How I Am Choosing Gifts for My Kids this Christmas

This post is sponsored by BIG W.

You may have heard the children’s Christmas gift rhyme…

“Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
Something to read.”

I have used this as the basis for Immy’s Christmas stocking for the last few years now but this year I have been thinking a lot about what toys I want my girls to have and which offer the best return on investment in terms of their cost-to-play ratio. In the process I came up with a new rhyme for this year that I would love to share with you…

We intend to spread these five gifts out so that they come from Santa and from us, and I have even considered these categories when making suggestions to relatives who have asked what we would like them to get the girls this Christmas –  for example, their great-grandparents are buying each of them a gift from the ‘build’ list. We are also adding to the play sets that they already love, instead of starting a completely new set of toys that I would then need to find somewhere to store, like the wooden train set that I mention in the video.

Here are some gift suggestions for each of the five categories I mention in the video. Remember to keep in mind what your child is most interested in, their age and stage of development, and the open-endedness of each toy when making choices – as the more ways it can be played with, the more engaging is its play potential!

Ideas for Something to Build…

How I am choosing gifts for my kids this Christmas

There is no shortage of construction sets to choose from but great building toys are those that can be assembled and re-assembled in lots of different configurations and that have enough pieces to do so.

Ideas to Get Kids Creating…

How I am choosing gifts for my kids this Christmas

When choosing creative toys and materials, look for those that allow your child to express their own unique ideas and that can be used in many different ways for different projects.

Ideas for Pretend Play…

How I am choosing gifts for my kids this Christmas

Imaginative play encourages language development and supports a child’s developing ability to engage socially with other children and adults. It is also great for engaging children in play for longer periods of time.

Ideas for Getting Kids Outside…

How I am choosing gifts for my kids this Christmas

Active play is important not only physically but also to mental and emotional health. Encouraging our children to enjoy time playing outdoors is one of the most precious, lifelong gifts we can give them.

Ideas for Something to Share…

How I am choosing gifts for my kids this Christmas

Toys and games that encourage friends, siblings or other family members to work, play and enjoy time together are also fabulous for social and emotional development.

  • Board games requiring two or more players
  • Card games requiring two or more players
  • Totem tennis
  • Ping pong table
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Jigsaw puzzles with lots of pieces to complete together as a family
  • Tickets for a family outing

I would love to hear how you are choosing gifts for your kids this Christmas so please leave a comment below.

For those in Australia, you can find the items pictured and many of the other listed items at your local BIG W or online at Head on over to the Childhood 101 Facebook page for an opportunity to win $100 to spend with Big W this Christmas.

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  1. Love these ideas… especially the ‘something to share’ one… we try to get our kids something they can all do together too, it’s not always easy when you have an big age difference but it is worth the effort and generally it ends up being something Mum and Dad will do too!

    • I agree, Kate, it really is worth the effort. Would love to hear about some of the shared gifts that have worked well for you in the past 🙂

      • Well this year my kids are not getting individual gifts from us, or close family as everyone has put in to buy them a biggish above ground pool!!

        But in the past we’ve done things like a cricket set, totem tennis, Jenga, a 1000 piece puzzle, a big Lego set… our three year old generally needs help to join in but that is ok. Oh and we have that rebound net and it’s great!

  2. Really useful post – love hearing about how other mums select presents.
    I am doing “want, need, wear, read”, but this year my focus has been on selecting toys suitable for our beach holiday after Christmas for my almost 4 yo & a 2 yo. Last year I found that I didn’t bring enough small toys or books with us and ending up buying things more expensively while on holiday. So I have the following:
    * WANT: The big present is a Playmobil travel set for each (I expect both of them will play with both sets). As well, some fairy figurines for the girl & some dinosaur figurines for the boy, which can double as bath toys while we are at the beach. And the Orchard Toys Shopping List game for my girl and a puzzle for my boy – both small enough to pack.
    * NEED: A beach towel for both.
    * WEAR: Socks.
    * READ: For my 4 yo I have concentrated on sticker books (eg sticker dolly dressing series which she loves) and some activity books (eg Peppa Pig annual).
    And I’ve added WATCH: a couple of DVDs to bring with us on holidays.

  3. I love your five criteria and it is wonderful to hear you talk about this 🙂 “Something to share” has been big on my agenda this year with my three children ( two girls and one boy – aged 3,5 and 7). Board games and open ended toys (play kitchen toys, felt food, gifts that can be used to play vets etc) as well as construction toys have been my solution so far. My children’s stockings are also going to have lots of resources for them to use for art and creative purposes 🙂 Thank you for this wonderful post, chock full of so many great ideas.

  4. Love this. I find myself on you site a lot, and I always love your ideas and insights.

  5. I love this Christie 🙂
    I fondly remember opening our ‘shared gifts’ amongst my 3 siblings and I and LOVED getting board games, books and videos to share together 🙂

  6. Love those gift idea! I agree — definitely don’t need new toys collections. And books and things to build with are big around here.

  7. I love this idea of focusing on different types of presents to get kids for Christmas!

  8. I’ve never heard the original rhyme before, it’s great! So’s yours.
    We try to strike a balance between stuff they’ll play with on the day (we have the day at home until about 3 or 4 and then head off to family for the evening) and stuff they’ll love later. This year my 10 year old is getting tarot cards (her one request), stuff for her new room (we move end of Jan), clothes, and stationery for letter-writing. 8 year old girl is getting a boy doll (her request), lego, a board game, clothes and craft stuff. The 3 year old boy is getting a tea set (the girls will play with this with him), bath toys, a spiderman mask, portable blackboard and a puzzle (the 8 year old will love “helping” him with this). All of them will get books. Lots of books. Possibly there are too many books. Can there be too many books?

  9. With 3 kids we are starting to fill our house up so the idea of heaps more “stuff” is not ideal. I am suggesting to family members, something to do (the experience gift) like movie tickets, theme park entry, a tea-party or clown. Another category that doesn’t require storage space is “something to eat”. Plenty of exciting options there, eg gingerbread house, mickey mouse shaped cookies, even edible jewellery. The other I am keen to introduce is “something to give”. That is, a gift that helps them to help others, teach them compassion, empathy, philanthropy. I will usually buy a pressie from the kids to grandma or to the dog for example. This year I will be donating to a cause like the centre for orangutan protection and buy a soft toy with proceeds to COP to help look after displaced and injured primates in Indonesia. Or a life straw for a community to filter water into drinkable water. Or I may foster a n orphaned elephant at the Daphne sheldrick wildlife trust in Kenya. The kids can read the keepers diary online throughout the year and see photos and video.

  10. Love this new rhyme. I’ve actually done all my Christmas shopping for this year but will adopt this approach for next year or even birthdays! Love it.

  11. i love how you have allocated the ‘to build’ presents to grandparents. What a great idea!

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