You never know if you’re going to get the greatest gifts ahead of time or race around on December 24th trying to finish your list. My husband likes to try to predict the year’s hottest gifts and get me to buy them early. They’re usually things his inner 12-year-old boy is pining for, and, thank goodness, he’s usually right.
Don’t get stuck hitting Craigslist and paying 25 times what that toy is worth because you’ve left it too late. And if you are shopping for those nieces, nephews and family friends that are outside your comfort zone, here are a few gift ideas – both traditional and unusual – to get you to the check-out just a little bit faster.
If you know that they’re into it, you can’t go wrong with trading card games and their accessories, like cases and carriers. Pokeman, Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic Cards are all fairly safe options. These all come in various editions and packs, so you can get anything from a $5 stocking stuffer to a $50 or $100 set.
Sports cards are a great option for the little athletes on your list. If you know which sport they love, you can start up their collection. The gift you get them could end up being worth big money a few years down the road. You can either pick a trading card company like Topps or O Pee Chee, or you can go to a collectible card shop and purchase a specific card with value that you know is sure to increase. This lets you spend exactly the dollar value you had in mind because they vary so widely in price, from a up-n-coming star to a sports icon. Go for a Michael Jordan or a Gretzky rookie card if you’re looking for a big gift.
This year Shopkins are looking like one of the hottest gifts out there. Those cute little ordinary retail items come to cartoonish life, and they mean the world in the schoolyard. Individual characters are great stocking stuffers and only run a couple of dollars – or make it the big gift with a set or pack for $20-$30.
Anything Star Wars. With The Force Awakens hitting theatres the week before Christmas, and pre-sales proving that this long-awaited sequel has fans with an appetite for all of Disney’s merchandise to collect and enjoy, you can pretty much pick anything and you’re sure to please. From Light Saber tooth brushes that glow, to 4-foot Darth Vaders and $300 Millennium Falcons, there’s something for every price range. Some of the most desirable items are from the newly issued Black Series. Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma were sold out in mere hours, but keep your eyes out for shelves to be stocked, those are hot tickets.
There are incredibly complicated sets, mini sets, sets with licences characters and sets that come without instructions for your little Master Builder. You can buy little lego figures, specialty pieces, vintage sets, and pretty much any child will know what to do right out of the box. As an add-on, get slippers for the parents. Those horrible little blocks kill when you step on them – like no other pain I know. But my kids and my niece get lost in LEGO. Yes, niece. Don’t skip the girls on your list. The great thing is, sets run from a couple of dollars to a couple hundred, making it easy to stay on budget.
It’s not all about the toys. Give a kid the gift of gardening and growing. AeroGardens are big fun because they produce food that can be consumed. Kids really love being part of that – and that’s a hugely important lesson. We’re a society that’s become very disconnected from our food, this one’s a gift that gives such a great lesson. They start at around $60. If not an AeroGarden, consider a pot with seeds for growing plants and flowers. You can even give a starter kit so that they can start seeds in the late winter and have seedlings that can be ready to plant in the garden come spring! Planting sets can be quite inexpensive. And then, there’s always Chia Pets!
There are a lot of things you can give a kid, but giving them your time really is the coolest gift. For a niece, nephew or child of a friend, that gift of time can be a double-header – you take the littles and those parents get some always welcome free time! You know how much your kids would love that favourite adult in their life to spend time with them. Take your lucky little one to the zoo, a museum, a movie, a waterpark, a sporting event or to a play.