I am not doing gift guide blog posts this year. I deeply considered it because it’s always fun to share what the kids want (like Hailey desperately hoping for one of these), but by sharing what they want or what we might buy them, I’m not actually being all that helpful to you because I am unable to vouch for the products.
So I decided to do a little twist on the concept and share with you our best buys from the past couple of years: products we bought with our own money, used for an extended time, and can absolutely vouch for. I hope you find this guide useful as you navigate your family or your own gifts of the season!
The Five Best Things We’ve Ever Bought for the Kids:
Magnetic Family Calendar: We have this simple, no-frills version on our fridge and I have no idea what took me so long to get one. It has helped tremendously! If you have a place for it, I would think this jumbo version would be a great option and make it even easier for the kids to write on and follow along.
Bounce House: They don’t make the exact Little Tikes Bounce House and Slide we bought for Hailey’s 4th birthday, but this six in one version is very similar in size and scope. I remember feeling silly buying it when Hailey was 4, thinking she would outgrow it soon, but we still blow it up multiple times a year and it’s still a hit!
Leap Frog Reading Pen: Hailey was gifted this at age 4 and loved it, and now, 3 years later, it’s a favorite for little sis. It’s full of stories, songs, and fun facts on it’s own, but the real magic is when you pair it up with the Leap Reader books. I would recommend getting a pack of starter books to go with it, like this one, but from there they have a ton of books that are compatible.
Crayon and Marker Kit: Crayons, markers, colored pencils- this kit has it all! Every coloring tool has a spot to go in, it’s easy to clean up, store, and travel with. We have one for upstairs and one for downstairs and they have lasted us a year, easily. And that’s with having two little artists on my hands.
MagnaTiles: Just do it. Buy them while they are little; they’ll last forever. Buy the real deal; yes, they are pricey but you will get your money’s worth on the quality. I recommend starting with the 100 piece set if you are new to them. Or buy an extra set (like I’m doing this Christmas) and build bigger and better creations. We LOVE Magnatiles.
The Five Best Things We’ve Ever Bought for Ourselves
Garmin Forerunner 35: It’s like a step tracker on steroids. I know a lot of people love their Apple watches, but if you aren’t wanting to spend that much but still want a watch that accurately tracks steps, measures runs, can receive notifications from your phone, only needs charging once a week, is waterproof, etc, etc, this is definitely worth looking into. I have had mine for several months and I LOVE it.
Canon 6D Mark ii: SPLURGE ITEM. We (ok, David) researched cameras for months before we bought this camera a year or so ago. It’s an investment for sure, but it’s incredible in it’s capabilities and quality. As someone who loves to take pictures of our family and our travels, it’s been more than worth the money.
Berkey Water Filter: I file this item under small steps I can take to invest in my family’s health. We don’t often think about the water we drink. I know I didn’t until I started hearing rumors of different issues (heavy metals, increased flouride/chlorine, etc) in common drinking water. We bought our Berkey this year and not only do I now feel confident in our water quality, I find we (kids included) have been drinking a lot more because of the easy access and clean taste!
Seagate Backup External Desktop Hard Drive Storage: I didn’t want to include this one because the words “external hard drive” are such a snooze fest. But as someone who treasures family pictures and videos above all else (see camera explanation above), making sure those memories are protected. This one has been a dependable and large storage system for us for over a year now.
Nest Thermostat: Sigh, why aren’t the grown up items as exciting as the kid items? Of course, maybe they are if you geek out over saving money on heating and air like we do! The Nest is a programmable thermostat that also learns your habits to help make your house run as efficiently as possible. It’s also controllable from a phone app so I can set it to ECO mode when we are away to save money or even turn the heat up when I’m too lazy to get out of bed. 😉
Stocking Stuffer Best Buys:
Clip-On Reading Light: This was game-changing for Hailey at night. It is a sturdy, bendable clip that latches onto her bed. It has a bright and a dim setting so it’s perfect for bedtime. They are easy for the girls to click on and off. It was so nice to find a good one after going through multiple cheap and flimsy options.
16 ounce Life Factory Water Bottles: We have tried a lot of water bottles, and these remain a favorite. I love that they are glass, but have the protective cover so they are a kid-friendly kind of durable. They wash well in the dishwasher and the 16 ounce size is just right- not too big or too small. (We also have the larger size but I find those more cumbersome for Kaitlyn to be able to maneuver).
ISeeMe Books: The girls have been gifted a couple of these, and I even have one (still) from back. I still pull mine out every Christmas and smile and the girls chose theirs to read more often than other books. They love seeing their names and names of the family!
Color Drops: Who knew a tiny color drop could completely transform bath time? Kids LOVE these, even at 7 years old. The girls love to mix colors, turn the tub into a mermaid lagoon, and so much more. But the best part is that they do not stain at all (the tub or the kid’s skin). I can’t recommend these enough!
Brain Quest Books: We have gone through a lot of workbooks because we keep them in the car for the girls to work on while we drive around and these have been Hailey’s favorite by far. It includes a bunch of different subjects, all color-coded, and the pages are engaging and colorful and tear out easily.
Black and Decker Cordless Vacuum (30% off today!): This handy gadget gets daily use in our house! It was a Christmas gift from David a couple years back and though I rolled my eyes with my giggle, it has been SO nice to have. The kids can use it to vacuum up floor crumbs, I use it for the car, overall it’s a must have!
I hope these are helpful for you, as they are all products we love and would buy again. If you have any tried and true items you love, please leave them in the comments and send a little help my way for navigating the gift situation this season! 🙂