Creative Gift Ideas for Kids
If you have a little one on your holiday shopping list, you may find what many parents already know - today's toy stores have more and more unsavory toys on their shelves... Video games focused on violence, toys made to look like weapons, dolls that may not promote healthy images of women and girls.
December is Safe Toys Months, sponsored by Safe Kids Worldwide - a great time to consider whether the toys you are gifting are safe and appropriate. This holiday season, whether you are shopping for your own children or children of friends and family, why not try to make an effort to buy healthy gifts? Toys and games that will enrich young minds, promote creativity and encourage healthy play.
First, choose toys that are appropriate for a child's age. Look for the age recommendation on the toy's packaging and then follow it. Sometimes that age recommendation has to do with safety - small parts can be dangerous for younger children. Sometimes it is because a younger child would not be able to "figure out" a toy and would not have fun with it. But often, that recommendation is because the toy is not appropriate for younger children. Regardless, heed the warning and don't buy toys meant for older children.
Second, pay attention to safety concerns. This means avoiding small parts or sharp edges on toys if you are shopping for a child less than elementary age. Avoid strings or straps longer than seven inches - they can be a strangulation risk for children as well as for pets. Moving parts can also be a concern for younger kids - fingers or clothing can get trapped. Also -think about the child's hearing safety. If a toy involves sounds or music - be sure it has a safety mechanism to prevent it from being too loud.
So once you determine what is appropriate and safe, what should you buy? For kids between the ages of one and three, consider simple toys like building blocks. Wooden blocks, plastic blocks, blocks with letters on them - all these can be fun and stimulating for toddlers. An added bonus? Toddlers can never have too many of these types of toys - this is truly a case of the more the merrier! Of course, if you want to stay on the parents' good side, it may be helpful to provide a good bin or carrying case for the blocks too!
For preschool age through elementary school kids, consider toys that promote either activity or creativity. Activity toys like scooters, skates, swings, jump ropes and even a basic rubber ball can all get kids moving - a wonderful thing in today's sedentary society. Of course, pay attention to safety and age recommendations and always provide whatever safety gear is recommended as well (helmets, knee and elbow guards, etc.).
For older kids, anything that sparks their creativity is ideal. Coloring is very popular right now, with good reason. Coloring has been shown to be soothing and relaxing for both kids and adults. A set of nice gel pens and a coloring book featuring nature or geometric designs would be perfect.
Finally, consider something that can engage the whole family like a deck of cards or a fun board game or a deck of "question and answer" cards. These activities are great for engaging children with their siblings and their parents. Anything that can get a family gathered around a table together, talking, laughing and just spending time together, is a great gift.
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