Large Family Gift Guide: 4 Moms

Today the 4 Moms are each sharing a large family gift guide.

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 current 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.

Dress ups for girls and dress ups for boys (We have a couple of the princess dresses

and the fabulous WWII style metal helmet and all are terrific quality and well loved)

Playmobil – We have a couple  large Playmobil sets (castle and pirates) for the boys and we have the Playmobil Victorian House set for the girls (evidently this is now a collector’s item because they are selling for $550 on Amazon without any of the people or furnishings). We’ve found that, even though our girls will spend hours playing with the doll house, Playmobil tends to be more of a favorite with the boys.



We enjoy many traditional games (Rook, Uno, etc.) but these are some less well known.

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.


Kindle – Hundreds of free books and a dictionary at their fingertips. The Kindle is a ‘must have’ for our homeschool students as soon as they are ready for one. We’ve steered clear of the Kindle Fire, but our kids own both the Kindle Touch and Keyboard varieties and we have a Kindle Paperwhite on order.

iPod – Not just lovely for music but also for audio books, lectures and sermons.



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. Yesterday Colby (6) made a wooden sword with his saw, hammer and nails.

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 (see below). 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.

Matthew, Carter and Colby with the guns and bow that they made

At another wood crafting evening and the boys created several of these realistic looking rifles.

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 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 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. One of our girls regularly designs and creates dolls and doll clothing and several of the girls make clothes for them and their siblings. All this because I spent some time teaching them the basics.

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.



  • 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.
  • Jamie Soles music – I’ve told you about these before and they are still favorites and I’m certain that someone in our family will be receiving his newest release, ‘Giants and Wanderers‘, for Christmas.
  • Tales of American Heroines – Stories of American Heroines told in their own words.
  • Lamplighter Radio Theater – Classic Lamplighter books read and acted on CD. We have several and will probably be adding more to our collection this Christmas.


  • 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.)

What are some of your top gift picks for a large (or not so large) family?

Visit the other 4 Moms to see their gift guides:


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18 Responses to Large Family Gift Guide: 4 Moms
  1. Anna
    September 20, 2012 | 9:08 am

    This is a FANTASTIC article! Thank you so much for sharing!!! Going to post on Facebook. 🙂 God bless!


  2. Rachel @ day2day joys
    September 20, 2012 | 9:12 am

    Great list! I can’t believe it’s getting close to Christmas already! Are you in TN, I saw you put passes to Dollywood as experience gifts…. we have passes and we live in Knoxville!

    Blessings to you today!


  3. Angela Newsom
    September 20, 2012 | 10:17 am

    I am definitely going to be sharing this and pinning to The Homeschool Pinner!

    It is hard for people to buy for a large family and these days we have been trying to help family members out be suggesting “combined gifts” for the group of us and maybe a few little things from the Dollar Tree like candy, crayons or drawing materials.

    We LOVE Jamie Soles here too – he and Valerie stayed with us a few years ago while on tour and then headed up your way to stay with you guys when you were about 39 weeks pregnant I believe! We use his Pure Words CD to learn the Psalms easier…


  4. Lizsacks
    September 20, 2012 | 11:02 am

    Awesome list! I was inspired to write a blog post of my own, as our family has been struggling with how to streamline two things: toys, and Christmas. (Which happens to be one of the biggest sources of toys!) I love this list, as most, if not all of these toys lend themselves to the kind of creative play that does not need a plethora of *everything* toys! The more children we have, the more I realize that we have less and less space for toys! Trying to make things simpler has been my goal! This is a great start to simplifying Christmas!


  5. ayearinskirts
    September 20, 2012 | 12:00 pm

    I very much appreciate this thorough review! You’ve introduced me to so many products I had not known about, thank you!


  6. Paula
    September 20, 2012 | 1:25 pm

    Do you have wi-fi for the Kindles? if so, is there a filter available to block sites? Or does it come with any like parental controls?


  7. Andrea F.
    September 20, 2012 | 2:45 pm

    Great post! Thank you.

    You can buy Omagles here –>

    $299.00 for the set


  8. Kit
    September 20, 2012 | 5:42 pm

    The BBC has a new show like Planet Earth out, called “Life.” Amazing footage of animals and all sorts of cool/weird/who-would-have-thought things that they do.


  9. Jonnie Bernier
    September 23, 2012 | 9:36 pm

    Magna tiles are super cool for large families, they are rather expensive; about $100.00. My boys play with them almost daily. My children have built some amazing structures with them. We bought them for Christmas last year for the kids, they have been such a hit, we purchased a second set, so there was enough for everybody, and the kids have built structures almost 8 ft tall with them. Great toy!!


  10. Julie
    October 2, 2012 | 6:51 pm

    This is such a great post. It really got me thinking that I need to simplify this season as we are expecting a new baby in about a month and cannot bear more “stuff” in the house right now. I know my 4 year old would love those citiblocs.

    I am think one nice gift for each child plus stocking stuffers since they get so much from extended family anyway. That way we can really concentrate on what is important at Christmas.


  11. Heather
    October 4, 2012 | 1:12 pm

    Thank you for this very helpful post. My kind Mom always asks what to give the kids, and now I have some creative ideas to consider!


  12. Diana
    October 9, 2012 | 3:23 pm

    Our family LOVES Dutch Blitz! If you want to see my Mom’s competitive side you just have pull out the cards!


  13. Kirsten
    December 20, 2012 | 3:29 pm

    Hi Kimberly,

    Thank you for sharing your list! I ordered a Mashoonga Warrior set for my kids last Christmas and they play with them almost daily. In fact, mid way through the year we ordered another set so we could have team battles!

    Just curious, do you have a favorite among your 3 kindle versions?

    Merry Christmas!



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We also have two sets of Mashoonga. I’m glad to know that your family has also enjoyed them.

    As far as Kindles go, the new Paperwhite version is very nice (it replaced the Touch and I think it’s an improvement). Alyssa (12) and I use the Kindle Keyboard and love it. Amber (16) uses a Paper white (the others have the Touch which is no longer available) and loves it.

    I think it has to do with what you’re used to. The one huge advantage I see with the Paperwhite is that to look up a word in the dictionary, you just need to touch the word on the screen. With the Keyboard you need to scroll to the word which gets to be a pain if you’re looking up lots of words and I want to encourage my children to look up words.

    Keep in mind that if you order a Kindle Keyboard you will probably want to order the lighted case that Amazon makes specifically for that version. The Paperwhite has a lighting system built into the device.

    Hope this helps a little. 🙂


    Kirsten Reply:

    Yes, this helps a lot. Thank you!


  14. Priscilla W
    February 16, 2013 | 1:00 am

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading what you liked & why. I’m sure our boys would love the Mashoonga, maybe I’ll have to put that on a wish list to give grandparents. My daughter is getting started w/crochet, I’ll show her the link, you shared. I never learned. I have a friend who is teaching. We also like Dutch Blitz!


  15. Cheryl
    November 29, 2013 | 5:39 pm

    Kimberly, thanks for this list. I refer to it often! On the CitiBlocs, what sets did you get? I am debating between the Cool Colors, camo, and natural wood. (We have four boys and a little girl). Since you have them and have used them, I would love to hear your thoughts on what your experience has been re: colors/plain. Thanks!


  16. Ernest Garcia
    January 5, 2017 | 1:26 am

    Thank you for sharing your list! I ordered a Mashoonga Warrior set for my kids last Christmas and they play with them almost daily. In fact, mid way through the year we ordered another set so we could have team battles!


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