Where have the toys gone?

Have you looked at your child’s holiday wish list? I talk to the kids here at school all the time and I have noticed that Santa’s lists have really changed!When I was a kid, I wanted a Barbie® or a Tiny Tears® doll. I wanted doll clothes, marbles, doll furniture, a paint by number set, Pick Up Sticks®, and a Chinese Checkers® game, wooden puzzles, and a bike. When my son came along, he wanted HeMan/Masters of the Universe® action figures, Match Box® cars, most anything Star Wars®, model trains, a painting/drawing set, Silly Putty®, a cowboy outfit, Legos®, and a bike.

The thing that amazes me is that kids don’t want toys anymore! Technology is really changing our world. Our kids want iPads, Nintendo®, Xbox®, cell phones, Blu-ray players, robots, drones, droids, and virtual reality systems. Yikes! What is a parent to do?

First of all, set your budget and stick to your limits. It is okay to tell your child/ren that something is too expensive. Even Santa is feeling the recession these days and teaching your child about the value of things is actually a GOOD THING! I try to focus on buying just one electronic gift and then giving lots of little things, even some that don’t cost money. For example, homemade gift coupons can be lots of fun. “What can I give my kids coupons for?” you ask. Well, how about a coupon to have a friend spend the night. Coupons for a free pass out of chores for a night is always popular. Coupons to rent a movie or to stay up an extra half hour are also big hits. Kids like coupons to get to pick the dinner menu for a night. My son once got a coupon to have a night off from vegetables. He especially did not like spinach. Even Popeye himself couldn’t convince him to swallow the spinach!

I also like to give inexpensive things that encourage creativity. Clay, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, markers, drawing paper, finger paint. Add some sparkle to art projects with glitter, ribbon, lace, and buttons. Old fashioned floor blocks are terrific for encouraging problem solving and creativity. Some of your old clothes, shoes, and hats can be cleaned and boxed; they make wonderful dress up and make believe items. Older children love having a diary where they can record their hopes and dreams. Finally, there are books. Make sure that the books you pick spark your child’s interest and tap into their imagination.

One thing that adds to the fun is putting things together to create a “kit”. For example, a few blank books, some colored pencils, a pretty fountain pen, erasers, and even notebook paper can be put together in a festive box as a Future Author or Future Poet kit. Those cleaned and polished dress-up items can be put together with an kid-friendly camera to become a Dream It ~ Believe It ~ Be It kit. Canvases, paints, a sketch pad, crayons, colored pencils, fun craft-edged scissors make a perfect gift kit for your artist. Do you have a budding chef? A quick trip to the grocery store will yield lots of treasures for a Cheftastic kit.

So, get creative. You can think of lots of things to give your children that don’t leave you with a stack of bills once the holidays have passed. Share your ideas by leaving a comment here on the blog. Happy Holidays!

Author: Jennifer C. Walts, Ed.D.

I am a retired educator and School Improvement Specialist.

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