The holidays are coming. Soon. Faster than I’d like, in fact. And for many of us, that means painstakingly selecting gifts for family and friends. Last week, I got a text from a good friend from my college days. She is the proud auntie to eight (!) nieces and nephews, and a teacher herself, but she doesn’t yet have her own children. Her text read:

So, being an aunt to 8 but not having children myself, it’s hard to buy holiday gifts. It seems like the kids have plenty of toys and clothes…what’s an aunt to do? What’s a gift that goes a long way for the family? I want them to have something to open, but mainly, something they need, too!

I could not agree more with the idea that my kids have enough toys and clothes, and for that we are very fortunate. In fact, Santa only brings a couple of small items to our house, and we make a point of reiterating that the holidays are a time to spread joy to people who may not be lucky enough to have so many toys to play with. My five year old and I will be going shopping for gifts for a few local families through social services. Spreading joy to others is, at least for me, the whole point of the season. However, goodness knows I want to buy gifts for the children in my life, both my own and those I am close to.  So, as my friend said, what’s an aunt to do?

Well, her solution was to give each of her nieces and nephews a gift card to a children’s shoe store along with an age-appropriate puzzle and book. In my opinion, this is an amazingly generous and thoughtful gift. Here are some ideas for the kids in your life that won’t break the bank or clutter the playroom but will bring smiles all around:

  • Family Movie Night Basket: A family movie DVD, some popcorn, and maybe some candy (when you’re not the parent you can totally get away with this part, haha)
  • Snow Day Survival kits: Art supplies, play-dough, stickers, and cocoa
  • Parents’ Night Out: a board game for the kids with a voucher for “free babysitting for an evening by Auntie (or Uncle)” taped to it
  • Outdoor toys: A sled, soccer ball, sidewalk chalk, jump rope…anything to get them outside!
  • Passes to visit a local children’s museum or the movies (accompanied by their favorite Aunt or Uncle!)
  • A “family fun” item for the kitchen such as a popcorn popper, ice cream maker, sno-cone ice shaver, or popsicle molds
  • A kid-friendly cookbook with ingredients for a couple of fun recipes packaged in a mixing bowl

Do you have any other idea for simple, inexpensive, (somewhat) practical gifts that your kids would enjoy? Share them below! The holidays are about being with the people who are important to you, spreading happiness, and having fun. Enjoy this time of year, and know that the gift of your time and company is what your loved ones really want! 🙂

This grin sums up what the holidays are about.

This grin sums up what the holidays are about.

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