Christmas Gifts We Love To Give (and Love To Own)

  by Chris Horst

There are Christmas gifts that light up your kids’ eyes—but put a pit in your stomach. They’re ugly, they’re loud, they require a ridiculous amount of assembly, or maybe they have 1,600 easy-to-lose pieces. A certain inflatable ball pit we bought my niece comes to mind (sorry, Andrew).  

Then there are the kid gifts you want to have in your house. A nice practical pair of snow boots (that kids can put on by themselves no less!). Or how about a good kid-size broom and dustpan (Montessori approved!)? Regardless of your reasons, these types of gifts are less than likely to elicit a glowing Christmas morning response.

The overlap in the Venn diagram of “great to gift” items and “great to own” items is…slim. When you and your kids we can both enjoy the same gift together, that’s the magical sweet spot where memories are made.

So, here’s a gift guide dedicated to the toys our kids love almost as much as we do.

Dodgeballs– Trust us. Buy these. All the stress of work or school, siblings or parenting melt away as you pelt each other with dodgeballs. Consider it therapy for you and the kids. They’re the perfect size for small hands to throw and their texture makes it difficult to have a tear-inducing hit.

Rainbow Loom – Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Be a trend-setting dad and join the craze. Somehow it feels incredibly satisfying to stretch those little bands into something, even if it’s a bracelet that will never see the light of day. Plenty of YouTube tutorials to watch and help you along the way in your Rainbow Looming journey.

Magna-Tiles– These are addicting, for both dads and kids. The building possibilities are endless. The magnetic nature allows all ages to successfully build (as long as you count sticking tiles together as building). Plus, the ICE (i.e. white and black) set appeals to any remaining aesthetic dignity you may have regarding toys. (Note: A good toy to have out when your artistic friends come over.)

Shrinky Dinks – We can’t explain the science behind these things, but your kids won’t need you to know how they work. It’s easy, magical crafting with zero mess. Feel free to throw away the finished product. It’s the process everyone loves.

Headlamps– Nighttime walks become memory-making adventures with a good headlamp. Make sure to outfit the whole family. Also, terrific for lights-off hide-and-seek in the house on these short winter days.

Foam Bat and Ball – This bat and ball might make you question your decision not to pursue the Big Leagues, and it’ll also lend a hand in creating some backyard memories. Thick enough for young ones (3+) to begin getting a feel for hitting. Add some bases to the game while you’re at it.

Sushi Go – Enough luck and strategy to make it interesting for most ages to play. You’ll see your kids’ personalities come out as they develop their game-playing preferences. Bonus: it might make them a little more interested in trying sushi the next time you’re out to eat.

Dimpl – It’s like a stress ball for babies…and their dads. Simple clicking noise that somehow is calming for everyone.

Carrying Case – If you like a little order in your life, this case will come in handy. It makes your kids feel like their toys are unbelievably valuable (a toy briefcase!) and it gives you a handy system for conquering the inevitable toy scattering. Weirdly satisfying to fill. Perfect for matchbox cars and figurines.

Trampoline – It might come with a little more set-up hassle and a larger price tag (pro-tip: check with your homeowners insurance company as well and your pediatrician may object…)), but in our experience, it is always worth it to have a trampoline in your backyard. It’s an energy and calorie burner. It’s a backyard babysitter. Dad gets to look like a hero as he double bounces kids to the stratosphere. This model is our personal favorite as the weight limit allows the whole family to enjoy it together.

Books – A good read-aloud never disappoints kids or dads. Pop some popcorn (speaking of, a Whirley Pop would make a good present for you the kids) and enjoy. We highly recommend the Wingfeather Saga.

P.S. If you’re looking for a few more book recommendations, we have you covered.  

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