Our Top Holiday Book and Gift Ideas for Kids in 2020

homemade DIY gauntlet and crossbow

Our Top Holiday Book and Gift Ideas for Kids

This time of year, people often ask us to recommend gifts for kids that promote creativity and innovation. 

The best gifts spark their imagination. Here are my go-to resources.

 mini weapons of mass destruction book

The #1 Book I Recommend as a Gift

This book was a runaway hit at our house with both boys! It has detailed DIY instructions for all kinds of fun homemade contraptions using ordinary supplies.

Our welcome gift to OctoGifts email subscribers is a checklist of Top Ten Supplies for Every Child's Workshop. 

One of the items on that list is a cutting board. I gave Sebastian an old cracked one, which he promptly repurposed for making.

 old cutting board repurpose use arts crafts

This book has inspired Sebastian to break out the cutting board and tools *many* times. Here he is at age 11, busy creating a custom gauntlet inspired by Chapter 2, "Bows and Slingshots," and Ironman. 

cutting board and tools inspired DIY craft kit:

Below is the completed design:

homemade DIY gauntlet crossbow kid mini weapons of mass destruction john austin

In this 1 minute video he demonstrates all the features! Do yourself a favor and check it out...not only are they surprising, but he explains them oh so seriously. 

Rubberbands figure widely in the designs in this book. He noticed that, and it inspired him to create this spring-loaded Wolverine claw.

homemade DIY wolverine claw craft sticks popsicle sticks


Check out this 10 second video to see it in action! 

He made a mask out of cardboard to go with the claw.

homemade DIY Wolverine mask claw

A hinge allowed him to lift the mask up, visor-style.

 DIY homemade Wolverine mask

Sebastian is now in high school, but we watched these clips together last night and found ourselves laughing. They still evoke joy and wonder, three years later....and so does the book.

When it comes to gifts, this one was a home run. So I can't recommend this book enough. Slip a copy in their stocking, along with a variety of supplies (paper clips, popsicle sticks, etc.), and they'll be all set for days of indoor fun! Your kid may never look at a toothpick or a plastic spoon the same way again. 

The Mother of All STEM Toy Gift Lists

Maybe you want something more than a book. 

Eric Iversen, VP at Start Engineering. recently published this awesome resource. It's comprehensive and thoughtful. He called it the Holiday Toy List to End All Toy Lists. 

Definitely check out the 2018 This Old House gift guide, one of the links he references. I spoke about getting tools in girls' hands as a way of building their STEM confidence at TEDxAlpharettaWomen. The toys they recommend would be great ways to normalize tool usage for all kids at a tender young age. 

Cool DIY Candy Kits for Stocking Stuffers 

Maybe you just want something different and fun for their stocking. At our house, you can't go wrong with candy. We especially enjoy discovering treats from other countries. The Universal Yums boxes are popular at our house!

I found these cool DIY candy kits at H Mart. 

DIY candy kit

DIY candy kit for kids

DIY candy kit kids

DIY chocolate candy kit for kids

Gifts If You Want to Support a Small Business 

What if you're not looking for something along any of these lines, but want to support small businesses during this tough time? Check out these gift guides. We are grateful to these organizations for including us in them! 

  • Atlanta Business Chronicle/ATL Inno gift guide. Featuring Atlanta startups.
  • Creative Maven Collective gift guide. Featuring female entrepreneurs.
  • Pretzel Kids Yoga gift guide. Featuring small women-owned businesses, many based in New England. There is some cute handmade kids' furniture in here!  Pretzel Kids is a Boston-based company and marketplace that offers kids yoga classes nationwide and online.
  • Marist Holiday Traditions. A popular juried arts and crafts show that has been running for 40 years, it draws people from all over the Southeast in search of high quality, handmade gifts. I especially like their food offerings!
  • Pepperlane. Featuring mom-owned small businesses. 

Gifts for that Hard-to-Buy-For or Crafty Person (or for Building Over Zoom with Someone Special)

homemade DIY card kit keepsake greeting card

Of course, how can we leave out our own holiday offering? Grab yours here!



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