Have a Slightly Risky Christmas: Exciting Non-Tech Gift Ideas for Kids

plate of coals

Lots of kids only have shiny objects on their holiday lists and it’s hard to imagine what would entice them that isn’t tech-related. But unplugged gifts can compete, especially if they’re just risky enough to cause a jolt of adrenaline, as do their screen-based rivals.

The gifts on this list not only pack a thrill, they also build kids’ mental, physical, and social skills, and might even
draw your family closer together:

Tickle a preschooler’s fancy than with a (play) knife

Little kids love slicing through the bread, tomatoes and other wooden foodstuffs in Melissa and Doug’s sandwich-making set. Besides the mental math your child does to separate and arrange the Velcro-joined pieces, this toy builds manual dexterity. Hand-eye coordination is taking a hit of late, as evidenced by young adults who are smart enough to train as surgeons, but they can’t sew.
Melissa and Doug Cutting Food

For elementary-aged kids, a spooky night caper alone in the woods

No need to leave the comforts of home. To play the award-winning Shadows in the Forest board game, kids need only turn out the lights. Players roll glow-in-the-dark dice and take turns using a teeny LED lantern to search out mysterious creatures called Shadowlings. Opponents use cunning and logic to keep their Shadowlings in the shadows.

Shadows in the Forest Board Game

To grab the attention of Fortnite-prone teens, a wand of red-hot metal

Kids can’t not get creative adorning the ligneous shapes in T.S. Shure Woodburning Creations Kit. Even the box is burnable! Sure, they could possibly singe a finger, but the kit is rated 13 and older. Oh, alright. If you’re gonna get nervous, buy leather gloves to go with.

picture of child's woodburning kit

Something to enjoy right along with them: a genuine sack of coal

This is no punishment. Who knew you could make beautiful crystals out of coal briquettes, but here are the directions. To make the experiment work, you also need a bottle of the laundry agent, bluing.  This activity teaches your child hands-on lessons in chemistry and earth science—plus how smart and fun mom or dad can be.

Kids are in dire need of 3-D, 360-degree full-sensory play, as well as your undivided attention. To fulfill those wishes, print out  fill-in-the-blank coupons (thanks, NewDream.org!) and create your own fun, like a family kayak (or camping or sledding) adventure.

Little ones don’t hold much sway in household decision-making, so love redeeming coupons such as:

  • Let me stay up 15 minutes past bedtime
  • Read me an extra bedtime story
  • Drop everything and play with me

When the holidays are over, continue your tech-management momentum with this free downloadable Durable Family Pledge. Family members choose five life-balance habits to try over 4-week period. Long enough that they just might stick.

Download the Durable Family Pledge for FREE:

About the author: Jenifer Joy Madden is a health journalist, digital media professor, and parent of three durable young adults. Her words have informed millions on news outlets including ABC News, The Washington Post, and in her books, How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design and The Durable Human Manifesto: Practical Wisdom for Living and Parenting in the Digital World.

Download The Durable Human Manifesto for free here.

Learn more about this author on Google+.

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