A Guide to Making Holiday Wish Lists

It’s that time of year again and the holiday shopping has begun early this year! While I am not creating specific gift guides (you can find previous gift ideas here) I thought it might be helpful to share how I plan out my holiday shopping for the kids (now 2 and 4 years old). Keep in mind, these are all just ideas, not an indication of the number of gifts one should give or receive. :)

What is fun AND functional? While our family typically emphasizes play in our holiday gifts, sometimes the kids’ favorite presents aren’t toys at all. Rather, they are the most excited about functional items and tools. This year’s big ticket items for the kids will likely be suitcases for the kids as we begin more travel this coming year. I’m also eyeing a rain gauge, hammer and tool kit, and a new houseplant for the kids to take care of. 

What are their unique interests? Just because I think a toy is exciting or beautiful doesn’t mean my child will! It helps to think about what our children are most engaged and interested in. S spends a lot of time constructing, so I’m looking at adding these blocks to our collection. D spends a lot of time creating art so I’ve added a spirograph to her list. They both are deep into pretend play, so a joint gift might be this doctor kit.

What can we expand on? - Holidays are also a great time to add pieces to a larger collection. This can be a great way to give meaningful toys without adding to the clutter. For example, we typically add one or two wooden animals to our favorite Holztiger collection and trains or tracks to our Brio set each Christmas. Other collections to add to each year could be Lego/Duplos, Magna Tiles, or Grimms wooden toys. 

How long will it be enjoyed? With both kids in school part-time, a lot of what they do at home is open-ended play. With these types of toys, I look for materials that will last a long time, both in terms of durability and enjoyment. I look for toys that grow with the kids, and can be played with in a variety of different ways. Examples in our home have been Sarah’s Silks, our play Ice Cream set, and wooden blocks.

Who do we want to support? As much as possible, I try to support local and small shops when holiday shopping. These shops also always offer new inspiration and ideas. Some long-time favorites of ours include: Heirloom Kids, Montessori in Color, Natural Playbox, Birch Street Goods, and Mirus Toys. A couple larger favorite online source for holiday shopping are For Small Hands and Kido.

What experiences would they enjoy? Holidays don’t have to be about toys. It can be really fun to gift children experiences to look forward to! Some ideas include tickets to a children’s show/performance, a special day out with just you, a music or gymnastics class, or tickets to a special zoo or kids museum exhibit.

I hope this helps those of you who are still working on your children’s holiday wish lists or considering gifts for friends and relatives! Happy Holidays!

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A Guide to Making Holiday Wish Lists