I know what kids want for Christmas

BlogHer Original Post

TW and I have been looking at the kids' Kaboodle wishlists and looking at our holiday budget and trying to come up with the best gifts to purchase (or ask Santa to bring. It's been a little frustrating. But, as we looked over the gifts we have already purchased, and looked over the gifts still on the list, and as I wandered around cleaning the house I realized I have the answer to our kid gift problems. I know the secret to making kids happy at the holidays and I'm going to share the answer with you. (You can thank me in person at BlogHer '09.)

A box. Or more accurately, boxes. Kids want boxes. This gift will work for all kids, regardless of age. Trust me, I have experience with kids (mine range in age from 25 to 10.)

Let's look at the toddler. I have had many Christmases with toddlers who were not at all interested in playing with the shiny plastic toys but were much more interested in playing with the boxes that the shiny plastic toys came in. I've also experienced toddlers and pre-schoolers who cried when I dumped all of the new toys out of the box she'd been playing with in an attempt to recycle or throw away the darn box. Toddlers and pre-schoolers need boxes. They need to be able to hide their stuff inside boxes and dump stuff out and start all over again. (No, this won't last and is not at all related to asking these same children to put their toys in toy boxes later on. The box is a toy, the toy box is not a toy. Children know the difference.) I would recommend stacking boxes tucked inside of a good quality box that has a lid. Or get really creative and cover that lidded box with fabric or contact paper.

Let's advance to the school-age child. I currently have just one of those and she is a prime example of why the box is a perfect gift. This is her bedroom.

boxes 001

And this is the common room that separates her room from her sister's.

boxes 002 boxes 003

Behold the boxes. Heaven forbid I suggest she clean up her room and put the darn boxes back where she got them. You'd think I just suggested she kiss a boy or something world ending like that. No, the child needs her boxes just like they are because she's USING them. She's not playing with them, she's USING them... there's a difference.

When asked what she would like for Christmas, she has actually said that she wants a box. A big cardboard box. (She'd also like cardboard bricks because if she can't have more boxes, she can use those cardboard bricks to build what could have been more easily built with boxes.)

This is the 10 year old who has every toy that a kid could want. She has American Girl Dolls, she has a Nintendo DS, a Wii, a Gameboy Advanced, a Game Cube, more art projects than most elementary school art teachers, games and puzzles and anything else you can think of - and still, she wants cardboard boxes. I suspect your 10 year old would be just as happy with a stack of cardboard boxes as our 10 year old is. And just to be sure, maybe you could include The Cardboard Box book and The Boxes (the latter only if she's a good reader who likes suspense novels.)

Let's jump forward again to the pre-teen or the teen. That frightening creature who will either love or hate whatever you purchase and will probably feel exactly the opposite about the gift 30 minutes after opening. Don't take it personally, it is the nature of the pre-teen and the teen.

When TW first met Michelle, she was a pre-teen. When TW asked me what Michelle liked, I said "boxes". It was the truth. She liked them. Tiny little boxes, great big boxes, boxes with fairies, boxes with cats on them, boxes made of wood or glass or porcelain. Any sort of box would do, including a cardboard box if said cardboard box was stylish. Michelle is 18 now and still likes a good box but she's become a bit more picky about them. She's learned that there simply is not room in a home for every box someone might gift you with.

The 13 year old and the 15 year old both like a good box. RJ received one of those ballerina jewelry boxes last year and it is still one of her favorite things. (I know, seems like she was a little too old for that right? Wrong. She'd never had one and she was fascinated by it.) Prince J loves his dragon box and his plain wooden box that holds his rune stones. He likes the boxes because they are boxes and he can keep things in them. Basic, I know, but important. Very important to the teen.

For the teen, I'd recommend a nice box that reflects something she's interested in. Then, tuck a little something that goes just a wee bit further. Try a Trinket Box with some jewelry or poetry rocks tucked inside.

Don't take my word for it, the cardboard box made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2005. This year, the stick made it into the Hall of Fame. I am not a stick fan. I will not recommend a stick gift. Never. Sticks are dangerous. I have stories to tell that would scare you away from sticks forever.

Boxes are the answer to the kid gift question. But, while I have you here, could you give me a recommendation for a good tobaggon or snow disk (for kids aged 10-15, weighing between 45 and 130lbs?) Thanks so much.

~~Denise
Flamingo House Happenings

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