With Thanksgiving past and eyes turned toward Christmas, the search for the perfect gift begins. Electronics and gift cards may offer an easy check-off, but for a more thoughtful present, consider one of these hits from over the years.
1. Board Books For The Babies
While pregnant with our son, my sister-in-law surprised me with a Christmas present for him. It was completely unexpected, and equally as touching: Four board books—the favorite of each of their four children (my nieces and nephews): Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and three from Sandra Boynton: “Moo, Baa, La, La, La,” “The Going to Bed Book,” and “Doggies.”
The new “classic” board books are always a wonderful present to help start a home library for a baby—born or unborn—but selecting family favorites gives this thoughtful gift an added sentimental value.
2. Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube
Okay, technically this is an electronic device, but I have an exception for classical music. This fun toy engages and teaches while playing eight familiar Mozart tunes. Each side of the cube illustrates a different instrument on a brightly colored and easily depressed button. Push the instrument, and it begins playing along with pulsating lights. Push another, and it adds to the symphony. Children as young as one are able to use and enjoy this musical toy.
3. Kid O Cutting Fruit
Bright colors. Magnets. A “knife.” What more could (safely) capture a young child’s interest? The Kid O Cutting Fruit takes “pretend food” to a whole new level of fun—and education. Magnets hold the fruit together, until a slice of the “knife” separates them into segments. The orange “cuts” in half, the pear in thirds, and the apple in fourths. A perfect toy to introduce children to the concept of halves, thirds, quarters, and whole.
4. “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” By Robert Louis Stevenson
“When I was sick and lay a bed, I had two pillows at my head.” So begins “The Land of Counterpane,” by Robert Louis Stevenson. The soft cadence of Stevenson’s poems fills the pages of this lovely rocking-time read. Several versions are available, all with beautiful and engaging illustrations. It’s a wonderful gift for the wonderful new mom in your life.
5. Hungry Caterpillar Toy
For young fans of Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” this stuffed replica—replete with a “momma butterfly” zip-in blanket—is a shriek-inducing surprise for Christmas morning, and one that will stay bedside for years to come.
6. Goblet Gobblers
Another present that takes fun to new heights (literally) is Goblet Gobblers. This game plays off an old standby: Tic-tac-toe. The game comes with four crossbars to set up a nine-square board, along with six orange and blue nesting gobblers: two small, two medium, and two large. The object of the game, of course, is to get three in a row. But that object proves more challenging because players may cover the opponent’s smaller gobbler and take over the space. A great go-to present for kids ages four to nine.
7. Geosafari Jr. Sneak & Peek Periscope
What kid doesn’t like to spy on his parents or older siblings? While there are many offerings out there, most are too small and challenging. The Geosafari Jr., though, is large enough for even a young toddler to manipulate. And to top it off, it comes with a light for night-time play.
8. Traffic Cones (No, Really)
If the child in your life is not into spying, but loves all things construction, skip the toy version and wrap up a few real construction cones. There’s nothing like an indoor construction zone to entertain during the cold winter days.
9. Thornton Burgess Book Collection
Conservationist Thornton Burgess’ collection of “animal stories” stars creatures such as Granny Fox, Bobby Raccoon, and Peter Cottontail—the family “man,” not the naughty “bunny.” While the books are “chapter” books and suitable for children eight and up to read solo, even children as young as three will be engaged and beg for “just one more chapter” before bed.
10. Prismacolor Colored Pencils
A flash-sale prompted me to splurge on some high-end colored pencils and, wow, what a difference they make. If you have a child on your gift list who loves art or coloring, the PrismaColor Premier set, encased in a sturdy tin box, will provide hours of creative fun.
11. Byers Choice Advent Calendar
For fans of Byers Choice Carolers, which are always a good choice in their own right, this lovely Advent Calendar is sure to please. The beautiful nativity scene fronts a wooden box with hinged doors behind, offering a daily surprise as you count down to Christmas.
12. Alumni Gear For the College Student Or Grad
For those with a list that includes college students or recent grads, consider an upgrade to their college t-shirt and sweatshirt attire, such as a nice oxford from the Brook’s Brothers collegiate collection or a Vera Bradley bag.
13. Nordic Ware Pro Cast Stadium Pan
If the young alum in your life went to a football powerhouse (current or past….cough…Lou Holtz…cough cough…), this cake pan shaped as a stadium is a fun present for the cook who loves to tailgate.
14. Take-Out Box
On the other hand, if the young adult you are buying for doesn’t cook, a Take-Out menu box is a fun and practical present—an attractive place to store all those menus besides the junk drawer. And if the recipient is new to town, fill the box with menus from the best take-out places would add to the thoughtfulness of the gift.
15. Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar Stackable Juice Glasses
Christmas is also a good time to help with some of the practicalities of adulthood, such as stocking a kitchen. Bormioli Rocco glasses, which are nice looking but also solid, are the perfect choice for the young adult or the young family helping children transitioning from a sippy cup.
16. Tiffany’s Silver Collection
For those looking for a more substantial gift for a young lady, Tiffany’s silver bead collection is an excellent choice for those with either traditional or modern tastes. Start with the bracelet and add over the years to complete a lovely collection.
17. Consider Making A Handmade Gift
The handmade, though, can always trump the little blue box! One of my most treasured presents ever was this Sacred Heart of Jesus needlepoint, lovingly stitched by a dear friend. If you needlepoint, you can purchase this pattern—and many other unique offerings—on Etsy. Or if your friend is the creative one, considering surprising her with a rare pattern suited to her tastes, along with a gift card to a local craft store.
18. Create A Quilt
If you stitch, but only on a Singer, then a homemade quilt is sure to please, especially if you select a design close to the recipient’s heart, such as fabric from the Eric Carle’s Museum Store.
19. 1980s Puzzle
This gift idea I must admit I appropriated from a Mollie Hemingway tweet: An 80s Puzzle. A perfect gift for those who reminisce endlessly about the 80s.
20. “House of Cards” Trilogy
If 2016 wasn’t enough for the political junkie in your life, consider the original British House of Cards Trilogy. Political intrigue at its best (worst?). Absolutely riveting!