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Presents that aren't just stuff!

(22 Posts)
darlingbudsofjuly Wed 18-Nov-15 10:35:01

I'm struggling with Christmas this year!

When I was small, we never made lists, or worked out what we 'wanted' - we just got some smallish surprises and bits and pieces.

But since the children have got bigger (now 8, 6, 3) I feel like I've fallen into the trap of asking them what they want, and ending up with a great pile of stuff under the tree (lots of individually wrapped things, but including stuff like socks, PJs, jumpers - things they need). I thought I liked the idea of having masses and masses of stuff to open - and I do, and remember that feeling of a wonderful huge pile from my own childhood with great pleasure - but this year it all feels too consumerist, too unnecessary, too greedy and world-spoiling.

So I'm looking for ideas of what I can get/make/put together for the children that will be fun, and exciting, and won't just be more 'stuff'.

I need to get things for:

DS (8) - currently most interested in bicycle design. Reads quite a lot. Has tonnes of lego. Doesn't play all that much.

DD (6) - says firmly she doesn't need/want anything. Always making/doing stuff. Loves maths; struggling with reading.

DS (3) - wants fire engines

Advice??

caitlinohara Wed 18-Nov-15 10:46:46

Why not no 'stuff; at all? Ours all have birthdays close to Christmas so we tend to buy them treats instead - a visit to a theme park or the theatre for example. We don't do these things as a matter of course so it feels like a big deal to ours, it's something to look forward to and you don't have the clutter problem.

If you must buy something, for your eldest who likes reading then obviously books or audiobooks, for your middle one maybe a craft or science subscription box, for your youngest just get him a toy fire engine!

We really scaled down last year and ours said it was the best Christmas they had ever had.

darlingbudsofjuly Wed 18-Nov-15 12:15:00

Ours don't have birthdays near Christmas, or lots of relatives to lavish gifts, and I feel it's too Scrooge-ish just to give experience-ish presents! It's illogical, I fully accept that...

Craft/science subscription - that sounds good - never heard of that before. Anything you specially recommend?

Might get the older two a magazine subscription.

myotherusernameisbetter Wed 18-Nov-15 12:49:40

What about some type of software to do with design/mechanics - not sure if there would be something suitable for his age range?

I know this is "stuff" but this might be enjoyable for your eldest:

www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/2675103.htm?CMPID=GS001&_$ja=cgid:18091992565|tsid:59156|cid:189934165|lid:101859020725|nw:g|crid:77627767045|rnd:17675577559091522070|dvc:c|adp:1o2|bku:1&gclid=COz7sqD9mckCFSjlwgodATEAiQ

Misty9 Wed 18-Nov-15 13:24:41

I read a fantastic blog post about non-toy presents. ..will see if I can find it..

Misty9 Wed 18-Nov-15 13:26:21

lulastic.co.uk/parenting/sixty-great-gift-alternatives-to-toys/
Gave me lots of ideas smile

wiltingfast Wed 18-Nov-15 13:29:34

TBH, if you enjoyed the "pile" yourself as a child and remember it with huge pleasure why would you not want that for your own children? Are you not pushing your adult perceptions onto the innocent pleasure of Santa?

They don't sound particularly consumerist... !

JimmyGreavesMoustache Wed 18-Nov-15 13:34:39

theatre tickets/tokens
cinema vouchers
annual pass to a local attraction
a weekend away - sounds like a lot but we've done it really cheaply using premier inn offers and then tesco clubcard points for visiting attractions and meals out
wool and knitting needles
proper art materials - good quality, heavy paper, inks, oil pastels, and a book on techniques
<very controversial and only if YOU want the responsibility/vets bills> a pet - my two get so much out of having a pet

Stokey Wed 18-Nov-15 15:02:35

Happy puzzle company has some educational games that look fun.

I got silly story lab for DN age 5 but strong reader and one called Trilemma which is a maths one for my god daughter who is 7.

LimboNovember Wed 18-Nov-15 15:11:27

I feel like I've fallen into the trap of asking them what they want, and ending up with a great pile of stuff under the tree

Op I know what you mean, I have been cautious not to make a big thing about the list writing but its hard as everyone asks them, - have you written your list yet etc etc, in films etc.

I tend to get a few things dd may want but usually stuff I know she will want and that will last like lego.

for your dd what about qwirkle game, its won awards, uses maths, is fun for everyone to play.

logic games like rush hour and for craft, sets like djeco?

and perhaps things that they wouldnt perhaps expect to like?

I got older DD john adams hot wires set, they can make a slew of things, fan, lie detector, burglar alarm and they learn about electronics!

My DD asked me quielty one year if it was cheating if she asked or wanted something, i realised I had banged on about things a bit much, so I have tried to also throw some fun things in, that I know I will hate like a furby, but its not about me!

ImperialBlether Wed 18-Nov-15 15:16:49

Would the two older children like Meccano?

When you say that your son doesn't play much, do you mean he doesn't play with Lego much, or that he doesn't play much at all?

ImperialBlether Wed 18-Nov-15 15:18:13

For your little boy, see if there are fire service open days on near you (not for Christmas, just for a day out.)

darlingbudsofjuly Wed 18-Nov-15 20:09:10

wiltingfast - yes, that's what I'm concerned about! though I don't really remember much of Christmas at their age, and later Christmases were mostly books.
Meccano: elder DS was given some last year, and it was too tricky.
Playing: not much at all, really - that's one of the reasons why 'toy' presents are tricky. The huge boxes give MUCH delight on the day, but very little afterwards.
A pet is a great idea, and would be loved. I can't do it right now though...
I LOVE that list - really good ideas there!

janaus Thu 19-Nov-15 03:22:30

I try to buy outdoors type 'stuff' so it doesnt cause more 'junk' in the house. Scooter for 1 grandson,

darlingbudsofjuly Thu 19-Nov-15 10:15:09

Have been thinking more about this, and the importance of making sure this isn't all about me! The reason for the thread is fact that I'm very aware that my thoughts are contradictory...

So, I guess what I want IS to have a huge pile of presents for each of the children - but for them NOT to be just 'stuff'. I'd like things that they can use, make, make something out of etc etc.

One idea I really like (I think from the list misty9 posted) is to give a cooking 'set' - all the ingredients to make something. That seems to me the ideal present: it's a something to unwrap, it's fun, it involves doing something WITH other people - and once it's done, it all gets eaten up, and there's nothing to throw away! I'm going to do that for each of the children.

I'm also thinking about what 'real' stuff the children need in order to be useful, and to make proper things. They have real gardening tools, and DS has an adult tool set already. All have bikes, we have enough scooters... More thought needed!

myotherusernameisbetter Thu 19-Nov-15 11:12:02

Good idea re the cooking set smile

What about a Basketball net?

darlingbudsofjuly Thu 19-Nov-15 11:31:00

No wall to put a net on, sadly - and too small a garden for a freestanding one. Good idea though!

I've also been wasting the morning thinking about science 'sets' (a few bits of equipment, but otherwise stuff like cornflower, food colouring, a set of spoons - and some print-outs of 'experiments').

myotherusernameisbetter Thu 19-Nov-15 12:07:35

I can't remember the name but maybe someone here will, my sons played with a kit at their holiday club when they were at a similar age to your children. It was basically a tube full of plastic fasteners/clips/screws that you used to join together cardboard and bottles etc to build things, either small models or big structures like dens. Amazon used to sell them and you got starter sets and bigger sets. Not very expensive but great fun.

PeachFuzzzz Thu 19-Nov-15 12:58:33

I am making a book of vouchers for my 6 year old. One voucher to book a zoo trip, one voucher to book an arts and crafts session, one for additional screen time, a cooking session of her choice, one get-out-of-trouble- free card etc. I am busy with a baby and trying to stop myself from saying things like not now, later etc. No stuff per say but a wee booklet to open and use.

Wagglebees Thu 19-Nov-15 18:30:44

Baking set for your 6 year old dd? Lakeland do utensils made for little hands and the colours are nice and bright. You could get fun cupcake toppers and decorations, cookie cutters, that kind of thing. It'd be stuff to wrap up but also an experience.

Misty9 Thu 19-Nov-15 20:20:21

I saw a den making set mentioned on another thread which sounded cool. What about a real doctor's set? I've heard that real stethoscopes are cheaper than toy ones and you could add real bandages, a cheap thermometer, face mask etc.

A solar system toy? Teaches about space smile for the older one I've heard good things about hot wires and snap circuits as good science 'toys' . Search for the thread on STEM toys on here recently for more of the same.

darlingbudsofjuly Fri 20-Nov-15 12:36:32

plan at the moment is
- stuff to cook (perhaps the makings of part of lunch on Boxing Day)
- some cooking kit (peeler, spatula)
- a box of science stuff, mostly of the cornflour, bicarb and vinegar ilk, but with some measuring kit, goggles, tweezers, suggested experiments etc.
- pen knife
- stethoscope (hot tip, misty9! £3 on Amazon! amazing...)
- little one will get some Brio Constructor stuff, which the older ones will also like

I'm feeling much happier about all this! thanks for lovely ideas/places to look for ideas.

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