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Creative Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

christmas gift ideas for kids

Creative Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

By Sarah Walla – Sarah is a Mom & a Principal at

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” Oh NO!!!

Does anyone else have this sense of panic when you blink, and it’s the holidays again?  What do people want? What are the best Christmas gift ideas? How can I shop locally and not just support Jeff Bezos?  What are the current shipping times?  And how can I be kind to my wallet?  No?  Is it just me?

Christmas as a Kid

Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is meant to be magical.  It should be a time of reflection, gratitude, love, and giving.  At least that’s my take.  Or at least what I’d like it to be.  Growing up, of course, I loved Christmas. I’d obsess over one major toy (OMG Barbie Dream House!!) and send all the messages I could to Santa (and my parents).  I would dream and manifest and give myself major anxiety.  And then Christmas would come, and my wishes would be fulfilled, or maybe not.  But either way, we got through it, amongst the socks and handmade sweaters from Aunt so-and-so.  After opening gifts as a family, we’d always visit our extended family, which I think I pouted about at the time, but looking back, it was my favorite part.  My sister and brother and I would get dressed up in our new handmade sweaters, get to choose one new gift to bring, and get to hide and play and stuff ourselves with candies in an unfamiliar house.  Pretty magical!

Christmas as a Parent

christmas gift giving christmas gift ideas for kids

Now that I’m a parent, I enjoy creating the memories that I want.  The decorations, the traditions, the feeling that “all is well.” It’s slightly different with my daughter having two homes, but now she gets two Christmases!  Aaaand I don’t have to carry the entire burden of coming up with Christmas gift ideas myself.  When my ex and I were married and our daughter was young, we agreed that we didn’t want our house to turn into a kids’ playland.  I think my worst nightmare is stepping on a sharp Lego while trying to escape an inescapable mass of colorful, loud, obnoxious, ridiculous toys everywhere.  Is that just me?  I grew up in homes where the rooms had designated uses: cooking, eating, watching TV, sleeping, and playing.  We kids kept our stuff where it belonged and lost very few things.  Our houses seemed clean and airy, with plenty of room for moving around, entertaining, and relaxing.  Our bedrooms and playroom (or basement) contained all our toys, carefully organized.

I wanted to create this same feeling in my adult home.  I wanted family, friends, and guests to walk in and feel comfortable and good.  Not assaulted by toys all over the couch and blocks to step over.  To me, this is healthy!  When our daughter was young, I kept a basket of toys in the living room for easy access, but the rest was in the basement playroom or nursery.  I had a lot of fun recycling things like glass jars and pill bottles, filling them with coins or beans for her to shake and discover.  I focused on getting her simple yet encouraging toys like multicolor blocks with different textures and sounds.  We stayed away from battery-operated noisemakers as we all know that kids are more interested in the toy boxes anyway!  And selfishly, I  didn’t want constant noise that wasn’t good for anything.

The Best Christmas Gift Ideas Creates Meaningful Experiences 

This Christmas, I wanted to focus on quality and not quantity. I’ve witnessed kids who receive 30+ gifts under the tree and tear through them like wild animals… barely able to process and appreciate what they’ve just received before they are on to the next.  How do we teach thankfulness and the power of a dollar with that?  For this reason, we’ve tried to focus on what our daughter really wants and would keep her interested for a substantial amount of time.  Quality cherished gifts, not an avalanche of stuff.  Luckily, my daughter is really into art and not horses, haha!

But seriously, have you walked through any art stores lately?  Other than the craft aisle at Target?  The selection and options are amazing… it makes me want to quit my job and become an artist!  To get my daughter a nice set of new pastels that she hasn’t worked with before and some fancy paper is more enriching and exciting to her than a new Barbie!  AND it works in my favor when we are having our “no screen time” routine and she starts whining about being bored… what did you do with those pastels from Christmas?  And she’s off arting up a storm in her room or at the kitchen table.  Fine family fun!

I also invested in one of the American Girl Bitty Baby dolls for her years ago.  She really wanted one and we had a lovely afternoon going to the store where she could pick the baby of her dreams and name it (Baby Ariel for the win).  I think American Girl has such great pricing and quality, and such fun little accessories and products!  I still have my retired Samantha doll on display… is it just me?  We love the idea of adding to a collection, to further inspire creative play with something that is well-loved but needs some new flair.  And I think all these dolls teach our little humans how to take care of things and love things.

Christmas Gift Giving: My Final Thoughts

This year, now that my daughter is 6, I feel I can get a little more creative with her.  I currently have a kid version of a 3D Printer that I saw on Instagram hiding in the garage for her. Let’s graduate from pastels to an actual toy printer of endless possibility!  I may be more excited about this than she ever will be, but just like cooking and cleaning, we can encourage her creativity.  I also want to implement a tradition that my father did years ago… donating to a worthy cause!  I want to give my daughter a “voucher” and help her research charities or services that she can give the money to as a way to give back. I’ll never forget my little brother donating to the “Heifer International” fund, which helps supply cows to families in poorer countries for economic stability. We’ve spoken a lot about homeless people and people who need medical help or food… but who knows what other things she may have on her mind when we start talking about it.  The options are endless, and I hope that this gives her a sense of purpose and duty.

This all may sound very controlling, but I know I cannot control everything at this point.  My daughter may receive a floor piano from a family member or a fart noise maker from her dad… and these are all great.  But these don’t tend to last.  They lose their fun (or batteries) and end up dusty in a closet.  The best Christmas gift ideas are quality and lasts.  Giving to something you care about that helps people last.  Maybe this will all change as kids get older, but hopefully, the memories of simple things that can be loved all year last through their lifetime.  And maybe they’ll pass this on to their own kids one day!

However, you choose to celebrate your holidays is wonderful.  It is hard to escape the magic of the season regardless of what you do or what you buy.  I just hope that we can raise a generation of kids that don’t just look to Christmas as receiving a ton of stuff, but as receiving a couple of really special items to enjoy for a long time and also giving back.  As far as Christmas gift-giving is concerned, simplicity is wonderful and not appreciated enough, so maybe save those large Amazon boxes for your kids to decorate in different ways and build and remember for years to come.  Mother Earth and your wallet will thank you!

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