Friday, December 8, 2017

21 Frugal-ish Christmas Gifts for the Littles

*Full Disclosure: every item in this post includes affiliate links.  However, these are not items we are being paid to promote.  Each item is something we actually purchased and were given the thumbs up by the recipient.  Following these links supports us and does not cost you any additional money should you choose to make a purchase.*

Christmas Time Is Here!

Ms. DebtFree here to confess that I LOVE Christmas.  It was the biggest holiday in my home and I have many fond memories of making peanut brittle and English toffee with my dad, helping my mom decorate the house and arrange our Christmas village, and going to dinners at the homes of our closest friends

We never went overboard with gifts -in fact, we often filled tins with a variety of homemade goodies for our friends.  As a child, I remember carefully crafting my wishlist to include the perfect balance of cheap and pricier items.  My strategy was to give my parents and siblings plenty of options while ensuring I would get that one big ticket item I had been eyeing for months.

My love for Christmas has continued into adulthood.  Mr. DebtFree loving helps me decorate the tree each year while we dim the lights and play romantic Christmas songs in the background...  Hahaha, okay maybe in my head that's what happens!  Reality is still pretty sweet.  He helps place some of his favorite ornaments on the tree and then chills with our pup on the couch and lets me take full control of decorating.  I'll admit I can be a control freak when it comes to my Christmas decor, but it's mostly because I don't want to share all the fun!  I don't do themed Christmases and all my clutter has been collected since I was little.  Even in grade school my family knew to gift me decorative items!

One thing both of love to do is pick out gifts for our families.  More specifically, our nieces and nephews.  Not to brag, but we're totally the cool aunt and uncle you always wanted!  We try to break out our creative and unique sides to find items that will be used often and don't require batteries.  We do try to be mindful of each gift's "annoying potential" but sometimes you just gotta get kids things you know will drive mom and dad crazy.  Sorry, not sorry to our siblings!  We fully expect the payback we will receive one day.

Now, we may be awesome gift givers but we also don't like to break the bank.  And occasionally we go for presents with an educational twist.  We decided to compile a list of our favorite Amazon finds from the last couple of years.  Keep in mind, many of these items are not high-end/popular brands but have provided the kiddos with countless hours of fun.  All of these items were Prime shipping eligible and we've been ordering no-rush shipping this season so we get a little kickback in the form of $5 rewards toward pantry, beauty supply, or music purchases.  Our budget is usually $15-$20 per child, but sometimes that gets stretched a smidge.  The prices by each of these items are what we paid and I noticed Amazon has been tweaking a few of those prices up or down by a few dollars.

Our Favorite Gifts For Littles

1. Cowboy Small $4

This board book holds an adorable story about a cowboy and his beloved horse. Perfect for the toddlers who are dreaming of life on the range!

2. How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs $6

Alright, I am so totally biased about this cute and engaging series! I have amassed quite the collection over the years and frequently gift these to the kiddos. The "How Do Dinosaurs" series are available as board books or hardcover.

3. Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints $6

A newly found book that holds a lot of promise for the relatives in Montana. Hunting camp is a big deal in Mr. DebtFree's family and this was part of a set of gifts designed to make tracking fun and educational. This book was for the younger sibling.

4. Tracks, Scats, and Signs (Take Along Guides) $6

This book was for the older sibling and is perfect for bringing on hikes with mom & dad.

5. Coin Purse $6

So my little niece just turned one and is obsessed with getting her own "real purse with stuff in it." Being the good aunt that I am, I decided a tiny handbag with a sparkly chapstick set and a coin purse would be the perfect combo for this little miss!

6. Lip Smacker Disney Story Book, Disney Princess Lip Gloss Set $7

These are basically sparkly chapsticks and I loved these when I was her age. Always check with mom & dad before buying make-up like gifts, everyone has a different opinion about what is appropriate and at what age!

7. Mini Handbag $9

Probably one of the lowest quality items Amazon sells, but lets be honest about how careful a one year old will be with a purse! And it comes in a ton of colors, but yellow is her favorite. It's cute and tiny, just like her, so I can't go wrong!

8. Toysmith Garden Root Viewer $9

Okay, we were a little hesitant to buy this one. We didn't want our super-cool status to take a nose dive. Surprise, surprise, they not only loved it but gave us photo updates as their carefully planted garden grew. A fun way to learn about gardening and science that even the two year old was excited about!

9. Corduroy Book and Bear $10

You know when you have an absolute favorite book or toy from your childhood that you want to share with everyone? Well this is one of mine. I loved this story about the lonely bear in a department store who is looking for someone to love him. Plus this set has a mini bear included that's just the right size for toddler hands.

10. Happy Salmon Game $13

An easy-to-learn card game that has actions on the cards. When two players match cards they do the action together. A family friendly game for 3-6 players.

11. LEGO Classic Small Creative Brick Box $14

We have so many fun memories using our imagination and creating things with LEGO sets.  This is one of those classic gifts for a boy or a girl.

12. KLUTZ Sticker Design Studio: Create Your Own Custom Sticker Kit $14

We may not be fully in the loop on what's cool with kids today, but I was obsessed with my sticker collection in grade school!  I had a sticker box and sticker books -pretty much anything sticker themed and I was all for it.  We are also fans of the creativity this encourages.  KLUTZ products are always near the top of my list for the kiddos.

13. Australian Cattle Dog Plush $15

In case you hadn't seen from our photos, the DebtFree family pup is a cattle dog mix and we are always game for anything heeler.  I bought this for my nephew when I moved away for school and he was heartbroken to be losing both me and his favorite dog buddy.  This company has many different dog breeds to choose from so kids can have a stuffie version of their best friend.  Also good for the kids who want a dog but aren't able to have the real deal just yet.

14. KLUTZ Make Your Own Mini Erasers $16

Another winning kit from KLUTZ!  One of our nieces was starting out in the first grade and we had to make sure she was school supply ready.  We both remember comparing our eraser collection with friends and decided to up her game with this unique kit.

15. Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope $18

So this was given in conjunction with the next item on our list.  The girls gave this item a huge thumbs up and, according to mom, had been examining every item they could find both indoors and outside.  A great introduction to microscopes for your future scientist!

16. Nature Bound Bug Catcher Toy, Eco-Friendly Bug Vacuum, Catch and Release Indoor/Outdoor $18

This was an absolute hit for my youngest niece last year.  Not only did she learn about and become interested in bugs, she spent many hours running around the yard trying to catch them all.  Yes little one, go show your mom that spider you caught in your bug vacuum ( I can't wait to hear her shrieks). 

17. Animal Tracks: An exciting game of memory, matching, and learning $22

This looks ridiculously fun and we were kind of jealous that it wasn't coming to our house!  Designed for ages 5 and up, this game is an interactive and exciting way to learn about wildlife.  Instead of matching two pairs of animals or tracks you learn to match the tracks card with the animal card.

18. Melissa & Doug Cowboy Costume Set $22

The youngest nephew on my side is discovering a new love for horses and all things cowboy.  Melissa & Doug brand is another one of our favorites.  We've always had positive responses when we gift their toys and how can you go wrong with a cowboy/cowgirl costume??

19. Dinosaur Toy Box with 6 Dinosaurs and Play Mat $22

Because every kid needs a dinosaur collection!  This set seemed handy since it keeps those dinos contained when not in use.  I believe the name of each dinosaur is printed on the under side, which would be great to pair with library-borrowed books to find fun facts about the specific dinosaur.

20. Lincoln Logs $30

The true classic building set.  So many hours spent as a child building elaborate wooden cabins.  Lincoln logs are durable and this set can be easily expanded upon through the addition of more sets i.e. use them as stocking stuffers and you can build that lakefront lodge dream home.  I am tempted to keep this one for myself.

21. Zing Zeon Target Pack $40

We saved one of the best ones for last.  I know we said we were aiming for kid AND parent-approved toys but this one slid in under the radar.  We both had toy archery sets and would shoot at everything in sight.  Keeping that in mind, we went for a set that included a target.  Smart thinking, right?  We also thought it would be easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission for giving this to the girls and we were correct!  Mom and Dad eventually joined in on the shooting fun so we were in the clear!

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