Road-Tested Recs

Every year, I feel like I’m scrambling to come up with solid gift suggestions for my kids at Christmas. Between Jon and me, Santa, and grandparents, it’s a LOT of idea generating, and sometimes I just devolve to browsing the most-popular gifts on Target or Amazon, hoping for inspiration.

In case you find yourself in a similar boat this year, here are a few Batchelor-house favorites. I tried to pick items that foster creativity or learning, don’t play music or make noise of any kind, and aren’t based on a TV show or movie.

        1. Picasso Tiles: If you’re familiar with MagnaTiles, these are the same concept and quality—but half the price. We love them so much, they got their own dedicated suitcase to take them on vacation this year, where they occupied ages 2-13. Two sets are ideal for building elaborate towers … or for keeping squabbling siblings separated.

      2. Zoo on the Loose: $30 is a lot for a game, I know. But my kids will play THIS game for a solid hour, multiple times a week … which makes it worth it at our house. It comes with five small stuffed animals, a play mat, and two sets of cards: one set for play on the mat and one set that involves moving the animals around the house. If you have at least one child who can read, this is a great independent play game, but even the adults in our house have fun playing it.


3. Paint with Water: I am ALWAYS looking for a 30 minute activity that lets me get dinner on the table in relative peace. Arts and crafts usually fit that bill, but they’re so darn messy … and right on the table we’re about to eat at. Enter Paint with Water books—all the fun, zero mess (other than wiping up a little water).  These make great stocking stuffers.


4. Shrinky Dinks: I’m an 80s child, so I have fond memories of coloring and baking shrinky dinks at my grandmother’s kitchen table. I introduced my kids to them courtesy of a clearance pack that I scored at Hobby Lobby for $1.60, and they were a huge hit. So, I bought this dinosaur set as a Christmas gift.


5. Play Food Cutting Set: This was a gift for Nathan when he was 2 or 3, but both of my kids have logged countless hours playing with it—slicing, putting back together, and slicing again. It’s one of my go-to gifts for other kids.


6. Three Questions Book: Okay, it’s not a toy. But this is that rare book that our children love and we never get tired of reading. Beautiful illustrations, great moral, and just the right length for a bedtime story. If you do want/need/wear/read gifts, this is a perfect “read.”

(please note: this post contains Amazon-affiliate links.)

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