Here are some gift ideas for the little ones that won’t cost you anything at all. There’s no point in fighting the crowds for the newest Dora doll or TMX Elmo. Kids this age like simple toys, and will appreciate things that don’t depend on batteries for the fun.
First idea…Boxes. Yes, really. Get an assortment of different sizes. Shoe boxes, empty boxes from cereal and other foods, big cartons from the grocery store, and don’t forget appliance boxes. Your child will delight in standing the boxes up to make towers, hiding smaller boxes inside the bigger ones, and filling them up with all the rocks and other “treasures” kids collect. The appliance boxes, or even large cartons from a fast food place, are big enough for them to crawl into. Instant playhouse! Want to fancy it up a bit? Have a grown-up cut windows in the “walls” and let the kids decorate the outside with whatever markers or paint you have around. Or just set the open end of a big box facing up, and put the kids inside it. Tell them it’s a pirate ship and let their imaginations run with it.
Next great idea…Redneck-Tupperware. You know the stuff I mean; the plasticware that you’re using because it comes free with other products. All those empty butter and Cool-Whip containers, the frosting tubs, and the plastic jar the peanut butter came in. Toddlers *love* containers! Give them some of their own to play with. They’re waterproof, so they can go outside in the sandbox or dirt, and into the kiddie-pool. In the bathtub, don’t be surprised when the kid that screamed bloody-murder when you tried to wash his hair suddenly seems to enjoy dumping bowls full of water and soap suds on his own head with his very own new Cool-Whip bowl.
And don’t forget…Plastic Bottle Caps. Take the tops off of your milk jugs, water bottles, and juice containers. Those little plastic caps are hours of fun! Put them top-side down on the non-carpeted floor and push, kick,and bat them around as an indoor hockey game. Combine them with the plastic containers or boxes above to make a counting and sorting game. Have the kiddos divide them into piles according to color or size; (instant home-school lesson!). Hide them in the sandbox and then challenge them to find the “buried treasure”. Hide them inside the house for an out-of-season Easter-egg-style hunt. (Note: use the larger caps, or save this toy for kids that have learned not to put things in their mouths. These can be a choking hazard.)
Last but not least…Empty Cardboard Tubes! You know, that core that’s left over when you run out of toilet paper or paper towels. Start saving them. Also, the empty tubes from wrapping paper or aluminum foil. They’ll be the sticks in that indoor hockey game with the bottle caps, the oars for the cardboard-box boat, and the pins for an indoor game of bowling. Challenge them to see how many toilet paper tubes them can stack end-to-end like a tower. Put a tube on the kid’s head and let her learn balance by trying to keep it from falling off.
Bonus… You’ll be teaching your kids that holiday fun doesn’t come from Wal-Mart or FAO Schwarz. You can stress the importance of using their own imagination and creativity, and spending time interacting with family. Your children will learn about recycling and reusing things that would otherwise have gone to waste. And that’s something to celebrate too. Happy Holidays!
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