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Each year I have people ask about Christmas in our house and how we handle gift giving.
We prefer to have a few, nice quality, versatile toys and games that we use frequently rather than lots of ‘stuff’. So when it comes to Christmas gifts we try to be particular about what comes into our home. Generally grandparents and great-grandparents ask for suggestions or give money.
This list only contains items that have proven to stand the test of time. While some of the items on this list will be enjoyed more by certain genders and ages/stages, they are generally pretty fun for kids of a variety of ages and of both genders.
MASHOONGA Warrior – We got the longer set of these (they are blue and red and about 2″ longer) for our older boys (12 and 9) last Christmas and plan to get this shorter set for our younger boys (3 and 5) this year. Mashoonga has rules and scoring, so in addition to having fun whacking each other, the boys can also host Mashoonga tournaments and know who wins the title of Mashoonga Master.
Oball - We’ve had our Oball for several years. We purchased it for one of our babies, but it continues to be a favorite with all the children. The Oball is light enough to be tossed about in the house, even by bigger kids, with little concern for lamps and pictures hanging on the walls. (Unlike the golf ball that Colby hurled across the room shattering the glass in one of our framed pictures.)
Tri-Link Alarm System and Motion Detector – This is another toy we’ve had around for years that is used by everyone. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been ambushed by flashing lights, wailing alarms and flying darts. The kids rarely tire of ‘getting’ mom, dad, each other and even company.
This is cyclical. After several weeks of constant use, it will be put up only to be brought out when we least expect it. I would also consider this as a gift for grandads who are young at heart.
Citiblocs Precision Cut Building Blocks – We purchased two sets last year and they have seen nearly daily use since. From simple stacking and elaborate architectural structures to helicopters, trucks and trains all our children enjoy creating with these blocks.
We gave away all our other building blocks and several other building sets after we purchased these. It is that much better!
Omagles – Sorry no link for this because the only way to purchase them is to find them used. I found our complete set at a yard sale for $15. It’s been one of my best purchases. If you see a set, buy it!
This is a building set that allows children to build kid sized furniture, ladders, vehicles, etc. Our kids have built covered wagons that fit 2-3 children in the bed and 1-2 children in the ‘wagon’ seat, working wheel barrows, desks, even a climbing gym that we used for Nick’s physical therapy (hanging and climbing is a terrific way to promote the flexibility that he so easily loses).
DUPLO and LEGO – I know that you know about these, but DUPLO and LEGO sets are certainly worth having. We prefer the basic sets similar to the ones I linked. We have one box full of DUPLOs and one full of LEGOS. These provide a nice variety for our children.
and the fabulous WWII style metal helmet and all are terrific quality and well loved)
Young and old all our children enjoy our variety of dress up clothes.
Bananagrams – This is a fun game for children who are old enough to read and spell. Mark and I enjoy playing even when there are no children around.
Dutch Blitz – Seriously our favorite card game ever. I played this as a child with my family and now we play with ours. No turn taking in this fast paced game of quick wits an concentration.
I linked to a two-pack because a single set only allows for four players. You can customize your Dutch Blitz games to allow for more players by using a Sharpie marker to add black lines (or dots, or circles) to the back of each additional set of cards. (You’ll understand once you know how to play.)
Cranium Family Fun Game – Having children a wide variety of ages makes it difficult to find a game that everyone can play together. This game allows just that.
Hand tools – Hammers, saws, screwdrivers, pliers, tape measures, etc. with a tool box to store it all in. Our boys love being able to help around the house with their own tools. We also try to keep them supplied with scrap wood and they are usually in the midst of some building project, whether it’s a chair, a trash can or an outdoor fort.
Wood Carving – There are only a few basic things that are needed to begin wood carving. Our boys started with a sharp wood carving knife, a couple of gouges and protective equipment. Although I’ve linked to some carving supplies, I strongly suggest you visit a local wood carving shop for instructions and more information.
We recently had friends, with more equipment and know-how than us, invite our boys over for an evening spent making a beautiful bow. We had it strung, bought some arrows and now they have a real bow and arrow rather than the stick and rubber band contraptions they’ve used for years.
Knitting and Crocheting – Knitting needles or crochet hooks and yarn are all that’s needed for your kids to spend hours creating all types of clothing and accessories. Our children have made blankets, scarves, hats, potholders, vests, dishcloths, gloves, dolls and more.
If you’re a beginner you can learn to knit for free at KnittingHelp.com. KnittingHelp.com offers dozens of free videos that cover all the basics and some not-so-basics. Also, you can find hundreds of free patterns on Ravelry.com. Ravelry is completely free, but does require membership.
Sewing – One of our girls has this this inexpensive, basic sewing machine. We also have two very basic Singer machines (I’ve had mine since college).
We initially purchased Stitches and Pins: A Beginning Sewing Book for our girls. It provided them with the basics and they are learning the rest through experience.
Our girls love Sense and Sensibility Patterns and have made several lovely items that they wear frequently.
Patterns, material and equipment all make great, useful gifts.
Cooking – Cast iron, stoneware, quality knives and other kitchen tools make nice gifts for aspiring chefs.
Classes – Music, sewing, cooking, wood carving; classes of all types make wonderful gifts which don’t take up a lick of space in your home and may provide you and/or your children with a useful skill.
Family passes – We’ve had family passes to the zoo, the aquarium and even to Dollywood. These are some of our favorite gifts.
Special times – Think of creative ways to spend time with your kids and set that time apart.
For one of Amber’s birthdays we planned a series of ‘knitting nights’. Amber and I both chose a knitting project (the supplies were part of her gift) and then on a certain night of the week we took a special snack or supper downstairs and spent the evening alone knitting and chatting.
Books, CDs and DVDs
If I tried to list all of these, this post would never end, but here are a few of our favorites.
- Favorite books for preschoolers
- Favorite books for beginning readers
- Inspiring books for kids 12 and up Don’t be fooled the ‘boys’ list is full of great books for girls.
- Jonathan Park – Lots of creation science told throughout these edge of your seat adventures.
- Shakspeare on CD produced by Arkangel – These are complete and unabridged and are excellent. They have inspired our children down through the 11 year old to begin reading Shakespeare on their own. (Our current family favorite is” The Comedy of Errors”.)
- Jamie Soles music – I’ve told you about these before and they are still favorites.
- Tales of American Heroines – Stories of American Heroines told in their own words.
- Planet Earth – There are evolutionary presuppositions in this series, but they are not blatant and in our opinion the good far outweighs this bias. One can’t help but marvel at the wonders of God’s creation caught, often for the first time ever on film.
- Moody Science Series – Even though these were made many years ago the information is still fascinating. If your children are accustomed to today’s fast-paced cartoons, video games and other media, these may not hold their attention. However, these are some of our children’s favorites, even our youngest children (and our copies so old they are VHS tapes).
- Fireproof – One of Nicholas’ (3) favorite movies. Our children all love the story and humor in this film about one man’s commitment to saving his marriage.
- Bella – Part of the inspiration for our youngest daughters name, our family has enjoyed this movie’s message of life since it first appeared in the theaters. (Please preview before showing to your children as the film deals with unwanted pregnancy outside of marriage, abortion and death.)
This years wish list
Trampoline (!?) – We haven’t done the research on this yet, but if you have input, you like or don’t like what you own or you want to warn us not to get one because of all the broken bones in our future, feel free to weigh in.
Missionary Jungle Doctor – book series
What are some of your top gift picks for a large (or not so large) family?