We’ve all been there.

It’s mid-March. The holidays have come and gone. The weather is slowly warming back up. Life has returned to normal.

After the kids are in bed, you walk back through your quiet house, turning off lights, making lunches for the next day. As you’re about to head to bed (AKA catching up on Netflix shows), you peek into the kids rooms or the playroom. And you almost pass out. Because what you see looks like the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

All those toys, puzzles, and pop-up tents (that never fit back into their tiny bags) that your kids got for Christmas are now spilling out of every drawer, box, and cabinet they’ve been shoved into.

It happens in my house every year. I tell myself that my daughter will play with that Baby Alive doll for at least two years. Two days later, Baby has marker tattoos on her forehead and gum in her hair.

Sometimes, the level of consumption in my house feels excessive. I want my girls to grow up not only knowing the true meaning of Christmas, but experiencing it as well.

But let’s be honest . . .I am going to buy my kids something to open on Christmas morning. My parents, my in-laws, and my siblings are going to buy my kids something, too.

So this year, I am determined to come up with a short list of gifts that my girls will enjoy long after the Christmas decorations come down. (Which—let’s be honest— might also be mid-March.)

1. Movie Night – Grab a box, add in your kid’s favorite snack, DVD, and comfy pajamas or a blanket. For older kids, you could gift them a popcorn machine and kernels.

2. Zoo Membership – This can be something that the grandparents pitch in on! The Atlanta Zoo – like many – has several membership levels to choose from. Buy your child their favorite stuffed animal (The DollarTree has tons) and tie the ticket around its neck! For a teenager, an amusement park might be a fun substitute.

3. Sleepover Kit – Set up a night where one or a few friends can sleep over. The kit could be as simple as a new calendar with “Slumber Party with Kate and Maria” written on a specific date, or as elaborate as matching pajamas and spa sets for girls or a tent and flashlights for boys.

4. National Geographic Magazine Subscription (Kids’ Edition) – The thing I love about this idea is that it’s something your child can look forward to every month. Plus, it’s well under $20 FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR.

5. Lessons or activities – What do your kids love to do? Piano, martial arts, dance, instrumental, art, rock climbing? Pay attention to whatever sparks interest in your child or teen. If you’re not sure, give them a coupon that says you’ll pay for whatever hobby they want to pursue.

I would love to hear how your family approaches Christmas gifts. How do you find the balance between what your kids want and what your kids need?

This week, we’re selecting 3 of our readers to receive a copy of our brand new Christmas Board Book. Told through a fantastic rhyme that will engage toddlers and preschoolers alike, The Christmas Story will be one they will ask to hear again and again. Use the form below for a chance to win! Don’t have small kids? Win it for a friend!
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Contest will end Wednesday, December 9th at 12:00am. Winners will be chosen randomly, and we will contact each winner via email on Wednesday afternoon for details about where to send your prize!