Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Train Up Tuesday: Give Away Winners and All about Gifts

I’m excited to announce the winner’s of last week’s give away!

Congratulations to Laura & “the monkey’s mama”! You’ll be getting this book soon. I know you’ll enjoy it.

If you already have the book and are blown away by the amazing art, please check out to purchase a print. What a beautiful item to have hanging in your home year round!

This week, I thought I’d share some gift ideas for those of you who need to buy for little ones. It seems easy enough - “just buy them a toy!” But so many children end up with toys that they never play with. Here are some suggestions based on my own observations:

  1. The toys that have been around forever have been around forever because children actually like them! Things like hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, crayons, balls, blocks, cars, trains, wooden toys, puzzles, classic board games, marbles. There is a reason why they can be found in most stores. Each of those items are the toys my boys have played with the most.
  2. The number one toy this year may only get played with this year (or maybe for only a few weeks!). Similar to point #1. Fads are fads. The silly jump around Elmo toy or high tech gadget this year will be passe next year. And your child will realize it, too. These types of toys often loose their novelty quickly.
  3. The less a toy does, the more a child will play with it. (Also known as “keep it simple”). I can’t remember where I heard or read that, but I’ve found it to be true. The toys that light up and move on their own often get lost in a sea of similar toys (especially boys’ toys!). As my babies are becoming toddlers and preschoolers, I’ve noticed they often select the non-animated toys for their pretending.
  4. Select toys that are natural (like wood or metal) and beautiful. I think I came across that point in a Montessori blog. I’ve noticed that even with small children, they tend to grasp and caress items that have a natural quality (wood, metal, fabrics) as opposed to plastic. These toys carry a natural charm and beauty to them. They even make a playroom more beautiful.
  5. Books are a great gift! They inspire imagination, creativity, and pretend play. They can teach ideas and values. You can’t go wrong with a good book.
  6. Never underestimate the everyday items. I know it sounds bizarre, but children often like the simple household items - spoons, spatulas, small vacuums or cleaning items, scarves (my boys LOVE playing with my silky scarves), old clothing items for dress up, boxes, baskets, magnets (be careful with these for very small children...choking hazards). My babies both enjoyed baskets of small household items.

Do more than try to simply “WOW” them with the latest toy in throw-away packaging. Learn what they really want and enjoy.

Gift Receiving

Inevitably, your child will receive a gift he or she doesn’t particularly care for (remember Ralphie’s Bunny Suit from “A Christmas Story”?). I came across a great game that you could play this week with the kiddos to encourage being grateful for “the thought” that went into their gift. Check it out:

A Stocking or a Shoebox?

Several years ago, my husband and I started packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Once I got the knack of it, I started collecting things on sale throughout the year and storing them. As my oldest child (“Sunshine”) grew into toddler years, he began to notice these items and ask questions about them. Last year, “Sunshine” asked if he and his brother could have a shoebox. I LOVED the idea. We are doing that now instead of traditional stockings. It provides opportunity to talk about why we do shoeboxes and a reminder on Christmas night to pray for those who will be receiving our boxes.

Ultimately, don’t sweat over gifts for the kids. Don’t try to over impress them. Keep it simple and sweet. Teach them what really matters with gift-giving and gift-receiving; and keep an eye open for those teachable moments.

Much love,


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