Saturday, 20 December 2014

Last minute gift ideas for kids (that aren't toys)

We all know what the last minute Christmas rush is like. I don’t know about you but regardless of how organised or well prepared I think I am, there is always a Christmas Eve dash for gifts to fill stockings or to add to other presents. Now that I am a mum I am learning just how many toys children receive as gifts. Alexander’s birthday is in June and we still have a cupboard full of gifts that we are slowly bringing out one at a time so he can actually play with and enjoy them.

As Christmas approaches, way too quickly, I have been searching around for gifts for kids that aren’t toys. I have nieces and nephews too and I know they all have plenty of toys to keep them occupied so I’d rather give something a little different.

So here is a list of alternatives that I have come up with for presents for kids.

1 – Movie Tickets – who doesn’t love a good day out at the movies? Tickets are quite expensive now so going to the movies is a real treat. Perfect gift to keep on hand for rainy days or school holidays. Movie tickets usually last around 12 months and you can sometimes buy actual tickets or a gift card for a specified amount allowing for extras like popcorn and drinks.

2 – Books – I add books to this list because in no way do I believe they fall under the banner of toys. Books are a gift that lasts a lifetime. I still have a collection of books from my childhood and absolutely treasure them. Alexander has a lot of book collections, such as Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl and whenever friends or family have children the first thing we purchase for them is usually a book collection.

Dr Seuss has an amazing collection of books right from very basic books with just a few words on each page to more advanced paragraphs. Dr Seuss books are always positive and our absolute favourite is 'Oh The Places You'll Go'
Books are a timeless gift that everybody loves. 

3 – Tickets to a Zoo or Theme Park – Give an adventure as a gift. If there is a Zoo or Theme Park within driving distance then this is a great gift. Usually family passes can be purchased so this can even be a gift for the whole family. Again, most tickets are valid for up to 12 months so it gives plenty of time to prepare and arrange a day to go. There is so much to see and do at these places, this gift will be a hit with everyone.

4 – Animal Encounters – Some Zoo’s offer hands on time with the animals. We live a few hours from Australia Zoo which has an amazing array of animal encounters available. I’ve received these as gifts before and have been able to walk a Cheetah, feed a Lemur and pat a White Rhinoceros. For smaller children there are encounters with Dingo’s, Wombats and various farmyard animals available too.

5 – Adopt an Animal – Keeping with the above theme, some Zoo’s offer the ability to ‘adopt’ an animal. For a small fee you can ‘adopt’ an animal for a year and the money you pay goes towards helping maintain their enclosure and care for the animal. You usually are given a certificate and a picture of the animal so children can take it to school for show and tell and display it proudly at home.

6 – Music Lessons – Some children would love the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument but music lessons can be quite expensive. If you have a child that is musically inclined then there is always the ability to give friends and family the option of purchasing lessons for your little one to learn their desired instrument. Before you know it you’ll have a heap of lessons paid for in advance and your child will be so excited as each lesson passes and they learn more and more.

7 – Craft Supplies – Children love to be creative. There are so many different craft supplies available now and with the help of Pinterest, the possibilities and ideas of craft projects are endless. You can also go a little further and add in storage and organisation units for craft supplies. Steve came up with a great idea to organise ours – he purchased a tool box and set each section out at the length needed to store various crayons, pencils and pens. Now it’s easy access them and even easier to keep them sorted.

A great idea to store and organise your craft supplies is to use a tool box or a tackle box. They are significantly cheaper and often come with little inserts that allow you to customise the dimensions of each compartment. We use a small tool box to store the array of pens, pencils and crayons we have.
Store pens, pencils and crayons in a tool box or tackle box. 

8 – Dress Up Costumes – The imagination of children never ceases to amaze me. The stories and fantasies they come up with are absolutely fantastic. Dress up costumes allow the children to use their imagination and the possibilities are endless. Most cheap shops sell different costumes and accessories so there is no need for this to be an expensive present by any means. You could always purchase a few different options and let the children take control of their play time, then sit back and watch their imaginations unfold.

9 – Pool Pass – it’s summer here in Australia and Australian summers are hot. As kids my Nan would give us a pool pass for Christmas and we thought it was absolute gold. It gave us endless admissions for summer and we would spend every chance we had there. This would still be possible in cooler climates with pools that are heated and have climate control. Swimming lessons are always a great option to accompany this too. It is vital that children know how to swim and how to be safe around water and swimming lessons teach them this while they have fun. It’s a win/win situation.

So there’s a few last minute ideas for Christmas presents that not only won’t break your budget but will offer a fantastic alternative to the usual toys we find ourselves gravitating towards.

What non-toy presents are you giving your children this year?