods floor and they will play for hours!


    • Cardboard boxes. People moan that they spend loads of money on gifts when their children would rather play with the box, but have you ever wondered why?!  It’s the ultimate open-ended gift that can be anything!  By adding thick felt pens for decoration and helping them out with a craft knife by cutting out windows etc, children can create anything in the world – rockets, cars, ships, houses, dens, traps, the list is literally endless, as is the fun!  The bigger the box, the better the play!

    Happy Christmas Shopping!

    Rachel X