Whether it’s an approaching birthday, holiday, or just a special treat, many of us are stumped when it comes to giving presents to children. The simple gesture of gift giving has long been known to cause feelings of dread and anxiety, especially when we want to give something meaningful and valued. Afterall, we want to find the perfect gift that will be enjoyed and cherished in the days ahead and not waste our precious time or money on a gift that won’t be appreciated. Thankfully, with a little planning and creative thinking, we can find the best gifts to give to a child.

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And surprisingly, not all our gifts can be bought in a store.

Please scroll through the following 7 ideas to help find the best gifts you can give to a child:

Invest in open-ended toys. Look for toys and play props that can be used in various ways that depends on the child, the activity, their imagination, and interests. Blocks, dress-up clothing, Playdoh, construction toys, and animals are timeless examples of open-ended toys. These types of gifts can be used over and over, for years, in new and unique ways as the child grows.

Get educational. It’s no secret that our kids love toys, so when giving gifts, look for items that are fun, but offer skill-building and brain-boosting opportunities for a child. In fact play is an essential part of a child’s development. Tap into this love of fun by choosing toys that engage a child’s senses, taps into their imaginations, and builds educational concepts. There are a variety of great toys available, but one great example is Snap Circuits. This kit gives kids the tools to design and create a variety of electrical circuits and functions safely in a fun manner.

Give them first hand experiences. Instead of cheap toys that will soon be broken, consider treating a child to a day at the zoo, an afternoon baking delicious treats, a pass to the children’s museum, a visit to the local pumpkin patch, music lessons, trying a new ethnic food, and so on. Allowing kids to engage in firsthand experiences, allows them to handle and observe things in our world. This gives them plenty of opportunities to learn new information, interact with others, develop new concepts, explore the world beyond their front doors, and create a lifetime of memories.

Give your time. Surprisingly, our children don’t always want the newest or most expensive toys. They just want our time and attention. This is one of the easiest ways to make a child feel loved, model appropriate behaviors, help them be well adjusted, and overcome the adversities they will face on this journey we call life. Reclaim family dinners, play games, go for walks, tuck them in at night, and schedule “dates” with our kids to ensure we are nurturing our relationships.

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Open a book. One of the best gifts we can give a child is the love of reading. Reading is much more than blending a bunch of sounds and grammar together, it is the ability to be immersed in another world without leaving the safety of home. By teaching a child to value this skill, we are giving them the tools to unlock the world. To help curate this gift, start when a child is young and set aside time every day to read together. We can take this gift one step farther by modeling a love of literature and letting our sons and daughters see us enjoy reading.

Unwrap a versatile technology device. Our kids are living in an increasingly digital world. We all know screen time should be limited, but in moderation our kids can learn valuable educational concepts, hand eye coordination, social media etiquette, and more with their digital devices. This is important, because we want to set them up for success in life with real world skills they will actually need. Consider choosing a tablet that can be used for games, creative apps, reading, and educational videos. As a child grows, you can adjust the content to fit their levels and needs without having to upgrade to a whole new system.

Give them contentment. Instead of teaching our kids to keep up with the Joneses, foster a sense of gratitude and contentment. Avoid over structuring their days with extracurricular activities and help them find joy in simple pleasures. Teaching children to find the silver lining every day and to be thankful for the items they have is a great first step. This zen approach may help kids see what truly matters in life, reduce stress, stomp out anxiety, and let them enjoy their childhoods.

What are the best gifts you have given to your children?

By Gwen Lewis