We're convinced that many children get far too many toys at Christmas. Far better for the imagination would be a wonderful book. Other good gift ideas are clothing in the next size up or arts & crafts tools that encourage creativity.
Following are some excellent picks for kids (ages 3-12).
Originally published in 1924, this classic series holds timeless appeal. Starring four orphaned children who are polite, industrious, intelligent, and kind, the stories especially good for early readers (grades 2-6). The author intentionally uses simpler vocabulary to ensure comprehension by children reading on their own. Though the scenarios are highly unlikely and the children are almost inhumanly pleasant, the books retain a certain charm all on their own. Young children will enjoy reading about the adventures of other children who are faced with difficult situations and meet them with hard work and hopefulness.
Originally produced for television in 2011 by HBO Studios, this 30-minute film is a wonderful celebration of poetry. Watch as classic poems like "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost and "Hope is The Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson are read aloud and set to animated illustrations. In between each poem is commentary by a child (ages 6-8). A stunning piece of work. I'd love to see this concept expanded into a series.
Hey urban dwellers (or those that want to be)! This pretty and modern canvas features the alphabet in bright colors and corresponding city photos to go with each letter. Measuring at 23.5" wide x 31.5" high x 1.5" thick, the piece is an ideal decor item for a girl's or boy's bedroom.
Know a kid who loves helping out in the kitchen? Wrap up a themed cupcake kit by Meri Meri and they're sure to say "ooh" and "aah" when they see it. Choose from a variety of themes: big rig, brave knights, fairy, home run, princess dinosaur, New York City, ballet, touchdown, and more!
What better way to inspire a grateful heart than to provide some super fun thank you notes under the tree? Meri Meri offers ultra-cool options with great embellishments. The Pretty Princess one is sure to win the hearts of any little girl. Boys will probably appreciate the playful scariness of the Skeleton Pirate cards.
ANYTHING from Tea is a good pick. The clothes are soft, comfy, modern, unique, and global-inspired. The SALE section is an especially great place to browse around. Our three girls are wearing pieces from the Flora Fest collection in the above photo: Flora Fest Twirly Dress, Flora Fest Romper, and Sparkle Stripe Leggings.
Kids who love putting crayons to paper will be thrilled by the detailed pictures in the educational coloring books by Dover. Learn about Musical Instruments, America's First Ladies, American Presidents, Art Museums, Great Composers, or a number of other topics. Each page features one picture and text with additional information. Grown-ups will want to get in on the fun too! (Note: We wish the illustrations were a bit more detailed and artistic, but...we love the concept in spite of some of the less interesting drawings).
What if a gift could be both educational AND fun? Usborne Children's Books has you covered. Try Usborne's First Sticker Book of Easy Spanish Words for second language learning. For career exploration, young girls will enjoy the hands-on Dream Jobs Sticker Dolly Dressing book (with over 300 stickers!). Careers featured include: veterinarian, choreographer, car engineer, costume designer, forensic scientist, and more. Or explore Fashion Long Ago with 200 stickers! For young artists, wrap up a copy of "What Shall I Draw?" - a book that shows kids how to draw simple animals like pigs, owls, ballerinas, and pick-up trucks.
Made from colorful and non-toxic wax and yarn, these bendable sticks are perfect for crafting and creating. Kids can manipulate the stix into animals, letters, greeting card embellishments, science displays, and more. Only limited by your child's imagination. Parents will appreciate that the stix don't require glue and are easy to clean up! The Big Count Box comes with 468 stix in 13 colors (plus a 12-page activity booklet) - perfect for families with multiple children!
Pediped footwear prides itself on providing shoes that are "the next best thing to bare feet." With options available from birth to age 7, the company creates all of their shoes with cushioned arch support and a soft, flexible rubber sole. The velcro design allows for quick and easy independence (no shoelaces to be tied or tripped on!). This Christmas, skip the toys and buy shoes - a super practical gift idea that can be used year-round!
What better gift for a small dancer than a new pair of shoes? Payless ShoeSource has options for ballet, jazz, and tap - all retailing for approximately $20-$30. Wrap the shoe box, add a certificate for a session of dance lessons, and you'll give an experience that will last long after the lights come down and the trees are recycled.
Will you be shopping for a child this year? What gift recommendations would you add?
Be sure to check out Metropolitan Mama's full 2012 Christmas Gift Guide.