How To Pick Your Childrens’ Christmas Gifts


Every year you have the same struggle: grandparents, aunties and friends ask for the children’s Christmas list. Every year, you sent them the entire Santa wish list, while you are almost praying they don`t buy those gigantic bus for barbie or the dollhouse with 10 bedrooms. Recognizable? These five rules from Nathalie B. will make choosing a gift a breeze.

Dear Santa, I’ve been good all year! No matter what the evidence might suggest.

During the Holiday season children get an overload of toy-ideas. Tv, store booklets, friends from school,… the input is enormous. How do you decide which gifts you are going to buy? How do you know for yourself how many gifts you choose for every child? And how do you make the Christmas list to pass to relatives and friends?

The 5-gift rule

With this simple rule, you can categorize the gift ideas.

1. Something to do

2. Something they want

3. Something they need

4. Something to wear

5. Something to read

You can find different things to put in every category, and choose for yourself how you pass through the wishes. You can choose one of those for yourself, number 2 on the list you give to the grandparents, number 3 goes to auntie,…

I give you some examples with each category, which can help to build your own. Let your children participate in building the list, then you can be sure every present is going to be a success. By giving them this opportunity to say their own wishes, they feel heard and happy, and you don`t have to keep thinking a lot. At the same time, you get to know your children even better and can be surprised by their answers.

Something to do

Especially fun when you already have an overload of toys. It`s also a present that stays in the heart forever. Making memories together is so beautiful! Depending on the interest of your children, there are many options. Some ideas:

– A ticket for a museum. There are so many wonderful museums with a program for kids. While an exposition or museum is still a big step for many people, in these times they are really fun! There is a place for every interest, such as chocolate, history, science or even boats and professions. Combine with a picknick and going there by train or bus and you have a full option experience.

–  A ticket for some attraction park. We don`t have to be dull: such tickets aren`t cheap, so to my mind an ideal present. A not every day trip to the parc where you feel most attracted to (read: your child, of course)

–  A walk with a donkey or alpaca. So sweet! And they can be so funny too!

–  A ticket for the theater or a concert. There are may excellent pieces of art forchildren. Most of the time, we as grown-ups can have a laugh too.

–  How do you feel about going to cuddle a cow?

–  Take a bag of letter-biscuits. Let the child pick one letter out, and go to search a place that starts with that letter. You go and find out what you can do around (bicycle -tour, a nice walk, a special swimming-location,…) and you go there.

Something they want

This one is the usual list. Ask your children what they really want, and they will find many examples. Of course, by helping them a little, the list will become maybe a little different. You can set examples, but don`t forget it should be something THEY want. So don`t get floated away by what you would like them to want. This list is the only one that you don`t need to re-categorize.

Something they need

On the list of what they need, you can put things they can use for school, hobbies or their daily life. The fun part is, that because they can choose it as a present, they can choose the look they like.

–  A new pencil bag

–  A backpack for school, for swimming, for a hobby

–  A pair of shoes, slippers or cute socks

–  Trousers for horseback riding, a new baseball bat, a box of pencils for drawing class,…

–  Something they can use on their study spot

–  A new notebook or a diary

–  A very fancy plume, a cup for their morning tea or a funny (personalized) water glass

Something to wear

You can go as far of small as you wish. With my children we already have the tradition they get a cool new pajama. It`s twinning o`clock for that one. My two girls and me, all in the same pajama. It`s the one we put on Christmas-eve (that`s when we open our presents) and sleep under the Christmas tree. But of course a new skirt or sweatshirt, a warm jacket or even a hat, stockings or scarf is just as fine.

Something to read

I really love this one. Although my eldest daughter isn`t so fund of reading herself, she needs to pick a book. Still, there are so many options for a great book! I give you some examples:

– For the smallest kids, you can find cotton books or books made of carton

–  Next in line, you have the children’s books you can tell while they are looking at the drawings. There are so many beautiful ones!

–  A story to listen to, such as the “heerlijke hoorspelen” from `t Geluidshuis.

–  A strip

–  A poetry book for children

–  An informative book of one of their interests

–  Also a nice coloring book is a book.

–  And of course, every story book they like. If your child loves to read, ask them their favorite authors, series or titles. Or surprise them, if you know what stories they like.

The wheel of 5

Besides the rule of 5, the wheel of 5 is a great way to pick toys. It`s a method in which you look at the developing of your children. Picking one of each category, you get a variety in which they can grow on different levels. Let me show you:


The toys in this category develop your child`s intelligence. It makes him think by trying some scientific experiments. Also going out in nature and look at insects, trees or flowers is food for the brains.


Hereby we understand big motoric skills as well as fine motoric skills. A balance board, all toys for which they need to run, jump, keep their balance, climb, swing,… are things that develop the bog motoric skills. For baby`s, everything that stimulates the turning, crawling or grabbing is included in this part.

The fine motoric skills become stimulated by so many things. Toys that especially ask the fine motoric such as building blocks, sewing or picking up a pencil are wonderful. But of course, the fine motoric skills get practiced at so many different moments and levels.


Children develop their social skills and understandings of society by play. Playing games and roleplay are by far the most used kinds of play, but also puppet-theater and reading a book together. During play, children copy situations they see from us as parents, teachers and so on. By doing that, they learn how people react on behavior or problems. Day by day, they practice how to survive in our society.


Building all sorts of constructions, gives children the opportunity to get insides in technical skills. When does a tower tip over, how do you make your construction stronger, which materials are easier or more difficult to build with? Most construction play comes with a plan to follow. That gives an other skill: reading a plan to get a result. So with this kind of play, the result is most important. By knowing this, you see why also jigsaw puzzles can be put in this category.


In creative play, the result is not important. Here our focus is on the process. Hands in clay or paint, trying to express what is in the mind and the heart. Many options we have in creative expressions: all things like drawing and painting, making music, dancing or theater. Children love being creative. It doesn`t mean they all have the same talent, but making time for a true creative process without a judgement about the result, gives children the feeling of being able to speak their mind on their own way.

What about budget

Of course, not every body is in the opportunity to buy something of each category for each child. And it`s not necessary either. I think it is beautiful when children get the value of giving and receiving something, without them feeling the need to get the biggest present or the most gifts.

Especially with Christmas, I love to give more to my children besides the presents wrapped in paper. We build up the Christmas tree together, we do the count down together, we enjoy the time together in the bathroom to make up our hair and clothes or we stay a whole day in pajama`s and watch Christmas movies.

The true value of the Christmas spirit isn`t in the gifts, although of course it`s nice to have them too. As a single mom, I am not able to make every category a big one. The pajamas are tradition, and most of the time there is only one other gift I give them, depending on what family chooses to give. They never complain. And you know? At the end of the day, they mostly remember what made them smile. So make your Christmas one to remember with the heart.

We hope these tips are helpful and choosing the right gift this Holiday season becomes a joy. Come back next week, as we will be sharing our favourite gifts for the upcoming gift season!

This article has been written in collaboration with ‘t Speelwonder

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