What to get two girls (ages 4 and 6) for Christmas?
December 7, 2020 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Normally I’m good at Christmas and birthday shopping but this year I’m hitting a roadblock. Trying to spend about $200 combined on something that isn’t a shiny pink and purple plastic toy.

I just finished shopping for their cousins. Two cousins got a year-long educational subscription box (request from the parents). Two other cousins got a Nintendo Switch. These two girls... I’m not sure what to get.

Most holidays I tend toward getting books, board games, other gifts that they ask for that aren’t just more and more stuff for the easily-outgrown stuff pile. But since I spent a few hundred on the other little ones, I’d like to get something in the same price range. It would be easy enough to get them 1000 small gifts off their Christmas lists but that would feel a little extra from an auntie and it would be nice to get them something maybe a bit more long-term useful or on a bigger scale.

I considered getting “them” (really, their family) a movie projector so they could project movies very big on their bedroom wall, but I’m not really sure that’s the direction I want to go yet. To give an idea of their interests, they’re into animals, Hot Wheels, gymnastics, soccer and drawing.

I would normally consider an experience-related gift but that’s a bit depressing for this COVID year when they won’t really be able to use it for the foreseeable future. I’ve also considered something like a telescope, but they are kind of more interested in hands on athletics and art type hobbies.

Just kind of blanking overall and would appreciate any suggestions!
posted by stoneandstar to Shopping (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: They’re also extremely into Star Wars— I assume that’s not so helpful but it is a fact!

They also go camping a lot with their family in summer and might enjoy something relating to that. They live somewhere cold/snowy in winter.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:20 PM on December 7, 2020

This depends on the temperament and interest level of the parents/caretakers, but ARTS AND CRAFTS KITS! I was a kid who loved drawing and I could never ever have enough arts and crafts kits. $200 on etsy could get you some pretty cool, lovingly handmade kits that would delight any 4 or 6 year old and would support small business artisans to boot. Things like this or this or this and I would have died for this dress .
posted by seemoorglass at 6:22 PM on December 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

Thinking along the lines of projectors, what about something like these absurd DJ Lights?

There are, of course, cheaper options like these.
posted by aramaic at 6:25 PM on December 7, 2020

I got my niece, who is 4 and LOVES drawing and costumes, these amazing unicorn-themed color-in pajamas (the site also offers many other themes of color-in pajamas). Perhaps this might be one component of a larger gift?
posted by amelioration at 6:34 PM on December 7, 2020

Are you familiar with The Kid Should See This Gift Guide?
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:51 PM on December 7, 2020 [8 favorites]

My kids at that aged loved their play tent- it was from Ikea, who I think still have them, but there are a lot on Amazon as well. They have a lot of camping play things as well, including a fake campfire.

I would say anything imaginative play related. In education terms, it is called "dramatic play" and if you search either terms you will uncover a lot of options.

Another thing my kids really loved at that age was their own kid sized suitcases. They loved packing them up with stuff and bringing it around the house, and they were useful for sleepovers (which will hopefully happen again when covid is over.)

Another idea, is sleeping bags with matching pillows- L.L. Bean has good ones. They will use them now for play, and then eventually for camping with their parents?
posted by momochan at 7:07 PM on December 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Playsilks - my 6 year old has had a cheap-o not-silk set for a couple years and she uses them all the time for all sorts of things. When it’s time to clean up they stuff down into a tiny sack. If you got them the really nice ones you could easily spend $200.

Alternately, I would second the idea of nice sleeping bags.
posted by Kriesa at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Do they have room for a gymnastics tumbling mat? Maybe with a foam balance beam and small trampoline to make a gymnastics studio in their house.

Another fun idea would be a zip line for outside. Depends on if they have a place to put it.

Hearthsong has many interesting activity toys. Ninja obstacle course packs and giant fort building kits.
posted by MadMadam at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My crafts-and-camping loving six-year-old is getting the new 80s American Girl doll. She is currently obsessed with the 80s because of it and asks me questions constantly about life in the 80s. If that's your era it could be a fun thing to bond over. The brand also has a doll aimed at younger girls.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:49 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: I have a daughter between their ages. Here is my rec, unless you’ve done this before: Just get them a shit-ton of craft supplies. My kid has gone through so many. Scotch Tape, construction paper, regular paper in colors, giant paper pads or rolls, painters tape, washable markers, more washable markers, rubber stamps, stamp pads (washable), MORE TAPE, toilet paper tubes, dot markers, water colors, brushes, stickers, cards, envelopes, ribbon, paper lunchbags (white if you can or multi colored), popsicle sticks, and, finally, googly eyes. Since they are into star wars, get a few coloring books or just print a few printable images, maybe make some copies and throw those in.

This stuff will get used, it can be donated easily in parts of not. Don’t get precious about it: they don’t know nice supplies. Get stuff that washes off.
posted by vunder at 7:55 PM on December 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

If they don’t already have them, scooters or bikes? Plus requisite safety gear in their favorite colors if needed.
posted by wsquared at 8:28 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My five year old LOVES her Otamatone. It's a goofy little instrument that makes funny musical sounds - she has spent countless hours using it to make up fun little songs or just making noise.

The other big hit in our household: Crazy Forts. I originally got them for my five year old but all the kids three through nine have spent a ton of time playing with them. We ended up buying a second set so they can build bigger structures - throw in a king-sized sheet and they've got an endless amount of things to build/play in.
posted by _DB_ at 8:49 PM on December 7, 2020

If they do a lot of walking/hiking, Osprey has a nice kids' day pack with room for a 1.5L water bladder, for which you'd then also want a kids' bite valve because the adult ones are a ton of work for little jaws.

If it's more car camping/day trip stuff, PlanetBox makes fantastic lunch kits that are very customizable.

Also, probably a tougher sell to the kids as an exciting gift, but comfy and tough wool baselayers are a lovely addition to an outdoorsy wardrobe and make cold winters much more tolerable! On that front, snowshoes could also be fun, or ice skates + helmets since rentals certainly aren't going to be a thing this winter.
posted by teremala at 8:52 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: My three year old loves his Kiwi Crate subscription, and they look like they get even more engaging for older kids.

Also seconding that tons of small gifts, either art supplies or from their wish list, is actually a great option, especially if you wrap some up for the actual holidays and put the rest unwrapped in a bag for the parents to pull out as they see fit/when everyone is going stir crazy.
posted by bananacabana at 9:27 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Cyanotype print making kit? Star Wars themed Lego robots (also ties in to cars) or Technix set (can get ones with wheels) or similar? Ant farm or supplies for getting a guinea pig or something else pet related, if their parents are willing and know that the girls would be interested enough to take care of the animals on an ongoing basis? Guide to identifying animal tracks in the snow, or local birds + (kid-sized) binoculars?
posted by eviemath at 9:29 PM on December 7, 2020

Oh and nice sensory kits are great. There are lots on Etsy or Petit Advocate is a small business run by two moms that donates a portion of profits to related charities.

There’s also the great ByUs Box for working on inclusivity and dismantling bias!
posted by bananacabana at 9:30 PM on December 7, 2020

snap circuits! (They say age 8+ but my son was putting together circuits from age 5)
posted by piyushnz at 9:39 PM on December 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Are they into Legos yet? Or other building sets?
posted by stormyteal at 11:38 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: $200 is a lot of money for such small tots, who would likely be equally happy with much less financial outlay right now. Does it have to be equal across the cousins right this minute? Could you earmark it for an unexpected auntly cash gift in a few years when they will be so psyched to receive it? (I still remember the random $500 check my grandfather sent for no reason in my impoverished very early 20s.)

Or, if you really want to spend the money now: What about some kind of small investment or savings nest egg for them, made exciting and concrete with a small treasure bag or box for each of them with a handful of gold dollar coins and some plastic gemstones and a bunch of chocolate coins? (Or a coin sorting piggy bank, or some other way of linking savings to treasure.)
posted by shadygrove at 2:48 AM on December 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Add a few books, Miss Rumphius is a favorite. Music on cd, maybe. Ask among friends, maybe go to thrift shops, and make a jewelry, hats, and scarves dress up box in a cloth storage cube. Not-so girlie dress-ups like a truckers cap, lab coat, etc. are really good. agree on art supplies.
posted by theora55 at 7:13 AM on December 8, 2020

I love the idea of starting a Lego collection for them, with maybe some Duplos mixed in for the little one. And some thick socks for the parents.

On cooking stuff I would check with the parents first but maybe a play kitchen.
posted by BibiRose at 7:22 AM on December 8, 2020

Magnatiles are an expensive toy that has excellent long-term play value, especially if someone splashes out on one of the larger sets. The four year old will definitely be able to use and enjoy them, but they appeal to all ages.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:08 AM on December 8, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: One thing my kids loved and that made a great present were reading pillows! The kind you prop up in bed or against the wall and that have arms on the pillow itself. They come in all kinds of fabrics and styles, from sequined to purple velvet to hamster-shaped to very sedate.
posted by sonofsnark at 10:54 AM on December 8, 2020

Into gymnastics, hmm? Would their home be able to accommodate a Nugget play couch?
posted by anderjen at 8:24 PM on December 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is a bit out of left field and depends on the parents/housing situation, but quite a few families in my neck of the woods (New Hampshire) are building backyard skating rinks for the winter. $200 should be enough to source the supplies, but, y'know, some parents might not be super into building and maintaining an ice skating rink.

But come ON, how cool is that?! (I have one filling/hardening up next door to me. Whee!)
posted by nosila at 11:56 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

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