Kid Gifts to Encourage Creativity
Buying kid gifts is one of those things that can drive me up the wall. My kids are old enough to want a lot of things, and what they want keeps getting more and more expensive. That doesn’t mean they always get what they want – far from it – but it does make finding appropriate gifts within a budget challenging at times.
Kid gifts that encourage creativity are among my favorites. Kids enjoy movies and such, but creative toys really encourage them to explore. What works well varies quite a bit with age, of course.
One of the challenges can be that a lot of creative activities are messy. Painting, for example. My kids have a lot of supplies to allow them to create, and it does create a mess sometimes. But it means I know they’re having a good time expressing themselves.
Younger Kid Gifts
Cardboard Playhouse – One of the best gifts that my husband ever gave our kids didn’t cost any money at all, just time. He got a two layer cardboard box from Home Depot by having the night crew save it for him. He taped it closed on top, then cut appropriate doors and windows for a playhouse. This allowed the kids to color on it as they liked. The double thickness of cardboard meant that kids could safely climb on top.
If you like that idea but don’t want to cut one out, there are cardboard playhouses available at Amazon. They aren’t strong enough to climb on for the most part, but they’re really cute.
LEGO – When you’re talking about kids gifts that encourage creativity, you can’t skip LEGO. There are so many things kids can do with them. There are LEGO sets to go with just about anything your kids like. Personally, I’ve always loved the plain block sets where the kid gets to decide what they’re making. The sets where you’re supposed to make a particular item always struck me as a little limiting, although some are truly amazing. I’m rather in love with the LEGO Space Station personally.
Easel – Young kids are usually very enthusiastic artists. A good easel gives them an appropriate place to draw or paint as they like. Ours survived use by three kids over more than a decade and was still in great shape.
Perler Beads – It amazes me how long kids can sit and play with Perler beads. One year they even made homemade party favors with them for a Minecraft themed birthday party. Perler beads were perfect for making Minecraft characters and tools.
These obviously require some adult interaction when the kids are too young to use an iron on their own. If you get more than one board, you can iron out a few at once rather than waiting for the kids to finish something.
Snap Circuits – Snap Circuits are one of the best toys we ever got for my son. My daughters played with them a little, but not like my son did. He was in second grade when we got them, and quickly mastered them. He has even done demonstrations at school with his Snap Circuits, and this is my quiet kid who hates to speak up in class. Some schools even use Snap Circuits in class to teach about electric circuits.
If your kid ends up loving Snap Circuits, save on batteries and get the Battery Eliminator. It connects to the Snap Circuits set in place of the batteries. It plugs into the wall instead.
Garden Tools – Age appropriate garden tools are great for kids. They love to dig!
When possible, I’ve given my kids their own place to garden in the yard. They decide what to plant, if anything. They can just dig if they like. My oldest loved fairy gardens for a time when she was little. My youngest has a thing for marigolds. Whatever the kids do, it’s fun to just let them do it on their own.
If you want to get more realistic, go for an Easy Bake Oven or real cooking tools they can use in your kitchen. Real tools to make things are great as kids get older too.
Art Supplies – Art supplies of all sorts are ideal for encouraging creativity. We have a cabinet where the kids keep all their art supplies. Crayons, colored pencils, pens, paint, all kinds of paper, clay, play dough, glitter, craft foam – the list goes on and the cabinet gets cluttered. But that’s all part of the fun.
Lessons – What does your child want to learn? Art lessons, dance lessons, music lessons… what do they want to do? Lessons will allow them to improve their skills while indulging their interests. There are often good classes available locally.
Teen And Older Kid Gifts
As kids get older, they are so much harder to shop for. They also have a better idea of in which direction they want to direct their creativity. Some will make it difficult, however, and insist that they aren’t creative at all. Don’t believe them! Everyone can be creative; it’s just a matter of figuring out what type of creativity they enjoy.
YouTube videos can be great for helping teens improve their skills. There are lots of “how to” videos for just about anything your teen can imagine.
Art Supplies – Just because the kids are older doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy the right art supplies. My oldest daughter still loves to draw, so better quality colored pencils are good for her. My son is into steampunk, so supplies to work on that are better for him.
Drawing Tablet – Art on the computer may be more fun lots of kids, and a drawing tablet is a huge help. My oldest daughter has one, and she likes it. It’s a great tool for drawing on the computer.
Musical Instruments – While some musical instruments for kids could almost be considered instruments of torture, things improve as the kids get older. They get better at playing their instruments and may appreciate something of better quality.
Tools – As kids get older and reach their teenage years, real hand tools are definitely in order. Teach them to use the basics such as hammers, screwdrivers and glue guns. Then take it farther, depending on your own skills with tools and what you have available. A good set of tools that is all their own may serve them for life.
Soldering Kit – Take an interest in electronics up a notch from Snap Circuits and teach your child to solder. It’s also a useful skill for a teen who wants to make jewelry.
Camera – A decent quality camera all their own can be very encouraging to the older kid or teen interested in photography. It’s a creative skill that can be a lot of fun to practice. Younger kids enjoy this too, but a teen who enjoys photography can easily be encouraged. A cell phone camera is good enough for a lot of photos, but it’s not the same as having a camera that is just a camera.
Lessons – If your child has been taking lessons and enjoying them, keep them up. If there’s something they want to start, go for it.
Independent Outings – Make sure your older kids and teens get out and do things on their own. Gifts to encourage this could include movie tickets or gift cards to places they would like to go. They’ll be adults all too soon. They need to get used to acting independently so they’re ready to head off to college or career when the time comes. If they’re used to creative thinking and problem solving, so much the better.
Not all gifts have to be for just one person. You may find that it’s a lot of fun to get things to do as a family, as well as individual kid gifts. This can include things such as passes to a theme park or local zoo. We get annual passes to one attraction a year. More than one is too difficult to get our money’s worth. We change which pass every year, so we get to enjoy a variety of family activities.
Larger items such as a good swing set can also be fun. Think about how long you want the family to be able to use it before you buy one. Some are even strong enough to hold adults, giving you a chance to play outside with the kids or just relax on a swing. Getting everyone outside and playing can help kids be more creative by getting them away from screens.
Board games can be wonderful family gifts or individual gifts. Be sure to give games that you will be willing to play with the kids and that they will hopefully play together.
Always remember that the point of gifts is to consider what the recipient wants. Especially if you do a family gift, make sure it’s something all will enjoy. Giving and receiving gifts should be a fun time for all.