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Shop Good Gift Guide | How to Shop Smart, Invest Long, & Buy Well for Kids

Ok. So. I had planned on writing a list of great gifts for kids, but here’s the thing: Modern Parents Messy Kids (MPMK) owns this category. And not that there isn’t enough room around the internet for multiple toy gift guides, but they’ve just done it so well. I love it.

The team at MPMK works on this ultimate guide throughout the year, and it is organized by interest (outdoor toys, building & construction, STEM, dramatic play, etc. etc.) and by age. The resource is motivated by the question, “what should I spend my money on,” which I obviously love. I am confident that anything MPMK has picked will be a gift that is valuable & worthwhile.

I invested the bulk of my time to create an expert guide of gifts that give back, so I will leave these pros to their category of expertise.

Personally, I try to think about gifts for a child (or teen, or anyone, really) as an investment.

Maybe it is an investment in my own time, so, choosing something that creates opportunities for independence and toddler occupation without me (for a few minutes, at least). (Stickers, puzzles, solitaire games, anything on this list)

Or, it could be an investment in a skill or interest or ability that I want to help foster. Maybe that is in the arts or building or reading, or even learning a new skill like knitting or playing an instrument.

Perhaps it’s a straight-up long game: what are the items that are going to stand up for years, either through levels of development & interests or through numbers of siblings (or both). (Lego, Playmobil, GoldieBlox, Magna-Tiles)

On the flip side of the toddler-parent predicament mentioned above, maybe you want to invest in time together, with family games or activities.

Or, like our list of practical stocking stuffers, maybe Christmas is a great excuse to invest in things that you needed anyways. (Bedsheets, Sports equipment)

This year, here are some of the items I am giving to my own kids or nieces & nephews:

  • Classic Lego
  • Book Series
  • GoldieBlox (a fave in our house; last year we received a couple of sets including the builder's survivor kit and it has been fantastic)
  • Art Supplies
  • Books about Art & Story-Writing
  • An Old-school Wooden Marble Maze Thing
  • Sticker Books
  • Puzzles
  • Movie Passes (for a family with older kids to all go together)
  • Candy (there is nothing redeeming here, but always a crowd-pleaser! ;)

Items we've bought or received or given in the past that have been huge hits (with longevity):

  • Scooters
  • Board Games (Sorry, Connect Four, Blokus, Monopoly Jr., Uno, Bellz, Take the Cake, Qwirkle, Carcassone, Dutch Blitz, Ticket to Ride, Blokus, are all faves)
  • GoldieBlox
  • Lego
  • Wooden Building Blocks
  • Little Passports
  • Camera
  • Hot Wheels
  • A Fabric Treasure Chest (IKEA) with Costumes Inside
  • Crazy Forts
  • A Pass to our Local Science Center or Zoo

Ultimately what matters is that you are buying something that you want to spend your money on. I may sound like a broken record at this point, but when there are so many messages sent to us to buy, it's a refrain that bears repeating: only buy what is worth your money.

Share any of your best kids' gifts in the comments below, or other helpful resources. And... have fun!


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