Now that I have two kids in school they’re always getting invited to birthday parties and I’m always trying to figure out what the kids are into. As someone who wants to reduce the clutter in my home and have people give more activity and less stuff gifts, I try and offer the same courtesy to others. Here are some of my favourite low clutter gifts that appeal to almost all young school age or preschool children. They’re perfect for birthdays, holidays, or any time you have a child to buy for an no clear direction. The best part? They’re all under $20!
This one kind of forces the parent to pay a bit to see the movie with the child but I have yet to hear a complaint when gifting a pass to a movie. My kids adore going to the theatre and anything to save me money is welcomed. Plus it gives me an excuse to take my kid for a special birthday date. They sell a combo at Costco that not only includes the ticket, but a kid’s pack of snacks and drinks too.
Arts and Crafts Supplies
There are a lot of options in this category, which can be good and bad. Look at the age of the child when deciding what’s appropriate. Things like washable markers, colouring books, and simple painting sets are great for younger kids while older ones might like more advanced craft kits, complex colouring books, and good quality colouring materials. Many older children are still content with an age appropriate craft kit suited to their interests.
There are hundreds of science and nature kits to choose from for preschoolers right up through middle school and beyond. For preschoolers and younger school aged kids you can find dinosaur excavation and grow your own garden amongst many simple science experience. For older kids there are complex experiments that go over advanced concepts and the scientific method. You can even put together your own experiments for a great DIY gift.
Play Dough or Modelling Clay
Kids love to squish play dough and clay with their hands. It’s a great calming activity that requires very little set up and doesn’t create too much mess. Small children can safely enjoy Play Dough and it comes in so many fun activity kits, colours, and styles. For older kids, non-toxic coloured clay is a great options because they can sculpt in much greater detail and leave their creations out without it drying out. Pair that with plastic sculpting tools to get them started.
I debated putting Lego on the list but I chose it because not only can you get some really good, inexpensive sets, but it’s also something that kids can play with extendedly. First they are able to build the set, then play with it or take it apart and build something else. I have yet to meet a child who isn’t drawn to building toys. Keep an eye on the ages of the sets to give you an idea on which one to buy.
Do you have any go-to gifts? What are you thrilled to see your child get as a gift and what’s the worst thing someone can get them?