Something you want, Something you need … Christmas gift inspiration

Need some inspiration for gifts to buy the kids this Christmas? Or perhaps you’re looking to rein in the gift giving with more practical presents? “Something You Want” is a simple little rhyme that helps to get your gift giving into perspective!

Whether you stick to the whole thing or just take some of it for inspiration, we’ve got some great ideas for the kids’ Christmas presents.


Something you want

This is the easy one! Just take a sneak peek at your child’s Christmas wish list, find something that’s a bit cheaper than the Mona Lisa and won’t cause your neighbours to call noise control and you’re all set.

Something you need

With a new school year starting after the holidays, don’t feel like it’s a cop-out to purchase a few essentials and wrap them up for Christmas. A new pencil case, colouring-in pencils, a school bag or lunch box can be personal enough to get away with them being gratefully accepted on Christmas Day.

The ‘something you need’ present is the practical one, so don’t be fooled by the kids demands that they “neeeeed” that new video game or the latest sneakers. They might NEED a new beach towel or duvet, a BYOD for schoolwork or sports gear. Imagine Christmas didn’t exist and think about what you would spend your budget on for them first – that’s what they need.

Something to wear

Try to avoid opting for a bulk pack of 20 tighty whities or a billion hair ties that YOU will be picking up off the floor until Easter. Consider a party dress, funky socks, sunglasses, togs, wetsuits or sunhats. They’re still practical ideas but with a hint of fun, especially as the summer holidays start. Dress ups also fit the category if you would rather not buy more clothes.

Something to read

Reading is by far and away the most important academic skill that your child will learn. Of course, kids could care less and the prospect of unwrapping a book on Christmas Day isn’t going to appeal to every kid, so keep it fun. Interactive books are great for keeping little ones busy while they learn. For a special storybook that you can read together or independently, New Zealand authors are by far and away the best (we’re not biased at all!). You can’t go wrong with Hairy Maclary, The Little Yellow Digger, Wonky Donkey or anything by Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley or Maurice Gee. Instructional books on how to draw or play a musical instrument, books based on favourite movies, or biographies about someone that inspires them also make great gift choices.

Something to make

This one will really get you thinking! Kids who enjoy crafts are pretty easy to shop for as stores like Whitcoulls and Spotlight stock a range of craft kits. You can also find science kits for the inquisitive kids.

If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you could purchase the materials and provide them with instructions on how to create something. Our Christmas Activities, Christmas Ideas and Activity Finder craft sections have lots of ideas.

Kids who love to cook (or those who are keen to try) might love a cookbook along with a kid’s baking set including utensils, bowls, apron, etc. Our Christmas Food and Cooking for Kids section has lots of recipe ideas.

For the budding gardeners, wrap up some seeds, gloves, a trowel, and a pot, and see how green those thumbs are!

And somewhere to go

Parents who have done the whole present thing over and over again absolutely love this option. Instead of something material, give your child an experience. Some ideas include:

  • A term of dance, gymnastics, horseriding or martial arts classes – discover classes for all kinds of activities in our Directory
  • A multi-trip ticket to the local pools
  • A cinema gift card (include enough for the popcorn!)
  • Concert or sports match tickets

If you want to keep the budget down, make up an itinerary for a full day of things that they love to do – bushwalk, picnic at the park, swim at the beach, etc. Commit to a date so they can count down the days and bring along a friend or the rest of the family.

A few things from Santa

This is the option that allows you to add a few little things from the jolly man in red. Many parents nominate the stocking stuffers to be from Santa while the big-ticket items come from family.


  1. Bevik1971 20/12/2017 at 3:06 pm

    I love this “rule” for Christmas 🙂 We buy our nearly 5 year old 1 biggish thing for Christmas and for her birthday (which just happens to be Boxing Day!) and a few little stocking fillers as well. Clothes are always great, especially as she’ll be starting school next year and no uniform. I usually get her books from the library but buy the occasional one and she often gets one or two at Christmas from family too 🙂

  2. kymmage 19/12/2017 at 10:31 pm

    I generally don’t buy things to wear as most of the grandparents do that. But we definitely do the one big thing they want. And I love doing experience gifts – concert tickets, show tickets, a nice trip somewhere.

  3. Angelgirl081 27/11/2017 at 7:55 pm

    I really need to do this next year (too late this year) I am really bad at seeing stuff on sale throughout the year and buying it, then putting it away for Christmas. Then it gets to Christmas time and I have bought way too much stuff. My kids have too much c**p haha.

  4. Jen_Wiig 21/11/2017 at 9:10 pm

    Love these ideas abit more of a broader idea to the somerhing to wear, read, need and want. I try to stick to this but do find I make excuses as to why they “need” it haha I’m a suckered for Xmas and the spirit of giving lol. I do love the somewhere to go idea… Gives us something to do as a whole family and fill the long holidays up abit

  5. Mands1980 18/11/2017 at 12:35 pm

    I love these ideas it’s something I would have not all thought of without reading it

  6. Bevik1971 17/11/2017 at 11:05 am

    LOVE this!! Our daughter’s birthday is Boxing Day!! So makes it even more difficult haha. I already have something to wear for her for Christmas (she will only get 1 item for her birthday), but on the hunt for something to read and I would love her to start some dance classes, hip hop or something so that’s something I can add!

  7. felicity beets 16/11/2017 at 6:23 pm

    always find clothes and books handy and well used. love the somewhere to go idea – experiences to look forward to after christmas with the whole family – creating wonderful memories 🙂

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