A Gift Guide for Three and Unders

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The last few weeks have been some of the most stressful of my life. We’ve been moving out of our house of eight years.

Moving is the worst in general. But after eight years of accumulating stuff and almost four of those years, accumulating baby and kid stuff….there’s a lot of, well, stuff. I’m ready to add an extra two years to our lease just so we can postpone our next move.

My Facebook post from the other day says it best.A Gift Guide for Three and Unders

When I wrote the part about Christmas, I was joking.

Then the more I thought about it, I realized I wasn’t joking at all.

Last Christmas, my husband and I were so excited to buy a bunch of toys for the kids. We got all sorts of “cool” ones. When the kids finally opened them, they were indifferent. (At least Z was. R had no clue what was going on, he was only six months old.) It was toy overload. And almost a year later, we’re still getting rid of the toys that were of no interest.

Unless of course, a kid finds one of the toys in the “to donate” box. It suddenly becomes fascinating.Looking through presentsThis year, we’re going to do things a bit differently.

Here is my list of gifts for the three and under crowd:

1. Money

You can’t really go wrong with some cold, hard cash. Either mom and dad can stow it away for the kiddo’s college fund. Or, the little one can put it in their piggy bank, (if they have one-if not, maybe get them one, plus a hand full of change for it.) Toddlers love learning how to put things in adorable shaped objects. Be sure to watch them like a hawk so they put it in the piggy bank and not in the trash. (Don’t ask me how I know, I don’t want to talk about it.)

2. Consumables

Pretty much anything that can be eaten or used up, then thrown away.Eating a candy caneMy oldest would be thrilled to open up a box of band aids. What’s not to love for a three year old? It’s a STICKER that you’re actually SUPPOSED to put on your body. It also happens to make injuries feel better. AND, it has a favorite character on it, (it doesn’t matter which one, all of the characters are amazing.)

3. An Experience

Take the kid to the zoo, aquarium, the local “imagination station”, or anywhere else that’s fun for a little one. The memories will far outlast the ten minutes they are engaged with the obnoxious sound making toy.

There are always exceptions.

Handmade items are special. Those are things the kiddo can keep forever.

Sometimes there’s an item or two that you KNOW the little one (or mom and dad) would love and use, (clothes anyone?)

And of course books are always a great fall back.

So when you’re shopping for the three year old in your life, maybe try to look past the loud toys with the flashing lights and get them something that not only will be USED, but also won’t be hanging around long enough to make mom and dad go crazy.

But they want toys! They want stuff to open! They’re missing out!

They already have plenty of toys, and let’s face it, we all know the boxes the stuff came in is more interesting. They can open plenty of fun things, bubble bath, stickers, snacks,…even art supplies!

Last year my Z had so many presents to open, she had to take two breaks. She got bored.

At this age, they don’t need all the stuff, they just love being with family. All they want to do is climb all over the grandparents and they’re good.

But next year, when my oldest is four? No clue. I guess we’ll figure it out when we get there.

Do you have any big plans for gifts this year?

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  • Reply andthreetogo

    The donate box is a magical thing that brings old toys back to life isn’t it?
    This is a great list! We are very big on the experiences gifts. Or cash, because then that cash goes into classes (ballet and such) for Z. Also chocolate, because then I get some, because well, parent tax. 🙂

    November 20, 2014 at 12:29 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      So true! Once the toys are gone, the kids dont notice, but if they catch them in that box-Its their favorite toy! Thanks! Yes! I love the experience gifts! I really think they are the best! And the cash usually turns into one, one way or another.

      November 20, 2014 at 9:51 am
  • Reply Katie (@mami2fiveblog)

    When I first read this bit about consumables: ‘can be eaten or used up, then thrown away. ‘I though it said thrown up lol. Sadly that is usually true too!
    O is having a handful of wooden toys and that is it this year, the big kids have BIG expectations as usual although we never really go over the top and they are always happy x

    November 20, 2014 at 4:19 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Oh, gross! Yeah, i suppose that happens. Lol! I think my husband and i will do okay with the gifts this year, it’s the family-they’re the only grandkids on both sides of our families, so they tend to get spoiled…

      November 20, 2014 at 10:32 am
  • Reply melissajane01

    I’m a big fan of ‘Operation Get Rid of All of Our Crap.’ I love experiences. I usually only buy my kids two or three gifts because they get so much from their grandparents.

    November 20, 2014 at 11:50 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Exactly what we’re going to do this year! Just a few things from us, the rest will be from grandparents.

      November 20, 2014 at 11:54 am
  • Reply Traci@tracesoffaith.com

    I am totally on board with this. Or even gift cards. Because what kid doesn’t want to go to Target next spring and spend $10 on a new toy months after the Christmas presents are long gone? We have a hard time getting grandparents on board with this though. A different generation I guess.

    November 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      That must be it-a different generation. Some are on board, while others want to buy, buy, buy!! Lol!

      November 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm
  • Reply Terri's Thoughts

    i love gift cards then you can buy what you want, not what someone else thinks you want

    November 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Yes-gift cards are awesome!

      November 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm
  • Reply Alana

    Yes! Yes! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I agree with every single part of this!!!!! People may laugh and think you’re not serious about the bandaid part, but honestly they LOVE them at this age AND we could always use more. I am asking for stuff to craft with too. Like you said, it’s stuff you can have fun with and recycle/ throw away. I almost wanted to cry reading this, it made me so happy. Noooooooo more stuff!!!!!!

    November 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm
    • Reply Alana


      November 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Hahaha! Yes, seriously! I love the crafting stuff too, we’ll use it and be done with it. I hope people take me seriously!

      November 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm
  • Reply Melissande

    I ALMOST wrote a post about this! I love the experience one. I would much prefer that to anything that beeps, flashes, or requires any kind of battery at all. This is such a good post! I’m sharing it!

    November 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Thank you for sharing!! I do too-no battery toys please!! I’m excited to come up with some fun experience gifts this year.

      November 20, 2014 at 7:33 pm
  • Reply Marla

    Haha! This is so true! I love your list of ideas for kids. I think back to my sons 1st birthday and I’m so glad we bought him simple, cheap things. It is refreshing that the simple things really are things they love and its a win-win because you don’t have to spend much either. Love this post and your sense of humor–you definitely had me laughing and nodding my head to lots of it 🙂

    November 20, 2014 at 8:26 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Thanks! Yes! Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive for the younger kids! Haha-thank you, you’re too kind!

      November 21, 2014 at 12:57 am
  • Reply Angie Wilkinson

    Our kiddos are older but it still remains true.
    We are giving the gift of ‘experiences’ this year–and I am SO EXCITED to give them–much more than I would be for toys/STUFF they would be done with in a few months!

    November 21, 2014 at 9:10 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      That sounds so awesome! I’d like to keep the experience gifts going as my kids get older too.

      November 21, 2014 at 9:39 am
  • Reply Naomi

    My four year old always says she wants all the toys, but she is super thrilled when I surprise her with new socks or towels or anything that’s practical. I’ve gotten to the realization that things that get used up make the best toys for her. She’s thrilled with something new, uses it, then it’s gone before she can get bored with it. I found some $2 water color books that have the paint built into the page. You tear the page out of the book, give her a brush and cup of water. When it’s dry, you cut the paint part off and hang it on the wall or fridge or give it to Grandma.

    November 23, 2014 at 9:03 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      I forgot about those watercolor books!! I loved them when i was a kid! I know my daughter would love them too!! Thanks for the great idea!!

      November 23, 2014 at 9:09 am

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