Family, Kids & Relationships

Last-minute gift ideas for the kids on your list

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The holidays can be a wonderful time of family fun and togetherness—but it can also be a time of enormous stress. That’s especially true for parents who are trying to stay on a budget… within a limited timeframe… while also creating all that “holiday magic.”

On top of knowing all about the hottest trending toys, parents also have to watch out for toys that can be dangerous. Beyond choking hazards and bike helmets, we need to make sure our kids’ tech toys are safe, too. While many gadgets seem innocent enough, it isn’t always easy to know which ones are selling your kid’s personal information, tracking their location, or connecting them with predators. 

We created the 2022 Dangerous Tech Toys Report to help—check it out to learn about specific dangers we discovered this year in the toy aisle (like a water bottle that sells your kid’s height, weight, age, and location to advertisers, a plastic kitchen that records your child playing, and more) as well as the steps you can take to keep your child safe.

Of course the next big challenges when it comes to kids’ gifts are time and money. If you’re looking for a last-minute addition to their gift list (on just about any budget), read on for some great ideas.

Last minute gift ideas for kids

Memberships. No matter what a child is interested in, there’s a museum, aquarium, or zoo where they can explore the topic further. A membership to one of these places—and the promise of spending some quality time there together—is a great way to bond and take in some local sights.

Restaurant gift certificates. A trip to have a nice meal is such a fun gift, whether they’re at the age when it feels very grown up and special, or if they’re old enough to want to go with friends or a date.

Online or in-person classes. Make a child in your life feel seen and celebrated with a class related to one of their interests. From cooking to painting to dance or sports, there are classes on pretty much everything you can imagine!

Movie kit. Of course you could wrap up some tickets to the theater, but watching movies at home is fun, too! Make it extra nice by putting together a “kit” for watching movies like microwave popcorn, favorite snacks, a cozy blanket, and maybe even a subscription or credit on their favorite streaming service.

Craft kit. Have a maker in the family? Spark their creativity with a box of interesting household materials to create something with. On the cover, write a simple, open-ended prompt like “Create a made-up animal” or “What could you build with the stuff in this box?” And then fill the box with supplies like straws, tissue paper, ribbon, felt, fabric, pipe cleaners, plastic forks, tape and glue, colorful paper, leaves, rubber bands, stray playing cards or game pieces, or anything else you find (just make sure the craft supplies you choose are safe and age appropriate).

Gardening kit. Are you sensing a theme? Making a “kit” for a specific hobby or activity is a great way to quickly put a gift together! In this case, you might include some seed packets, gardening gloves, a pot, and some basic tools.

Dress up or costume box. If the little in your life loves dressing up or playing pretend, put some new or gently used (from your closet or thrift stores) hats, bags, ties, shirts/dresses, and accessories in a box and let their imaginations run wild.

Experiences. Think of something your child already enjoys doing or would really love to try and see if you can make it (or a version of it) happen! For example, a cruise might not be in the budget, but maybe there’s a nearby lake where you could rent a boat and plan lunch out on the water, for example. To give them something to unwrap, gift them something small related to the experience (like a towel and flip flops).

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.