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Gifts for the Kid Who Has Everything
Winter is coming. Regardless of which faith you profess to follow, there will be gatherings. There will be gifts. There will be wrapping paper, ribbons and cards. And there will be kids who are overwhelmed with the number of gifts under the tree, and the toys in their closet.
At some point in time, many households find themselves overwhelmed with gifts. Not gifts themselves, but the inevitable clutter that comes with a multitude of toys. Too many toys can cause a mess, and toys underfoot tend to get broken. Some toys are purchased with the intent of a temporary plaything. Such toys may as well be labeled "landfillers". Toys that were purchased for the sole purpose of sitting under the tree, last year's must-haves, will be this year's toys-for-tots donation.
As nice as it is to have something to donate to the toy drive every year, most parents would rather not have to find storage for unused playthings. Yet, kids still enjoy opening gifts around the holidays. And since the point of the holidays is to focus on generosity, we all want to gift our loved ones with something they will enjoy. Something that will bring a smile. We are looking for gifts that say "I was thinking of you", that let people know that we care. And sometimes we just want to fill up that checklist and get on with the holidays.
Some parents deal with the problem by limiting the number of toys accepted, which understandably unsettles more than a few of their more distant relatives. Some simply keep a constant donation or ebay pile going, which doesn't always go over well with the kids. Some secretly or not so secretly clear out the toy closet as completely as possible just before each major holiday, so the gifts that appear are appreciated all the more. The only trouble with this plan is that kids don't always get a chance to cherish the older gifts...and it makes it harder for relatives to just add on to old playsets. (Woe to the Uncle who gifts the newest Little People farm playset to the tyke whose mom already donated the farm. The gift opening may yield that grin and polite "thank you!"; but the next few weeks spent searching for the missing farm aren't going to be fun.)
So what's a gift giver to do? There is more to life than toys, and even kids can recognize that. Of course, it's fun to get something to play with. All kids should get something to play with on gift giving holidays like Christmas. But that doesn't mean that all gift givers should limit their shopping to the toy section. Of course, you could go with clothes. There are cute clothes out there, and there are some kids who will swoon at finding a ladybug rain jacket under the tree, or warm pajamas, or fuzzy slippers. But many gift givers don't want to be practical. They want to be fun and fuzzy slippers don't give everyone the same warm fuzzy gifty feeling.
So here are a few of our favorite options.
- Ranger Rick and Wild Animal Baby
Animal-riffic fun available for ages 2-14
- Kids Shop (AD) -- National Geographic Kids
Check out all the cool products available for kids on National Geographic!
- American Girl Magazine
Ideal for girls between 7 and 12.
- Cricket Magazine Group
Whether your child's interest is fiction or history, subscriptions are available for toddlers through teens.
- Highlights for Children - Magazines, Puzzle Book Clubs, Games, Gifts & Toys
Highlights for Children has been helping children become their best selves for over 60 years. Magazines, Puzzle Book Clubs, Toys, Games and Crafts for children of all ages. Find the perfect gift for the special child in your life.
- Adopt a Wild Animal Baby | Shop NWF - D2C
Some kids love animals. Many second and third grade classrooms work endangered animals and environmental concerns into the curriculum. Kids concerned about endangered species will delight in the symbolic adoptions offered by National Wildlife.
What kid doesn't love to have mail that comes addressed to them, personally? Give the gift that appears every month (or every other month) in the form of a gift subscription. There are a multitude of child-friendly publications available. You can search for one that you know your own beloved child will adore, or take a good look at a few of our favorites listed here.
Ranger Rick came out in 1967 and was so well received, they've since released magazines suitable for kids as young as 6 mos. Your Big Backyard is targeted for the early readers, age 4-7, with bright illustrations and age appropriate articles. Wild Animal Baby is officially designed for ages 2-4, but younger toddlers will enjoy the lovely illustrations on the sturdy paperboard pages, too. And, of course, the classic Ranger Rick is still going strong. It's advertised for ages 7-14.
National Geographic now offers a children's version targeted for ages 6-14, and has followed Ranger Rick's lead by coming out with a National Geographic Little Kids magazine for ages 3-6. The little kids version is easier to handle, with large photos and engaging content. Their website also offers almanacs and other media that may appeal to kids interested in nature.
American Girl is well known for their line of historical fiction and matching dolls. They also have a trendy magazine for the 7-14 'tweenage' crowd. It's chalk full of stories, crafts, quizzes and fun and the only ads included are their own. Perfect for the young tween in your household who isn't ready for the teenage publications featuring make up and boy troubles.
Kids who enjoy stories or history may look forward to a magazine from the creators of "Cricket". The best part is, if they don't care for the specific title you pick out, they can go to the Cricket Magazine website and switch their existing subscription for a more appealing title at no extra charge. The Cricket Magazine group has materials suitable for kids as young as 6 months and as old as 14. They also sponsor regular contests, encouraging readers to enter their own writing and/or artwork and offers them the opportunity to see what other readers have contributed. Some magazines even have affiliated websites, with more to explore. And there is a free iphone app that features the characters in Ladybug, their preschool 'zine.
Last but not least, Highlights for Children has expanded their offerings to include monthly puzzle clubs, where a book and clues are delivered and paid for each month. One of their club offerings is reminiscent of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?", children receive a book about a designated country and a list of clues to help solve a mystery. In the process, they learn quite a bit about geography and social studies, not to mention exercising their problem solving skills without even noticing. They also continue to offer the traditional hidden pictures magazine, which is perfect for inspiring reluctant readers.
Virtual Gifts, Virtual Worlds
Today's youth lives in a duality. They have their physical possessions, and then they have digital music, digital books, and virtual pets. Online worlds where users interact with other members are increasingly popular with kids, and their grown ups who recognize that virtual toys don't make literal clutter.
Before purchasing virtual gifts, check with your child's parents about which websites they might already use. A neo-pets giftcard does very little for that Webkinz fanatic, and less for the Club Penguin Afficienado.
There are a multitude of online universes these days, but the most popular seem to be Neo-pets and Webkinz. Generally speaking, Webkinz is most friendly for little kids, with Neo-pets for older ones. Webkinz requires the purchase of a plush pet to open an account, and virtual accessories and improved features may be purchased through the Ganz E-Store. Deluxe memberships enhance the experience with more game playing opportunities and virtual perks.
Neo-pets allows users to open an account without any purchase. Users play games to earn Neopoints, and can explore up to 18 different lands to find hidden surprises. Neo-cash cards can be purchased to buy more virtual items and enhance the gaming experience.
A Gift of Charity
Charity? Charity? Have I lost my mind? What kid wants a charitable giving gift?
Calm down for a second. I actually do know what I'm talking about! National Wildlife Federation has an awesome endangered animal 'adoption' package. You can choose an endangered animal baby, and they will send (either to the child directly, or to you for wrapping) a small plushy and some kid friendly literature about the animal. They will also use the proceeds to help save endangered species. It's a win-win situation. Kids love that they are an adoptive animal parent, they get a plushie to cuddle, and you make a donation you were probably thinking of making anyway.
If animals aren't really your niche, The Sierra Club offers sponsorship of wildlife places. For a variety of price ranges, you can choose a variety of sponsorship levels (and 'stuff' for under the tree). Sponsorship packages include plushes or a John Muir style backpack and information about the endangered wild space. While not designed specifically for kids, the plushies are very snuggly and the overall package is still fun to open. Combine the gift with an actual visit to a national park for a memory they'll treasure for a lifetime.
If you're stumped on finding that perfect gift for everyone in the family, consider a family membership gift to a local venue. Children's museums or local zoos are popular attractions that are sometimes out of the budget for the average family. Spend your holiday dollars giving them a year's worth of free visits. The kids may not 'get' it when they're sitting under the tree, but they'll appreciate that first (and second, and third) visit. Just remember to consider places the family enjoys frequenting, and places that are easily accessible. They may not be interested in an hour's drive to an amusement park, even if you think it's awesome.
It's In the Bag
Remember the old adage about kids playing with boxes, not toys? Well, it's true, sort of. Kids don't care nearly as much about what's inside the wrapping as they do about the experience of unwrapping a gift. So be creative with your presentation. An envelope denoting a magazine subscription can be prettied up. A card taped to a candy bar or box of crackers (they'll make an interesting rattle) and wrapped up in pretty paper and bows creates mystery...and extra wrapping paper to tear into.
It's the thought that counts, so think about what the child in your life will appreciate. And then present it in a memorable way. They'll thank you all year long.