Toys That Have Lasting Appeal
With pencil and paper in hand, you sit beside your birthday boy and watch as he hastily tears off the brightly-colored wrapping paper. He holds up the shiny metallic robot-looking thing with a hundred different colored buttons and a long antenna hanging out of its head. He yells, "Cool!" then quickly hands it to you and picks up another gift. As you write down the name of the child who gave the gift to your son, you make a mental bet with yourself on how long he'll play with it before it sinks to the bottom of the toy box with the other 17 robot-looking toys he has already. Two days? Three, tops.
Picking out a gift for a child can be a tedious job, especially if you don't know the child well. Many parents gravitate toward the "trendy" toys ingeniously placed at the front of the toy section at the store. Figures from the current hot movies, toys that light up, glow, walk, talk and have a million little pieces can be found here. Parents often forget that the simple, basic toys are the ones that are played with the most. Next time, walk past the trendy toys at the store and buy a gift with lasting appeal.
Kids love to make things! Art supplies are always in demand and make great gifts. Colored paper and pencils, markers (washable!), fancy-edged scissors, stencils, modeling clay, finger paints and paintbrushes are just a few of the items kids love to work with. How about an easel for the young artist to display his masterpieces? Don't forget a smock for protecting clothes. Find a nice box or plastic container to store new supplies in to make the gift extra special.
"I have a lot of children to buy for at Christmas," says Sherry. "One year I picked up some sturdy plastic buckets with handles for a dollar each. Over the course of a few months, I picked up crafty items at the dollar store -- pencils, crayons, markers, stickers, erasers, pipe cleaners, glue, sparkles, doodle pads -- and had a long line of baskets in the basement I slowly filled up. What a hit! And, each basket cost me around $10.00."
Little Colored Blocks
"Everyone I know loves Legos," says Sandy. "From the big toddler-size blocks to the little ones that hurt your feet when you step on them."
Will Lego and Tinkertoys ever go out of style? Probably not. Kids love constructing all sorts of things with these brightly-colored blocks. They make great gifts because they can be added to over the years. From basic sets to elaborate zoos, police stations, fire stations, beauty shops and horse stables, you should be able to find a set to match any child's interests.
"I have seven children," says Rebecca. "My oldest children really love Legos. I enjoy Legos because they encourage my children to work with their hands and to be inventive and creative." So, instead of giving the child a robot, give him a set of Legos or Tinkertoys to make a robot. Find a colorful plastic container for storing them, then wrap together for a great gift.
Stuffed animals are toys that will never go out of style. Whether they are thrown on a bed, displayed on a shelf or carried around as companions, kids love these furry creatures. Of course, now you can buy ones that walk, bark, meow, purr, roll over and even do flips, but once the batteries wear out, these usually find their way to the bottom of the toy box as well. Good, old-fashioned stuffed animals make wonderful gifts. For a great gift, find a nice basket for the animal's "bed," and tie a pretty ribbon around it.
"My daughter uses all her brother's old baby clothes to dress her animals up in," says Tammy. "She loves to display them all over her bed. Sometimes I can't even find her in bed to kiss her goodnight!"
"I almost never give toys as gifts," says Tammy. Instead she gives "books, books, books, books!"
Books are always great gifts. Find out what the child likes and find a book about the subject. Does he love baseball? Get him a book about the history of the game or about his favorite team. Does she love to cook with her mom? Buy her a children's cookbook. There is a book for everyone -- whether it is drawing, collecting, gymnastics or archery. Most schools have a reading list for each grade level and a few books from that list would be a welcome gift. Add a nice bookmark or book light and you have a gift both child and parent will appreciate.
Another option for older children is a magazine subscription. To a child, it's like getting a gift every month! There are many wonderful magazines that are not only educational, but also fun. Buy the latest copy of the magazine and write inside a birthday card that they can enjoy this magazine -- on you! -- for the next year.
Toys don't have to talk, walk, beep, light up, blow up or require batteries to be fun. The toys above have sustained many children through many, many years. These toys never seem to sink to the bottom of the toy box.