Choosing gifts for kids—people who are growing and changing practically every minute—can be a challenge. And that super-cool toy they loved unwrapping yesterday might end up gathering dust tomorrow. So instead, why not give your kids gifts that allow them to do something new, create something special or expand their world a little? Here are a few suggestions for gifts that will keep growing along with them.
Something to Experience
Experiences make fantastic gifts that can inspire new ways of thinking. Tickets to a play, museum passes or an adventure to a nearby landmark can help kids broaden their perspectives. Or simply setting aside some time together, like a date to drink hot cocoa, bake cookies, build a birdhouse or go on a hike, can help strengthen your relationship. And if you want something you can wrap, it can be fun to present your gift in coupon form, paired with an item you’ll use during the experience—a bag of marshmallows for the cocoa date, binoculars for your hike, etc.
Something to Build
DIY kits can offer hours of engagement and plenty of look-what-I-made-with-my-own-two-hands pride. You can buy them ready-made for almost any area of interest (chemistry, needlepoint, soapmaking, etc.), but it can be more fun to make one yourself. Put together a baking kit with everything they need for a batch of cupcakes, or a science kit to jumpstart some simple experiments. Another great idea is a fort kit (a colorful parachute, clips to attach it to furniture, a flashlight, old keys, a telescope, etc.) for sparking whole new worlds of imaginary play.
Something to Take Care Of
Things kids can care for offer ongoing opportunities for responsibility and connection. If they (and you) are ready for a pet, you can start with something small like a fish or a turtle. If not, try gifting a plant. A carnivorous plant is incredibly interesting to observe, as is something that changes throughout the seasons. A strawberry plant or herb garden is fun to tend, and—as an extra-satisfying benefit—yields yummy results.
Someone to Write To
Help your kids find pen pals through far-flung family and friends or using online networks like International Pen Friends or PenPal World. Having a pen pal can help them build empathy with someone who is living a different life, and bring perspective to their own lives. It also helps develop communicative writing muscles (in a way that texting doesn’t), and while corresponding through the postal service may take some time, learning delayed gratification is important. Plus, you never know when a childhood pen pal might lead to a lifelong friendship.
Something to Read
Inspire your kids to dream big (and work hard) with some true stories of real-life people who achieved incredible things. These are a few of our favorites.
Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Excellence by Deloris Jordan
Written by his mother, this story about the all-star basketball player focuses on his childhood dream of becoming an Olympic basketball champion—a goal he ultimately reached through hard work, determination and lots of practice.
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
This charming, engaging read tells the story of how the Statue of Liberty came to be, from the collaborative team that built it to the message of freedom and inclusion it embodies.
On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne
A sweet, inspiring tale of a kid who wouldn’t stop asking questions and the great thinker he became.
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel
Despite his lack of training or talent, 40-year-old toll collector Henri Rousseau wanted to create art—so he taught himself to paint, ignored the critics who told him he was no good and went on to become an influential and admired artist.
Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson
This gorgeous picture book tells the story of Wangari Maathaiwho, who grew up in Kenya when girls weren’t afforded many opportunities and grew up to become a scientist, environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.