Finding the perfect gift for kids isn’t always easy

This is the first year where I was totally stumped for gift ideas for my kids. Usually by this time


This is the first year where I was totally stumped for gift ideas for my kids. Usually by this time we have at least our youngest son writing a letter to Santa that spells out exactly what he hopes to find under the tree.  But none of my kids has that one "must-have" item that they can’t stop talking about. The best feeling for me is when you can tell by their reaction you’ve found the perfect gift, the one they were really hoping for.

This year my 13 year-old son doesn’t want anything. Not because he’s completely fulfilled as a person and just wants to enjoy the spirit of the season’as a parent might hope’but he says he literally has everything he wants. This is great’if you aren’t a week away from Christmas! At 13, his life revolves around Facebook (free on our home computer), his PS3 (a past Christmas gift for all three boys) and his cell phone (a birthday gift when he became a teen this summer).  So, the only way I’m going to get that big reaction I’m looking for on Christmas day is if I were to present him with some secret code to the very newest Facebook. And I have to be okay with that.

All this has made me realize I need to be more practical in my gift choices. Our kids are lucky they have the things they need and want. We remind them often that many children don’t even have the things they need. Which makes  it so disheartening to see my basement, where it looks like "The City of Lost Toys". The toys from Christmas mornings past are now taking up space and gathering dust.

So rather than add to the pile, my husband and I recently spent a weekend boxing up the toys that were still in great condition (the boys all had to pitch in and help decide which barely-used toys they could bear to part with) and donated them to the Goodwill and Canadian Diabetes Association. The reality is that those toys that made them squeal with delight are often the ones they lose interest in quickly.

I’ve chosen to give creative gifts this year, or ones that will encourage them to be active and support their intrests. (SPOILER ALERT FOR MY CHILDREN, DO NOT READ AHEAD) And I feel really good about it. My  6 year-old is getting an igloo maker (it will keep him busy and happy for hours), my 11 year-old is getting sparring equipment for Tae Kwon Do (he takes classes twice a week) and Jack, 13, is getting a snowboarding jacket. I have a feeling that even if they don’t cause squeals of excitement these will be well-received, and more importantly, well-used.