46 answers

Christmas Gifts for Kids Who Don't Need Stuff

Yes, I am worrying about Christmas already.

We exchange Christmas gifts with only the kids in our families. On my side, my brother has three boys (2, 6 & 13) and my step brother has two boys (3 & 6). Both of these families are financially well off (me, not so much), so the kids really do not need a crappy $15 toy (probably all my budget can handle this year) from us.

So my question is, has anyone ever given to a charity or found another unique "gift" for the kid who has everything? We could potentially even make something (not a food item) but it can't cost a lot (and we're not exactly crafty). I sort of want to give to a charity (like Salvation Army's Angel program) on their behalf, but that seems sort of presumptuous ("I gave your gift to someone else because they need it more").

I am really in a quandary, since we don't have much money I hate to "waste" it on stuff I'm pretty sure their kids won't look at twice. I worry about that at Christmas generally, since we can never know what people will really like. But gift cards are so "impersonal".

I am also not opposed to suggesting that they donate a gift to a charity on behalf of my kids (who have tons of toys and really don't need their $15 gift either). I don't mean to sound ungrateful or scrooge-ish, but the reality is we as a society throw a lot of money away on Christmas and these days I think we should be a little more thoughtful about it.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas for kids who have everything without insulting anyone, that would be great.

Thanks, creative mamas!

P.S. I don't tell any of this to my kids nor do I imply that we are being judged by our gifts. My question sounds sort of crabby but that's really not how it's intended. And these families are not local to us.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow, awesome answers everyone!! I hope people will keep posting, everyone is so thoughtful and creative.

We can't spend time together which would be lots more fun and yes, much more meaningful (we each live at about the farthest points in the US). But I like the gift basket idea (I love doing those anyway, but I tend to go a little overboard so I'll have to look for bargains), the adopt a zoo animal idea was cool, folded money was unique (for a different family on my husband's side we usually give $ to), itunes gift card for the teen is perfect, the ornaments from wildlife international someone mentioned sounds like it could become a fun tradition!

We'll do donations in our own way (maybe just to the local food pantry) so we're helping those less fortunate (maybe I can combine it somehow into the gifts we give, I'll think about that).

Thank you so much and hopefully all the great responses will help others who might be struggling with this too!

Featured Answers

One year I was feeling in a similar situation..limited budget...lots of nieces and nephews to buy for ..tired of the gift cards, etc. So I did buy small but good quality toys for the very youngest of them (say under 4 yrs old)..boys..Fisher price or similar type chunky cars, etc..girls, something similar and fun (most were boys...one BIL has 4 sons!

Then for the older ones age 4 up to teens...I still only did the $15...but I did money origami with it. I made all the bills to look like little mens shirts (found the folding instructions online). It was the easiest folding pattern I found. I did a 10 bill and 5 ones. then added a tiny piece of fancy pattern paper to look like a tie for the boys (just tucked in....not taped or adhered in), and did a lacy collar thing for the girls... and I had found some little gift boxes..like large jewelry ones, just the right size at a dollar store...like 4/$1.

So each child got a "box of shirts" for a gift..teeny tiny dollar bill shirts. Still $15..and took a bit of my time..the first few were tricky but after that a breeze (crisp bills from the bank worked best..I asked them for them..told them I just wanted crispy ones for gift giving). Wish I had a pic and could share it (we did a pic of all the little boxes of shirts.....:-)

6 moms found this helpful

When I need to get a gift for "the person that has everything" I tend to go for an "experience" -- like tickets for a show, movie gift cards,...even Build A Bear would be something they can "do" as a family together and make a memory! Even a basket with a DVD, popcorn, hot chocolate mix and Dots or something is kind of like an "event."

5 moms found this helpful

I understand what you are staying but the bottom line is they will be happy to open a gift from their aunt. I feel like my kids have a lot of things, too, but they love cool t-shirts, or ones with funny sayings on them. Skater apparel, rock band posters. If they have an itouch or ipod they love buying apps, so an Itunes gift card is awesome, according to my own boys 9 and 11. My sons are always asking if they can get a new app. Goodluck!

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I love the idea of a day together.

But my sister started a new tradition a few years ago and we love it. She is on a very tight budget...extremely tight. So at Christmas she gets the whole family a board game. She always picks something unusual and out of the ordinary - NOT checkers or connect 4. I know they cost her less than $20, but we love it. We have a great family night together. The kids look forward to the game she'll send every year now.

7 moms found this helpful

I love to give and receive music and magazines! There are many great kids' magazines out there for different age ranges as well as "enthusiast" magazines if they're really into auto racing or hunting or something. Just make sure whatever magazine you're ordering doesn't also feature naked women or something! Check out Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids magazines, Cricket, National Wildlife Foundation magazines, Highlights, etc. If you get a move on, you can go ahead and order it, and they'll send them a gift card, or if you want to give them something wrapped, you can get a current issue and wrap it with the subscription gift card.

The little ones probably won't be into this, but the 13 year old probably would -and maybe the 6 year olds (ask their parents) -get them an iTunes gift card for music downloads. OR you can get them a store gift card where they could buy a video game if they play them -or the actual game if it's okay with the parents and isn't one of the really expensive ones.

7 moms found this helpful

I know what you mean, but you can't do that. If you don't want to give someone a gift, then don't do it. You can give your money to charities if you want, but don't tell the other kids that you gave to a charity instead of to them. It's not their fault that they are spoiled. How about suggesting to your entire family (extended) that instead of a gift exchange this year, EVERYONE gives donations to a charity. That way the rich kids aren't singled out and there will be no bad feelings.

6 moms found this helpful

One year I was feeling in a similar situation..limited budget...lots of nieces and nephews to buy for ..tired of the gift cards, etc. So I did buy small but good quality toys for the very youngest of them (say under 4 yrs old)..boys..Fisher price or similar type chunky cars, etc..girls, something similar and fun (most were boys...one BIL has 4 sons!

Then for the older ones age 4 up to teens...I still only did the $15...but I did money origami with it. I made all the bills to look like little mens shirts (found the folding instructions online). It was the easiest folding pattern I found. I did a 10 bill and 5 ones. then added a tiny piece of fancy pattern paper to look like a tie for the boys (just tucked in....not taped or adhered in), and did a lacy collar thing for the girls... and I had found some little gift boxes..like large jewelry ones, just the right size at a dollar store...like 4/$1.

So each child got a "box of shirts" for a gift..teeny tiny dollar bill shirts. Still $15..and took a bit of my time..the first few were tricky but after that a breeze (crisp bills from the bank worked best..I asked them for them..told them I just wanted crispy ones for gift giving). Wish I had a pic and could share it (we did a pic of all the little boxes of shirts.....:-)

6 moms found this helpful

When I need to get a gift for "the person that has everything" I tend to go for an "experience" -- like tickets for a show, movie gift cards,...even Build A Bear would be something they can "do" as a family together and make a memory! Even a basket with a DVD, popcorn, hot chocolate mix and Dots or something is kind of like an "event."

5 moms found this helpful

I like the thought behind your question. Christmas is most definitely too commercialized and sometimes it seems like everyone has just lost their minds regarding gift-giving. I'm not sure, however, given the ages of the children involved, that your idea would go over too well. Christmas really IS for the kids, I mean the enjoyment that you get giving them something you know they will like and all that. Instead of a $15 gift, is there some fun activity you can do with the kids, maybe make a day of it and let them help plan, and that could be their gift this year? It seems to me that the children's parents should be the ones to foster the idea of charitable giving within their own family - it IS a wonderful thing and definitely something to be encouraged. I would talk to your brother and step-brother ahead of time and see what they think. Just make sure everyone's on the same page so there are no disappointments come Christmas.

4 moms found this helpful

I usually buy a really thoughtful movie or book for the whole family to enjoy, or a book for each child and one for the parents. A special book with a handwritten note inside the book cover to the gift recipient can be very special, add a pretty bookmark and you have an inexpensive gift.

4 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,
While we are blessed with resources, we almost always give books to children (and adults) as gifts. I don't worry that the gifts are less costly than others. Books are forever. And, if you plan now, you can always find bargain books online or in the bookstore.

Another less costly idea that I often do, is a picture of your family together put in a frame made by your kids. Pictures are priceless.

Please don't feel judged by anyone because of how much money you spend. It is truly the thought that counts. And you send a message of this sort to your kids.

Hope this helps, Jilly

4 moms found this helpful

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