Kids gifts under $15

Okay, I’m glad you weren’t holding your breath waiting for this post, because first I got sick (that is, I fell unexpectedly into a vat of back pain) and second, my suggestions involve pretty basic stuff… the kind of classic, useful, and slightly educational gifts I love for my children to receive.

If you like to buy big gifts, use these as gift toppers or add-ons.

But thoughtful gifts don’t need to be expensive. There’s an endless array of lovely gifts you can give a child for five to fifteen dollars. When my daughter turned six this summer and unwrapped beautiful presents from many friends, I started making a list. Here are ten ideas to get you started.

1. Wallet ($5-10)

What child doesn’t want a special place to keep their change? There are awfully handsome varieties for both boys and girls. My daughters have also received the cutest purses, sometimes stuffed with treasures—tissues, gum, a writing tablet and pen. Slip in a dollar bill and she’ll love you for life.


2. Watch ($10-$15)

Instant maturity advancement guaranteed. Besides the I’m-such-a-big-kid! factor, there’s no better incentive for learning to tell time. I always bought analog when my children were preschoolers and taught them the half hours, saving digital watches for the truly big kids.


3. Sunglasses ($3-10)

It’s the end of the season now, but here’s another favorite. Plus they’re so photogenic.


4. Clothing ($10-$15)

A cute sweater, fuzzy socks, a flannel shirt, a great hat, even a pack of undies patterned with Lego or princesses… Something that it makes them feel proud and happy to wear.


5. Craft ($10)

I don’t even want to start the list under this category… it goes on and on. Weaving looms, beading stations, wooden models, paint-by-number, sand art, modeling clay or playfoam, paint-your-own toys, science kits and robot creators. Anything that gives a child hours of happy and wholesome play.


6. Umbrella ($6-10)

Again, slightly seasonal—but adorable all the same. I try not to pep talk Walmart, but they stock the sweetest mini ones in their baby section. The only caveat is that sometimes it’s hard to avoid movie characters. I don’t object to all the movies, but I do object to becoming a walking advert.

In this case, the umbrella was coming to get her. Poor baby.






7. Set of matchbox cars ($5-10)

Not just for boys, Matchbox cars provide endless playing opportunities from emergency vehicles to hot rods to construction equipment. At Regan’s last birthday party, we used new ones for cupcake toppers and let the guests take them home.


8. Big pack of crayons or playdough ($5)

There’s nothing like art supplies to make me want to be a kid again. I love the giant packs of Crayola crayons, every imaginable color, with a built-in sharpener—or the sets of fifty different colored pencils. Washable paints and markers are another alternative. And new Play-Doh brings out the happiest, artsy creativity in a child.

(Don’t worry too much about the mess, moms. You know you have to let Play-Doh dry before sweeping the floor, right? Okay. Then it’s easy.)


9. Personal care accessories ($10)

For a girl, buy a pretty hair brush and hand mirror, a new comb, some fun elastics or little clips. For either boy or girl, pick out some cool kid shampoos, tub finger paint, and bubble bath. Or a vibrating toothbrush and a tube of paste.


10. Puzzle ($10)

Floor puzzles are great fun for toddlers. For puzzles our whole family loves, we pick designs by Charles Wysocki or Anthony Kleem, with their tiny details, bright colors, and homespun peace. We started a tradition of buying a new one before every Christmas vacation. (Older children may also enjoy Wysocki’s adult coloring books!) Our favorite of favorite Christmastime puzzles is O Night Divine by Richard Jesse Watson, a gift from our friends Bob and Jeanne.


What would you add to the list?

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That means if you buy something linked from this page, I get rewarded by Amazon at no additional charge to you. It’s part of my unending and deeply personal search to make blogging worthwhile.

Birthday goodness

What I think about birthdays is this: They are a day to catch a glimpse of how much we’re loved.

If we lived with such an outpouring of abundance 365 days a year, it would go to our heads. This should not be, and I look forward to the day when we will live out all our moments in the realization of infinite love, without going to insecurity, performance or egotism—but meanwhile—we live here. And He gives us a few days a year in which to wash our souls in it, and then go on.

I was very spoiled yesterday.

When I awoke to emails from people I didn’t know, I collared my husband and shook the truth out of him. Okay, he confessed before I got quite so violent. THANK you to each of you who blessed me on my birthday. Your words were a treat and a soul-balm.

And the whole world looked like it had been frosted–I got to make a big snowman with my kiddos.

And my mom spoiled me with this amazing dinner…

dinner at Mom's

And my friend made me tea… and took me out for breakfast.

And I was given such beautiful treasures.


My sis-in-law is making candle rings with foraged wild rose hips… And my sis gave me an ultra-cool book to write in… And my kids know all about me and chocolate… And my husband took the cake with the set of books I’ve been dreaming of for months.

This morning, a friend delivered a mocha and a croissant and this exquisite orchid.


If I were a swearing girl I would be saying things right here about how holy this all is. Actually I am a swearing girl, but I try to keep a lid on it in public.

Then to top off all this sentiment, my cousin [-ish] sent me the lyrics to a They Might Be Giants song that went like this:

You’re older than you’ve ever been…
And now you’re even older…
And now you’re even older…
And now you’re even older…
You’re older than you’ve ever been…
And now you’re even older…
And now you’re older still!

Time is marching on…
And time…
Is still marching on.

This day will soon be at an end…
And now it’s even sooner…
And now it’s even sooner…
And now it’s even sooner…
This day will soon be at an end…
And now it’s even sooner…
And now it’s sooner still!


So. What I do when I’m given a day of love is I bask deeply. And the next morning I get up and luxuriate for a while, and then I go scrub something.