Why, yes. Yes, I do have ideas for good presents for kids!
At least, I know what my kids' favorite gifts were THIS year. So that's what this list is made of. These aren't things that my kids want, but things that they already play with, that they love, and that I happen to like a whole lot, too:
We set our aerial silks rig up almost exactly a year ago (I remember because it was Nutcracker weekend!), and it is easily the most played-with thing in our house, and a heavily-used piece of furniture, as well. It's fabulous for gross motor activity indoors, and visiting friends always enjoy it, as well. Currently, I have our silks rigged as a hammock, and the kids read in it, rest in it, fight in it, do tricks on it, and use it as a swing.
Embellishing the plain dresses are fun, but the major bonus to this kit is the Barbie dressmaker's dummy! You know how much Syd is into fashion design, and with my scrap fabric bin, a hot glue gun, and all the random buttons, ribbons, and other pretties that she can scrounge, she designs an unending number of Barbie dresses. Pro tip: Give the kid sticky-back Velcro to use for her closures.
Still on the Wish List: Can you imagine the wonders we could create with an American Girl doll dressmaker's dummy? Or a MY LITTLE PONY dummy?!?
Still on the Wish List: Always more coloring books!
This is technically Matt's present, but every month when the mystery box arrives, he, Will, and I all sit around on our bed all evening and read every single comic.
Still on the Wish List: They've now got a ComicBoxer just for kids!
I originally started buying this brand when I first wanted face paint for the kids. I wanted a professional brand that they could do anything that they wanted with, and they've done some pretty incredible things! Every now and then they'll run out of a color in one of their palettes and I'll replace it, or I'll surprise them with a new palette for a gift--it was the pastels last Christmas, because I knew that Syd, in particular would like that one.
Still on the Wish List: More colors!
We've had Geomag sets for years and years, but building on the kids' stash is always good for a present. Syd, especially, loves Geomags, so one Christmas she received the pink and purple set, and last Christmas she received her first set of Geomag PRO.
Still on the Wish List: Now they've got a glow-in-the-dark set!
Still on the Wish List: Kapla and KEVA, which are interchangeable, also make little sets to inspire kids to different kinds of creations. I especially like the idea of this Contraptions set, since I don't think I've ever seen the kids try marble runs with these blocks.
Will received this kit for her birthday from her grandmother, and both kids LOVE it. It's got all the supplies and the instructions to build a bunch of little LEGO machines, and you can, of course, use the same pieces to build even more machines using your overall LEGO stash.
Still on the Wish List: I just realized that there's a second kit, LEGO Chain Reactions! Gasp!
We don't own this, but this is what the kids use at Robotics Club, and Will, in particular, has learned to do some absolutely amazing things with it. Also? She now talks like a programmer!
Still on the Wish List: A set of our own!
We don't use these as our everyday scribbling notebooks, because they're too pricey for that (and notebooks are too easy to DIY!), but a nice little notebook makes an excellent stocking stuffer, and is a great encouragement to a kid to start a sketchbook, or a little travel or nature journal.
We've owned Prismacolor colored pencils and markers for many years, and I periodically replace the worn-down and dried-out ones. These are the kids go-to art supplies for EVERYTHING, from coloring books to their own artwork. They're super pricey, so I encourage them to keep them nice (easier said than done, but easier now than when the kids were six), and I have sets of the bog-standard Crayola markers and pencils to take with us when we're out and about.
Still on the Wish List: Umm, this Tree of Life puzzle is kind of the coolest thing ever.
We own the big kit and a small radio kit, and even though the kids play with it regularly, I still don't think they've completed every single project from the large project book. They're versatile enough, though, that you can also create your own projects or just use them for free play.
Still on the Wish List: More Snap Circuits! I know Will would love this arcade one, but I think Syd would like the light one better.
I don't know if your kids are into any pop culture stuff, but my kids love to wear these clever fan pieces, many of them mash-ups of a couple of favorite aspects of the pop culture phenomenon. They read like inside jokes, which the kids find especially fun, I think. I often buy from their Grab Bag sales, and end up with surprise shirts from Doctor Who, Pokemon, and Disney films.
This is probably my favorite game to play with Will. The concept is really simple: each card has a thing on the front and a date on the back. You and the other players take turns placing cards on the timeline that you're creating, but until you've committed to your placement, you CAN'T LOOK AT THE DATE. Seriously, do you truly know when the telephone was invented? In relation to the automobile? The refrigerator? The radio? The watch? It's brilliant.
Still on the Wish List: Another cool thing is that you can combine sets. So we've got Inventions and Historical Events, but not Discoveries or Music and Cinema. And there's another version that uses animals, which Will would FREAK out about.
Still on the Wish List: I really want to buy the Molecular Mania set for our upcoming rocks and minerals unit.
You'll notice that there are no books on this list. That's because I'm planning an entire books-only post for later!