Old-school Presents

By Kristen Castillo

October 24, 2016 5 min read

Who says gifts for kids have to be high-tech? This holiday season and beyond, it's OK to go unplugged. Instead of giving gadgets and devices, give kids presents that rely on creativity and imagination.

Check out eight toys, games and activities that'll keep kids entertained and inspired and help them dapple into their creative sides without the pressure to rely on something high-tech.

*Lego Classic

Builders young and old will love constructing towers, cars, animals and more with Lego Classic Bricks Box. While the set comes with some building suggestions, the innovative possibilities are endless.


Kids who love transportation can grow their imagination and create cities and towns for their cars with PlayTape, by InRoad Toys. The Hot Wheels PlayTape is particularly eye-catching for little ones. Plus the product travels well, stimulating young minds to design roads and tracks on the go.


Give kids a mental challenge this holiday season! By playing chess, kids can learn patience, strategy and concentration.

With the Shesham travel chess set, from Ten Thousand Villages, kids also learn about giving back to others. Sales of the chess set help pay for food, education, health care and housing for artisans from 35 countries around the world.

This set, which is portable and folds on hinges, has pegged pieces that stay in place.


A board game that helps kids and adults develop their skills of persuasion? Debate club -- look out!

"Sway," a positive party game, encourages players to debate the "pro" side of every issue. The game has 500 topics, including the positive aspects of being abducted by aliens or the pros of the invention of the telephone. Challenges are thrown in too, such as speak in a foreign accent or do yoga while debating.

*Little Free Library

Kids who enjoy reading will love sharing their book collection with their own

Little Free Library book exchange. Here's how it works: You can buy a pre-assembled wooden library or make your own from a kit, then paint and decorate it. Place your "micro library" in your front yard, fill it with books, and start sharing your love of reading with your friends and neighbors.

*Kid Made Modern Craft Kits

Get out the glue sticks! Crafty kiddos are always designing, decorating and creating cool things. Kid Made Modern craft kits meet those needs with a variety of project kits like the Wooden Robot Kit, where kids can decorate a robot with paint and stickers; and the Winter Wonderland Kit, where children can paint polar bears, mountains and trees.

KMM calls its Arts and Crafts Library "an executive craft master's dream." The kit includes 510 beads and sequins, 348 fuzzy sticks, 105 pompoms, 40 sticker-back jewels, 40 craft sticks and nine wooden discs.

*Marbulous Marble Run

Kids will squeal and laugh when playing with the Marbulous Marble Run, made by toy company EduShape. It helps kids develop their motor skills, spatial relationships and logic.

The colorful plastic tracks can be redesigned to a child's amusement. Then load the marbles and have fun watching them roll down the track.

*Not Parent Approved

What better way to get a kid interested in a game than if you say the game isn't parent-approved? Not Parent Approved is a new kid-friendly game for kids 8 or older that's billed as "an inappropriately appropriate card game for mischief makers."

During each round, a player asks an open-ended question and players respond with the funniest response on the card they've been dealt. Responses are silly and the designated "Burp Boss" chooses the best answer.

The game, which is inspired by the Cards Against Humanity, has 455 cards. Reviewers praise it saying the game is so entertaining for kids that they forget screen time. The game won a Tillywig Award for best family fun.

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