Ideas for thoughtful presents: from the active to the creative, there’s a gift to delight every child of every age.
We’ve put together a list of ideas for presents that reflect the careful consideration you made when purchasing them.
Presents with wheels
Cars of all shapes and speeds will be appreciated. However, the most popular are those that your child will “rev” and release for hours.
I want to ride my bicycle
A tricycle is likely to be the first mode of real wheels for your toddler . Once they’ve mastered the art of pedalling, they can move onto a bicycle, balance bike, scooter or electric ride-on.
Large, plastic construction vehicles are easy for young toddlers to grab and push in the garden.
These can be used to load toys, wooden blocks and other educational items.
Plush horse on wheels
This mobile steed is a step-up from the traditional, stationary rocking horse.
Go fast, go-kart
Older children will love to race in a go-kart. Look out for tracks in your area where they can compete safely against friends.
Pram for dolly
Children love to mimic, so “playing mommy” with their pram will bring much enjoyment. They’ll probably take their soft toys and dolls around the house and to the shops. Shopping carts are also popular.
Push and pull toys
Wooden or plastic trolleys, wheelbarrows or dogs that can be pulled as if on a leash. Items that respond to a child’s movement will be engaging and will form part of your toddler’s first physical play.
Toys with wheels are always a great source of enjoyment. These will give your growing child some mobility and independence.
Remote-controlled cars or an electric racetrack
These gifts will quickly take over your living area. However, they will provide hours of fun as the children get competitive and challenge each other to race.
Brightly-coloured steering wheels that imitate the sound of car horns, engines and car radios let your little one make believe they can drive a car, just like you.
Whether it is roller shoes or heel skates, your primary-schooler will love the extra boost of speed and exhilaration these wheels promise to give.
Toys that move, roll or slide away from your baby will encourage them to crawl.
Not just for acrobatic acts
A unicycle is a fun alternative to the bicycle. It will improve your child’s core strength and balance.
Boards of all shapes
Skateboards, carver boards and snakeboards will be a hit with your older child. But, invest in some knee and elbow guards for safety.
Bath toys with wheels, gear wheels and cogs will keep budding engineers entertained.
Gifts with words
Alphabet lettering with a twist
Look for letters in different themes to make learning to read more stimulating. Younger children will enjoy playing with letters that can be stuck onto the wet bathroom wall. Wooden alphabet blocks can also be used to make up words.
Books with pop-ups, flaps and tabs
These provide a multisensory experience for your child as they discover the world of books.
Download books onto your computer tablet or smartphone. These books are easy to use. Most importantly, they allow quick and easy access to a variety of content.
Switch off the television and rather have some old-fashioned fun with traditional board games that involve making words or guessing the names of things.
Engrave your child’s name on a piece of jewellery or stationery.
A selection of passages from the classics can be designed to form an artistic poster for your child’s bedroom wall.
Play with magnetic words or letters to create phrases and sentences. Magnets are only suitable for older children.
Presents that make a noise
You can get bongo or djembe drums (skin-covered drum) for children of all ages. Toddlers love tinkering on a xylophone, or any kind of instrument that makes music and noise. Babies can make their first foray into the world of music with rattles and wooden musical instruments (flutes) as well as a tambourine. As children get older, they will try their hand at a keyboard, “electric” guitar and drums. You also get roll-up pianos and keyboards that are compact and easy to carry around.
This pocket instrument can be quite costly. However, it’s a good investment to buy for a child who shows signs of having musical talent.
Toddlers love stuffed toys because they’re soft and warm and are used to cuddle up to at bedtime. Those that are interactive and sing a lullaby as well will be a great comfort.
Your children are probably fascinated with your cellphone, so they will enjoy making their own “calls” to imaginary friends on their own device. You can get big, colourful phones for younger children or play-play cellphones for the more discerning child.
These provide a nifty way for siblings to communicate. They are definitely a step up from the old tin can variety today’s parents used to make.
Think toys that float and ones you can squeeze – ideal for the bath and swimming pool.
Your older child may like the ethereal sound of wind chimes. They may even want to hang them by their bedroom window to give their space more atmosphere.
You can get various CDs for children of all ages, from lullabies for babies to nursery rhymes and popular songs for older children. Look out for instrumental rock songs that have been turned into lullabies. These may make those long road trips when the CD is on repeat more enjoyable.
Baby toys that rattle, sing and chime
These “musical” companions will have pride of place in the cot, car seat or the pram.
A pounding bench or noisy hammer set will keep young handymen and women occupied for hours.
Some have their own sounds – just press and listen. Alternatively, read with an accompanying CD or computer application.
Hang these above your baby’s cot, or the changing mat, for soothing entertainment.
Musical instruments for the bath tub
The water is used to change the tone and pitch of the instrument. Each one comes with its own plastic-coated music sheets.
Develop their musical skills with a skilled teacher.
Some presents are of the material kind and that is all good and well. However, as parents, it is important to also give your children gifts that are priceless.
Gifts that keep on giving
Book some bonding time with your child. For instance, a mom-and-daughter pamper session or a dad-and-son trip away together. Alternatively, just spend one-on-one time with your child, doing something that interests you both. This is especially appreciated by children who are accustomed to having to share your attention with a brother or sister.
An old favourite from the eighties that will sharpen your child’s problem-solving skills.
Get your game on
Older children will spend hours testing and improving their skills on a foosball or ping-pong table.
Leave a legacy
Name a star or a rose after your child, or get them to think up a suitable name.
Take out a magazine subscription for a title that interests your child. You will be giving them a year’s worth of entertainment. Magazines about celebrities or pop culture will appeal to older children. For those who have access to a computer tablet or personal computer, you could organise a digital subscription.
Pets, fluffy or scaled
A pet teaches your child responsibility and one of the four-legged variety can become a loyal companion. Just remember that this gift needs constant care and attention.
Start a time capsule
Treasure your child’s achievements, art projects, school assignments and other creations.
Work on building a collection with your child
Try stamps, stickers or figurines of popular cartoon characters. Also, glass bottles and miniature cars.
Get your child to help you collect items you can donate to a charity or an organisation, or spend time volunteering.
Go for gold
As an investment gift, buy your child a Krugerrand.
Many a summer day will be spent in your garden so equip yourself with pool noodles, bats and balls, swing-ball sets, tyre swings, blow-up pools (if not the real thing) and a slippery slide.
Camera, a few frames and a scrapbook
For an older child it is all about their friends and chronicling the exciting experiences they share. Take it a step further and get them into the habit of developing their favourite photos and creating a keepsake, such as a scrapbook. The frames are for those precious photos that take pride of place on their bedside table or wall.
Invest in a shady place in the backyard where your child can have fun with their friends. They’ll love it in the same way they like the forts they build in the lounge, as it provides them with their own hideaway.
We’re thinking a fishing rod and hat; a knit pack of cashmere wool and thick wooden knitting needles; a green finger set – a pretty pot, potting soil, seeds, watering can or an art set comprising a canvas, easel, paints, jars and an apron.
There is still one place where you can explore new worlds free of charge. Take your child to get a library card and spend some time in the children’s section with them poring over different books, choosing the ones you’re going to take home.
As you have to get away from the maddening crowds to enjoy this gift, a model aeroplane will encourage quality time with your child. The activity could evolve into a serious hobby, and one that may even see you attending model aeroplane flying shows together.
Rag or porcelain doll
For many, a doll will be a lifetime companion. Your child will probably give her doll a name and she may talk to, sleep with and even pretend-feed her “friend”.
This gift will be great for an older child, as they can enjoy some privacy in their own space, but still be within the safety of home. Let them decorate their house and help you make curtains or furniture.
Things to do
Older children will enjoy fun courses, such as cooking, surfing or sushi-making.
A membership card or access card to a theme park or activity centre will keep your child entertained all year.
In a galaxy far, far away
A telescope will open your child’s mind to the possibility of worlds beyond ours and allow them to track shooting stars and planets.
Older children may enjoy an introduction to a new experience, such as zipline adventure, caving or a ride on a steam train.
If your child has an idea for a small business, encourage them to make it happen by offering some start-up capital. Also help them to set it up and get them literature on the subject.
Presents that inspire creativity
Dress-up dolls, plus a few outfits
Girls will love dressing and accessorising their willing “models”.
Costume treasure chest
This is another of those gifts that is likely to change hands for a few generations. Fill the chest with a few basic items, so that when they lift the lid they are able to don wings, princess dresses, superhero costumes, cowboy hats, masks and more. Over time, add props such as face paints, wands and crowns, costume jewellery and feather boas.
These can be bought ready-to-use from a toy shop, but it’s more fun to make your own. Gather a few items and make a finger-puppet craft pack. There are various craft websites that can help you with what you need, but the basics are buttons, beads, sequins, different coloured felt, glue and perhaps one or two downloaded patterns for when it’s time to create the puppet.
Sets or kits for making cupcakes, sushi, magic or mosaics may spark a new hobby, or a possible career path.
From five-piece wooden sets to intricate designs of thousands of pieces, puzzles are a wonderful way of keeping your child busy. It also teaches important skills that will help with reading, maths and problem-solving.
Room refurbishment pack
This is a creative way of allowing your older child to redecorate. Wrap a tin of paint in their favourite colour, with a new duvet set, a lamp and perhaps a wall decal. Wall murals are also a fun way to brighten up a room. Get one that charts their growth, or has the alphabet or numbers to add an educational twist.
Let them get creative with modelling clay or playdough. They can also make their own stationery with stamps, different coloured ink pads and stencils. An art table or easel will be popular with children who enjoy crafts and messy play.
Children love getting their hands dirty. So show them how to weed and plant seeds that will eventually grow into beautiful flowers and plants. A garden set, packets of seeds and a few hours a week will instil a lifelong love of nature.
Some presents straight from the heart
Instead of spending loads of money on presents for birthdays and other special occasions, why not spend time making something special and unique that will truly be a gift of joy.