Car "Gifts"

Updated on July 21, 2011
J.S. asks from Morrisville, PA
19 answers

I asked a question a few weeks back about how to entertain my kids for an 8 hour car ride. (My oldest is TERRIBLE in the car and has hated car rides since the day she was born!) We did get a portable DVD player and borrowed many videos from friends that they have never seen. We also got them an iXL player but also plan on stopping every 3 hours to let them run around. I LOVED the idea that a few of you gave to wrap inexpensive gifts for them to give incrementally throughout the drive. My daughters are 4 and 2. I figure for the ride down and back I need a total of 10 gifts each. So far for each I have a harmonica, a plush character doll, sticker books, small coloring books, child handheld rechargeable flashlights, animal and insect flashcards, and binoculars. I need more ideas please!!! Trying to keep the cost of each gift under $5.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Philadelphia on

Go to Michaels, A.C. Moore, or Target. They have great $1 bins. That's where I've gotten my travel gifts for my 4 & 2 year olds.



answers from Allentown on

Magnets and stash a cookie sheet under the seat. We did this for my son when he was 2...4 now and still likes it...kept him busy for awhile! Especially magnets that you can put together. We found clothing ones to dress up a person and things like that. Good luck!

More Answers


answers from Bloomington on

First, I'd rethink the harmonica!!

Magic ink coloring book, Littlest Pet shop figure, ring pop, mini magnadoodle, princess wand

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

here is a gift to you lol. skip the harmonica. after about 5 miles that non stop blowing will drive you bonkers. at the dollar general they sold a big cup (think slurpee type cup) in it was a pencil and bunch of car type games/things to draw and color. I would suggest that if you don't have it yet you get a portable dvd player. this has saved my sanity more than any other travel item we have ever bought. you don't need to have it running non stop but for an hour here or there it will be a life saver.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If it were me I'd rethink the harmonica. I just don't know if I'd want to hear it in the car for 8 hours or a fraction thereof. My 2 year old loves to "read" to herself so maybe some board books. You should see if you have one near you. Maybe look into some flashcards too. My daughter loves this stuff on long flights. We have a Dollar Tree near us that is wonderful when it comes to their supply of kids toys. I would also check out mini Etch-A-Sketchs. I think they are around $5.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I would just go to the dollar store and pick out a bunch of stuff. They have lots of fun and colorful things they can play with.

Make sure its nothing that will annoy you either!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Go to target. They have a great section for a dollar as you walk in the store.



answers from Harrisburg on

Oh Boy definitely NO Harmonicas. That will drive everyone crazy in the car. No noise makers!!!



answers from Detroit on

My daughter likes her "magic" coloring books (with the pens that only color the paper) and her Magnadoodle. A friend of mine saves the happy meal toys from McDonald's and stashes them away when her boys get tired of them. Then she whips them out for their road trips and it's like they have all new toys again. And if they lose any of them, no big deal.

I do have to reinforce though that you do NOT want to get them harmonicas! Ditto for kazoos!



answers from Philadelphia on

My cousin gives each of her kids a roll of quarters at the beginning of the ride. Every time they fight, complain, etc they pay a quarter. At the end of the ride they spend what they keep. She says the first hour is rough and then the kids are good. She has taken 3 of them across the country!



answers from Norfolk on

In the toy section of Wal-mart, they have a section of toys that are usually between $1 & $5. Mine has echo microphones, handheld light spinners, rubber animals..... My son also loves his magna doodle for the car. Not as inexpensive, but a decent investment.

You can also make custom made window decals by painting with fabric paint on a flat piece of plastic. (I used to use overhead transparencies.) Maybe the girls would enjoy some window decals to "decorate" their area.

Safe travels.



answers from Philadelphia on

WOW a harmonica. You are brave. My husband would not go for that. :) How about Cling ons for the car windows, if they can reach them. You can usually find them in the $ store and they have them for different holidays. I know this may be more than $5.00 but we used to have books spots for characters eg. We have a flannel book with dinosaurs, and one for Thomas the train which were magnets. My son loved them. They have travel games like UNO you can play in the car. Do they have a Leapster, you can get them a new game that they can only play in the car. This isn't much. Good luck and have fun.



answers from Kansas City on

What about one of those hand held things that you draw on, and it can erase itself? I forget what they are called. I have seen big ones and hand held ones. Or a CD? They can take turns listening to what they want. You can sing along and that might keep them busy for a bit! I just saw the $5 part, but maybe you can find some inexpensive ones at Walmart. Have fun!!



answers from Erie on

We do the inexpensive toy thing, but we also have a few nicer things that are for car trips only. Here are some more ideas:
Cheap -- cars, trucks, tractors (not just for boys!), small animal figures, maracas (I would warn you about the noise, but you already have harmonicas listed), finger puppets
Nicer -- dry erase stuff (Crayola makes dry erase crayons and a fold-up case for them), Potato head dolls, magnetic books (we have an alphabet one and one with animals)
I will warn you that we usually have to empty their seats at each stop, as the smaller items - even if they're magnetic - inevitably end up falling somewhere. I also have a deck of cards with idea starters for long car rides, but you could just as easily make your own since I've seen websites with conversation starters, ideas, etc. Hope this helps... let me know if you want more info about any of these ideas... Oh yeah, and be sure to take some of their favorite music (or stories on CD) for them to listen to. I mistakenly loaded some of my guys' music onto my iPod, and it was a life-saver on a cross-country flight we took a few years ago...



answers from Kansas City on

What about play cell phones and play cameras. Disney makes both of those that are pretty cheap. The kids can take pictures of the scenery, etc. out the window and talk to their "friends" on the phone. I bought my 3 y/o a kaleidoscope that she really loved on the car trip. It was a cheap one that had a crdboard tube and glass bead at the end. I think they sell them at Toys R Us in their cheap toy section by the register. Target also sells some little mini baby dolls that are cute and only like $3 or so. I actually think the harmonica is fine...I hate screaming loudness but musical instruments are okay for me, weird I know. Plus, they are not going to be playing it the whole time especially if they have a new present to open every 3 hours...and shoot, if they do, maybe they'll accidentally fall out of the car at the gas station! ;)


answers from Dover on

First, my suggestion is to try to leave when they are tired (like bedtime or close to it). That will allow them to sleep for most, if not all, of the car ride. If timing wise will not allow for that, I love your ideas except for the harmonica. Do you really want two unhappy kids blowing on a harmonica while you are on a car trip when you are already stressed (if they are unhappy you will be stressed)...maybe save those for one of your stops or once you reach your destination.

Go to the dollar store and you can find lots of things for the kids but they will love them.



answers from Philadelphia on

Holy cow! I'm sure that would work for my kids too, spoiling them with stuff on a trip there and back! LMAO This is something I would not want to spoil my kids with and get into bad habits. Sorry, I disagree with this tactic. I wouldn't have a problem buying them one thing FOR the trip like a travel Magnadoodle or washable crayons and coloring books, but wrapping multiple gifts? Holy cow, lol. I guess they're done with Christmas early. Wow. I just took their backpacks and put some small toys from their room in there and kept it next to them on the seat. They behaved because they're expected to. If they didn't we pulled over and they knew what that meant. We live pretty "old school" here.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets


answers from Erie on

We just got back from vacation and it included a cross country flight with a 5 year old & a 2 yar old! the DVD player was a life saver but i just went to the dollar store and got most of my goodies. I oculdn't wrap them cause of airort security but every 1/2 hour i pulled out something new to play with. i got some little model cars at the dollar store that they had to put together, a mini etch a sketch, coloring books, the crayola set with the markers that only write on their special paper, things to practice writing letters & numbers, books, a magnadoodle (anything with magnets cause you don't want to have to clean up little pieces off the floor all the time) etc. also i'm not sure about the harmonica...i wouldn't want to hear that for 8 hours in the car! leave when their tired...try to travel at night. there's also some neat ideas if you google something like games to play in the can look for animals, letters on signs, i spy, etc. good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

what about window stickers or markers? I would try the dollar store and see what they have, or the dollar spot at Target. Walgreens sometimes has expensive toys on sake too.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions