â€œ There are so many different toys and games that kids want these days Â– but what should you really get them this Christmas? Tell us! â€ž
A MERRY CHRISTMAS WAS HAD BY ALL
When I buy Christmas presents for children I simply look back to the type of thing I believe my own got the most pleasure from and try to buy along those lines. I like to buy wooden toys, or something they can use their imagination with, such as building bricks, lego or tea sets. Loving art myself, I'm a sucker for arts and craft toys. For the youngest member in our family who is one year old I think the best toys for him are activity toys such as musical ones; drums, trumpet, piano (sorry to his parents but I don't think music making can start too early) and of course a wipe clean or cloth book, and a puzzle can't be a bad thing either.
Last Christmas I was asked to buy a toy on my son's behalf for his friend's young daughter (she was almost four). I chose a stamper set and by all accounts she loved it.
When my four children were young our family's finances varied. We were never well off, although somehow we always managed to afford what we considered to be the important things. I found my first child was the most expensive as so much had to be bought but a lot of this, including toys was passed down. But, of course, Christmas is an expensive time for all who celebrate, and Father Christmas always likes to do his best and not let the children down.
There were a couple of Christmases when I and my husband had to try to make our money stretch even further than usual, so that our children weren't disappointed.
I've never been one to let the children have such expensive presents that we would find ourselves in debt. We would scrimp on other things to make Christmas good but I never borrowed for Christmas gifts; it's so easy to get into debt. I was fortunate to have generous parents who ensured their grandchildren had a great Christmas, and not just by spending on them but putting care, love and time into the season.
But what did my children get from Santa? Well, every year without fail, they would get a sack fit to burst. How did we manage this? Well, my elder two, by the time they had their two younger siblings knew what was what and never asked for anything too unreasonable; although my second child in his younger days would pore over the Argos catalogue and make extremely lengthy wish lists! I think he enjoyed making the list and didn't really want or expect much of what he listed.
I usually found that each child would long for one or two particular toys or gifts and I and my husband would try our best to secure these. One year my eldest son, who must have been about twelve at the time, wanted an electric guitar. He had been having lessons on an acoustic but really wanted an electric one and so we had a search and ended up buying one second hand. It looked good and he was thrilled with it. When my eldest wanted a keyboard we again chose a second hand model from a local music shop. This meant she could have a better model than if we had bought new. This daughter is very musical and the instrument was used often for many years and helped her to practise at home while she had lessons at school.
And so the sacks were filled with one or two expensive and asked for items and also several items bought from the market. I would go with my mum to the market often in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and stand freezing in the crowd at a Romford Market stall where the 'toy man' entertained as he sold. He would produce toy after toy and the crowd would be huge as he offered two, three, four or more toys as a package. These differed in quality but I always feel out of all the gifts children receive at Christmas there are only a few which they play with longer than the first week or so and, for me, the excitement of Christmas morning and delving into a huge sack is part of the magic of the day. And if they weren't too keen on the toys then you can bet they just loved playing with the boxes!
Pound stores weren't around then but if they had been I would have bought a fair few gifts from them to bulk up the sacks.
I would also buy needed things such as new pyjamas, socks, underwear and some other clothes, but would ensure these were near the top of the sack, leaving the more exciting stuff lower down.
The four sacks would be left around the Christmas tree and, sometime after midnight, would be filled to the brim by Santa. Now I'm not saying my children were angels; I don't fib, but they haven't woken at ridiculously times on the mornings of December 25th and when they were old enough they have made and brought to us tea in bed, mainly to hurry us up so they could start ripping open the paper to reveal the secrets underneath. So, not at the crack of dawn, but still fairly early, my husband and myself would lie in bed giggling, as we heard the children creep downstairs and when, seeing their sacks tell each other, "He's been!" or "Father Christmas has left me so many things!" "I love Santa! He must be so rich!" "Oh look! Santa's drunk the sherry and the carrots have all gone!"
While we sipped at our mugs of tea the children would sit at the ends of our bed and show us what they had found in their stockings and we would exclaim, "Oh that's lovely, isn't Santa clever to choose that for you?"
Now what sort of thing was in the stockings? For my girls, depending on age there would be some make up or toiletries, jewellery-in the way of trinkets, hair bands and fancy clips, novelty pens and pencils, any bits of stationery I might have found, such as pretty pencil sharpeners, erasers and small confectionery gifts such as chocolate reindeer, Santa's, lollipops, and ALWAYS, chocolate money. I just had to place a small fluffy toy and a tiny doll for my youngest (as she was the daughter who loved her dolls) peeping out of the top of the stocking, little note books, socks, toothbrushes, purses, flannels... and for the boys, again toothbrush, face flannel, socks, pens and pencils, key rings, football stickers, the latest gimmicks such as crazy bones, pogs etc., PokÃ©mon cards, perhaps a small LCD game, sweets, a shiny pound coin...the list is long but nothing in the stocking was expensive. And last Christmas my youngest, now nineteen, informed me that the best part of Christmas morning had always been, and still was, for her, the stocking. She said she just loved seeing all the little surprises hidden in its depths.
I don't think toys for children need to be expensive, although it's hard not to get carried away at Christmas and feel pressurised by the adverts and the children's, perhaps wealthier, friends. Every parent wants to get their child their hearts desire at Christmas but if you simply can't afford it, even after budgeting, then I think you must do as I sometimes had to do and say something, in a matter of fact way, along the lines of, "That may just be too expensive as Santa has to share out the presents" Mine accepted this and, I honestly don't think they were ever disappointed at Christmas. But I do remember one Christmas morning as I was clearing up the discarded gift wrap, asking my youngest if she was happy with her presents from Father Christmas. She tried to be diplomatic and said that she WAS pleased but had thought Santa was going to give her a cradle for her new doll. My husband and I looked at each other in surprise and then remembered-we had hidden everything too well and this particular present had been left on top of a wardrobe disguised in a black bag. When she was distracted her dad got the present down and placed it behind the tree. He called her to see the present remaining under the tree. "It must have fallen from someone's sack." He said, "It has your name on it though!" Off came the paper; the cradle appeared.
I believe that young children really don't need much spent on them. It's harder not to overspend with the older school age children but I still think Christmas isn't worth getting into debt over. Pad out the good stuff with the necessary items such as clothes and toiletries which you would have to buy Christmas or not, and with the things they want this should make Christmas be an enjoyable time of year and if you've managed not to borrow, then a not too stressful January.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
This is the final of the 'Christmas Gifts' review and a review of gifts for kids but maybe not quite the kids you were thinking of!
'Mum, can we have a pet for Christmas' This is an oft hear plea around the festive season. My answer? 'Of course you can darling, have a Dependable Donkey', we've nowhere to keep it though. I've given Practical Presents a Â£107 and they'll take it to Kenya so it can help the people there.
What parent hasnt heard their kids claim they cant find their shoes, strangely about 5 minutes before they are due to leave for school. Many kids in different parts of the world cant go to school as footwear is often compulsory and their families cant afford them. Buy the 'Shoes' gift from Save the Children for Â£10 and make sure all kids make it to school.
Anyone around kids know they love football and can spend hours kicking a ball around, this applies to kids around the world. For Â£21 Save the Children will send footballs to the most disadvantaged kids, giving them an escape from the world around them.
Little boys for some reason love bugs. I still have memories of my little brother chasing the girls around with an earthworm! A Â£7 Wormery from Present Aid turns waste into productive soil to help grow food.
All kids love books. I get sad when I see parents refuse to buy their kids a book claiming they dont have the money for such things but then go off to the cigarette counter. I myself own over 1300 books and believe the gift of reading is one of the best things you can give.
Libraries are of course one of the best ways to spread books. I think one of those mobile library trucks might find it a bit difficult in the deser, but a 'Camal Library' might work. Save the Children provide these in Ethiopia for Â£190
Theres always those kids who skive school or always forget to take a pen to school. Buy your kid a pencil case with a tracker in it and give Â£8 to Oxfam to buy school supplies. You can also give the gift of a years education in a country like Haiti via Save the Children for a child who actually wants to work.
Oooh, we musnt forget the little 'uns, we all want the kids to play in a safe environment, Save the Children believe in the same. They provide emergency play tents in areas of conflict or natural disasters to provide a safe caring play safe for Â£500
Some kids love and need those little extras. Barnardos can provide those with a gift of Â£1500 to provide sensory play equipment for children with learning difficulties.
And this will be my very last suggestion, and it could probably go in Christmas Gifts for Her and Him as well. We have a big issue in this country with homeless young people aged 16-21. For Â£10 you can give 'More than a gift under the tree'. Centrepoint will pick a suitable gift, wrap it and put it under the tree at one of their centres ready for Christmas Day when they open.
I hope you enjoyed reading the three reviews, My aim wasnt to preach to people about the sinful gluttony of Christmas and the waste of money (and I'm restraining myself from talking about what a disgrace it is that even in this country we have to donate to get a child a coat!), but hopefully to get them to think about spreading the joy a bit further than originally planned. The links below will lead directly to the websites where you can buy the gifts and see all the projects. And just remember they'll still be there after all the jollity has died down!
Merry Christmas to you all xx
presentaid.org - Christian AidÂ
cowsnthings.co.uk - Age UKÂ
There are quite a few kids in my family so I end up having to buy quite a lot of gifts for Children. Depending on how young the child is, depends how easy it is. My friends son is 12 and I find this a really hard age to buy for, my nieces and nephew are younger and I love choosing toys and games for them. If you are struggling to buy gifts for children then here are my top suggestions:
Pop up books, bath books, story books and fact books! My nephew is getting a copy of the new Guinness World Records as he loves disgusting and unusual things. I am going to buy my niece a some new story book but I do love pop-up books, they are so fun for children and really help to get them to fall in love with reading.
What can be more fun than a good board game on Christmas day? Ludo, Operation, connect four, twister, monopoly, cludo. All these are great family games that children will love to play and they make great gifts. I was bought a new board game every Christmas and I loved it.
My nephew loves playmobil and he has so many different scenes and people to play with that a new playmobil kit would go down a treat. Lego is another great gift that children love to play with and it is one of those toys that is relatively indestructible. It has a wide span of ages it is appropriate for too. These toys are great in my opinion as it allows children to use their own imagination.
My nephew is getting his first bike this year so hopefully there will no snow to stop him going out and trying it out. A bike makes a great gift as most kids love to ride bikes. From a really young age you can buy little trikes or scooters for children to play with. I can't wait until my nephew gets to see his shiny new bike with a bow on it. I think that a bike is good healthy toy and allows children to incorporate exercise in their play.
A new packet of pens, pencils or craft materials could be a winning gift. You can get some great craft gifts that include painting your own gnome and even making your own candles. I like crafts as it means the children are busy being creative and as an Auntie it also gives me time to bond with them while we make our items or do an activity.
I am a big fan of the more traditional gifts but I guess you just have to ask the child what they want. Just remind them that Santa will not bring them anything unless they behave.
I have an ever growing family with another four members added in the past year and half! Although I don't have any children of my own I certainly look after a lot!
Gift ideas for Children:
Well over the years I have certainly found out the highest price toy/game out there are not always the best ones. Nor do the children want it, so me personally if I don't know the child to well I will tend to give them a small item and a voucher.
Little babies don't understand Christmas so they don't really want lot of toys they can't play with. So I find practical items are best. For example my nephew Alfie born October last year, so that Christmas I did a little hamper of baby items. Clothes, nappies, bibs, baby toiletries ect which he would certainly use until he grows out of them of course. This I found also helped the parents as baby items can be rather pricey so practical items like this work well.
Younger children start to get excited when starting to learn about Santa Claus, so to keep the dream alive for as long as you can certainly makes their Christmas. What I normally do is get something with Father Christmas on, then a more practical gift. At this age 2 - 5 years I have found educational games are brilliant. One of my favourite brands is Vtec, however colouring crayons and books never seem to amaze me on how well they go down.
Primary School -
This age now I think starts to get a little tricky as they become their own little person, knowing exactly what they like and don't like. So knowing a child well at this age I think is key in gift buying, my niece Gracie May loves making things she is 6 will be 7 in February. So last year I got her a large Hello Kitty box (loves HK) and filled it with crafty items that she could make things out of.
My sister also purchased a lot of toys for Gracie this Â£200 dolls house etc and she was happier with the stuff I got her than anything else. So bonus for me, Aunty Beth! My Nephew Sammy well his 13 now I remember this age so well, it was all about Ben 10! So I themed his gifts around Ben 10, but sadly that year most people did the same thing and he ended up with a few of the same things! So if you're close talking to your friends and family sometimes comes in handy!
High School -
Arh where the angels turn into rebels! Girls during there teen years I think are really easy to buy for, it is pretty much, clothes, make up and money. Lads I think are a little harder as there never seems to be as much teeny stuff out there. The older ones in this family like half and half as I call it. Money and a gift, as they want to purchase there own things around the shops with there friends as independents at this age is key. But then also they still have an air of child and want that gift to open. By this age they know the ins and outs of Christmas so instead of worrying what to do, just ask.
So Christmas for kids I think fun with an air of practicality is a must, I thinking there is nothing wrong with asking and talking with your friends and family. As communication is also key so you don't end up getting them gift they will only return in the New Year.
I really do love buying presents for the children of the family and friends. Looking around the shops I have found Boots to have some smashing three of two of kids games so worth having a look.
Thank you for reading.
I used to absolutely love Christmas as a kid, and as there are no children in my family, Christmas is just not the same! Except this year I now have a 6 month old son! I cannot wait for Christmas this year, even though he won't really know what's going on, I have bought him way too much already!
You really are spoilt for choice out there with shops like Toysrus, Smyths toys, Mama and Papas, Early Learning Centre, Mothercare etc, even for babies there is sooo much to buy! It is hard to know what to get and when to stop!
If you are really stuck for things to buy for the children in your family, even though I don't buy for any but my son myself, some of the things I have seen whilst out shopping for my son I just can't wait to buy for him!
Kids go through loads of clothes, so maybe this is a good idea, you don't have to buy expensive ones, Asda, Sainsburys and Tescos do such nice children's clothes and they are so cheap. Younger children don't care where their clothes are from! You can buy them nice pyjamas sets, slippers etc, which are so cheap but still good quality in places like Primark and Matalan.
The early learning centre have some fantastic toys, which all show the age range on them if you are not sure what to get, such as 3 years +, so this gives you an indication whether it will be suitable or not.
There is so much to choose from in toys r us, or vouchers would probably be a great idea so they could choose something themselves. I used to love going into toys r us and choosing whatever I wanted! There are some excellent legos sets in Toyrus for little boys, I know my younger brother used to love his lego when he was younger, and his girlfriend always buys her son lego presents, such as lego trucks, helicoptors. He is 9 and still loves lego, so this is a great idea for a young boy.
For girls, I know when I was little I used to love making things, there are some great gift sets in Toysrus, with beads etc, to make all different things. I loved teddies, there are some lovely teddies about too.
You could always ask parents what their children are into, and buy something you know they would like. Or if you know they have their own bank account like my son does, we opened one when he was born, you could give them a cheque to but it in their savings, especially if they are younger than three and don't really need much at that age! They will get so much off their parents and other people, a cheque to go towards their future might be appreciated. I know my son will get money off his great grandparents this year for his bank account which I would rather, as I know others will buy him so much.
All kids love sweets and chocolate! I used to get so many selection boxes when I was little but I loved them!
A lot of kids these days are into their gadgets and electrical things such as ipads, laptops, iphones, playstations. These items are so expensive I'm so glad I can just buy little things to keep my little man happy at this age! It will cost me a fortune in the future when he's older.
Most young kids will love any sort of book you get them, me and my brother, cousins, friends all loved books, and this is a great educational present to get them, I have bought my baby lots of different books already and even he at this age loves looking at the pictures and feeling different textures of the books
I hope I've given you some ideas for presents! If you really are stuck I think gift vouchers are the best idea, then they can buy themselves anything they want!
I find children really difficult to buy for, especially small children and babies. This is partly due to the fact that I have none of my own as well as the fact that the two smallies I will be buying for this year were both born within a month of Christmas so normally have absolutely everything they could need before Christmas even arrives. In these cases I usually get a present for their birthdays and give vouchers or cash for Christmas but they are only babies and wouldn't really know any different. Until the teenage years I wouldn't really like to give cash as half the fun of Christmas in the unwrapping of the presents!
Here's the shortlist of presents I have come up with this year:
Football kits - 2 boys I'm buying for are big football fans, one Chelsea and one Liverpool (don't ask me why) and have the shirts but that's about it. As they have taken up playing football this year, I have decided to get them a few bits to add to their kit including shorts, socks, shin pads, flasks, towels and kit bags.
Games - Almost every child I know has either a Nintendo DS or a Leappad or even an IPad so there are plenty of choices of games and accessories to go with these devices.
Books - I nearly always give kids of all ages at least one book for Christmas. They can be so cheap and I think it's important to get children reading so I try to make it a book that's fun and at least a small bit educational.
Vending machine - I did check with the mother of the child in question before ordering this. Firstly because I thought it could cause arguments over how many sweets the little girl needs, and secondly because she'd want mummies money to put in it. The one I bought is like a gum ball machine but you can put lots of different sweets like skittles or jelly beans in it. It takes any coin so even a penny could get sweets but the mummy in question said it was a good idea as it'd save her Â£2 every time they walk past the one in the shopping centre. The one I got from Amazon was around Â£20 and came with a box of sweets to fill it with. I like the idea of this present because it works as a money box too.
Board Games - I loved board games when I was younger, I still do now and again actually. I think since the introduction of so many electronic devices lots of children seem to be found in a corner on their own with their electronic friend. I think it's nice to have a board game to play on Christmas day that everyone can play together. Jigsaws are another thing that can be got for all ages and ability levels.
Baby Accessories - With babies I just ask the parents, I find it much easier and they can suggest something they actually need for example changing bags, changing mat or something nice for their nursery. Earlier in the year I managed to get some absolutely fab Hamleys nursery toys for half price in a designer outlet. One of these was some bright coloured fluffy building blocks in a row. Each fluffy block held a toy such as a rattle or a teething ring or mirror. The parents loved them and now the baby is that bit older he's starting to love them too. Also Mamas and Papas have stores in outlet centers and they can have huge reductions on clothing and accessories and it's great quality stuff.
Toys - Luckily many stores start their sales before Christmas these days and toys can be picked up at a good price and often on 3 for 2 offers. Younger children seem to like anything colourful and noisy so I usually use this as my criteria for the younger kids (I'm sure their parents looooooove me).
Building things - This seems to be a big trend at the moment. Building blocks and lego seem to be constantly bringing out new and impressive sets. Also model making kits can be got for kids of all ages.
Crafts - Both boys and girls seem to enjoy crafts. It's another thing I like as it tears them away from electronics and is something parents can help with and get involved in. Lots of craft kits are available, or if you know what a particular kid is into you can buy materials seperately which they may need for their craft such as beads and things which are cheaper to buy on their own than in a kit most of the time.
Other gifts - If I want to add something extra to a present or am really stuck on what to buy I often go for items such as cinema passes, family swimming passes, mobile top ups (definitely one teenagers love) or a stadium tour to a football ground.
These gifts obviously depend on the age of the child and their ability to get to the venue. It wouldn't be much use getting a Chelsea stadium pass for a teenager in Scotland who won't be able to get there obviously. Also with swimming passes, if it's younger kids I make sure it's a family pass and not just a free swim pass as they will need someone to take them.
Hope there's some useful ideas for you.
I am a big lover of Christmas (and refuse to spend it with my father in law as he is a huge bag humbug!) and have very fond memories of Christmas's as a child. Now I have two children Christmas is a completely different experience because it is all about making it completely magical for them - and I don't feel that this is done by providing enough presents to open a toy shop! Quality if far more important than quantity, in my opinion! Second, or possibly equal to quality, are traditions!
So, before I get on to a few gift ideas, here are a few traditions we have in our family. One, which I started last year and I know is a popular one is new PJ's on Christmas Eve. The children came down from their bath snuggled up in towels to find a stuffed Christmas Elf (freebie from some catalogue or other!) sat on the hearth with two presents, each containing a new pair of Pj's. This caused great excitement for my daughter (my son was a little young to understand at the time) who inisited on taking the elf to bed with her!
Obviously, we leave a little snack out for Santa and Rudolf, but that is as far as we go. I've heard of people leave snowy footprints, but I really don't think this is necessary! Children have wonderful imaginations and don't really need hard, visual evidence!
Another tradition that is headed by my husbands Aunty is that after Christmas dinner (and often it's not actually Christmas Day we do this as we tend to see this side of the family a few days later) there will be a ring at the bell, then when we open the door there is nobody there, just a bag of small presents. This is a lovely way to get everybody out of the inevitable after dinner slump and back into Christmas cheer and the excitement of this almost causes my daughter to explode!
Finally, and I hold my hands up to say that this is a new one for this year that I have pinched from another dooyooer (thank you Broxi3781!) but I think it's so lovely that I am going to share it just incase you don't read her review! One last present just before bed, and as she suggested in our family this present will be a book to read at bedtime. A perfect way to end what will hopefully have been a wonderful day!
Buying gifts for your own children should be relatively easy. You know what they like and you know what they've got. It's buying for other people's children that is difficult, especially if you don't see them that frequently. It's always a good idea to ask the parents what they might like, I like it when people do this. We don't have much money but there are lots of things I know my children would love and I'd much rather people spent their money on these than things that may not go down so well...either with the child or the parent!! But, if you'd rather not ask here are a few ideas that are hopefully pretty failsafe:
Arts/Crafts are a great buy for most children of almost any age and you can spend as little or as much as you want. The thing I like about this type of present is that even if it's something they've already got/had they will probably enjoy doing it again. Melissa and Doug do a some lovely pads that start at just Â£3 that encourage younger artists. You can choose from jumbo colouring pads, a 'frame' pad which is basically a drawing pad but each page has a frame on to make the finished product that much more special, or a 'complete the picture' pad which has the beginning of a picture on each page (a hat, a hill, a plate, etc) which the child has to complete. These can be teamed up with crayons/felt tips, maybe a pencil case if you want to spend more or they make a lovely present on their own. For older children there are kits such as 'paint your own birdhouse/money box/photo frame/etc' or books teaching them how to draw certain styles, for example how to draw funny or animals or people. If you're not sure whether the child you want to buy for likes art/crafts then tie it in with something you do know they like, such as a themed colouring book or paint your own dinosaurs.
I tend to struggle with my nieces and nephews more as they get older. I know what they like doing - playing on the computer! I certainly can't afford to buy them computer games though! They're also at that age (7 - 10years) where you run the risk of buying something babyish, yet I don't really want to give money as I see them on Christmas Day and think it's nice for them to have something to open. Last year one present that went down well were Rory's Story Cubes (see previous review!) which are little dice with images on. You roll them then have to tell a story based around the images shown on the dice. This was a nice one to have on Christmas Day as it was something the whole family could join in with, either in small groups or large groups. My daughter is getting these in her stocking this year!
Board games are another good choice which can span most ages, but probably falls into the category of needing to check with parents as to what games the children already have. Orchard Toys (see several previous reviews!) do some fantastic ones for the younger age groups. For older children then one of my favourites is Pictureka as it's one that can be enjoyed by all the family.
Books.....are tricky! They don't usually have the 'WOW' factor on Christmas Day, but then I think the best presents often don't! But nearly all children love books. However, I rarely buy books unless I have checked with the parent whether or not they already have it. One of our all time favourite authors is Julia Donaldson, she has a fantastic range of books which include Hairy Maclary, Stick Man, The Gruffalo and Room on a Broom. We also like Dr Seuss, but appreciate this is an aquired taste and can be exhausting to read just before bed! As a nanny I have looked after a few children who could not stand these books! Another author we have recently discovered is Jonny Duddle. My daughter received 'The Pirates Next Door' for her birthday and it immediately became a favourite, the story is written in rhyme and the illustrations are fantastic! So we have got her 'The Pirate Cruncher' for Christmas (this will be her bedtime book on Christmas Day!).
Don't forget is doesn't have to be a toy! Children get so many toys at Christmas that sometimes is nice to have a few other things thrown in. It was my nieces 8th birthday last week and she was tickled pink with some stripey wellie socks that somebody gave her. Similarly, I have a lovely photo of my daughter last year opening presents in her pyjama's along with a wooly hat and gloves that my friend gave her! As you can imagine she soon ditched the gloves! They're not really beneficial for opening presents! This year I am thinking of giving my neices and nephews room accessories, maybe some funky hooks, a photo frame or notice board they could put their pictures on. My daughter got hooks from somebody on her birthday, and yes she did open them and immediately throw them to one side to move onto the next one, but now they're in her room she loves having somewhere to hang her things and knows exactly who gave them to her!
Finally, both my children will be getting a selection box this year. As a child we didn't get many sweets and (very sensibly!) never had fizzy pop in the house, but one year we each got a box of Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers and a bottle of pop in our stockings. And, we could eat as many fingers as we wanted (though I suspect we were encouraged not to eat them all in one go!) and could have a glass of pop when we wanted. And I remember this! That's how amazing it was to me as a child. A couple of years ago we arrived at my sisters house on Boxing Day. Her son ran in and asked if he could have something from his selection box, my sister immediately said yes and he ran out again. She then explained to me that both her children were loving that they could have what they wanted, when they wanted it and were completely amazed that Mum and Dad weren't saying no. Christmas only lasts a few days and sometimes the memories are not of the things you think they will be of. It's not just about the main presents, it's about the little ones and the traditions you put in place for your family, that may be continued for generations to come.
~*~*~ Gift Ideas for Kids ~*~*~
Oh my, hasn't Christmas come around really quick this year?! I know it's been a year but it seems to have come really quickly this year.
I, like most other people really spoil my children at Christmas time and to be quite honest with you there isn't really much they want for anyway so I struggle with just what to get them.
I have them all write a list to Santa so at least I have that to go from but what they really like is a Christmas Eve hamper.
Last year I decided to make a Christmas Eve hamper for my children and they went down a treat. I have in the past years put their new pyjamas and a little treat in a gift bag each and then pop them on the doorstep and pretend that I have heard someone knocking, when they go out to the door they see the bags on the doorstep and look quite bemused as to who must have put them there, I tell them it was Santa's Elves and they adore this idea, even my eldest son who is no longer a believer *sob sob*!
Last year as I have already mentioned I made a little hamper for each of my children instead of the little bag as I wanted to do something a bit different.
I have four children - all boys, ages 11yrs, 9yrs, 5yrs and 1 year so I made each hamper suitable for each child. I also made a little one for my niece who was just six weeks old at the time.
For each hamper I used a small box which I had wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, included in the hampers was a pair of pyjamas, slippers, Snowman Soup - Oh yes Snowman Soup!! *** Recipe at bottom of review ***, a Christmas DVD, packets of microwave popcorn, sweets/chocolate and a can of Christmas Coca Cola!
For my little one and my niece however I included pyjamas, fleecy dressing gown, a new bottle and a Christmas DVD.
I passed my nieces hampers over to her mum and dad a few days before but they said it was very lovely and sweet and that they enjoyed the DVD!!!
I didn't want to put the hampers on my doorstep and leave them like I have done in previous years with the bags so I made my hubby 'go to the shop' and he popped them outside and waited at the top of the street out of sight to make sure they weren't stolen! (First Christmas here last year, and first we have lived in a terraced house with no front garden.) My hubby gave the door a quick loud knock before running up the street and the three boys went running to the front door as I had told them to listen out for the Elves.
My eldest son came in lugging the four boxes and proceeded to hand them out, luckily my hubby made it back just in time saying the shop had already closed, to see them opening up their hampers.
My 5yr old (4 at the time) was delighted with his hamper and commented that he must have been extra good all year to have a big present on Christmas Eve without it even being Christmas yet!
After the quickest bath in history my boys were ready to get into their new pyjamas and slippers and relax watching the Christmas DVD's whilst I made their Snowman Soup!
I like doing this as they have new pyjamas for Christmas anyway, I think we all have the same traditions when it comes to this, so why not make it special, this is a family tradition I have started and I do think it is a really lovely one, it makes it all that little bit more magical for the children I think.
~ Helping Others ~
Earlier this year I found the site -
If your wondering what Post Pals is I have copied this from the site to let you know -
What is Post Pals?
Post Pals is a charity which invites members of the public to send cards, letters and little gifts to seriously ill children and their siblings to make them smile and feel less isolated. Post Pals sends cheerful post throughout the year too and arranges the occasional day out or wish grant known as "Extra Smiles" as well as hosting an annual party for all Post Pal families and supporters.
Whilst looking through the site I came across a section where they were asking if people would like to be a reindeer or an elf. Both had different things that they wanted you to do but I liked the idea of being an elf.
As an elf I would get assigned a child to buy presents for. As it happens I asked for a boy and a girl to buy for so I got assigned a little boy and a little girl.
They don't expect you to spend a fortune and ask that you spend up to Â£15 on gifts. You then get these sent off sometime in December so that the presents reach the children before Christmas day.
I just thought this seemed a really lovely thing to do and it is quite like the Shoebox appeal that is run, which I was going to do until I found this which felt a little more personal to be honest.
I have got two boxes and am making up little hampers for these children. I have bought little gifts and will include a Snowman Soup and a Christmas card in each.
My boy's love this idea and want to do it for more children next year!
*** Recipe for Snowman Soup ***
Take a Christmas themed mug, pop in the correct amount of hot chocolate powder or even use hot chocolate sachets, add a few marshmallows and then wrap in cellophane. Tie the top of the cellophane with curling ribbon and then push a candy cane into the ribbon and add on some more ribbon to make it pretty.
You can use the candy cane as a stirrer and I just think this is an incredibly cute idea!
You can either top it off with a hand written gift tag where you can add a Snowman Soup poem (easily found on the internet) or you can print off a ready done tag (also easily found on the net).
~ Poem ideas ~
I've been told that you've been good this year
So I thought we'd celebrate it
With freezing weather outside your door
You'll need something to warm your spirit.
So here's some delicious Snowman Soup
Complete with a stirring stick
Just add hot water and sip it slow
It's sure to do the trick!
A little cup of cocoa,
I'm sending your way,
For you to sip and enjoy,
On some cold lonely day.
As you sip this cocoa,
It's warmth will warm your heart.
Just like our friendship warmed mine,
Right from the very start.
When it's so cold that
you holler and whoop,
It's time to bring out
the Snowman Soup!
Pour the packet in a mug.
Add marshmallows too.
And throw in these kisses
that are special just for you.
Now add some hot water
and use the cane to stir it.
Sip slowly and soon you'll
feel the warm winter spirit!
When the weather outside is frightful,
Snowman Soup can be delightful.
May it warm your spirit and your soul.
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!
When you feel a chill or 'brrrrrr',
Use the peppermint stick to stir.
Add hot water and sip it slow.
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.
Thanks for reading, Ho, Ho, Ho! :o) x
As my son just had his first birthday I now feel an expert on baby toys! The last thing parents want is lots of unwanted and unused toys cluttering up the space in their homes. So what makes a good toy?
My son loves books although he is yet to learn they are not a food group! My favourites are the Baby Touch books which contain different textures to make them interesting and have pages that are easy for small hands to turn. I also like the Wiggle Jiggle Ladybird which has a small finger puppet attached to it. Books with sound effects are good but the battery life isn't always great and our nursery songs one no longer works. Books form an important part of bedtime routine is our house and I am sure most parents would welcome some new additions to their collections.
Some toys can be good and I have review some of my favourites on Dooyoo already but check with parents as you can have too much of a good thing. One idea might be however to get a copy of an existing favourite toy is case of accident!
Flash cards are another inexpensive nut welcome gift and encourage baby development. Look out for ones that have textures on them to make them more interesting for your child. I like the Usborne ones I was given recently but there are lots on the market.
Another good gift idea are mega blocks which are gender neutral and again develop baby's fine motor skills. These are also a toy that grows with your children so are quite durable. The only downside is that you will end up picking up quite a lot of bricks off the floor once they have finished playing with them. My son thinks it is a great game to empty the box I have just filled.
Bath toys are great fun and even stacking cups can be played with in the bath. We have an octopus that sprays water and little baby ones that can be stuck to the side of the bath which my sons loves to pull off again. The v-tech duck is also entertaining although with noisy toys they can eventually proved to be a little irritating for parents.
Baby walkers are a good gift idea if you are prepared to spend a bit more money. The v-tech ones are good because the front part can be detached to give you an activity toy that can be taken away on trips with you. I can safely say that our long drive to France this year would have felt even longer without this toy to keep our son amused.
If you decide not to get toys then clothes are a good bet but always buy bigger sizes as otherwise they may not be worn much. Socks with grips on the soles of the feet as a good idea once your baby begins to cruise around the furniture. You can never have too many vests in my experience so these make a good gift if you struggling for ideas.
Of course the best gift for parents would be for a kind family member or friend to babysit!
The CrazyEggs spent last Christmas in hospital. We sat on the floor of Baby CrazyEgg's cubicle eating a traditional microwave Christmas dinner kindly provided by the hospital. Having left for the hospital in something of a hurry (apparently this is our hobby) we hadn't packed any Christmas presents. So it was completely brilliant when Baby CrazyEgg received not one, but two presents, delivered in person by Father Christmas himself! After his visit I explained to Baby CrazyEgg that Father Christmas also visits people's homes, so she did not need to get herself back in hospital next year. Unfortunately, she has recently had two stays in hospital, and lo and behold on the most recent visit Father Christmas arrived again, once more delivering gifts, although he was rather early. He was accompanied by a giant bee and a lion, who both gave me big hugs and conveyed sympathy through the medium of mime.
All the gifts Baby CrazyEgg received were great, and had been donated to the hospital by well wishers. They wrapped them up and stuck a label on saying what age the gift was suitable for and whether it was for a boy or a girl, and then Father Christmas delivered. Baby CrazyEgg also received a Christmas gift from the hospital via the Oxygen Nurse last year, prior to her admission on Christmas Eve.
The much appreciated gifts were:
A soft rabbit by Chicco which plays two very upbeat tunes when you pull his carrot. If you pull the carrot during the tune he makes a "BOING!!" sound. We use him to time how long we have shaken Baby CrazyEgg's feed for. Every home should have one, he is so jolly.
A soft helicopter, also by Chicco I believe. Again there is a string to pull, and this time there is a tinkling lullaby style tune that is played. There is a strap so it can be attached to cots, and this is where it is now. It was good to have an alternative tune to that played by Baby CrazyEgg's mobile [not phone], and now that that has gone, it is nice that we can still have a soothing tune at bedtime.
A very fluffy teddy bear from Matalan. He sits at the same height as Baby CrazyEgg and she has recently taken more of a shine to him, pressing his muzzle into a teacup today for instance. He is a traditional bear with a red ribbon bow around his neck and great to cuddle.
My First Guitar, from Tesco. This plays 3 tunes and makes realistic electric guitar sounds, though if these are activated the tunes stop playing. I think it is a shame that they don't play over the song by way of accompaniment. The guitar is plastic and quite heavy, needing batteries to operate. It can be swung about and smashed into the floor as if the player is aspiring to be a real rock star.
On our last visit we agreed to let Baby CrazyEgg be the subject for some 4th Year Medical Students' exams. They had to diagnose her, examine her, report back and then examine her again with the consultants present. We were paid Â£10 per exam and so we put Â£10 in Baby CrazyEgg's piggy bank and used the remaining Â£20 to buy gifts for Father Christmas to deliver on the ward this year. Hopefully not to us. All the gifts were bought at the only shop within walking distance of the hospital: Morrisons.
A Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Chatter telephone. This is a classic bestseller from Fisher Price, and a great buy at Â£4. There is a more expensive retro version available, but this plastic model is very sturdy and provides the same entertainment: a hand set to lift and listen to, a string to pull the phone- which is on wheels- along, and eyes that go up and down when you pull it along.
A Jack In the Box. This was also Â£4 and I chose it as a classic toy and because Baby CrazyEgg likes pop up toys at the moment so I hoped another Baby her age may do likewise.
A soft and cuddly Piglet (a la Disney), measuring about 12" in height and costing Â£4.70. It was just sooo cuddly, I really liked it.
A lego 3 -in -1 pack, Â£4.70. This was for ages 6 upwards, because it's not just babies on the Children's Ward of course. It seemed good value that you could make three different vehicles, though I guess they would be quite small.
Colouring books and crayons- always enjoyed these when I was a small.
Then I bought, wrap, sellotape and labels. When we gave the gifts to the hospital they were pleased, but there was a bit of groaning at the paperwork involved as they had to complete a form saying what we had donated, and send the various copies to different places. We received a copy too, so if you wish to donate for tax purposes, hospitals are likely to provide you with the appropriate paperwork as standard. Ho! Ho! Ho!
As many of you know from reading my reviews on here and may have gathered by now I don't have any children or desire to have any lol. However I am no stranger to buying other peoples childrens gifts over the years and for a none parent its a very tough thing that I think over the past few years I have got to more slightly more to grips with.
The children I have bought for have included with an ex the whole kit and caboodle for three children, 2 boys and a girl. My half sisters children, 4 girls and 1 boy and I also lived with a mate who had had 3 children, 2 boys and a girl and of course I have lots of random friends with children too including at the minute a close friend of mine has a 9 year old girl and an 8 year old stepdaughter who visits often and a friend with a baby of 6 months!
I have always found it easier with the kids I have lived with to buy for them. My mate who I lived with and the guys children were reasonably simple. Adverts show us whats in and a quick rummage about and a bit of mind probing and looking around shops and online usually do the trick. With my exs children I did most of the shopping late night on Ebay bidding for things and went with bikes for all as that was what they all wanted and then arts and crafts and books we could read together at night for the little girl who was 5 at the time. The lads had the bikes and the usual computer games they requested and then I got loads of board games like Twister for us all to play and some cheap dvds with the theme of Christmas to them.
My friends children who I lived with for a few years were a bit older and had interests. The girl loved music, the lad computer games and the little one told me what he wanted.
With peoples children I have never lived with its tougher. Chloe my friends 9 year old and her Stepdaughter Aleesha know what they want but with large families I have to be careful and not to repeat buy. Chloe loves One Direction and Aleesha loves Pokeman! Aleesha has been in a magazine showing off her huge collection of stuff so I have no idea how to get her something she may not have so I have decided what to do ASK!
I think this is the key thing for people buying other peoples childrens presents. Most parents have a list albeit mental and me, well I'd rather buy something off that list and know its right and top tip keep receipts safe just in case!
I always think that books and arts and crafts are a good idea and nowadays alot of children even the young ones like the money either to save or go the sales with. Take them out yourself if you can that's always fun but always costly!
Christmas gift ideas for children is always hard as they often seem to have very fixed ideas of what they want, generally in our house the entire Playmobil catalogue with a the Argos catalogue alongside this. The problem is getting them to limit what they can expect.
What I have learnt so far in buying children's presents is to always have a word with the parent to find out what the children enjoy playing currently are they a train or Lego fanatic for example. The other thing for friends and family is to be honest about when asking for ideas from the parents is the budget they have so gift ideas can be tailored accordingly. I also find it helpful to have a list of what things they have already so when people are asking what Playmobil things to get for my son I can give them a list of what not to get as well as ideas of things he likes.
Most of my recommendations are going to be things help them develop in some way, be that stretching their imagination or developing skills with things such as Lego. This is as too often I think it is easy to get the latest computer game whilst a nice idea is not something that I personally like to buy as a gift until they are a teenager and even then I do try to avoid it.
For all ages I would definitely recommend a book no matter what. In our house the book is the last present of the day that is opened. This is as it is always quickly hidden in the bed during bath time to be opened last thing. I think a new book is a nice way to end Christmas with a new story to be enjoyed.
I would also recommend board game for all children to be given after lunch so that whilst you are letting the Christmas dinner go down you can all sit and play a game together. Last year we got Jolly Octopus and everyone from grandma to my son enjoyed having a go, the adults hand eye co-ordination with the tongs wasn't as good as normal due to some alcohol so my son was actually able to win a few times without us trying.
These are generally the easiest to buy for often some clothes or a contribution to a larger item are the best items I have found to be both given and received.
There is so much to choose from for this age group but my main recommendations would be something from the Happyland sets from the Early Learning Centre. They are often on offer so people can get some good bargains they range in price from under Â£10 for people or animals all the way up to Â£60 for the zoo. My son's favourites in this collection have been the zoo, the pirate ship and farm all of which I can definitely recommend. I would also recommend things such as wooden bricks for building and knocking down towers, first sets of jigsaws. Also first sets of musical instruments are great and both Little Tikes and the ELC do great first sets to help the children play along to tunes as you sing together.
The main recommendation for this age group would be Orchard toy games. They are easy to wrap and post for those far away and are great fun and a game on Christmas is a great way to get everyone together having fun. The favourites in our house have been Tummy Ache, Wildlife Lotto. This age group I have found have also like things that they can use their imagination with such as dolls, construction games, knights and castles. The other main winners for toddlers I have found to be Duplo sets and dressing up outfits Both my son and my niece have loved to receive either vet sets or a princess outfit which are all great for their imaginative play. Wooden train sets or accessories for the sets such as a bridge or a tunnel these have always gone down well and both Biro and BigJigs do great items and all can inter connect so it doesn't matter if you mix and match the brands.
Primary School children
In our house and family this at the moment means Playmobil and Lego my son loves playing with the fire and knights sets from Playmobil and these really stretch not only their imagination but helps with their building skills as they put them together. The other items that I think are great are craft items that can be made whether this is bead collections for jewellery or fridge magnets or book marks I always hunt on either the Yellow Moon website or The Range for a few craft kits for small presents for either friends children or stocking fillers. As they get a bit older I often look at some museum website such as the National History Museum as they sell great science based kits such as "Build your soda can robot" or the "Finger print kit" which was a winner the other year for a family member. These I find are a bit unusual and are something that is fun for them to do. Also the same website is a wealth of information and choice if you have a dinosaur mad child to buy for as they have a full dinosaur section.
This I have to admit I find to be the hardest age group to buy for as they often have such fixed ideas of what they want such as music, computer games, the latest craze or designer item. I always think that it really is best to get the recommendations from the parents or the teenager themselves. The thing that also may appeal to them to them is experience gifts such as make up lessons or as a falconry centre near us runs a falconry short course for children. I think these tester activities gives children the chance to try something new and that they would like to try without the huge expense of a full commitment. Often some of these tester sessions can be found on discount websites such as Groupon and the like. The other idea is a regular subscription to a favourite magazine so they can spend their pocket money on something else.
The final gift I would recommend for all children is time and attention from their parents on Christmas day. Rather than spending it chained to the sink and the oven, washing up and cooking make the dinner very simple. For example by using foil trays for the roast potatoes to reduce the washing up just throw them away. This gives you more time so that you can watch and spend time with the children and their new toys which is one of the best bits of present giving in my opinion.
I'm not religious and never have been, but Christmas for me was always a very special time. As a small child growing up, words cannot begin to describe the level of anticipation and excitement I expressed over the period. Me and my friends would count down the days (every day) from 100 every year at school, fantasising about cool present ideas, things we were thinking of asking our parents for. The Santa thing never seemed real, spoilt by an obsessive commercial market, numbing the man's aura - A man who seemed to be in many thousands of places at any one time. No, Christmas was always about the gifts, and the family togetherness, and the snow - with fascination over its rarity usually dampening any actual physical appearance of the stuff.
Today, as was the case in my teens, the young generation is interested mainly in digital gifts: video games, computers, consoles, hand-helds, phones, MP3 players, music and films. With new technology available, like tablets and Kindles, kids are spoilt rotten with choice, but if we were to think outside the box a little, what would be the perfect gift for a child (of either sex) of say, 10 years...
I believe that the best present for a child of 10 is an experience, not a physical thing, but an experience. Buy them something technical and it will suck the child in doors, away from physical activity, and confine them to their sofa, chair or bed. Although tech is fun and cool, it will only get out-dated sooner of later. Excite them with something different, something which (admittedly) won't last, but which will last far longer than the latest video game, as a child-hood memory. We all have child-hood memories, and we most of us think of them fondly - why not increase this?
Red letter days, Virgin Experience Days, Activity Superstore, etc, there is a wide array of companies offering one-off experience days for kids in the UK. Red letter days has a fantastic website where you can book kid's scuba diving days (Â£39), Formula 1 simulator Grand Prix parties (Â£171) - this one sounds amazing, I would have loved this as a 10 year old - Kid's Audi R8 driving experience (Â£99). The list goes on and on, everything is signed into a contract and is super safe, all the relevant safety procedures catered for.
If I was to buy a big present for a 10 year old boy or girl, it would be an experience day with one of the companies listed above. They are fun, active and can be cheap if found on a deal. I'm not saying not to buy kids presents to put under the tree, I'm just trying to stress the importance of actually 'doing' something as a pose watching, listening, controlling something (usually made of pixels). The memories will last much, much longer.
PRICE: Â£10-500 (completely dependable on type of activity)
AVAILABILITY: Many companies online, use Google to search when an idea strikes you.
Football clubs have become really savvy when it comes to getting money from the fans. There are very few things that will not be available with the club badge and logo, and at Christmas there seems to be more and more items appearing on the shelves.
My nephew is a Liverpool supporter so I am going to get him a few bits and pieces with the club theme and I am spoiled for choice.
Club Calendar - most teams have this and it is handy as he is only 13. As he gets older he may not want men on his bedroom room. As a side note Everton have made a "12 Shades Of Blue" one and this is the fittest players posing topless. I really don't think I can hint anymore!!!
Mugs - there is a wide range of mugs from badges to slogans and even some with the player's faces on.
DVDs - there will be special games available and a lot of clubs have a review of the previous season.
Cards - there are playing cards and also Top Trumps. These have been well played with by my nephew and unfortunately us, but they are still available for younger children so must be selling well.
Bedroom bits and pieces - a child may not really want bedding for Christmas but when it has the club crest on it seems to be a bit more acceptable.
Money Box - I don't know if it encourages children to save but the clubs seem to have latched onto this as a good gift. Some are shaped like a football and others are the shape of a boot so this could be a good option if you don't know a lot about the child you are buying for.
Annual - there seems to be a couple of these so I have chosen one that is just a section on each of the players and a bit of the history.
Keying and Wallet - more for the teenager than a small child but it will be a way to get them into a more adult world and yet they can still keep the link to their favourite team.
Scarf and gloves make sense especially if the child goes to the match. Again there will be lots of designs and they will be just as much use away from the ground.
Cape- ok this is one that has raised quite a lot of laughs. Liverpool have brought out a cape for the supporters and I suppose it is it meant to keep the rain off but it does come in quite big sizes. Having just looked on the website there are none available so I don't know if they were sold out or withdrawn through embarrassment.
Finally there are days out to the ground and this can range from a fairly short tour to a full day experience which will include a meal.
This is just a brief look at what clubs offer but there will be lots of other things that individual clubs offer such as cuddly toys and pictures.
Its hard to give a star rating for something I have not used but I have given it 5 as there is a good choice of gifts.
Thank you, Dooyoo, for creating these special festive categories! I would like to write about 'Gift Ideas for Kids' from a slightly different perspective.
You see, I don't have any children. There aren't any young kids in my extended family, either. However, one of my best friends has three children, a girl aged nine and two boys of six and four. I rarely see them as I live in London and my friend still lives in the North East, but I still buy them Christmas presents and have done ever since they were born. Somehow I've managed to buy gifts that are well-received (or so my friend tells me!) despite knowing next to nothing about what kids are into these days.
The first thing I would say is, be fair. If you are buying for children from the same family, I would suggest spending roughly the same amount on each child so no one feels left out. This can be tricky when you are buying for different ages and genders!
On a similar note, I would recommend spending roughly the same each year. Obviously circumstances change and if you can't afford this then you can't, but whereas you could explain this to an adult with no problems, a child wouldn't understand and might feel a bit disappointed if you get them a massive Lego set one year and a small pocket money toy the next. Maybe I'm overthinking this, but I would rather spend a smaller amount per year and stick to it than a larger amount that I couldn't commit to.
Take advantage of special offers. Lots of shops, including Boots and the big supermarkets, do 3 for 2 offers which is very handy when you have three presents to buy! I don't recommend buying something just because it is on offer, though. One year I bought all three presents from Boots in the sale after Christmas, feeling pleased because I'd been very organised and also got more for my money. A few months later, however, I realised that one of the presents didn't really look like much and seemed rather cheap. I ended up selling it on eBay and buying something else.
Read descriptions of the things you are interested in. Pay attention to recommended age ranges: don't buy something for a two-year-old if it is deemed unsafe for children under 36 months. Check if the item needs batteries, and if so, whether they are included. Buy some yourself to give with the gift if not, or else there will be a very unhappy child on Christmas Day!
It sounds obvious, but ask the parents! They obviously know their children better than anyone and can tell you what they are into. They can also suggest specific items that their kids have asked for, or tell you, for example, whether or not they have a PlayStation so you can add 'PlayStation Game' to your list of gift ideas. Failing that, ask an adult who has kids or works with them, to get an idea of what's 'cool'.
What did you like when you were little? I based a lot of my present choices for my friend's daughter on the toys I used to love as a child, and it seems to have worked - one particularly successful present, or so I am informed, was an electronic diary (I used to love my 'Dear Diary' in the 90s!). Choosing gifts for the boys is slightly trickier, but I think of the toys my brother used to have and that he used to like. Lego and Meccano sets are especially popular.
Think of the size of the presents you are buying! If you are in my position - young, single and childless - you may be living away from home and have a long way to travel for your Christmas celebrations. Toys for children are almost invariably bulkier than gifts for adults, and are not much fun to take on a three-hour crowded train journey from London to Newcastle, on top of the clothes and things you need to last you the Christmas holidays (as you can probably tell, I'm speaking from experience!). Books are a good choice as they are smaller and easier to carry. Many electronic items also take up much less space than toys, although these are a bit out of my budget. I've come up with a different solution - order everything online and get it delivered to my parents' house. Then all I have to is wrap them when I get home, and arrange to meet my friend with the bag of gifts.
Enjoy it! Maybe I'm just a big kid at heart, but I really love having an excuse to look at toys. I like reminiscing about my childhood favourites and exclaiming over new-fangled things I could never have dreamed of when I was little. If only I lived nearer to my friend, then maybe I'd have an excuse to go round and play with her kids and their toys!
Some ideas I have found, based on nearly a decade of buying gifts for children:
Books - I am biased towards these as I love reading myself and want to encourage this in my friend's children. A lovely hardback treasury of a classic novel or set of stories is an ideal gift.
Lego/Duplo/Meccano - anything that stimulates the imagination, really. These products are great because they can be built and rebuilt and just last for years. My brother got his Lego out when he was 20 and sat building it with our dad, so it really is something that will be used again and again!
Craft kits - these are something that can be enjoyed for hours and give the child a sense of achievement when they are completed. I used to love making things like this as a child!
'Traditional' toys - for very young children wooden toys are durable and often offer more scope for imaginative play than many modern toys. Also, a simple doll can often be a good gift. One year I bought my friend's daughter a doll with two ends: one was Little Red Riding Hood, then when you pulled the skirt over her head there was Grandma on the other end with a hood which revealed the face of the wolf! This went down really well, according to my friend.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this: I'm sure those Dooyooers with children will know it all anyway but hopefully it will have helped you if you aren't used to buying for kids.