What we’re actually giving our kids this Christmas

30 November 2020

Hello, friends! I hope you had wonderful and cozy Thanksgivings! I was thinking about this old post this weekend, and how we lay down the richest memories in novel circumstances. If you celebrated in a new way – with different people (or without the usual people), in a different place, with different food – maybe we can take comfort in the fact that this holiday (and the December festivities to come) will be one we’ll remember with great clarity… and hopefully great gratitude. I know I will.

I had plans to deliver several more gift guides last week, but a few bumps in the road got the best of me (a theme for November, as you will see in tomorrow’s goals update post). But I do have this one to share – a rundown of what we’re actually getting our kids for Christmas this year. This works out okay, because this was your favorite of last year’s gift guides anyway, so I guess we’re just cutting to the chase :)

A few disclaimers: I consider the want / need / wear / read philosophy of gift giving, though we don’t officially subscribe. Some years we give more gifts than others. I’m not too concerned about matching amounts spent or number of gifts given at my children’s current ages. This year, Santa will bring our stockings and everything else will come from Mama and Daddy. (Santa has been hard for me to navigate as a parent – maybe a future post in the making!).

One final note: as I was wrapping up purchases in prep for this post, several of the items I had earmarked in weeks past were sold out when I returned to hit purchase. I can’t ever remember this happening to me in years past, and it was frustrating! So from one mama to another — this might not be the year to hem and haw over decisions.

June (who is almost 5) will be receiving:
— A light-up bike helmet (her one and only request)
— A homemade card making kit, because she is obsessed with (you guessed it) making cards. I bought a cute box and plan to fill it with blank cards and envelopes, lots of stickers, washi tape, fun pens, and *real* stamps.
— A rainbow wall hanging sewing kit. I came across her lacing a string through the slats of her doll house’s bed the other day, so I think this will be a hit! *Shipping is international, so order ASAP! Sweetest seller!
— An IOU for a mama + mini date to Fearrington for pedicures and afternoon tea, sometime in the spring. I predict she will lose her mind over this (once she figures out what it actually means, ha!). I got her a trio of Olive & June nail polishes to wrap up – she will love seeing her name on the bottle! (Use this link for $10 off your first order.)

Shep (who is about 2 1/2) will be receiving:
This MagnaTiles expansion set, as he makes a beeline for our bin every day after school. (Related: if you don’t have it already, I HIGHLY recommend this MagnaTiles cars duo – the most played with pieces in our house!)
— This fire chief dress up set, as everything is a fire hose and everyone gets sprayed with water right now.
— An adorable needlepoint triceratops ball cap (40% off plus free shipping when I bought it earlier this week!)
— The firefighter playdough kit from Young, Wild, and Friedman. Happy to support a small business! (I suspect June will ask for one for her birthday after she sees Shep’s…)

A relative little birdie also told me he will be receiving this Squigz set – fun!

Finally, June and Shep will be receiving a joint gift: the Theolaby box set (another beloved small business!). They’ll get the keepsake box and the first volume under the tree, and then the other four books as they ship throughout 2021 (a gift that keeps on giving!).

Below, tell me what you’re getting your kiddos this year — I love hearing your shopping lists!

Last year’s post if you’d like ideas for a 4-year-old and a 1.5-year-old! Affiliate links are used in this post!

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November 30, 2020 8:55 am

I wholeheartedly relate to your reflections on this Thanksgiving! It looks entirely unlike Thanksgivings of the past but will forever stand out in my mind as a special blessing in the midst of an unusual year. I would be so interested to read your thoughts/approach regarding Santa, as this is something we’ve already begun to discuss pre-children in our home! :)

Charlee Rutten
November 30, 2020 9:25 am

I got my 16 month old boy a baby doll, a wooden train set, his first set of MagnaTiles, and a set of “Community Vehicles” (he loves watching the garbage trucks and yellow school busses go by, so now he will have some to play with!). Everything except the MagnaTiles is from Melissa & Doug.

November 30, 2020 1:36 pm

My son (age 2.5) will be receiving a Magnatiles set, a scooter (per your recommendation in the bike post!), a USA map puzzle (his babysitter calls him a “the puzzle savant” so I am eager to nurture this skill!), a little Maileg mouse with a car, plus a stocking with various art supplies, some pjs and other little things. His requests were “a small yellow car” (satisfied with the Maileg set) and bubbles (going in the stocking)
Writing this all out I feel I’ve gone a touch overboard but I feel confident he’ll love what we’ve picked out!

November 30, 2020 7:40 pm

It’s my baby’s first Christmas and she’ll be 6 months old – we’re doing some play silks, rainbow blocks, some new clothes she needs and a few books. I’m guessing the tissue paper in the boxes will be the most exciting item.
It’s only my first year as a parent and I’m already grappling with Santa even though she’s too little to know anything about it – I’ve thought of how cruel it might feel for children who have less to see their peers getting such large gifts from Santa. I think in our home, Santa will bring smaller items (probably the need/wear/read).

Victoria B
December 1, 2020 8:51 am

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but my husband and I have a really hard time reeling it in for Christmas. I grew up with way too many gifts under the Christmas tree, and while I don’t want to replicate that, there are just so many cool gifts out there. And my husband is more of the more is more mentality, so he always wants to gift a lot of stuff. This year also has me questioning if I should just gift what my son already plays with (Lego) or if I should round out his toy selections with stuff he doesn’t have yet. I’m leaning towards the former. Anyway, the gifts I know we are getting him (age 3.5) are a LEGO City Transport Truck he saw in the LEGO store months ago and still asks about, a box of assorted LEGO bricks, a set of the Way2Play roads (I think he will be able to use them with his legos), soccer nets, and a board game.

December 1, 2020 11:02 am
Reply to  Victoria B

I feel you Victoria! When I had my first, I was committed to not overdoing it with toys. But somehow, with two boys 4 and 6, we are DROWNING in toys! My oldest does enjoy Legos but makes his creations out of the same few dozen pieces (mostly wheels, ha) over and over. Do we really need more? It’s so hard! Luckily, with the help of my 4 year old, the wooden trains have made a resurgence so we might add to that. I’m also looking at craft kit type things (dinosaur soap-making kit, paint by sticker books) to help lessen some of the stuff we have to deal with long term. The struggle is real! Good luck to us both!

December 1, 2020 9:55 pm

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Santa… I’m realizing I have no idea what to say, ha!

December 2, 2020 10:56 am

Would love to hear thoughts on Santa, as I’m also struggling with this! I’ve managed to put off thinking about it for my first three christmases as a parent, but now my oldest is starting to tell us that Santa is bringing her presents ???? So it’s clearly past time to come up with a Santa strategy! I just hate the idea of pulling a long term ruse on my kids. At the same time, I don’t want them to run around telling their little friends that Santa’s not real. This year, we’re doing the same as you, Santa will bring stockings with just a few hair bows and small toys, and the rest of the presents from us. We’re just getting a few things for each girl bc present fatigue is real and also we don’t need more toys!! The 3yo will get some books, a necklace kit, and pjs. The baby (9 mos) is getting a musical cube that plays classical instrument sounds. Hopefully the least annoying of the noise making toys!

December 2, 2020 2:53 pm

Love this list! I’ll be checking out all these items for my own kiddos. :)
Our Santa philosophy, if you’re curious: we talk about Santa in the same way we talk about Frosty the Snowman or unicorns: he’s a fun magical friend based on the real St. Nicholas. We don’t say whether he’s real or not, but whenever the kids ask, I ask them questions back like “what do you think?” or I’ll say “well, some say that he comes down the chimney” or something like that, so they can make their own perspective on what to believe without actually telling them anything. I also love the story of the real St. Nicholas and how we got the traditions we have today, so harping on that is also helpful.
That said, my kids are only 3 and 4 so I will probably have to adjust as they get older, but so far that’s what has worked well for us!

December 2, 2020 10:01 pm

Loved reading this!! Charlie has been very into card-writing lately too, so we may have to add June to his recipient list…keep an eye out for some T-rex-stamped mail :)
We got Charlie a scooter and put a matchbox car race track on his list for the grandparents as his “big” gifts. We also picked up some books and a bathrobe (I think he’s going to love it, haha!). We are kind of counting Azelie’s stocking and Christmas dress (the sweetest handmade linen dress I found on Etsy–I am dying to see it in person!) as her big gifts, but also got her some other clothes, books, and a few little toys. She is always most interested in whatever Charlie is playing with, so we should probably just get her matchbox cars too, ha!

Kelly Strawberry
December 3, 2020 8:01 am

I always love your kid suggestions and we are doing Paint by Sticker regularly at my house now! I think this year will be light on gifts because my son never asks for anything and I feel like I’m out of ideas. I love the kits from Young, Wild you linked here. I have never heard of them until now. Bummed the nativity scene is sold out!

December 6, 2020 2:41 pm

I loved this post, just like I loved its counterpart last year. You give me great ideas for gifts (and future gifts) for my 4-month and 2-year old daughters, and I also just appreciate catching a glimpse inside “the way Christmas works” for other families. At the risk of sounding like a total Scrooge (which I can assure you I am not! I love Christmas and our house is decked out in decor), the thought crossed my mind this year of not buying either of our girls any gifts. They are both still so young, and are lucky to have a very doting grandmother (my mother in law is a gift-giver extraordinaire) and aunt (my sister) who will make sure they have things under the tree to unwrap. I ended up deciding to get them each one little thing (a sweet child’s brush that will be a keepsake as well as needed/practical item through the next few years for the baby; and an animal themed tea set for the 2-year-old, who loves to drink “tea” from my husband’s espresso cups).

Laura B
January 22, 2021 6:46 pm

This year my brother did a “Saran wrap ball” for Jason (4.5 years old) and it was a HUGE hit and will definitely become an annual tradition. He just for some fidget toys and balls and a few pieces of candy but all wrapped up. Took Jason a long time to unroll the whole thing with lots and lots and lots of giggling along the way. Very big hit (and very inexpensive!)