Be the Best Gift Giver this Year
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your little adventurers? A gift that is unique and thoughtful?
As someone who aims to be the favorite aunt to my eight nieces and nephews, gift giving is something I take seriously. I’ve spent an embarrassingly amount of hours browsing, comparing, and finding that perfect gift to make sure my coveted “favorite aunt status” was safe for another year.
Here are some of my niece and nephews’ favorite Christmas or birthday gifts that you may find are the perfect fit for the kids in your life.
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Get them their very own headlamp/headtorch to use for their own adventures or when they tag along with you. They’re fun, practical, and not that expensive. These also make great birthday gifts because they are useful all year long.
Features I look for are:
Different color choices to match with their favorite color and personality
Adjustable band to make sure it fits properly
Adjustable light so you can aim the light where you need it
Different light options (high beam, low beam, red light (so they don’t blind you, and it saves on battery)
Water resistant or waterproof
Shock resistant (you know it’s going to get dropped)
Lock feature to “lock” it in the off position, so it doesn’t stay on accidentally and drain the battery when not in use.
Batteries included (saves you having to remember to buy them)
My nephew thought he’d died and gone to heaven when he got his very own sleeping bag! His idea of a good time is hanging out with his dad and brothers and camping in the backyard, on an easy backpacking trip, or even in the living room. He was 5 when I got him his very own sleeping bag and I was told he slept in it in his bed for the first month after getting it. (Favorite aunt-status secured for another year.)
Since he was still pretty little and he doesn’t need anything too hardcore, I got him one that would work well for sleepovers, backyard camping, and maybe warmer summer car camping trips. It also happened to match the Star Wars pop up tent I got him.
Here’s what I look for in a kid’s casual sleeping bag:
Stuff sack/pack included
Cool design/color that fit their personality or current favorite movie/character
Warm enough for what they’ll be using it for
Just the right size – Not too big, but not too small
Zips out flat if they want to use it as a blanket
Easy to wash aka machine washable
As he starts going on more adventures and needs a warmer sleeping bag and something more appropriate for his outdoor adventures he’ll need a different bag.
Suggested Age: 4 and up Cost: $15 – $110 What I bought my nephew: Star Wars Sleeping Bag
Pop-up or Play Tent
To go with the Star Wars sleeping bag, I decided my 5-year old nephew also needed a little pop-up tent. They had one that was pretty easy to set up, looked cool, and would last for a descent amount of time. I wasn’t expecting a hard core tent, but something he could use in the house or in the backyard during the summer.
My 3-year old niece also got a little pop up princess castle for her 3rd birthday. I thought her head was going to explode into glitter she was so excited! So many emotions in such a little body. To have a small space all their own is kind of important for them. She set it up in her room and would often drag her blanket, books, and stuffed animals in there with her and fall asleep. Another big hit!
Here’s what I look for in a pop up tent:
Easy to set up
Easy to take down and store
Storage bag included
Easy for kids to get in and out
Door to shut the world out
Windows to see out/in
Bright, fun design
Durability – It needed to last longer than a week and hold up to normal kid wear
Just the right size – not too big, but not too small
Glow in the dark is always a good thing
Suggested Age: 3 to 10 yrs.
Cost: $18 – $35
What I bought my Nephew: Star Wars Tent
What I bought my Niece: SueSport Pink Princess Castle Play Tent
Camp or Lawn Chair
Again, get them their own camping gear and make them truly feel like they are part of the adventure. It’s something just their size and can be used for more than just camping! They work great in the backyard, at soccer games, and tea parties in a pinch.
Basic things to look for:
Easy to set up/take down
Storage sack included
Easy to carry handle or shoulder strap
Comfortable to them
Durable – stand up to normal kid wear and tear
Sturdy – Won’t easily tip over
Different colors/ fun designs
Easy to clean material
Suggested Age: 3 to 10 yrs. Cost: $15 – $45 Recommended Examples:
Snowshoes make fantastic Christmas gifts for the whole family! It’s a fun and easy winter activity you can do together and make some lasting memories. Plus hot chocolate tastes that much better after a little fun in the snow.
Finding the right snowshoe is based on knowing the approximate shoe size and weight of who will be using them. Keep in mind, you want the weight the person will be once they’re all suited up to stay warm. This matters since snowshoes work by keeping you lifted up off the snow and having the right weight-bearing snowshoe will make the experience a whole lot more pleasant. The heavier the person, the more surface area the snowshoe needs to cover and the bigger the snowshoes need to be.
Some snowshoes come with poles, but it’s not necessary. Kids have amazing balance and don’t seem to need them like the more grown-up kids aka adults do.
Also, if you don’t plan on using snowshoes a lot or if you want to try it out before you buy, a lot of places rent snowshoes for relatively cheap. Check with a local outdoor gear store like REI. Many universities or colleges have outdoor recreation programs and will rent outdoor gear not just to students, but to the public.
Things to look for in snowshoes for kids:
Kid friendly bindings that are easy to get on/off, especially with gloves/mittens
Easy to walk in
Rated for kid appropriate weight
Recommended shoe size is for kids
Bindings that work with regular snow boots or hiking boots – no fancy boots required
Poles – added bonus, but not necessary
Storage case – added bonus, but not necessary
If you’re wanting to do more than just the casual snowshoeing, I’d suggest checking out REI’s article about snowshoes.
Suggested Age: 3 and up Cost: $35 to $120* *depends on size of the kid and how fancy you want to go Recommended Examples:
Snow Fort or Snow Castle Kit
Like the snowshoes, this gift idea depends on whether your little adventurer lives somewhere where there is a enough snow to make a snow fort/igloo/snow castle. It also has to be the right kind of snow so that it sticks together. Powder is great for skiing but miserable for making snow forts and snowballs.
Some of my best memories are of playing out in the snow, building snow forts, and having snowball wars with my brothers and the neighbor kids. I wanted to my nieces and nephews to have the same type of experiences. You get serious bonus points for getting out there with them and building it with them and participating in the snowball fights.
When I was a kid, we’d use 5-gallon buckets to make our snow “bricks” or chisel them out of the ground with a straight shovel. We even did the snow cave route by piling up a ton of snow and then shoveling out the cave. These still work, but if you wanted to get fancy here’s a commercial option that makes a fun gift for them to unwrap.
Basic things I’m looking for with a snow fort or snow castle maker:
Will it make good snow bricks?
Will it be easy to get the snow out of the bricks without them breaking?
Is it kid friendly?
Durable – Will it last at least the entire season?
Bonus for the castle design mold – coolness factor here
Won’t break the bank
Good reviews from other users
*The recommended snow castle kit also works fairly well with sand. So if sand and sandcastles are more common than snow where your little adventurer lives, this is also a fun birthday or Christmas gift idea.
2 in 1 World Globe
My grandparents had a world globe that would light up at night and was the perfect nightlight. I ALWAYS wanted one. I would spend hours imagining adventures I would have and what it would be like to explore the different colored countries found on that globe. I’m pretty sure this is where my wanderlust started and my love of maps/globes.
When looking for gift ideas for my nieces and nephews, I remembered how much I loved that globe and stumbled across this 2 in 1 world globe. During the day it’s a regular world globe, but when the lights go off, it shows the entire night sky and the 88 modern day constellations. How cool is that!? Where was this when I was a kid!? Anyway…I may be getting two (yes one would be for me.)
Features I was looking for in a world globe:
Colorful & Easy to Read
Big enough, but not too big
Power cord, not battery powered
Illuminated – Made a good nightlight
Built to last for a few years (a two-year warranty was a bonus)
The night sky was a bonus, but I wanted to be able to lightly see the countries behind the constellations
Suggested Age: 4 and up
Cost: $30 to $46
Recommended Examples: Illuminated 2 in 1 World Globe or Traditional World Globe
Little Passport Subscription Box
This birthday gift was a HUGE hit, and several of my family members went in on it. If you’ve never tried a subscription box service, they can be a lot of fun. I mean who doesn’t love to receive surprise packages in the mail, especially if you’re between the ages of 3 and 12.
The Little Passports subscription service has a few different box options geared towards different age groups, interests, and subscription lengths. It’s mainly based around a travel theme, and you can choose between the world and the USA.
We went with the World Explorer Edition for a year, and my nephew received monthly boxes. The first box comes with a small suitcase, a passport, a world map to hang up on a wall, a welcome letter from his new penpals, Sophia and Sam, stickers and activity sheets and access to online games. Then each month he receives a box based on a new country with another letter from Sam and Sophia, country-specific souvenirs, stickers and more activity sheets, and photos. It made learning geography a lot of fun and was something he looked forward to each month.
What I look for in a kid-appropriate, adventure/travel related subscription box service:
Lots of cool goodies like their own little passport, a travel related container of sorts, photos, stickers, and activity sheets
Makes learning fun and interesting
Online games/videos to go along with the tangible goodies
Not boring – Well thought out service/product
Good bang for your buck
Good reviews from others