I have a slew of nieces and nephews, most of them far enough away that I rarely get to visit them. As Christmas approaches, I’m always casting about for ideas for fun, inexpensive presents, a task made more challenging by the distance: I’m not clued in to their crazes of the moment, and I don’t know what they already have. This demands creativity.
I detailed some of my more successful handmade or creative kid-gifts in response to the question “What are good cheap gifts for kids this year?” and this line from my answer sums up my gift-giving philosophy pretty succinctly:

I like to make as much as I can, partly for frugality’s sake, but largely because I know the gift will be unique or unusual and because the kids really seem to like the idea that I’ve been investing time and thought.

doverpublications This year as last year, the two older boys (Thing One and Thing Two) are proving the toughest to figure out. Last year, I had the perhaps brilliant (perhaps misguided) idea of making book safes, which I then loaded with candy, dollar-bill rings, and tiny toys.
This year, for Thing One, I’m researching games. Knowing he has a passion (and a remarkable aptitude) for games of strategy, several years ago I made him a traveling pente set. He played with it all day, exhausting all possible partners in the house. I’m hoping for another hit like that. Just this morning, his fantastic step-mom gave me a much better idea. Thanks, T!
For Thing Two, here’s my best idea so far: a copy of How to Draw Funny Monsters, a set of map pencils or markers, and a gaggle of those wiggly rubber fingertip monsters that he can wave in his sister’s face until she rolls her eyes, blows her bangs out of her face, and says “Oh, grow up.”
I am participating in NaBloPoMo.