Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Gifts for Girls Ages 3-16 & Family Gifts Everyone Will Love

Here's my list of what I've bought the kids in my life this year and in years past. The last item on the list is one of our big family traditions...which is to spend time together on Christmas day learning a new skill or making something together. I have enough ideas to last you for YEARS on that one and you'll have lots of happy family memories.

And please comment with your own gift ideas! I am ALWAYS looking for good gifts!

1. Galaxy leggings.  I think this trend probably peaked last year, but I'm still digging it. I bought a pair for my kiddo and my teen exchange student. These would make a great stocking stuffer. Warning: Be sure to check prices, they vary wildly and watch that the leggings you order are in stock and fulfilled by Amazon--a lot of these are sent on the slow boat from China.

2. Mermaid tail blanket. FYI mermaid stuff is very trendy right now and I've been writing a lot of mermaids lately so YAY!  Warning: Be sure to check prices, they vary wildly and watch that the blanket you order is in stock and fulfilled by Amazon--a lot of these are sent on the slow boat from China.

3. Games! My big recommendation is Rush Hour. I LOVE this puzzle game. It is FANTASTIC for building logic skills and predictive multi-step thinking. It can be played alone or with a small group. I used this game all the time when I worked as a tutor.

4. Books. We are readers in my house!

What Santa is giving my kiddo this year:

Chronicles of Narnia boxed set
Percy Jackson boxed set
Warriors boxed set

If you have younger kids on the list, anything with stickers is awesome. Such as...

Make a Face Sticker Book (kids get to make animal faces with stickers, it's AWESOME)
Disney Sticker Book
Fancy Nancy Sticker Book

Or you can encourage nascent handwriting skills with a book of simple mazes. We loved these when my kiddo was smaller!

For really itty bitty kiddos, I'm gifting Flotsam this year which is an award winning children's book that tells the story only in pictures.

5. Spa Party Kit. This one is the brainchild of my 9-year-old. She is dying to invite her friends over for a spa party play date. The only problem? The 'spa party kits' on the market all kind of suck. So I sourced everything separately and then called her friends' moms to set up a play date between Christmas and New Year's. I love that this gift idea brings people together. (Full disclosure, this one got kind of expensive to put I recruited the grandparents to help. We all bought pieces of it.)

Perfume making kit
Lip balm kit
Hair chalk
Nail polish kit for kids
An inexpensive face mask

6. Lego kits. My kiddo has all the basic Lego sets so the focus this year has been expanding what she can do with them.

-I bought some Hexbugs so she can build a Hexbug habitat and maze. We do stockings on Christmas Eve in our house so I'll slip these babies into her stocking and get her busy making them a excellent way to exhaust that pre-Christmas excitement. My kiddo has been known to stay up all night on Christmas (and her birthday) so I'm all for giving her a way to use up all her Santa jitters.

- Lego Crazy Contraption Kit. This will allow her to use her existing Legos to delve into actually building different things.

- Lego Chain Reaction Kit.  What kid doesn't like a good chain reaction? Legos just make it better!

7. Learn new skills and make crafts. Every year I buy a group gift that gives us all something to do together. Despite all the gifts, kids can still complain they are bored (or at least mine does). What they want, in my opinion, is connection. All too often, families open the gifts and then everyone spins off in their own cocoons. Little kids have too much energy for that, so I've found it helpful to channel that need for interaction into a group activity.

When my kiddo was really little we would buy those big cardboard houses and boats for her to decorate. I would give her markers, paints and tons of stickers and let her go to town.  (If you happen to have a big box lying around, you can just use that and skip buying anything.)

Then we did watercolor resist painting--another great stocking stuffer. Santa brought watercolors, paper and white crayons (you have to get those online, the craft stores don't carry them and you'll want more than one). We all drew snowmen in the snow with our white crayons and then painted over it.

From there, we progressed to recorders in everyone's stockings. It was shrill (not gonna lie!) but actually really easy to learn. We were playing Christmas music within a half hour. The key is to buy the right music book! (BONUS: I use my recorder like a whistle when I'm teaching at my kiddo's school. If they get loud, I make the most awful racket on my recorder and they all get reeeeeal quiet. lol Believe me, no one ignores the recorder!)

The next year we had origami paper and a how-to book. There are free tutorials online, but the books tend to be better in my experience--we've been doing origami for three years now so we have some first hand experience with this. (If you're on a tight budget, check out some origami books from the library instead of buying one.)

Then we had a beginning sewing kit to work on together.  I really liked this kit. I thought it was very thoughtfully put together, and more importantly, my kiddo really enjoyed it. (I mean, the thing has over 700 reviews at 4.5 stars and doesn't even have an Elsa or Olaf!)

This year, Santa will be dropping off everything we need to make two no-sew fleece blankets. A friend made me one years ago and it has been the BEST blanket. We actually fight over who gets to use it, so I thought it would be good to make some more.

For this gift, you'll need to head to the fabric store. It costs around $20-$30 per blanket to make. Since there are so many fabrics now, it's easy to tailor the blanket to each person's interests and favorite colors. And they'll be nice and warm all winter long!

Still need gift ideas? Check out my list of 21 local, handmade and homemade gift ideas.


  1. I recently did an American Girl spa party for my 8 yr old. The spa part didn't completely happen, but we did use Jamberry nails for the nail paint. I joined a group on fb for the wraps juniors and it was a cheap way to get them. I am a crafter so I have lots of felt, elastics, ribbons... the girls all made sleep masks, hair bows, and even slippers for the dolls.
    For Christmas I am going to put together a sewing kit for her and maybe get her an inexpensive sewing machine. For the 4yr old daughter I got on Mercari and found some Bitty Twin dolls I am fixing up for her. Great prices on there. For the 14 yr old, she is a tomboy but loves drawing and writing. She has been depressed because she didn't listen to us and saved a book she was writing on a website that has since banned her for no reason and we cannot get a hold of anyone. She posted it because she liked the feedback on her ideas, she just never saved it anywhere else. She has lots and lots of pictures she has drawn for it, but no story. I may look into getting her a writing program for her laptop. I already have more paints, canvases, and drawing books for her; I just need to do something for her writing. Any ideas for a teen?

    1. For a teen who likes to write? Hmmm. See if there are any writing workshops in the area or find one online she can take? She would probably like a journal with a lot of cool markers/pens in lots of different colors.

  2. Bead work kits at AC Moore for Christmas decorations. Learning to crochet. Lots of artsy studd going on at the different cradt stores that you can go home and make again