Top 10 Christmas gifts for kids

SONYA LEUSINK-SLADEN
Last updated 14:37 26/11/2013
Paddling pool
PETER HAGUE
ACTIVE GIFT: Paddling pools are a splash hit for kids.

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Sugar – the ultimate comfort food Hobbies to keep us sane, vital and strong Fast food favourites from friends Finding wings in a bewildering land Competition not a dirty word Could there be fire with the match-fixing smoke? Let’s harness all that wasted energy Painting an artificial picture of perfection I'm a new man; money here I come Know what you want to achieve then set goals

Even for first time parents of infant children, thinking about useful gifts for the future is a good idea.

And among the parents of The Motherhood Project, it is unanimous.

Really worthwhile gifts for little people are the simple, low-tech ones.

We rate gifts that involve creativity and problem solving. We think that simple, durable toys are the best because they are "open ended" in their use.

They encourage imagination and inventiveness and tend to span a very wide age range.

We also think that gifts that encourage us to go outdoors are great, whether it is physical activity, investigating and enjoying nature, or playing in nature's playground. And we all agree that presents that show love and effort from the giver are tops.

"The best gift you can give to your child is of yourself. A present of your time and attention. The gift of being present." - Anonymous

So we had no trouble putting together some "Top 10" gift ideas lists.

We hope that friends and family of our precious little people find them useful in giving meaningfully this Christmas.

Top 10 worthwhile spends:

If you can afford it, some gifts are worth spending up on.

The ones we identified here are ones we feel are value for every dollar.

1. Blocks. Wooden or Duplo. Simple wooden blocks are timeless. Duplo blocks are loved and used for a remarkably wide range of activities and age range.

2. Trolleys. Simple, robust, inside and outdoor worthy rolling vessels to fill, push and pull. Brilliant for little ones as they work on their gross motor skills, and older ones engaged in imaginative play.

3. A sturdy plastic paddle pool. For water play and sand vessel all year round, and paddling in the summer. We also use ours for warm outdoor baths on our veranda all year round.

4. Trampoline. A big ticket purchase, but worthwhile. Used daily, for a multitude of imaginative uses (including the mud-puddle underneath), and brilliant when friends come around.

If you have the space and can afford one, well worth the investment.

5. Bikes. Running bikes, scooters and trikes. What can I say? Kids love trikes and bikes and they get our little ones outdoors and moving.

6. Wooden train set. Great for boys and girls alike, they encourage creativity, problem solving and motor skills.

7. Sturdy dump truck. For boys and girls who like to fill and push and make grrr and brmmm noises. Because they may be used so endlessly, a high quality non-plastic one is a worthwhile investment.

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8. Sand pit. Good clean dirty sandy fun with a remarkable age range for enjoyment.

9. A swing. Endless hours spent swinging, although sometimes tiresome for the one doing the pushing, they are well worth it.

10.Books. Nurturing a love of books is a great gift we can give our children from a very early age. And while libraries generally fill our quota, they are always a welcome gift.

Top 10 cheap or free:

All of the mums and nannas felt that little inexpensive gifts could be as much fun as their pricey sisters. And we loved the idea of thoughtful expressions of love.

1. A love letter or card. Whether or not they can read it now, an annual letter about the year that has been for each child will be treasured for a lifetime.

2. Handmade soft toys. Handmade dolls clothes and dress-ups are another example. If you have the time, these are wonderful ideas for little people and they are treasured by parents too.

3. Swaths of fabric. Encouraging imaginative play, different coloured, sized and textured fabrics neatly folded and packaged up as a gift, can be used as tents, dress ups, fairy wings, capes and so on.

4. A collection of cooking utensils and kitchenware.

Old ones are fine for the sandpit or imaginative play, tea parties, Master Chef and pretend cooking.

5. A bag of sand. Endless fun. What a great idea, although a little awkward for Santa to get down the chimney.

6. Bubble mixture. Who doesn't take pleasure in blowing bubbles on a sunny day?

7. Paper, colouring books and coloured pens. A bound blank scrapbook for older children is cool, encouraging them to take care of and treasure each page.

If you can draw, you could put together a few of your own black on white penned drawings for littlies to colour in.

8. Bibs and painting smocks. You can never have too many, and sleeved bibs are great for painting activities as well as messy eating.

9. Sticker books. Especially ones that encourage imagination and creativity.

Ours love incorporating stickers into their own pictures.

10.Seeds. A packet of seeds to grow inside or outside. Fascinating for parents and little people old enough to understand.

With thanks to the contributing mums and grandmothers: Marita, Jacqui, Liz, Tania, Helen, Lisa, Rachel, Kelly, Chantell, Erica, Anne, Sue, Donna, and Kim.

Next week I'm keen to look into the idea of a happy family Christmas.

We'll be presenting family gift ideas and thinking about what a modern New Zealand Christmas is and can be for parents of young children.

If you would like to be part of this and future discussions, please email me at themotherhoodproject@xtra.co.nz.

- Nelson

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