December 3, 2015

Christmas Gift Guide - Our Kids


When it comes to gifting Christmas presents to our girls at Christmas time, we personally like to stick to some sensible guidelines.  It is so easy to go overboard and waste a lot of money, spending a little bit here and there on small and unnecessary items.  It all adds up!  So I do a lot of forward planning and research, watch for sales and stick to the following six purchasing guideslines...

- SOMETHING THEY WANT
- SOMETHING THEY NEED
- SOMETHING TO READ
- SOMETHING TO WEAR
- AN EXPERIENCE
- A FAMILY/SHARED GIFT

Read on for more information plus gift ideas for each category that we have given our girls in the past or are giving them this Christmas.

{SOMETHING THEY WANT]
Well, as with most kids, when we are in toy stores the "wants" are plentiful.  When we get home I often ask the girls what they remember seeing that they "wanted" and they can't actually remember anything specific.  So clearly they didn't actually want "it", they just wanted "something".  I try and weedle down their wants to something that encourages open ended play, that they wont easily tire of and will use again and again.

Lego
My girls love Lego!  It's one of those open ended gifts that is timeless and covers all ages, building abilities and gender.  I love seeing it all spread out and watching the kids freestyle their creations.

My girls simply adore FurReal Friends!  They think they are the cutest thing ever!  They love the realistic noises they make and as for the ones that actually move!  Well, lets just say these are high on their want list!  And seeing that this is about as close to getting a real dog that we'll ever get, I am happy to indulge.  FurReal Friends also make a decent size pony which I'll be keeping in mind should either of the girls ever ask for a horse too! ;)

I'm happy to invest in toys that get kids outside and playing in the fresh air.  The girls have been loving the warmer, lighter evenings to get outside after dinner.  We only have one little old rusty scooter which they argue over all the time so it'd be a dream come true to have one each so they can scoot about together.  I love the Micro Scooter range because not only are they premium quality but they have age appropriate models to suit the age and ability of your child.  For our girls we're looking at the Maxi Micro and Mini Micro models.

{SOMETHING THEY NEED}
This might seem boring to some people but there are heaps of things that kids need which they will get excited about receiving.

Swimwear

Like most kiwi families, we spend hours at the beach and in the pool over the summer holidays.  The girls togs and rash shirts are absolutely had it by the end of each season so new swimwear is a definite must for them.  I love beautiful colours and prints of the Cotton On Kids range and it's all reasonably priced too.

Towels
Beach towels are also another thing you can never seem to have enough of.  Hammamas make a range of child size turkish towels which are brilliant.  They are light weight, quick to dry and folded up compactly making them perfect for kids and their adventures.

Last year we actually gave our girls some Cath Kidston Duck towels for their bathroom.  They desperately needed new bath towels and they thought it was brilliant.  They were too young to know any better!  They thought they were the best present ever!

Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Bags are a perfect gift for kids.  They LOVE them!  Whether your going camping, having a sleep over in the backyard or living room, or sleeping over at a grandparents or a friends house, there is always a use for a sleeping bag.  This year I bought each of the girls this personalised indoor sleeping bag from Land of Nod.

{SOMETHING TO WEAR}
I like to get the girls a couple of items of new clothing to wear over the summer holidays.  Things that are comfortable and easy to play and have adventures in but while keeping cool and looking pretty.  Hilly Chrisp and Emma Laue are two of my favourite brands.  They are both whimsical ranges with bold colours and gentle prints.  Their clothes are classic designs and easy to wear yet beautifully stylish.


One their feet I'm loving the Saltwater Sweetheart Sandals - some very practical yet uber stylish and very sweet sandals.  I'm loving the bright yellow and red!  And the white.  And the light pink.  And fuchsia.  You get the picture.  I love them all!

I'm also loving the Havaiana Slim Line Disney Jandals.  Quick and easy to get on and off, durable and what little girl wouldn't love to wear her favourite Disney Princess on her feet!

{SOMETHING TO READ}
These beautifully illustrated books are amazing and totally unique to New Zealand.   In the Garden, At the Beach, Under the Ocean and the latest title, In the Bush by Gillian Candler and illustrated by Ned Barraud are four lovely books to teach kids about the animals, insects and plants that live in New Zealand.  We currently only have "In the Garden" and it's been amazing watching the girls make the connection between the book and what they can see outside, plus knowing the purpose of each animal and insect.  I can't wait to read the others and then go on adventures to see what the girls can find outside - particularly at the beach since we spend so much time there.  I've learnt a thing or two from these books as well!

Art Books
To build on the skills that Madeline has been learning in her art classes I bought some simple art books on Book Depository.  I think it will be great for her to learn how everything can broken down in to a series of simple shapes.  The "How to Draw" series came hugely recommended.  Plus I also bought "How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids" and "Things Girls Love" which I know she will adore.

{EXPERIENCE}
As the girls get older we will look at doing individual experiences for them depending on their areas of interest but right now our experience gifts will include the whole family.  Three of the different options we considered were...

I have to admit that I'm pretty excited about this one!  I haven't been to Rainbows End since I was little.  Madeline saw it from the motorway when we were leaving Auckland one weekend and hasn't stopped talking about it since.  Maddie is tall enough to go on most of the rides and there is also the new Kidz Kingdom for ages 8 and under which will be perfect too.

Take a day trip to visit the magical, world class Glowworm Caves at Waitomo.  Jump on board the boat ride to see the Glowworm Grotto.  These tiny living lights, which happen to be unique to New Zealand, will light your way as you take in this geological wonder.  While you're there you can also explore to Ruakuri and Aranui caves, or take a tour of Middle-Earth - the film set of Hobbiton.  Visit Go Waikato for full details on all of these attractions.

If you have Any Hi-5 fans in your house (we do!) you'll be interested to hear that they are coming to New Zealand for the tour of their brand new stage show, House of Dreams.  Shows will be touring Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland at the end of January 2016 so this might be a great experience to have to look forward to just before school starts back.  Tickets details available at Hi-5.

{FAMILY GIFT/SOMETHING TO SHARE}
Kurio Tablet RRP$199.00

If you've been thinking about investing in a child friendly tablet that the whole family can use then this might be the one for you.  The Kurio Tablet has the ability to load up to eight independent user profiles making it ideal for the whole family.  It comes with 50 preloaded educational apps, games, e-books and motion games to get kids moving as well as Google Play where you can purchase all of your own downloads.  It also comes with advanced parental controls including the ability to set time usage limits and stringent internet filtering capabilities to keep your kids safe on the net plus a unique, safe piggy bank system.  Priced at $199 it's a great option for the whole family to share.

Sunnylife Inflatables
If you're planning on spending alot of time at the beach or pool over the summer holidays then some new inflatables are a great gift the whole family can enjoy.  My favourites are from SunnylifeBed, Bath and Beyond now stock an extensive range of Sunnylife products including all of their awesome inflatables and accessories..  These are three of my favourite designs - giant ride on flamingo and giant lilo pineapple and watermelon.

Two years ago we bought a Hailea fish tank (same style as the one above but in white) and two goldfish (Rosie and Flamingo) for our playroom. There's something so lovely and simple about kids having pet goldfish.  They were a great addition to the family and we have all enjoyed looking after them.  Definitely a great gift for the family to share.

World Map
This gift could fall under heaps of categories - it could be a want, a need or a family gift but I think a world map is a great gift idea for children.  I find particularly useful with my 5 year old as she is becoming really aware of the world around her.  She has lots of friends from all different countries plus she is aware of world events on the news and she wants to know where New Zealand fits in to it all.  These brilliant, simplified, arty world maps designed by Kissy Kissy Kids are perfect.  They are A1 size and laminated for durability.  Available from Endemic World for $35.00.

Scooters (see "something they want section" above), a trampoline, slip n' slide and board games also make great family gifts to share too.

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