By Kendra Johnson
Is it just me that hates seeing all of the plastic junk that is being advertised this year?! I looked through 3 separate catalogs this weekend and ALL OF THEM were filled with toys that would just give me a headache (from both audible and visible noise).
Can’t we give our kids and grandchildren better quality gifts than this?! Is neon plastic really what our toddlers and young kids want?
I have been so blessed for years that my parents and in-laws are AMAZING gift givers. For years they have been working to build a collection of quality toys that my kids use and enjoy regularly. My boys play with the same sets of toys every day and they don’t get bored because they are open ended and educational.
I want to share my favorite gifts that were gifted to our children to make it easier for parents and grandparents to gift this year. And so, I present to you the 2022 Small Legacies Gift Guide!
A Note: Bigger Isn't Better
Notice that oversized, bulky play sets aren't on the list. Bigger isn't always Better. In fact, it's much worse because it'll clutter the living spaces of a home.
As a parent, I much prefer items that can fit on a shelf, in a drawer, or better yet: are experiences! The one exception you'll see here is the nice neutral pillow (notice it's not printed with bright patterns that the kids will outgrow). :)
Beautiful, educational, quality experiences that are perfect for each child’s development.
At Small Legacies we value gifts that :
- Lead to open-ended play
- Are educational
- Are made of sturdy or natural materials that won’t break as easily
- Are beautiful and offer a sense of calm in the home
My Personal Favorite:
1. The Enduring Legacy™ Piggy Bank (Engraved with each child's name!)
By Small Legacies
Teaching Kids Financial Literacy is Fun and easy with this beautiful wood bank. Even better, you can have your child’s name engraved on the top. As you probably already know, this is the one product we sell here at Small Legacies. My sons are 3 and 4 and we play with our banks often. We count coins, spend money on fun things, save for family adventures, and give each other gifts using the money in these banks. It’s never too early to teach your kids about money.
A lifetime. My sons have had their banks pretty much since birth. We began really playing with the banks at age 2 and now that I trust them not to put any coins in their mouth I leave them out at their level for free play time. We will continue to use them as they grow and I just gifted my niece and nephew (in their 20s) each a bank. It’ll truly last a lifetime.
2. Personalized Puzzles!
Educational Value: In a world full of tablets, children are in dire need of toys that build their fine motor control. Australia's Early Childhood Education Website sites: "Simple jigsaw puzzles help children develop finger strength, perseverance and problem-solving skills." While tablets offer some amazing learning tools, nothing beats the challenge of twisting, turning and attaching these tricky jigsaw pieces.
Lifespan: As adults we often do a puzzle once and then pass it on to the next user but the repetition of a puzzle over and over it developmentally crucial for kids. This strengthens a child's memory, problem solving skills, and fine motor development over time. Your child will get years out of just one puzzle and are very likely to treasure the keepsake if it's personalized with their name!
3. Custom Night Lights
Educational Value: This is an opportunity to turn something simple that everyone needs into a cherished gift. While you might not immediately think of a night light as being educational, it actually offers a simple to way to begin conversations about how the world around us works. Do we plug it into the wall or does it run on batteries? What's the difference? How does the remote work? What are the colors you see? What words are written on it?
Lifespan: Most of the lights from this site are LED lights that last forever, and use regular batteries that can easily be switched out when needed.
4. DIY Art Kits and Art Supplies
Educational Value: According to The Artful Parent, "Art is an activity that can employ all the senses––sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste––depending on the activity." What I love about these kits is that you can follow a set of instructions, or you can free-style it and let your child paint as their heart desires. And both are ok!
Lifespan: The kit is more of a one-time activity but the child can display their home made decor for years to come! That's why I recommend including extra art supplies along with it. The kit will give them inspiration and guidance on what to create and then they have more supplies to keep creating!
5. Standard Unit Blocks
By Melissa & Doug
According to kidshealth.org, “Building a tower (and figuring out how to stop it from toppling over) encourages problem-solving skills and hand–eye coordination.” The possibilities with this particular set are wonderful. The variety of shapes allow kids to construct ramps, buildings, roads, towers, castles, theme parks, and any creative scene their minds can think of.
A lifetime. This one has a higher price tag but my sons use these blocks EVERY DAY. These wooden blocks are solid and they still look good as new despite heavy use. This is a toy that I will keep forever, just in case I have grand-babies one day. ;)
6. Binoculars + A Day of Exploring
With kids so often staring at screens that are close to them, it’s important to remember that the eyes are a muscle that need to be trained. Straining to see something far away, and then using binoculars to see them better is a great way to strengthen your child’s ability to see at a distance.
5 years. This particular brand of binoculars is not just a cheap toy version of binoculars. These binoculars are fully functional and high quality. The only reason why these will “time out” is that your child will physically grow out of them. The string did break off of ours but we were able to easily fix it.
7. Neutral Large Floor Pillow
Does hours upon hours or reading count? My kids and I LOVE snuggling together on these pillows and reading stories. They are beautiful, comfortable and cozy.
2 years+ We received our pillows last christmas and they have held up really well! They are just as cozy and firm as they were the day we got them. I love that the cover comes off for easy laundering. We use these pillows every day. The older kids use them for reading time, I use them to relax, and it’s a great spot to place the baby when I need a minute to use both hands (but never leave the baby unattended, it’s not intended as a safe infant space).
The Gift of Experiences:
I absolutely love it when people take the time to enjoy a special day with my kids. Here are my favorite trips that have been gifted to my kids that I would be so excited to receive again!
I've included an idea for "The Physical Gift" since I know that it's fun to watch the kids open something. :)
8. Trampoline Park
The Physical Present: Trampoline Park Socks
9. Trip to the Zoo
The Physical Present: A Small Stuffed Animal or animal book
10. Indoor Waterpark Passes
The Physical Present: Water Goggles or Swimming Suit
11. Theme Park Tickets
The Physical Present: A Hat to Wear to the Park
12. Children's Museum
The Physical Present: A lunch bag to pack their lunch in for the trip.
The Physical Present: A book about Aquatic Animals
The physical gift, gold balls and hat or golf clubs.
15. Local Botanical Gardens
The physical gift: a book about plants