There’s certainly a place for technology in kids’ lives, but sometimes we just want them to have some old-fashioned, tech-free fun. If you’re looking for gift ideas for your kids that don’t require batteries, a screen, or a charger but will still keep them engaged for hours, then this is the list for you.
Dominoes: Last year, Santa brought each of our kids a bucket of dominoes. They were probably the most inexpensive gift they received, but they were also the biggest hit. The kids played with them for hours – and they still do, a whole year later. Who doesn’t love setting up a giant domino run and watching them fall?
“How to Draw” Books: You’ve probably already thought of art supplies, but for kids without artistic skills it can be hard to know where to begin. “How to Draw” books outline the steps one by one of how to draw all different things – airplanes, flowers, insects – and help build kids’ confidence as they discover they CAN draw! They come designed for a wide variety of ages and skill levels; my preschooler was even able to do the one we got for her last year.
Surprise Ride box: What’s better than getting a gift at Christmas? Getting one every month! Surprise Ride is a monthly subscription box with non-tech gifts, and Rebecca’s kids tried one out and loved it!
Imaginets (Imagination Magnets): This fun toy comes with different-shaped magnets, a stack of design cards, and a magnetic display board all packaged in a convenient carrying case. Kids can either use their imagination to create a picture using the magnets, or test their spatial recognition skills by arranging the magnets to match one of the cards. This is great for independent play from preschool through early elementary.
Magazine Subscription: My kids love getting magazines every month – because really, who gets actual mail anymore? Buy a subscription to a fun magazine designed just for kids. Some suggestions are National Geographic Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, or Highlights (High Five for the littler ones).
Experiences or Classes: What would your child LOVE to try out? Give them a soccer ball and sign them up for indoor soccer. Wrap up a gymnastics leotard and pay for a session at the local gym. Buy an annual pass to the children’s museum for year-round fun. Or, if that’s beyond your budget, just give them the gift of a single-day admission.
Pattern Play: This is another one of those problem-solving/spatial recognition activities that your child can do independently. They have to arrange brightly-colored blocks to match pattern cards, and since the blocks are 3-D and can be put in any direction, it can be tougher than you think. This is another great one for preschool through early elementary.
Rush Hour Logic Game: This is a great independent-play problem-solving game for kids elementary all the way up through high school. (Do you sense a theme here? I love giving things to my kids that will keep them occupied by themselves.) While I’m sure there’s an app somewhere that boasts a similar game, there’s something to be said about trying to move game pieces in order to get your car out of a real-life traffic jam. My husband and I have even enjoyed giving this game a try!
Joke Book: Kids love a good joke. They love being the one to tell it even more. Give them a kid-friendly joke book and watch them turn into an instant comedian.
Fort Building Kit: Personally I’m not a fort-making mama, and we all know how Emily feels about these. But I know we’re kind of in the fort-making minority, so if your kiddo loves forts and you’re on board with them too, a fort-building kit might be just up your alley. However, here’s our tip: Don’t buy ones made of flimsy plastic, and pick one up that includes clips to secure your blankets/sheets to the structure.
BONUS TIP: If you’re like me, you immerse yourself in Amazon product reviews to determine whether a product will work for you. But did you know what not all of the reviews are legit? Often, people are paid to write reviews or are given products in return for their (positive) review. You can check whether Amazon reviews for a product are reliable by pasting the link to the product on Fakespot.com.