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What We’re Actually Getting Our Kids For the Holidays This Year

Gift lists abound on the internet. I’ve shared a few on the blog over the years like this list of gifts for kids, eco-friendly white elephant gifts, and this list of questions to ask to find the perfect gift for someone in your life. But what are people actually buying for their family? Here’s what we bought for our boys this year (and yes, that means we are done shopping … thank goodness!)

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For several years, Janssen at Everyday Reading has shared with her readers what she and her husband actually buy for each of their four daughters, two of whom are close in age to my boys. I enjoy seeing the gifts they put under their tree for their girls and thought it would be fun to share what we are actually buying for our boys this year. I’ve also included the gifts I plan to buy for our nieces and nephew. Maybe you’ll see a thing or two that are perfect for the little ones in your life too!

As you’ll see from the list, the gifts aren’t specifically zero waste or eco-friendly or ethically made. Instead, we focused on choosing a handful of gifts that we really thought the recipients would love, would get used frequently, and would last. When we could find eco-friendly alternatives for these gifts, we jumped on the opportunity and considered it a bonus.

Living a zero waste or eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t always have to be cost prohibitive. Tangible gifts, however, that our kids open on Christmas morning are often much pricier when tagged with sustainable certifications. More importantly, I sometimes struggle to find gifts in these categories that I know my boys will really love. 

Maybe I’m not looking hard enough or thinking creatively enough and missing the boat on “good, earth-friendly” giving, but we aren’t perfect stewards to the Earth in every moment of our lives. Sometimes, it’s ok to skip all the deep dive research and just find the right gifts you know your family and friends will love and will last (at least that’s my take on this whole gift-giving thing). 

For the most part, we avoided Amazon for buying gifts. At times, we bought directly from the retailer even when we could buy on Amazon. The prices were essentially the same in all such instances. For other gifts, they don’t sell them on Amazon so we never compared the options. With all that Amazon touches, I’m always looking to support other retailers and help ensure Amazon has some local, small shop and big retailer competition.

Related Reading: Amazon Alternatives & Why It Matters

Holiday Gifts For Our Boys

Similiar Gifts for Both Boys

Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite with Accessories | We chose to buy one Switch and one Switch Lite. Although the regular Switch is more expensive, we wanted it so that they could play together and use the Switch on our family television. The Switch Lite is only a handheld console for one player. 

We also bought them two games (NBA 2K and Mario Kart) to share as well as an annual subscription to the play about 50 classic Nintendo and Super Nintendo games (the ones we played as kids). They have plenty of games with the subscription that they should be set for quite a while. We also bought each of them a case (this one for the Switch and this one for the Lite), as well as one Switch memory card to play NBA 2K seasons, and controllers to play on the TV. 

We thought for a while about buying the boys Nintendo Switch consoles and decided to make the leap into video games this year. Because we traveled to Jamaica for Thanksgiving, we chose to give the boys the Nintendo Switch consoles before our trip.

Hockey Tape | Hockey is a daily activity in our house. In between team games and practice, the boys use our unfinished basement as a rink, shooting pucks and practicing stick handling. They love to freshen up their stick tape; they can go to town with these rolls of yellow, orange, and white tape. 

Flyers Green Biscuit Hockey Pucks | The boys use these pucks in our basement and our driveway. Can you ever have enough pucks? (Yes, you definitely can… but word on the street is that we have not yet met that quota.) Because they play nearly every day and it keeps them busy for hours, I’m happy to fuel a habit that keeps them active, often together. 

Foosballs | We have a foosball table and both boys love to play, especially with M. Occasionally, we have a full family game, but usually the boys fight over who gets stuck with me. I am serviceable (barely), but I’ll be eating their dust very soon. 

Socks | The boys go through socks like crazy; somehow they vanish into thin air. I suspect it’s the notorious dryer gnome who steals them all. Surely it has nothing to do with my boys taking them off and leaving them all around the house, right? In any case, they could always use more socks. We love these Bombas socks and have been wearing Bombas for many years. 

Boxers | What’s a stocking without socks and underwear?! The boys have been wearing boxers from Primary, our very favorite brand, for years.

Cards Against Humanity Blank Cards | Cards Against Humanity is very much an adult game and definitely not for everyone. If it’s not your thing, I totally get it. We enjoy playing it with our friends, and I pass no judgment on anyone for playing it or thinking it’s incredibly offensive and inappropriate.

A couple of times, we’ve had friends over and played Cards Against Humanity after putting the boys to bed. They were not asleep, however, and were dying to play with us. That is a Hard No. However, the game comes with blank cards and you can buy additional packs. 

As a compromise, we told the boys they could play with us after we sorted through the decks to find cards that were acceptable for children. W also made a few extra cards just for them with the blank cards. This turned out to be a really fun idea. I recently shared more about our DIY Cards Against Humanity Game: Family Version.

Individual Gifts for T (who is 7)

Rubix Cube 4×4 (in eco-friendly packaging) | About a month ago, he pulled out the standard 3×3 Rubix Cube from a bin in our playroom and taught himself how to solve it with a little help from me and a video on YouTube. He’s been practicing to complete the puzzle faster and showing off his skills to impressed observers. We’ll see how the one goes… hopefully it’s not too hard. 

Logic Problems and Puzzle Book for Kids | He loves logic problems, and I can’t blame him because I loved them as a kid as well. He better hold on to this book tight or it will end up in my hands. 

Mechanical Pencils | What’s not to love about snazzy mechanical pencils, especially when you have an awesome logic problem and puzzle book to tackle?! These have been my favorite for many years.

Individual Gifts for J (who is 5)

Rubix Cube 2×2 | He loves watching T complete the 3×3 cube but isn’t quite ready for that level. We thought this would be a good place to start and give him a chance to master something a little more in his wheelhouse right now. 

Fort Clips | J loves to build fort. He has a couple of aunts who are also epic fort builders and have shown him the ropes about how cool and fun they can be. I expect we will get a lot of use out of these!

Printer Paper | He’s been creating all sorts of origami masterpieces following tutorials in books we’ve checked out from the library and tutorials on YouTube (and stealing all of my printer paper along the way). We got him two reams of colored printer paper to keep in the playroom so he can fold to his heart’s content. 

Jumbo Book of Hidden Pictures | We used to receive a Highlights High Five magazine subscription. Every issue, J jumped straight to the Hidden Pictures page, completed it, and flipped through the rest of the magazine hoping to find more. Now he will have plenty of Hidden Pictures puzzles to entertain him for a while.

Related Note: Did you know that Highlights has a podcast for kids called Highlights Hangout? Here are a few of our favorite podcasts for kids you might also like. 

Holiday Gifts for Our Nieces and Nephew

We celebrate Christmas with my family in Minnesota almost every year. My sisters come home from California, and we open presents together on Christmas morning. Each family buys a gift or two for each of the five grandkids.

Older Niece (who is 6)

Princess in Black Books | These books are just right for little readers who are excited to start reading chapter books but aren’t quite ready to forego illustrations or have a full page of text. The stories are fun and engaging, and I’ll never complain about a young female superhero. 

Unicorn Paint by Sticker Book | These are so fun and are perfect for helping little ones entertain themselves, especially when they need some down time. We have a couple of these that the boys use, especially on planes and while we’re traveling

Bravery Magazine Subscription | I saw this recommended by another mom and it looks really great. Each issue highlights the achievement of one particularly brave woman and includes related activities to support the stories and discussion in the volume. (I also ordered a subscription to be delivered to my house!)

Nephew (who is 4)

Goodnight Baseball Book | I’m always on the hunt for the right book for the right kid. We have this one, and I think it will be right up his alley. 

Fort Clips | I got the same for clips for my nephew that I ordered for J. I just know these will be a hit, and my sister (the fort builder) will put them to good use. 

Highlights High Five Subscription | My boys used to receive this, and J in particular loves it, as I mentioned earlier. I know how much fun it is to receive good mail, so hopefully he’ll have fun every month when this shows up in his mailbox. 

Younger Niece (who is 6 months)

Bookroo Picture Book Subscription | At such a young age, she doesn’t really care what she gets nor does she know the difference. I opted for a gift that she can grow into and that her siblings will thoroughly enjoy while she’s too young to appreciate it. 

What are you buying the little ones in your life for the holidays? Share all your great ideas in the comments!

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