Getting Over Myself: A Small Christmas Gift Guide

Whenever one of my friends’ kids has a birthday, or when Christmas rolls around, I always want to know what they are getting for their kids for gifts. It always feels so awkward to ask about it, though. It feels akin to asking about how much money someone makes. It’s just taboo, and makes people feel like they are being judged or compared in some way.

Not that I let the awkwardness stop me from asking, anyway. I’m always on the hunt for awesome gift ideas for all ages, so I just want the info. No judgment here! Just excitement about new finds!

This year, like many people, we are cutting back a bit on our Christmas spending on the kids. Also, we looked around for some non-toy presents since they will be getting toys from their grandparents and aunts this year. So here are a couple of ideas from my own shopping list — no need for the awkward asking!

See, I’m always thinking of you guys.

For the Captain — he’s six and a half — we wanted to get him a Star Wars shirt. He loves the Star Wars, but we wanted something on the theme that wasn’t a toy. There are plenty of cute shirts available online for like, a thousand dollars each plus a million dollars shipping. However, I did find this pretty good one at for just $14.99. Free shipping, too, if you’re willing to pick it up at a location near you. Warning — they fit big, I bought the size 8 (small) and it’s surely going to fit him until he’s 17.

Star Wars Shirt

He’s also getting some Ricky Ricotta books that he saw at the bookstore a few weeks ago, and fell in love with. But if you have a six year old, may I recommend the Wayside books instead:

Wayside books

They are hilarious, and their short-story format makes them perfect for bedtime reading. They’re probably too hard for your average six-year-old to read themselves but we just finished working through the third book as the Captain’s bedtime stories and I think it’s safe to say, he’ll love them forever.

Gal Smiley is five this Christmas, and she is a tough person to shop for. She is not into girly-girl things like Barbie and Polly Pockets and fashion jewelry and handbags. She’s all about the cargo pants and climbing trees. One thing she really likes is playing “camping,” so she is getting a hand-crank flashlight from Lee Valley, for just $10:


She also loves to have a cup of milk in a mug in the mornings, so we are getting her a custom photo mug from the Photolab at the Superstore, with a picture on it of her with her favourite sleep buddy, Shearly the Sheep (starting at $14, depending on how fancy you want your mug).


She’s going to love it. There’s lots of other great custom photo gifts to consider too, like t-shirts or Christmas ornaments or puzzles, with a picture of a special toy or brother or sister on it. For Gal Smiley’s birthday, I printed out several photos that she had taken with the Fischer Price camera we got her last year (totally awesome gift, absolutely perfect for her, by the way) and put them in a little album and it’s one of her favourite things — another inexpensive gift that was a big hit.

Little Miss Sunshine is two and a bit, and she’s so easy to shop for. Unlike Gal Smiley, anything pink and sparkly will do just fine. So, she is getting sparkle shoes from the Joe Fresh line (the Loblaws/Superstore brand). I’ve seen sparkle shoes at the mall for $35, and I’m sure they are excellent quality, but considering the Little Miss is going to wear them when she is digging sand at the park, the $14 price at the Superstore will be just fine. Unfortunately I could not find a picture of them online because the Joe site is SO ANNOYING, but they come this year in black, silver, and gold (we got silver) and they sell out super early, so act quickly if you are interested.

The Little Miss is (not suprisingly) obsessed with ballerinas, so she’ll also be getting a couple of books about ballerinas, including this one called Ballerina! by Peter Sis:

Wayside books

It’s about a girl getting ready for a ballerina show and practicing her moves. Oh man, am I ever going to be ballerina-ed out three days after Christmas.

Lastly, if you have an almost-three-year-old, I highly recommend the Letter Factory video by LeapFrog, which is just $11 online:

Letter Factory

We already own it but we are buying it for my nephew this year, because it totally changed our lives. Actual education and early reading skills, passed on to your kid while they think they are mindlessly watching TV! We just started bombarding the Little Miss with this one and she already has learned that the A says “aahhhhh!”

Okay, now it’s your turn! What funky and different and inexpensive ideas do you have?

Disclosure: I got bubkis from any and all of these companies for mentioning their stuff. I just like it.

5 thoughts on “Getting Over Myself: A Small Christmas Gift Guide

  1. My niece is five. I don’t usually buy her toys – she has aunts who live much closer who usually take care of that – but this year I’m getting her Lego. The added bonus is that we have something we can do together while I’m there. (We’re going to build the biggest house ever.) I ordered it online, because most places I looked here have heavily boy-oriented Lego sets. (She would not enjoy building a dump truck.) The added bonus of ordering online is that you can order individual pieces if you want.

    For Gal Smiley in the future, you might want to check into the Daring Book For Girls – I haven’t looked at it, but the concept is interesting. I think it’s oriented at slightly older girls, though.

  2. I’m with you — I love to know all about the gifts and fun ideas. Similar to you and Star Wars, I was on the hunt for a certain Pokemon fan I know. The house is already stuffed to the limit with Pokemon toys (she has A LOT of grandparents and a push-over mother) and she is very hard to buy for in the clothes department because she doesn’t like most of the girls’ clothes available and the boys’ clothes are often too big for her in width. I found this woman on ebay who stiches Pokemon images onto girls’ organic cotton shirts!! Cool, eh?? They were no more expensive than any other tshirt in a standard store and I combined all my shipping, so that was cheap too. I stocked up on 2 shirts, 1 pjs and 1 winter hat. She’ll be in heaven.

  3. The Boy, 9, is getting an iPod touch. Probably a few books some French some English (he’s really into the Lightning Thief series with Zeus et al.) Nothing non-fun… because well, I used to hate that at Christmas.

    My nieces are challenging. 2, 5 and 11.

  4. Betsy Mae

    My girls are getting Playmobil, they are four and six and I started them on it last year…it’s awesome! I think it’s the number one toy that our entire family plays together.

    I’m not going to mention all the rest of the stuff here…we actually bought more for the girls this year than we ever have. Some of what they are getting are educational but there are several toys that are advertised on TV too. We don’t buy toys for the girls during the year so this year will be a big deal for them.

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