When it comes to deciding what to get the kids for Christmas this year, why not do something a little different? My kids at home are very fortunate in that they already have a pile of toys. But to be honest, they’ve already lost interest in most of them, so why add more to this pile? Do our kids really need more stuff?

Before my son’s third birthday this November, his last present opening  experience was almost a year ago at Christmas, so he had sort of forgotten about the concept of opening gifts. A few months ago – before the shower of presents for this third birthday – he was so happy to get a small party box at a friend’s birthday party that he held onto it for days and insisted on going to sleep with it. He even got excited when my husband bought him new tooth paste! He thanked us over and over again and carried the box around as if it was gold. Then he turned three and he was showered with gifts again.  The appreciation of little gifts was quickly lost. It is my belief that we need to be careful not to shower our kids with too many gifts and toys because appreciating the little things is a wonderful life lesson that could easily be taught at a young age.

There are many things I can think of besides toys that my kids would just love. Below is my list of simple ideas that could save you money, that are eco-friendly, and that will help send the right message that gifts can come in many shapes and forms:

1. On the top of the list, is a fort. A cardboard box fort, one that has doors and windows and the kids can draw on the outside. Perhaps you can make it the night before so they can find it in the morning. You can go even further and make it look like a castle. The more doors and windows and spaces they can crawl into the better. Connect different size boxes to make different rooms.

2.  Time with mom or dad on their own. I know they might not appreciated this right away but there is nothing kids enjoy more than some alone time, without their siblings, with just mom or dad. Get dad to take a day off work and spend it just with one. There is no better gift, or better day for a little boy, than a full day with just dad.

3.  Make them their very own story book. Get them involved by colouring in the pictures and making hand prints. A little work for mom but they will love it just as much a bought book. And make the story about them. My boys love that!

4. Buy white t-shirts and material paints and let them make their very own t-shirts.

Discovery Scouts Handprint t-shirt front

5. Make a set of juggling balls from balloons.  These are great makeshift “hacky-sacks” for an energetic child.

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6. If they’re old enough take them to a movie with mom and dad – perhaps their first movie.

7. Take them for a horse or camel ride.

8. Make them a go cart. Dad would have to help with this one but an old fashioned go cart made of wood and old collected scraps. It’s not only about the fun they will have with the go cart but the enjoyment they will get in making the cart with their dad.

9. Print out some silly faces and  glue them to ice-cream sticks to bring giggles to your kids faces.

10. Make a set of personalised cards – a picture of their favourite things, or photos of the family and friends, with a reason why you love them on each card.

Please feel free to comment below if you have anymore ideas to share, we’d love to hear from you!