At Play

The 5C Holiday Gift Guide For 21st Century Kids & Teens

How many years have gone by where you’ve gifted your children plastic toys that are worn out or thrown away before the next year? This year, why don’t you wrap some gifts that keep on giving? Here are a few gift ideas, for the 21st Century kid, that are fun AND pack an educational and meaningful punch… and even check off all of the 5C boxes. Some of them may even be fun for you!



While they’re great gifts, art sets and easels aren’t the only gifts for the creative child. If you’re looking to spark creativity in your kid, think about their interests.

  1. Music, Art or STEAM Lessons: Consider signing your kids up for a workshop or class at a local art center or tech lab. Or, gift them a gift card and let them choose what class interests them.
  2. Camera, Sewing Machine, Tool Kit, or a Musical Instrument: Is your kid the hands-on type? Consider getting a tool that will help them keep on creating.  If you’re looking to really go in on a big gift, consider a 3D Printer.
  3. Membership to a Makers Space or Studio: A membership allows a kid to explore their interests in a more open-ended way. A membership to a local makers space opens up the opportunity to use tools they can’t afford at home and learn from other creatives. workshop tools and membership to makers.
  4. Cookbooks & Kitchen Tools: Sometimes it’s more work than not to have your kids help in the kitchen.  Consider looking into kid-friendly cookbooks, or safe kitchen tools, like the Opinel Le Petit Chef Knife & Fingers Guard Set, for those kids who love to create in the kitchen.
  5. Tickets To A Play Or Concert: Make it a family affair and take your kids to see a ballet, Broadway musical, or their favorite musical artist.
  6. Tinker Crate: When it comes to younger kids, there are plenty of creativity-themed subscription boxes. These not only allow for variety, but they also have the added benefit of a gift that keeps on giving!


Some gifts teach collaboration, while others involve it. Here are a few ideas on how to give a fun experience while teaching your kids to work well with others.

  1. Family Trip: If you’re already considering a big family trip this year, make it a collaborative experience. Involve your kids in planning the trip, from deciding the destination to building the itinerary.
  2. Redesign A Room: Allow your kids to redesign their bedroom or playroom, allowing them to be part of deciding the room color, style, and maybe a few fun additions.
  3. An Escape Room: Get the family together, or let your kids invite a few friends to an Escape Room. They’re a blast, but they’re also a challenge and involve loads of communication with your team members.
  4. Group Games: Games like Pandemic require players to work together toward a mutual end goal.


While you can make volunteering a part of your holiday schedule, there are also physical gifts that teach the importance of giving back and learning about your community.

  1. Tickets to a Community Event: Buy tickets to a show at a community theater, or a family-oriented gala for a local charity and make a special day or night of it.
  2. Gifts That Give: Heifer International is a great example of giving a gift that gives back. Or, consider an organization that allows you to “adopt” an animal or child– these allow your family to see where the money is going and how it’s helping someone or something other than yourselves.
  3. Museum Membership: Support local institutions by giving an annual membership to your kids’ favorite museum. The Boston Children’s Museum and the Science Museum are great picks. If that’s too expensive, give the gift of a day trip to their favorite museum and include lunch with the family!
  4. Buy & Give Gifts: There are great companies that produce popular merchandise, but also give back for each item you buy. Toms is a “One for One” company, that gives one item to someone in need every time you buy one. One pair of shoes for your kid is a pair of shoes for somebody else’s. Also consider Lush’s Charity Pots, Cuddle and Kind, and Twice As Warm.


Not all educational games and activities have to be boring… and some are even disguised as things your kids like!

  1. Strategic Console Games: Not all gaming is bad. While we always suggest limited screen time, games like Civilization VI are a fun way for kids to put their critical thinking skills to use. Civilization VI allows kids to see their characters achieve civilization from the dawn of humanity through to different time periods.  Minecraft, Settlers of Catan, and LittleBigPlanet are other great critical thinking games.
  2. Hands-on & Minds-on Toy Sets: Magna Tiles, SnapCircuits, Qwirkle, and Castle Logix are great critical thinking toys for younger kids.
  3. Money & Money Management Gifts: Money and checks as gifts get a bad rap. I can assure you, though, your kids don’t mind… especially your teens! Don’t just give them the money and leave it at that, though. Instead, include a money-management tool. Consider giving a check along with a Smart Trio Piggy Bank. This money-managing system is a kid-friendly way to teach budgeting and saving through banks for spending, saving, and sharing.


Aren’t we always trying to get our kids to be better communicators?

  1. Board Games & Tabletop Games: Board games are coming back in style, and there are plenty that involve team playing and require effective communication skills.
  2. Pretend Toys: Younger kids would love a new play-kitchen or imaginative toys, which are great ways to learn communication and social skills.
  3. Language Classes or Software: While this might seem like a chore to some kids, there are teens out there who would love to learn a new language.
  4. Journals & Personalized Stationery: For kids who love to write, a new leather-bound journal and fun writing utensils might excite them. Or, give the Wreck This Journal a try.
  5. Drama Camp: Do you have a kid that is interested in theater? Sending your kid to camp is not only a fun activity, but a great way for them to get comfortable making new friends, learning new skills, and performing in front of a crowd.
  6. Writing Workshop: If your teen loves to write, send them to a creative writing workshop or conference.

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