Santa is not bringing any toys for my kids this Christmas.
But before you start feeling sorry for me thinking "man, she must have some naughty kids", let me clarify: my kids will still be getting presents. They will still be spoiled. They just won't be getting any toys.
TOYS (noun): plastic playthings with buttons and flashing lights; stuffed animals; miniature modes of transport (Matchbox cars/Tonka trucks and Thomas trains); dolls (I'm looking at you Dora, Barbie and Polly Pocket); figurines of superheroes and movie characters; anything from the junk shop that breaks shortly after coming out of the packet; and anything that takes four D-cell batteries.
The reason we're having a toy-free Christmas is that we've already got plenty of the aforementioned and I just can't see a reason to buy any more. We have toys that have been relegated to the toy box, toys that have been broken and toys that weren't as big a hit as we'd hoped (not in the long run anyway).
So what will my sons (aged two and four) unwrap on Christmas morning?
Firstly, my little guys will get sleeping bags. They're at the age where we want to start camping soon and I saw some cool Spiderman "ready beds" at Target on sale, then realised they involved an air pump (ahhh, too hard). So I went to Kmart and picked up two kids' sleeping bags with a space/alien design on them. They were $10 each and I know the boys will be excited about them.
Next up, my four year old is off to kindy next year. He's very excited, so excited in fact that I could probably give him his school uniform. But I won't. Instead he's getting a cool new backpack.
Both boys will get art supplies – new textas, chalk to colour in the driveway and few other arty bits and pieces (but not paint – paint is for daycare – remember that aunties and uncles). And books, we've always got room for more books!
Mr Two (who is incredibly hard to buy for given that he's already got everything handed down from his brother) will unwrap some more Duplo Lego. Note - just because it's found in the toy section at the shops (and often under the couch) doesn't mean it's a toy. See above definition.
My parents, aka Granny and Poppy, are going to get the kids some things for the pool since they actually have a pool and we'll spend Christmas day at their place (hopefully in said pool).
Clothes – yes they'll both be getting clothes. My boys like new clothes and I found some funky bits and pieces at Cotton On Kids.
I've also ordered some Go Diego Go face washers off eBay (it's their latest favourite show) and some magnetic letters since Mr Four is learning about the alphabet. And that's about where I'm at so far.
So what do you think? Will you get on board the toy-free Christmas. Here are some suggestions of non-toy things you can buy for your kids (or someone else's).
Books! Books are great. I've never heard a parent complain their kids had too many books.
Colouring books and art supplies. Craft boxes are good too – make your own jewellery, photo frame, etc. You'll find those at newsagents and in the department stores. Spotlight and Riot Art and Craft might give you some good ideas too.
Character lunch boxes/drink bottles/cutlery sets/pyjamas/sheet sets
Stationery (check out Smiggle – they have heaps of cool stuff).
Money boxes, posters and other things to decorate their rooms
Torches – my kids love torches, especially the LED ones they wear on their heads.
Clothes – yes it's OK to give kids clothes (provided you're not giving them boring white Chesty Bonds singlets or tops that have a slogan ending with "... and all I got was this t-shirt").
Vouchers are such a good option, especially for the older kids. Think iTunes, movies, or shopping centres like Westfield. There are lots of different gift cards available at Australia Post outlets and even grocery stores. Or check out the websites of the Great Escape in Hillarys, Perth Zoo, or Adventure World.
Sports equipment – a friend of mine is getting a totem tennis set for her kids. You could also look at Frisbees, soccer balls, footies, cricket bats (anything that gets kids outside)
Boardgames (just make sure you choose something age appropriate)
Beach accessories – towels, bathers, sunnies, hats, beach bag, rashies, bodyboards
Other accessories – wallet, jewellery, watch
Sleeping bags and a tent
Concert tickets – Check out Ticketek for Disney Live (in Perth just after Christmas) or tickets for Guy Sebastian or even P!nk (for your older kids maybe). And Ticketmaster has tickets for the X-Factor tour in January.
Techo presents - digital radio, DVD player for the car, iPod Touch or iPad if you can afford it (you'll probably have to introduce some rules about how long the kids are allowed to spend on it).
A surprise holiday and some kid-size luggage for your little jetsetters
Bikes and helmets
Furniture – a new bed suite perhaps. Ikea has a cool kids' furniture section with lots of brightly coloured bits.
Stuff for the backyard - cubby house, trampoline, swimming pool
Tips for a toy-free Christmas
Ask your kids what they want and talk about the non-toy options
If your kid loves Spiderman or Barbie or Bananas in Pyjamas get colouring in books, pyjamas, undies or something else with their image on it.
If you're after big ticket items have a think about getting something secondhand. You can find a used iPod Touch or cubby house on eBay or Gumtree.
Aunties/uncles/friends – CLOTHES AND VOUCHERS – that's all I need to say.
What are your kids getting this year? Comment and let us know...