Kids' gifts on a budgetIt never fails. You search all over town for the "latest and greatest" toy of the year, finally find a store two towns away that has one "in the back," wrap it and put it under the tree, and when your child opens it they end up having more fun playing with the box it came in. This is becoming a more and more expensive proposition every year, because the "latest and greatest" toy costs more and more every year. Perhaps it's time to take a hint from the kids...
Maybe simpler is better.
Toys have become more and more complicated — needing more electricity, more computer memory, larger television screens and a master's degree to read the instruction manual. Maybe it's time to take things in the other direction.
Think about it for a second — kids like to use their imagination. That's why the box is such an attractive thing. One minute it's a race car crossing the finish line at the Indianapolis 500 and the next it's a stunt plane at an air show. Or a baby carriage. Or a house. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes, though, as toys become more complicated they become less engaging to the imagination.
Think about things that will engage your child's imagination. Depending on the age of your child any number of things might be THE gift this year...
- A Slinky
- A wooden rubber band gun
- A set of wooden blocks
- A Yo-yo
- A bag of marbles
- Sidewalk chalk
- A set of Legos
- A tablet of paper and some colored pencils
All of these items cost less than $10. Of course, if you have an older child who is really into gadgets, but you don't have the funds for the latest smart phone, consider a new point-and-shoot camera. You can find quality, name brand cameras for less than $80. Plus, this opens up a whole new creative window — photography. A year ago my daughters (ages 9 and 13 at the time) received cameras. Both of them were thrilled and took their cameras everywhere with them.
What about asking friends and relatives for old prom dresses and bride's maids dresses that they no longer want? Collect them and make a nice "dress up box" for little girls.
You could make homemade finger puppets.
You could frame a drawing your child did or make a collage of their favorite photos.
Use some of your own creativity — just like that box, the possibilities are endless.
Written by Chip, the father of two school-age children who inspire creative thinking when it comes to working around a budget.