Once upon a time there were four amazing kids. These kids were blessed with toys and games and puzzles and all sorts of fun things created by fun people and sold by fun stores. Alas, these four amazing kids more often than not, left those shiny toys and games and puzzles on the shelves to play with boxes, their mama’s hand me down jewelry, paper and found-in-nature craft supplies, and so many other hundreds of trinkets and baubles and sticks and left over packaging and hand-me-down goodies.
If this sounds like a familiar story, then you’re certainly not alone. We (and grandparents and friends and aunts and uncles and almost every else…) spend money and time procuring just the right gift and developmental toys for our kiddos, only to find that the toys are often not played with regularly, aren’t taken care of properly, clutter up our homes, or are put aside as kids would usually rather go on an outdoor adventure or come up with something to do on their own inside. Now I still love giving my girls new books and baby dolls and wooden puzzles and family games, BUT I try my best to remember that, sometimes, the best gifts to share with my kids don’t come from an expensive toy store.
Here’s my top three “gifts” to give my daughters that encourage creativity, don’t break the bank, and don’t clutter the house as much as more shiny and new and plastic-y toys or gifts might:
1. A box. This is pretty obvious. Think back to childhood. How cool was it to climb inside the cardboard box from the new kitchen appliance and pretend you were in a fort or a castle or even just to hide from your big brother? The possibilities are endless. Plus, boxes are generally free, can be decorated easily, and when the kids are done imagining they are pirates in a cardboard ship, the cardboard can be recycled. Done.
2. Hand-me-down jewelry. When we are in the middle of a rainy day or maybe stuck at home due to an illness, there’s not much more exciting to a little girl than getting to go through her mother’s jewelry box (with mom’s help, of course). And then on extra special days, I might just give away a necklace or bracelet to one or two or three of my daughters. Because really, I can’t take it with me, and the look on their little faces when they are trusted with a piece of mama’s jewelry is just priceless. This also brings up a great opportunity for sharing memories with kids (“Mommy got this necklace when I was dating Daddy during college…”) and for teaching kiddos about responsibility and taking care of things.
3. A magazine subscription. Okay, so this costs money and needs to be ordered. BUT, I have to list this one, because we have had so much fun giving our daughters each a subscription to a children’s magazine. They learn to be patient as they wait for the next one to come, and there are so many great magazines out there that teach kids great lessons, provide them with educational activities, and show them about different parts of their world. The prices on these vary, but most are very affordable and surprisingly lower than I would have expected. Also, the clutter is minimal. No huge hunks of plastic in our living room. Just some thin magazines which can be later shared with other kids, cut up for collages, or recycled.
NOTE: I’m guessing boys would enjoy these things, too. Even the jewelry. Boys like pirates, and pirates like treasures, no? And boys also love their Mamas, so why not share a trinket of yours with a son. I just titled this post …”things to give a little girl…” because my son is still a baby, and I haven’t given him anything on a rainy day yet…besides my time and my cuddles.
What do you give your kids on a rainy day?…