Quarantines and shutdowns have been hard on all of us. The kids are stuck at home much more often, and the monotony can certainly wear on the whole family. Any excuse to mix things up from the daily routine is more than welcome, and is a great way to lift everyone’s spirits. When special days like birthdays come along, it’s important now more than ever to raise the morale of the troops under your roof. Sure, it takes more than gifts to make a party, but if you find yourself struggling to figure out those toys your kids don’t already have, here are some ideas:
1. Sleeping bags
Now is the best time to get your kids their first sleeping bag – not because they’re having sleepovers, but because it makes sleeping at home so much more fun! My daughters have twin beds, which means they don’t often sleep in the same bed together, even though they love to. But they also love sleeping on the floor and in different rooms of the house.
2. Fort kit
Search “fort kit” or “fort builder” on Amazon and you’ll find plenty of options to choose from. These kits allow kids to snap together sticks into giant forts of any shape – when they cover them with blankets, they feel like real hideaways. This is the perfect basement/playroom activity for those days the weather isn’t cooperating.
3. Snow toys
Even if you live in an area where it only snows a few times each winter, your kids will definitely need the outside outlet this year. Stock up on sleds, snowpants, boots and other snow toys now – they’ll probably be in short supply when December rolls around.
4. A trampoline
If you don’t live in an area where it snows heavily, a 14-foot trampoline for the backyard is a gift that your kids can use all year long, even if it’s cold outside. This is a great group gift for multiple children.
5. Board games
You’ll be spending a lot of time as a family inside, so stock up on any classic or new board games you don’t have yet. Twister is a particularly good indoor game for the wintertime, or a cold and rainy day.
Okay, hear me out. iPads aren’t as bad as they seem, and your kids will LOVE you. I set a time limit on my kids’ iPads and deleted all the apps except for a few. Subscribe to fun learning games like Homer for reading or Dreambox for math. It takes a bit of time to make sure you have all the parental settings on, so make sure you open it and set it up before you give it to your kids.
7. Paint Sticks and a cardboard playhouse
Set up a cardboard playhouse in your basement or playroom and let you kids paint it with paint sticks – basically thick crayons that glide across surfaces as easily as paint. Actually, any art supplies are perfect gifts this year – your kids will be using a LOT of them.
8. Custom books
With many libraries closed, books are a great gift idea for kids this year. My kids love custom books that put them in the story with characters who look like them. Try companies like Wonderbly, Librio, I See Me!, Put Me In the Story, and Mumablue.
This is the year of outdoor activities. Who doesn’t love a new bike to take for a spin around the block?
10. Special Mom or Dad Time
It’s hard for kids to have special time with just mom or dad right now. Give your kids gift certificates for one-on-one a night out or a day out together. Depending on their ages, this could be dinner out, shopping, going to a zoo, going to the playground, going to a skate park, going to a nail salon, or riding bikes.