December 12 2016
Family/Saving Money

Five Christmas Gifts for My Kids that Won’t be Money Wasted

I actually think my sons were trolling me this week by playing with toys from last Christmas that they have not looked at since December 26th.   Is it possible they are actually trying to upend my quest not to waste my money this year? Every year I end up buying toys that they should like — or at least they would if they had the aesthetic sensibility of a 41 year old woman who loves charming, old-timey, fair trade, non-toxic and just-the-right-amount-ironic play things.

But alas, my soon to be 9 and 5 year olds do not appreciate fine German craftsmanship or the nostalgic charm of fairy tales brought to life in the form of ingenious build-able play sets made of recycled paper. That is mistake number one.

Mistake number two…

I have learned my lesson about buying toys just because they that have that special Christmas zing to them.  These are things you would never be bamboozled into buying at any other time of year.  This includes anything that is especially elaborate and expensive or remote controlled.  I’m looking at you, Zoomer Dino and BB8.  In fact, anything even requiring batteries or charging should be looked at with a suspicious eye.  The only exception is toys for babies, for whom it’s not always a negative for something to light up or make a noise.

Last year I bought all these beautiful Playmobil toys because they just screamed Christmas morning, only for my younger son never to touch them (until this week naturally). In my defense, my older son would have played with them when he was four.  But my little one just isn’t enamored by most toys.  Both my kids play with the same things 90 percent of the time.  Legos, Pokemon, magnetic tiles, cars, art supplies and video games.

So this year, I am  not falling into the usual trap.  Here are a few things that, while they may not scream charming classic Christmas morning, I know will at least not be money down the toilet.

YO-KAI WATCH MEDAL ZERO: Yes the show is very derivative.  Yes the toy is a piece of garbage.  But my kids are obsessed with Yo-Kai Watch and have been for some time.  The show itself is actually kind of funny sometimes and while most toys that are garbage are a waste and quick to fade into oblivion, there is some garbage that holds kids’ attention and imagination.  For some reason, Yo-Kai Watch falls into this category for my children.

One thing I do like is that even though you basically need to buy “medals” to insert into this dumb watch, and all they do is play an annoying recording, my kids are constantly drawing their own medals.  Constantly.  I have tiny circular drawings all over my house.  And they are pretty intricate and impressive.

Medal ZeroBIRD BINGO: Me and my almost 5 year old have really bonded over bird watching. It has been one of the year’s biggest pleasures for me.  My son can identify and name over 25 birds and it is a sheer joy to watch.  Every kid loves Bingo and I know he will love playing this game and looking at these beautiful drawings.

DOCTOR WHO TEE SHIRT: My oldest son is pretty obsessed with Doctor Who and anytime you can disguise a practical item, such as clothing, as a Christmas gift, it’s a win.  He will love this shirt and having to explain its meaning to the kids at school.  It will secure him some serious nerd cred.

LEGO FANTASTIC BEASTS: Lego is always a good idea.  My son plowed through the last five Harry Potter books this year and is a huge fan.  We don’t get as many Lego sets as we used to when he was at the height of Lego mania, but he definitely still loves to put them together and they are more appreciated now that we don’t buy so many.  This set is a part of Lego Dimensions which he loves.

KAWAI DIGITAL PIANO: This is our big family gift which we have been wanting for some time, but saved for Christmas.  We want my oldest son to take piano lessons, but this gift is really for our whole family.  I took lessons as a youngster and would love to get this skill back.  My husband would love to learn and eventually the little one will as well.  Learning music is so good for children’s brains and it is also wonderful for adult brains that do not get nearly enough healthy stimulation.  I think we need to find something for our fingers that amounts to a little more than swiping a piece of glass. My husband did research up the wazoo and deems this to be the best keyboard for the price.

This is our very first debt-free Christmas and I am committed to keeping it that way.  So far we are on track.  Hopefully I will get a small bonus, as I usually do, and it will feel amazing to bank it instead of sending it to American Express.  Screw you American Express!  And Merry Christmas to me.

 

    • I can’t tell you how excited I am for bird bingo. Everything on my Christmas list was bird related. Hopefully Santa will bring me some binoculars and window bird feeder! And yes, Yo-Kai Watch is a Whole Thing. From Japan. If you have a kid in your life who is devoted to Pokemon, they will probably like it. Thanks for stopping by Eric! -Linda

  • Good point about watching for what the kids will actually use rather than what the toy industry thinks they want (Hatchimals) or what we want them to have (classic books instead of Captain Underpants).

    Little Bit’s getting a mixture of what she is asking for (DS games, skateboard and pads) and what she needs (new bike helmet, socks, art supplies.)

  • Nerdy Christmas gifts are the best! I’m always wanting to stray from the “lists” that our kids create, as most of the stuff they ask for is the ‘hype’ gifts, which I find so uninteresting. Not about me, not about me haha. Great choice on the digital piano, by the way, your husbands research paid off! 🙂

    • I can’t wait for the keyboard. I keep thinking about how when I was in high school it was so hard to find sheet music for songs that I loved. Now everything is just a Google search away. These kids, they will have no idea what it meant to have search high and low for something!

  • I’m with you…screw you American Express! But I still want my cash back rewards. 🙂 It’s awesome you will have a debt free Christmas, Linda!
    Love Bird Bingo!!! And the keyboard will be great! My daughter took lessons for several years and we had something similar. Since I had lessons as a child, I used her books and learned along with her. We’ve both gotten away from practicing a bit, but I’d love to get back to it!

    • Oh yes, my Chase Freedom rewards for the year netted me $450 for Christmas. I love it – but I pay that every paycheck, so in my head it is like a debit card. But rewards are a wonderful thing to be able to take advantage of when debt is gone!

  • What great options! They’re very personal to each person and provide a wide balance of things. I hear what you mean about the flashy stuff during the holidays. I know someone who spoiled a grandson rotten with all of it one year, and his favorite thing was of course the electronic toothbrush with a character he liked on it. 😀 Congrats on the debt free season!!!

  • I love that your five year old can identify 25 birds! I find birds totally fascinating and get a thrill when I see one I’ve never previously seen. I’m with Eric – I may need to buy that for ME!

  • Nope, you are definitely not the only one! My daughter has done that a few times to me. I remember buying her a doll house once for Christmas. She played with it long enough to color all over it and when she figured out she was too big for this doll house to take a bath, she ditched it. All up until the week before Christmas the following year. I didnt fall for it though!

  • Awesome job with a debt free Christmas 🙂 I also got my wife a keyboard this Christmas. I have been saving all year and finally found one on Slickdeals that fit our price range. I have the perfect spot set up in the basement and I can’t wait for her to play and teach our son. It’s a passion of hers that she hasn’t been able to indulge in for awhile so it will hopefully be a memorable Christmas.

    Hope you get years of enjoyment from your piano as well 🙂

    • Thank you thank you! I just said to my husband this morning, I can’t wait to be able to play with it! I think I still have all my old sheet music at my parents house. The thought of it fills me with warmth and excitement. I hope your wife enjoys it – I am sure she will love having it and teaching your son to play. Fantastic gift!

  • Incredible post and such well-thought out and useful gifts. I love your hilarious and blunt descriptions (that’s that Brooklyn girl) and love to see how you manage to raise your kids so consciously especially in a big city. When we have kids we definitely hope to pay as much mind to our decisions and it’s great to see how you balance new age thinking with old world traditions. Fantastic read!!

    1. Aleks F. 12:19pm 06 January - 2017 - Reply

      Incredible post and such well-thought out and useful gifts. I love your hilarious and blunt descriptions (that’s that Brooklyn girl) and love to see how you manage to raise your kids so consciously especially in a big city. When we have kids we definitely hope to pay as much mind to our decisions and it’s great to see how you balance new age thinking with old world traditions. Fantastic read!!

      • Brooklyn Bread 01:17pm 06 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thank you so much Aleks! Did I miss you when you were in town?? : (

    2. Jill 01:35pm 18 December - 2016 - Reply

      I love love your post.I have a son that loves birds too. We are nerdy too haha. Thanks for the great info!

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:59pm 18 December - 2016 - Reply

        Oh thank you so much Jill! I hope he loves everything you get him!! -Linda xo

    3. Mustard Seed Money 10:17pm 16 December - 2016 - Reply

      Awesome job with a debt free Christmas 🙂 I also got my wife a keyboard this Christmas. I have been saving all year and finally found one on Slickdeals that fit our price range. I have the perfect spot set up in the basement and I can’t wait for her to play and teach our son. It’s a passion of hers that she hasn’t been able to indulge in for awhile so it will hopefully be a memorable Christmas.

      Hope you get years of enjoyment from your piano as well 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 08:47am 17 December - 2016 - Reply

        Thank you thank you! I just said to my husband this morning, I can’t wait to be able to play with it! I think I still have all my old sheet music at my parents house. The thought of it fills me with warmth and excitement. I hope your wife enjoys it – I am sure she will love having it and teaching your son to play. Fantastic gift!

    4. Latoya Femme Frugality 06:30pm 14 December - 2016 - Reply

      Nope, you are definitely not the only one! My daughter has done that a few times to me. I remember buying her a doll house once for Christmas. She played with it long enough to color all over it and when she figured out she was too big for this doll house to take a bath, she ditched it. All up until the week before Christmas the following year. I didnt fall for it though!

    5. Mrs. Groovy 06:09pm 14 December - 2016 - Reply

      I love that your five year old can identify 25 birds! I find birds totally fascinating and get a thrill when I see one I’ve never previously seen. I’m with Eric – I may need to buy that for ME!

      • Brooklyn Bread 06:22pm 14 December - 2016 - Reply

        It is the best. We walked outside recently and he said “do you hear that- a black capped chickadee!” And he was goddamned right! Proud mama.

    6. Melanie of Mindfully Spent 03:00pm 14 December - 2016 - Reply

      What great options! They’re very personal to each person and provide a wide balance of things. I hear what you mean about the flashy stuff during the holidays. I know someone who spoiled a grandson rotten with all of it one year, and his favorite thing was of course the electronic toothbrush with a character he liked on it. 😀 Congrats on the debt free season!!!

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:35pm 14 December - 2016 - Reply

        Thank you Melanie! I have been so scared about losing myself with shopping this Christmas, but it has been ok. It feels so good to know I won’t be paying Christmas off until Easter.

    7. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 05:27pm 13 December - 2016 - Reply

      I’m with you…screw you American Express! But I still want my cash back rewards. 🙂 It’s awesome you will have a debt free Christmas, Linda!
      Love Bird Bingo!!! And the keyboard will be great! My daughter took lessons for several years and we had something similar. Since I had lessons as a child, I used her books and learned along with her. We’ve both gotten away from practicing a bit, but I’d love to get back to it!

      • Brooklyn Bread 08:34pm 13 December - 2016 - Reply

        Oh yes, my Chase Freedom rewards for the year netted me $450 for Christmas. I love it – but I pay that every paycheck, so in my head it is like a debit card. But rewards are a wonderful thing to be able to take advantage of when debt is gone!

    8. Mystery Money Man 03:17pm 13 December - 2016 - Reply

      Nerdy Christmas gifts are the best! I’m always wanting to stray from the “lists” that our kids create, as most of the stuff they ask for is the ‘hype’ gifts, which I find so uninteresting. Not about me, not about me haha. Great choice on the digital piano, by the way, your husbands research paid off! 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:34pm 13 December - 2016 - Reply

        I can’t wait for the keyboard. I keep thinking about how when I was in high school it was so hard to find sheet music for songs that I loved. Now everything is just a Google search away. These kids, they will have no idea what it meant to have search high and low for something!

    9. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe 09:38am 13 December - 2016 - Reply

      Good point about watching for what the kids will actually use rather than what the toy industry thinks they want (Hatchimals) or what we want them to have (classic books instead of Captain Underpants).

      Little Bit’s getting a mixture of what she is asking for (DS games, skateboard and pads) and what she needs (new bike helmet, socks, art supplies.)

      • Brooklyn Bread 01:55pm 13 December - 2016 - Reply

        Thank god they haven’t asked for Hatchimals! But they did ask for some ludicrous Zoomer animal toy and my husband and I straight up were like, sorry kids, not gonna happen. lol

    10. Eric || The Bucket List Project 09:21pm 12 December - 2016 - Reply

      Forget the kids, I may have to buy that Bird Bingo for my dad and I because he loves watching the birds in South Louisiana!
      I guess I have to research what the heck a YO-KAI is for my God-Daughters so I look cool! haha,

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:27pm 12 December - 2016 - Reply

        I can’t tell you how excited I am for bird bingo. Everything on my Christmas list was bird related. Hopefully Santa will bring me some binoculars and window bird feeder! And yes, Yo-Kai Watch is a Whole Thing. From Japan. If you have a kid in your life who is devoted to Pokemon, they will probably like it. Thanks for stopping by Eric! -Linda

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