5 Solutions To The Kid Gift Problem

The problem: your kid has a lot of friends, and wants to give gifts to every single one of them.

With your money.
Of course, it is absolutely wonderful that your charming and thoughtful child is thinking of his or her peers over the holiday, and you want to encourage this independent spirit of generosity.
You just don’t want to spend $400 on kids gifts for the whole class.
Here’s a few ideas.
Bookskids paperback books are inexpensive, adaptable to every interest, and you can feel good about giving them. There are hundreds of thousands of great kids books. Most are in the $5-$7 range, and many are available for even less as used books in perfect condition. Here’s a few that have served us well over the years:

Beginners Gardening Kit – I know most of my readers have little pots they never use (I have a stack of terracottas that I never do much with) and a bunch of saved squash seeds kicking around. Well, scrub a pot (maybe even paint it), add a baggie of labeled seeds (use big seeds that are easy to plant one by one, like squash or sunflower or bean), a baggie of good potting mix, and some instructions printed on fun paper – voil√†, cool instant kid present! Variation: If the kid to whom you’re giving is into this kind of thing, you could include worms, too!

Handmade Doll – I know a certain segment of the (girl) kid world is crazy for American Girl Doll stuff, but at $100 for a doll, that’s what’s known as Grandma Bait around here. I very, very recently took up sewing (a few months ago) and have no experience or native skill at it. But I managed to follow a wonderful free pattern* for easy rag dolls and made my daughter and her best friend matching dolls during a sleepover.

These dolls were really simple to make (I cannot emphasize this enough – I know nothing about sewing, so when I say they were easy, it means something), and I put them together with scraps of old clothes and pillowcases. They cost nothing beyond an hour or so of time. The girls added on their own faces with colored pencil, and didn’t put them down the whole sleepover weekend.

If you scout around Etsy you will see cuter, more precise and more detailed versions of rag dolls selling for $40 or $60 bucks. But the priceless thing about a rag doll you make for one special kid is…they know you did it just for them. On the other hand, if you get on a roll, you could probably assembly line enough dolls for the whole class in a dedicated weekend.

*The patternmaker who offers this free doll pattern asks that, in consideration of use, you also make a doll for donation to an underprivileged child. She organizes and promotes Dolly Donation Drives through her website. These drives collect and ship handmade dolls to needy children in South Africa, Haiti and other areas where children live in poverty. Sounds like a fair trade to me!

Tin of Magnets - got a little scientist in need of a gift? My parents gave my daughter an old metal cookie tin full of metal pieces – paper clips, bolts, nuts, large washers, various coins, etc. – that are easily found around the house or at a hardware store. Then they picked up a few assorted size magnets at an educational store and presented my daughter with her very own magnetic exploration kit. Genius! Several years later, she still periodically runs around the house, testing what in the house is ferrous. (Obviously, be careful about age appropriateness and choking with toys like this. It is very bad for kids to swallow magnets.)

Chunky Swirly Crayon Buttons – great gift for little hands that want to color but tend to snap or break regular size crayons. You combine colors of half-used or broken crayons and melt them together to create new, cool, chunky swirly crayon buttons. A half-dozen mini’s would be an adorable gift. Full instructions here.

Photo: www.makeandtakes.com/
What are your favorite frugal gift ideas for kids – yours or little friends of yours?

Blog Business: I’m heading into family vacation mode and my posting will be sporadic between now and the New Year. On non-post days, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite posts from the past year on Facebook. If your busy and my busy overlap between now and then, please know how much I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read, comment on and support this blog with their time, donations, thoughtful additions to the conversation, shares and recommendations. Have a wonderful holiday season. May it be filled with love and enjoyed slowish.
Happy Holidays,


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