Really Practical Gifts for Kids

When I’m choosing a gift for somebody I love, I want to get them some something they’ll appreciate and not just more stuff I don’t want to give something that becomes clutter right after the thrill of tearing open the wrapping paper wears off.

Some of our favorite Christmas gifts to give—and to receive—are really practical.  I know they won’t turn into clutter, because they’ll either be used (the bike), or used up (the art supplies).  And when grandparents or others ask for gift ideas for the kids, practical gifts are the first things I mention.

My own family has loved giving—or receiving—these 9 really practical gifts.

1.  A bike, trike, or wagon. Christmas is a great time to gift (or get) this childhood standard. 

2.  A backpack. Every kid needs a backpack.  We’re gifting my 4-year-old her first backpack this Christmas.  It’s pink and polka-dotted and she’s gonna love it.

3.  Sleeping bag. Most kids will need a sleeping bag at some point, so it makes a great practical gift.  Last year my daughter loved the butterfly sleeping bag and matching headlamp she got for Christmas.  If your kids are older they might want an outdoorsy sleeping bag (as opposed to basement sleep overs). Flashlights and other camping gear would be a great accompaniment, either for play or braving the great outdoors. 

4.  Furniture. These can be big-ticket items, so I’ve been delighted to receive furniture as gifts through the years (and my kids have, too): child-size table and chairs, a train table or bunk bed can all make great gifts. And of course, I’m always a fan of attractive, practical bookshelves.

5.  Bean bag chairs. Kids love them and can use them for years.  (If you’re interested in making your own, check out Dana’s Rollie Pollie tutorial and pattern here.)

6. Shoes. Every year I get a gift in the mail from a far-away relative:  a check and a note that says, “Merry Christmas!  Go buy the kids some shoes on me.”  My kids love picking out their new shoes, and I love having someone else do the buying!

7.  Camera. This was a big hit last year at my house.

8.  Art supplies. I’m not a big fan of cluttery kits, but we love gifting and getting plain old art supplies: paper, markers, pens, glue sticks, yarn, ribbons…. 

9.  Stationery. Most kids appreciate pretty writing paper, and they can use it right away to write their thank-you notes.

10.  These.  All 5 of them.

What’s your favorite practical gift to give—or get?

Really Practical Gifts For Kids


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  1. Jamie says:

    This is a great post – I am totally a fan of practical gifts! I have a low tolerance for clutter, so I hate to give (or get) things that are destined to become just more “stuff” taking up space.

    I love to give food gifts but, like you, I try to stay away from the pre-packaged sets. Everyone has a favorite food indulgence, whether it’s really good coffee (or hot chocolate for kids) or a favorite bakery to stop and grab cookies at on a special occasion, and they can be relatively inexpensive but hugely popular gifts. The thing I like best is that gift cards or sealed packs of things like coffee or candy can be stashed away and pulled out during the blizzards of February or the doldrums of March and doubly appreciated. :0)

  2. Amber says:

    I recently heard of a great idea that I can’t wait to try…buy a cookbook, make a recipe from the cookbook, and the gift will be the serving dish, cookbook and the food. This way they get to try a recipe (that was made for them!) from the cookbook.

  3. Cash. My in-laws were just in town and they gave us our Christmas money (and my birthday money) early. Peter looked at me and said, “order them and use your birthday money” – and so I used this totally unexpected cash to buy myself a pair of black leather boots from the same place that Peter scored with my brown leather birthday boots. The cheap-o boots are going to the donation drop-off and I’m settling down with boots that will last and that make me do the {happy dance}. Even better? Free to me. 🙂

    Favorite gift to give? This year I went with gift cards for the family. I have several family members who are hard to buy for and who need nothing, but I know they love eating at Carrabba’s, so I purchased gift cards for the family and ended up with a $20 bonus card for myself (you buy $100, get $20 right now). I know they will appreciate a free meal without ending up with more stuff – whether they picked it out or not.

    If you feel that cash or gift cards are the easy way out, then you might like the fact that I always get my younger nephews a new book each. 🙂

  4. Funny that what you mention in this list are gifts that I’ve received as a child and loved! It was tradition for my one grandma to get us a backpack for our 5th birthday to prepare us for school, and the other grandma gave us a sleeping bag for our 6th birthday. We always looked forward to it!

    I definitely remember the holidays that my sisters and I received bikes too, that was great. One year my great uncle gave my sisters and I a kid table with chairs that he made himself. It was very sweet.

    • Anne says:

      Love those traditional gifts for the 5th and 6th! And I only wish someone in my family had the skills to make tables and chairs–what a precious heirloom!

  5. #3, #5, & #8 are on the list this year for my son! I totally agree- I don’t want to give junk & the more practical kid gifts are used so much more. I like to receive ‘fancy’ lotions & bath products that I usually wouldn’t buy for myself.

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  10. Anna says:

    Great ideas. Legos are a big hit for us right now. They’re a toy, but I put them in the practical category because they require imagination and can be reused so many times. Other things I like to get are something practical, but a little more fun. For example, fun socks when you usually just buy the basics. Or a special toothbrush kit. Something they need, but it’s still a treat.

  11. Stacey says:

    I got my nephews sleeping bags after reading this post last year, best gift ever. Through Lands End you can even monogram or put their names on them. Very practical!

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