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30 Simple Gifts for Kids

boy with giftWe’ve all been there: you need fresh gift ideas for your child’s upcoming birthday or the holidays. While cash and gift cards are appropriate at times, they can lack significance.  That’s why we’ve compiled this list of unique and clutter-free ideas that have the potential to create memories, too.

  1. Ask for your child’s input to determine a cause that is important to him/her. Plan an event together where that charity will benefit.  Ask guests to bring donations in lieu of a gift. Organize on a sign up! SAMPLE
  2. Splurge on your child’s favorite treat: movie, horseback riding, arcade, laser tag, ice skating.  Take a friend along, or better yet, just enjoy some one-on-one time.
  3. Buy a book and movie that goes with it.  Counsel your child to read the book FIRST, then watch the movie together.  An entire series of books/movies is an option, although more expensive:. Think: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games.  Just make sure the book is on his/her level, and check the rating on the movie. 
  4. Have a “Yes Day” where you say yes to requests you would typically put off, within reason of course.  Ice cream? YES. Wear Batman costume to Target?  Play video games with you for two hours?  Do Play-Doh together for an hour?  Sure, why not?!
  5. Does grandma/grandpa need some ideas?  Suggest they take your child to a favorite restaurant for lunch and then an activity.  Gift idea and quality time all rolled into one!
  6. Share one of your interests with your child.  Use a birthday as an opportunity to take him/her to a play, sporting event, concert, shopping, fishing – you get the idea!
  7. Give an item that encourages physical activity: soccer ball, jump rope, scooter, swimming goggles.
  8. If a family member would like to do something special for your child but distance or time is a problem, have them send a check towards a 529 College Account.  They can also set one up on their own for your child.  Each state is different, so do your research first.
  9. Give your kiddo a coupon book with “Free Pass” cards that gets him/her off the hook for a day:  clean room, walk dog, make bed, put away laundry.
  10. Have a family member who lives far away and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on a gift? Suggest a tradition of sending a card with money that equals your child’s age.  Your kiddo will look forward to a “raise” each year!

Gift lists made easy! Create a wish list and email it out to family members. SAMPLE

Birthday party or New Year's celebration sign up
  1. A unique idea for his/her room:  Buy an empty glass lamp that can be opened.  Together, stuff it with his/her collection of model cars, small stuffed animals, or seashells.
  2. Need a fabulous gift idea?  Give a family gift: trampoline, playset, or a vacation!
  3. Teach your child how to invest.  Put $200 in a financial services account, do some online research together, and then invest the money.  Watch it grow (or not!)
  4. Have a hobby you want to share?  Buy the supplies and teach your child:  knitting, art, hiking, hunting, fishing, crochet, cross-stitch.
  5. Young children sometimes appreciate the packaging more than the actual gift. Save shoe boxes, cereal boxes, you name it. Create a fort together, and have a picnic inside!
  6. Together, build and decorate a piggy bank out of recycled materials, such as a shoe box.  Make three slots:  spending, saving, charity.  Teach your child about these concepts, give them a “startup” amount and a weekly allowance.  Not so keen on the piggy bank idea?  Start a spreadsheet that tracks all of this.
  7. Instead of a birthday party and gift, take your child and family to an amusement park, aquarium, or water park for the day.  Tell the birthday girl/boy to invite a friend.
  8. Buy a yearly membership or season pass to a zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, or amusement park.  Purchase season tickets to the theater, sporting event, ballet, or orchestra.
  9. Your child wants horseback riding lessons or karate.  Give him/her a few months of lessons, or have relatives contribute towards lessons.
  10. Is an expensive summer camp on the horizon? Give your child a “Camp Admission Ticket,” or have family members contribute towards the camp.

SignUpGenius Payments will help you organize and collect for group gifts.

  1. Give a journal or diary for writing down thoughts and dreams.
  2. Clutter alert:  Keepsakes.  Kids love “special” items that have meaning, like a collectible coin from his/her birth year, model car, cedar box, miniature tea set, jewelry box with a twirling ballerina, antique doll.
  3. Give a purse or wallet, with a little spending money tucked in there.
  4. Pay for a class in cake decorating, pottery, or knitting.  Go together!  Bonus!
  5. Your child is begging for a puppy or cell phone, and you’re about to give in?  Wait for a holiday or birthday for these surprises.  WOW Factor and gift shopping are done!  BAM!
  6. No one spoils a child more than grandma or grandpa!  Suggest a sleepover at the grandparents house for a birthday gift.  Note to self: kiddo might need an immediate sugar detox upon returning home!
  7. Give a personalized gift, such as a sign for his/her door, or a bulletin board.  You can buy paint pens and write a name on just about anything!
  8. An activity he/she can do independently, minus the screen time.  Cross stitch, an electronic dartboard, painting supplies.
  9. Don’t like any of these ideas?  Think deeply about the person to whom you are giving.  Is there anything they: 1) want, 2) need, 3) wear, or 4) read.
  10. Give the gift of your time and undivided attention.  Doing something you both love.  That’s what you both will really remember.
Now that you have the perfect gift idea for your child, have some fun setting the plan to action!

Emily Mathias is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC.