Ideas for Inexpensive Christmas Gifts for Young Children

christmasTimes change, but some things never do.

A kid’s expectations during the Christmas season is one of them. All of them eagerly await the day they get to finally open those mysterious packages sitting underneath the Christmas tree. The younger they are, the more hyperactive and loud they can be about it.

This, unfortunately, can put a big pressure on parents to figure out what they can get for their kids.

Electronics seem to be all the rave for gift ideas, even for younger children. For a parent with less-than-desired allowance for presents, this can sound discouraging.

Don’t be mistaken. Whether it’s the 21st Century or the 11th, a three-year-old boy will always enjoy playing cops and robbers with a police hat, badge, whistle, and plastic club – even if the whole set cost $3 and will break within a year.

As a matter of full disclosure, I have no children. But as a former child of 18 years experience, I, in addition to my parents, realized a few things from our own Christmases that young parents now might be able to think about when they shop around for gift ideas; I also intend to employ them when, God willing, I get around to having a family.

One of them is to have enthusiasm for what you buy. Kid’s are very impressionable. If you are excited to give them a gift, they will be naturally excited.

Generally speaking, the younger the child is, the more these suggestions apply.

Quantity matters over quality

Your five-year-old boy is not going to care how much their new race car cost or what brand of model airplane you bought. Whether their action figure is made in China (providing it has no lead in it) or the good ol’ USA, it’s not going to be a blimp on their radar screen yet.

What this means for you is that you can buy them lots of small presents, particular ones from thrift stores, dollar stores, or the small toys you see at the checkout at grocery stores, and they won’t know the difference. Young children are easily entertained, so the smallest gift can occupy them for a long time before they grow bored.

As to what to buy, that really depends on their interests. Regardless of what it is, it’s better to get a lot of inexpensive presents rather than a big one. Most of the time, I got so excited about the first present my parents had to coax me into opening the second one (which was usually the pricier one, ironically)

Just to give you an idea of what my parents bought, here are a few inexpensive gift ideas and where you get them (these may not be necessarily great girl presents)

Hot Wheels (grocery store/thrift store)
Plastic soldiers (thrift store/dollar store)
Action figures (retail)
Styrofoam airplanes (thrift store/retail store)
Toy knight armor and sword (costume store/thrift store)
Costumes (costume shop/thrift store)
Walkie Talkies (retail/thrift store)

My parents bought my brother and I a small police car that changed color in hot and cold water. To a three-year-old, this was the coolest thing ever.

Just don’t let them find out about something called Power Wheels….it took my dad several Christmases to convince us it wasn’t going to happen.

Stuff the stockings

In addition to presents, my parents also crammed our stockings full of little goodies. The only thing that gets kids more revved up during the Christmas season than presents are sweets.

The good thing for you is that sweets are cheap and easy to come by.

Here are a few thrifty must-haves that were always found in our stockings

Bubble Tape
Book of Life Savers
Candy canes
Child’s favorite candy
Peppermint candies

If your vision of a jolly Christmas involves your child(ren) running around the house with their favorite present while blowing huge bubbles of bubble gum and getting a sugar high before the Christmas ham is fully cooked, you can’t go wrong with this.

Go for toys with lights and noise

Ultimately, kids love anything that makes noise. While this does include video games and electronic devices, it also includes police cars, fire engines and talking action figures.

They love interactive toys. It’s in their nature.

If there is a button that makes a sound, they will push it until you take it away and regret ever buying it….and then the next Christmas rolls around and you end up buying another toy just like it because it’s guaranteed to be played with relentlessly.

Last Christmas, I bought my two-year-old second cousin a Batmobile that rose up on the hydraulics with the push of a button. It also had a separate button that fire off missiles and made explosion sounds.

Needless to say, he played with it the whole night I gave it to him, and then some.

Inexpensive versions of this include cap guns (if they’re mature enough for their age; I wasn’t) nerf-guns, train sets, remote control cars (there is one available on for $9)

Get them a gift that reminds them why we celebrate Christmas

This is most important gift you can get them. If you don’t get them anything else for Christmas, get them something that will point them to God.

At the end of the day, Christmas is not about presents. It’s about the birth of Christ.

Due to our culture’s emphasis on the secular aspects of the holiday, this has to be reiterated repeatedly as they grow up.

My mother happened to be a music teacher and directed my private school’s Christmas programs every year, so it was hard for my brothers and I to forget it.

If your child(ren) are too young to read, get them a Bible-theme coloring book or a nativity scene puzzle you can work on with them. Anything that will teach them about Jesus.

One Christmas my parents bought me a children’s Bible. I couldn’t read, apart from a few words, but it got me interested enough to have them read it to me until I could read it on my own.

Like I said before, children are easily impressionable, even at an early age. The earlier a parent starts, the better.

photo by paparutzi