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It's now officially December, and with everybody's busy holiday schedule's...Christmas morning is sure to be right around the corner in a hurry. (Just typing that gave me a tad bit of anxiety, I must say.) Here's what I want to share with you before you continue to read on any further: while this is in fact a holiday gift guide- I want to start with reminding us all that what physically lies beneath your Christmas tree come the morning of December 25th, is not the highlight of Christmas. Not even close. It's about the birth of a Savior who loves you. It's about being with our families. It's about slowing down and being together, and making memories of laughter and love that will last a lifetime.
None the less, gifts are still a part of our "Holiday Check List" whether we like it or not. That is unless you're boycotting gifts this year, and in that case I would entirely understand because buying gifts can make us want to forfeit the holiday all together! Especially if you're a parent who has experienced watching Christmas toys break only hours after being opened, and gifts that were only touched on Christmas day go to the storage room in the "garage sale box" weeks later.
Finding gifts that are tried and true to last, gifts that have the stamp of quality marked on them, and are also gifts that your child will enjoy is a more difficult task than we give credit for. So where do we turn to for trusted reviews before we purchase? For us it's usually the recommendation of another parent who's tested the water's. There in lies the purpose behind this post! Every year I spend entirely too much time researching, googling, and watching endless YouTube videos on children's gifts, and asking friends with kids for suggestions on gifts for my own children. I shop at precise times of the year to ensure finding the best deals (Post Christmas Clearance, Summer Garage Sales, Black Friday, & Cyber Monday) all in the great effort to save as many Benjamin Franklin's as we can! (Ok, let's be honest.. it's really more like George Washington's).
I've created a list of my children's favorite gifts over the past 3 years, and I'm excited to share it with you! I've also included a few ideas they had on their wish list for this coming Christmas. I've gladly taken the work out of hunting down and researching every single gift this holiday season by compiling this list. for you. Below you will find a great holiday gift guide of kids of varying ages, genders, and development levels, and price's.
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, don't panic. In fact I encourage you to stay in your pajamas, get your wallet, and do what we do...shop all things Amazon where you get to skip waiting in lines, wearing real pants, and everything is delivered to your door step in 2 days time!
Happy Shopping, ya'll!
LANDON-7 YEARS OLD BOY
We snagged this one for $100 on Black Friday. Landon has been wanting one of these for the past year, and we just weren't willing to spend the amount of money they were selling for. However this year, we saw prices drop, and decided this would be his big gift. I've been trying to convince the hubby to test it out with me in the garage after the kids go to bed, so stay tuned on that one! Parents should get to test toys out first, right? I vote, of course!
Memory Foam Pillow- I'm ALL about practical gift giving. Gifts that are needed, and will last. For the past 7 years of this boy's life, he has been using $3 Walmart pillows. Between potty training, being too little to make it to the bathroom to throw up when they're sick, and all the other sure reasons why little boys will surely ruin nice pillows- we've never bought them anything else. Recently however, when I head upstairs to bed, I find my nice memory foam pillow is missing. The mystery of the missing pillow is always solved when I sneak into my boys bedroom, to find that my 7 year old swiped it before going to sleep.
Dynacraft Magna Throttle Boys BMX Street/Dirt Bike 20", Black/Red/White- We felt major parent guilt when we realized one summer that our child was starting to look prettyyy tall on his little bike. Dang growth spurts! And since his little brother was going to be using the hand me down, I decided to start scanning the internet for deals on good bikes. Here's my advice, especially while your kids are still little and growing so quickly-don't spend too much on a bike! We've never been disappointed with the cheaper bikes we've purchased. They've held up through two rough and tough boys using them, leading to us feeling like we've always gotten our money's worth.
Osmo Genius Kit for iPad- I'm so incredibly excited about this gift this year! I'll just admit right now, I'm one of "those moms" holding out for as long as I possibly can to buy my children a video game system. Last year we purchased used portable Nintendo Ds' off of craigslist for dirt cheap, and many arguments to put away the video game and start listening later.... have me rethinking my choices. I've seen first hand the way a 5 & 7 year old boy can easily obsess over wanting to play Mario Kart, and other video games. The only "electronic" they are allowed to have screen time on is a used iPad that was gifted to us from a relative. This Osmo Genius Kit is a really cool alternative to video games, that will allow them to feel as if it's still fun screen time, while us parents snea in lots of learning. Math, Writing, Drawing, and so much more! This might be my FAVORITE gift idea I found this year. Graham is receiving the Osmo Creativity Kit, and I may be more excited than they will be to play with both kit's.
Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection (Books 1-3 Set)- We are HUGE Harry Potter fans in this house! It started for me years ago, but for my kids we started reading the Harry Potter series when these absolutely STUNNING illustrated books came out! They are worth every penny if you're a Harry Potter fanatic like us. The illustrations are so captivating and detailed, that I had no problem keeping my kids engaged in reading them. We'd read a chapter to the kids each night as we worked our way through these books, and now they are the most prized books on their book shelves.
Playhouse Harry Potter Houses of Hogwarts Lock and Key Lined Page Diary for Kids- YOU GUYS! Do you remember having a diary with a LOCK on it when you were younger?!? Holy cow, this brings back SO many memories of my childhood! Sure, the key and lock are most likely a piece of junk but this one made my heart happy ya'll. I LIVED to write in my diary's as a kid, so when Landon started requesting a journal with a lock on it, I was happy to make his journaling wishes come true! This particular seller on Amazon, (Playhouse) has so many cute design and color options for journals for both boys and girls. It's a great way to get your child to experience writing and expressing themselves.
What boy from 5 on up, doesn't love Lego or Minecraft? The two put together are a no brainer. While I despise stepping on Lego's what seems to be every day, or having to clear them off the kitchen table over and over again, I give this classic toy my thumbs up of approval. My boys love to build, craft, and dream up designs with their Legos. I love the creativity, and the imagination it inspires them to have while they build.
Last year we bought our kids their first book of devotionals. Spending time reading the bible each day is important to us, and so this has been a great tool for us to use when we are having family time to talk to the kids about lessons in life, and how they relate back to God and the word He spoke in the bible.
GRAHAM-5 YEAR OLD BOY
Razor Power Core E90 Electric Scooter-Again, another black Friday deal. Every kid at some point dreams of what it would be like to have an electric vehicle at some point in their childhood. This will be Graham's experience. Thankfully both boys have and will be covered in their bike helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads this year as they try out their new outdoor gadgets. Speaking of: does it seem cruel to give a child an outdoor toy for Christmas, when they live in Michigan and have to wait 3 months to use it? Ha, ok maybe it's a little mean BUT who's with me on the fact that I'm not about to just buying them an electric scooter on a random Tuesday during Spring? Sorry kids, you're learning what it's like to be a real #Michigander the hard way.
Magic Reversible Sequin Pillow-This was a fun idea that both the boy's have been asking us about for over a year. I wasn't so quick to jump on the sequin bandwagon like everybody else because I was certain it was a complete waste of money. Until, I had a playdate at a friends house and found myself obsessed with her couch pillow made of reversible sequins. Ahh...it clicked! These pillows really are fun to draw on, and fiddle with. A light bulb went on: Maybe it'll help my child fall asleep quietly at night without getting out of bed for legitimately the one billionth time! SOLD-TAKE MY MONEY right now! If that does actually pan out...those pillows will have been worth every last penny, and the real VIP gift of Christmas!
Huffy Green Machine- One of our neighbors has one of these bad boys, which is how I of course came to hear about it. After a playdate, I was told all about how cool so and so's "Green Machine" was and all the tricks his friend could do on it. While they don't look like much, I'll admit after witnessing our neighbors stunts, they're actually pretty cool! You can do spins and turn's on this fun little guy, and get going to some pretty fast speeds. Great for the little thrill seekers you might have at home, waiting around to give Mom a heart attack and a run for her money in the band aid fund.
Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set – The Original, Award-Winning Magnetic Building Tiles – Creativity and Educational – STEM Approved- If you decide to purchase one toy off this recommendation list, make it this one! I cannot rave about Magna Tiles enough. We love them so much, that we buy a new box every year to keep growing the kids collection because all 3 kids want to build with them. Again, it's one of those toys that really encourages them to think outside of the box and be creative as they build. Every time we have guests over, it doesn't take long before even the adults are wanting to grab these tiles and build too. Fun for the whole family!
Did I mention that we live in Michigan? Where momma bears get sick of dressing their children up like eskimo's by January, and start to boycott it all together shortly after. That's why we love fun and active games like this indoor arcade basketball. This fits nicely into the kids playroom, and the bonus is easy it is to fold down, pack up, and take along to a friends house, school/church event, or even Grandmas house for a sleepover.
Lego's are timeless, and cultivate room for inspiration and creation. (Or so that's what all us parents are telling ourselves) after we just vacuumed up the 7th Lego of the day. These sets are my boys favorites, anything with camping.
It's almost 2019, and technology isn't going anywhere. In fact, I'm almost certain by 2020 my kids will officially know how to use more technology than I do. Until then, we have all loved these VTech SmartWatch. They can't go on the internet, make phone calls, or send messages. Which I as a mom, love! These watches come with only pre-programmed games, music, and a camera to capture pictures. These have really come I handy when we've been out at a restaurant waiting for our food, or the doctors office, etc, to entertain the kids.
We've gotten rid of so many toys over the years that inevitably stopped being played with. Off to the garage sale they went, but not this guy. Playsets with little action figures have been my boys favorite go to toy to play with since age 3, and are still to this day their go to toys. They use their play sets to build a city on the living room floor, and even incorporate the magna tiles as more buildings. I love the imagination play it creates.
Get your kids a great bible, that they will be inspired to pick up and read! I of course, researched which one to buy until I just finally had to hit purchase and go with my gut. I'm so glad we choose the Adventure bible, it's been so age appropriate and captivating for both my kids ages 7 and 5.
THIS IS THE COOLEST GIFT! My boys LOVE to draw! In years past they've adored "How To Learn To Draw" Books, but are always so bummed when they've made it through the entire book. This interactive program allows kids to draw creations that then come to live through animation and story telling on their Ipad screen. I highly recommend watching the video on the amazon link to this toy to see the endless possibilities with this program!
HAILEY-3 YEARS OLD
As a special needs family, we know the sting of Christmas present's that entirely missed the mark of your disabled child's needs or even wants. Between developmental delays, physical disabilities that don't allow your child full movement over their body, and a complete lack of interest in most toys, holiday shopping can start to feel like a daunting or overwhelming task. However, we have still managed to find gifts that have been great in Hailey's routine and encouraged progress, check them out!
Since our daughter is non-verbal, having a communication device for her is crucial. The most versatile form of that, comes on the ipad. For her, this is very much a need. However with the endless options to add learning games and apps, it's the best purchase that's ever been made for her. I know current models can go for between $300-1,000 but check out Amazon's refurbished models. We've gone this route many times, and have never been disappointed especially at half the cost.
This one is a no brainer. No matter if you went the refurbished route, or brand new route...you need to protect your investment. Especially with children, as we all know they have a special talent at breaking things. This case is super heavy duty, allows your child to carry it by a handle, and set up a stand for easy viewing that is already a part of the case.
I love how versatile these weighted blankets are! They're not just for a special needs child, to help them sleep. Many adults purchase these as well. They are known for improving quality of sleep for both adults and children. Used for kids who just need help sleeping in general, for adults with anxiety, pets who need help calming themselves during thunderstorms, and more. Since she's not a great sleeper, we're willing to try just about anything that could possibly help change that.
I actually bought these for my boys a few years back, thinking they looked like a really fun toy. They still really enjoy playing with these Squigz, and much to my surprise- so many years later we use then almost daily for therapy with our daughter. We suction them to mirrors, windows, sliders, toys, and Hailey practice working on her arm strength by pulling them off. The suction is very strong, so it's a challenge for her. After I showed her therapist, they started purchasing the same toy for their therapy room.
When you have a child who needs continuous movement and sensory input, an indoor trampoline can be a game changer! We've gotten an incredible amount of use out of our indoor trampoline, not just with Hailey but all of our kids. Between therapy, long winter months, and crazy boys that need to move their bodies-it's help get the wiggles out.
This is such a sweet little toy! We bought it for Hailey last year in hopes of finding a toy she'd love. JACKPOT! our girl just loves anything with music. So this little guy dances, sings, and the coolest part-has a record button she can easily push to hear her recorded voice incorporated into the songs the robot sings.
Our daughter is over the moon for anything that has a buckle attached to it! Could occupy her for hours! So imagine how much better car rides, outings, and bedtime can be with this magic little pillow by her side! Check it out!!
Another special needs momma told me about this little gem! Both of our daughter don't have the strongest hand or finger control, so these little Baby Einstein Touch Pianos are the absolute best because they barely have to touch the wooden ledge of keys in order to make noise come out of the piano.
These books are absolutely precious and oh so darling! My daughter has a hard time engaging in books, because she can't read them herself, she struggles to turn the pages, and loses interest when her dad and I read to her. Not with these books however. My mom bought my kids this book and recorded the entire story with her own voice, and my daughter still lights up like a Christmas tree every time she hears it.
These swings are so nice because no matter where you live, they can be used year around! Keep it outside in the yard Spring-Fall and for Winter bring it inside for some snowy day fun! Fits multiple children.
SHARED COUPLES GIFT FOR THE HOUSE
Every year for Christmas for a number of years now, Ryan and I have chosen to forgo getting one another gifts. Instead we choose to get a combined gift hat we both want for the house. An item we otherwise wouldn't pull the trigger on buying. Here are some of our favorites from year's past.
Instant Pot LUX60V3 V3 6 Qt 6-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer- I will admit, I didn't first understand the craze of the Instant Pot community. I've always been afraid of pressure cookers, until last Black Friday when we snagged a deal too good to pass up, and our life in the kitchen has never been the same! I HATE cooking. I said it..I dread meal time. With the Instant Pot though, I don't mind cooking with all the time and effort it saves me.
Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner; Upright Portable Deep Cleaning Machine for Home and Office, Extracts Dirt, Removes Stains on Carpet, Upholstery; Professional Grade; Perfect Holiday Gift for Homeowners-
The year we bough our current home with 4 levels of carpet, we decided it was time to get a great quality carpet steam cleaner. After lots of research (are you surprised at this point?) we landed on the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner. It has been phenomenal in cleaning our carpets and furniture. From spills, accidents, and endless messes of owning a dogs -it's been a life saver.
Are we catching a theme here? Floor, floors, floors! Cleaning, clean clean! Here's a joke for ya: "How do you know when you're getting old?" Answer: When every year for Christmas your idea of a fun gift to buy yourself is something to help you clean with! It's true, I LOVE this mop and with only steam from hot water, my house is not harboring a ton of harsh chemicals when I bust out the mop.
When you have 4 levels of carpet, 2 dogs, and 3 children, you must have a vacuum that will work magic on your behalf. <---This is the one! I've never loved something that helped me clean so much! #noshame
THIS YEARS CONTENDER:
If you know us at all, you know that our favorite time of the entire day is when we wake up and get that first cup of coffee before the kids wake up. Through the years of raising kids, and lack of sleep, coffee has become our life line. We currently are proud owners of a $19.99 Mr. Coffee Pot, but we're thinking this guy will take our coffee game to #AWholeNothaLevel.