A little pre-James Garfield Miracle post

So.  If you’ve been here long enough you know that every year we do The James Garfield Miracle, a strange but lovely event where people who might not otherwise be able to give their kids a present during Christmas/Hanukkah/whateveryoucelebrate post their small wishlist and then strangers randomly fill their lists.  It is wonderful.  And terrible.

Wonderful because…honestly, I don’t have enough room to put all the stories here and we’ve been doing it long enough that kids who were gifted once are now gifting other families.  Some of these stories absolutely melt me and I’m so lucky to have been able to witness them or be a part of them.

And it’s terrible because of all the reasons you might expect.  Mostly because after a decade of giving, the few scammers have found us and even though there aren’t many it can feel so disheartening and exhausting to deal with.

So many of you offered to help and I cannot thank you enough for all that you do and all that you offer but that is a giant responsibility with lots of potential issues and I never want to be in a position where I (or anyone on my behalf) has to decide who needs help and who doesn’t or who has to handle money or confidential information.  And honestly there are already organizations out there who do this incredibly, like Toys for Tots and Elf Louise and a bunch of wonderful local groups and I totally encourage you to check them out right now if you need help or if you want to help.

So…will we still have The James Garfield Miracle this year?

Yes.  But in a smaller and simpler way.

In the last ten years (ten years!) the miracle grew to include clothes and food and gift certificates and tech and shoes and it got nuts.  And frankly, I understand the temptation some people had to ask for a lot because it’s scary to be without.  But this year we’re going back to the simple way this started.  Just one simple, but lovely present for each child.  Does your kid need a present?  Awesome.  Because I really want to give them one.

So this year I’m going to come up with a few different choices that I think are great presents and if you need one you can choose one of those toys to put on your list.  Or if you have two children you can pick two from the list.  You get the idea.  The main thing that I want to do is to make it to where the few scammers realize it’s not worth pretending to be people just so they can get extra play-doh.  Plus, this is simpler and less overwhelming for parents and hopefully it will be much easier for everyone.  And who knows…maybe in the future we’ll get big again.   But for now, this seems good.

It’s totally okay if you decide not to help out this year and as always we’ll also be supporting Project Night Night (which sends wonderful care packages to displaced kids throughout the year).  I have a few thousand dollars saved up to help buy toys but you should know that all of that money came from ads or affiliate links or book sales so even if you don’t spend anything know that you are helping people just by being here.

We won’t start this until next month but I do need some help now.  The first thing that I need is any suggestions for what the gifts should be.  I’m looking for substantial gifts that Prime eligible, are between $20-35 each, and that span from baby to teen but that an adult wouldn’t really be tempted to have.  (Things I’m look at are:  a magnetic building block set, a fancy art set for teens, a kids art set, a lego set, exploding kittens (the game, not actual kittens), a fluffy stuffed animal, the hardcover set of Curious George, etc.)  Any suggestions?

The second thing I need is for you to share any suggestions you might have for people who are struggling this year.  I suspect almost all of us have been there and if you are struggling please know that you are not alone.  Just being with your children is a wonderful thing and it is not a lie to say that your kids favorite toy is you.  Personally one of my favorite xmas memories was when my mom made a giant kettle of popcorn and we used a needle and thread to make giant strings of it to hang all over the house (And each other) and then my mom read us a million library books.  To this day it is one of my favorite memories.

Thank you all for listening and for supporting and for just being altogether awesome.  More on this in a week or two.


297 thoughts on “A little pre-James Garfield Miracle post

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Love it, thank you! I typically send multiple gifts, but last year definitely pushed the limits of ‘disheartening’…can’t wait to see the relaunch!!

  2. Definitely the art sets. I want to say books, but I suspect that could go badly.The fluffy stuffed animal. Legos sound fun. I’ll come back if I think of more.

  3. As someone who has benefited from the James Garfield Christmas a few times, when I’ve struggled to meet the needs of my kids, I’m not terribly interested in getting them toys. I registered for diapers and winter coats. Because even though there are systems in place for needy families, we don’t qualify for them, and I’ve not met anyone who does. So choosing toys is good, but maybe include winter coats too? In children’s sizes. Just a suggestion

  4. My boys, ages 4 & 8, like magnetic sand. I teach 4th grade, and my kiddos like it too. The Smile book series is also popular with boys and girls in upper elementary and middle school.

    (Hailey loves magnetic sand too and she’s a teen. Good one. ~ Jenny)

  5. Hi Jenny,
    The Harry Potter illustrated books are beautiful and magical. There are 4 currently available and each one is within the price range. Thanks for carrying on the magic of JG.

    (Ooh…that is a great idea. ~ Jenny)

  6. I know that my kids love stuffed toys and creative activities. I’ll see what they can think of

  7. I make custom tumblers (yeti type) and would like to donate some if you’d like them.

  8. Little People sets are a big hit with my younger children right now. Also the Melissa and Doug wooden food sets.

  9. Board games, like Ticket to Ride, Villianous, Catan or Clue. All solid choices for 8+. Ticket to Ride and Catan also have junior versions to get younger kinds in on the play.

  10. Jenny,
    You are so generous with your words, talents, and gifts. Scammers are scamming every second, so I like your ideas of how to prevent them. I’m a high school teacher, and there will always be cheaters, and it’s so stinking disheartening, but there are kids who are truly grateful for the generous thoughts and presents you encourage and provide. Anyhow, I know teen girls better than boys, and they are really into matte colored nail polish, slipper socks, board games, journals, fuzzy blankets, body pillow, and a copy of YOU ARE HERE with some colored pencils.

  11. I am SO happy you continue to do this every year. I haven’t been in a place to help much in the past, but I may be able to do so this year. A few suggestions: science experiments (volcano, tornado, etc.), book sets, step-on piano, Kids Create Absurdity, LED Finger gloves, kid’s binoculars, games like Candy Land, Life, Sorry, Uno, etc., aquadoodle mat, unicorn helicopter. I don’t have any kids, but I woulda loved getting those things when I was little.

    SIDENOTE: Shoutout to those of you who are STILL sending me well wishes and surprise packages for my cancer journey, because of this blog. I haven’t been able to send all of you thank yous just yet (postage was a challenge), but I’m working on it. I hope to have those out by the end of the year. <3 thank you! I love being a part of this family.

  12. I think this resolves many issues of last years chaos!
    Maybe LOL dolls? Theyre super “hip”
    The small nook is on sale for 30$
    Maybe a few sensory friendly options? A projection light? A fidgit assortment? A body sock? Monkey noodles? I know alot of families have special needs kids too.

  13. The folks who did Exploding Kittens also created ‘Bears vs. Babies.’ My former ‘wouldn’t touch this for anything’ young middle school students loved it. It’s pretty whacked. And books! On another front- next year, when your bookstore is open, you could do a ‘mitten tree’ that patrons could support- this is more personal and less likely to get scammers. If you need the particulars, email me and I’ll explain it.

  14. I donate smaller toys, ones that will get a lot of love but that are easy to take with you. Mini Hot Wheels sets, craft kits (especially ones that can make a blanket or small pillow for comfort), coloring books and crayons. I also donate a lot of new socks and underwear in all sizes.

  15. Book series like Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia or Ender’s Game. An art supplies kit. A STEM gift like a build-your-own motor or a chemistry set. Get those kids into the arts and sciences!
    It’s a great thing you do. <3

  16. That you have to go to these extreme measures is heartbreaking. That you have this marvelous solution is heartwarming. No suggestions, just pulling out the wallet to chip in. 🙂

  17. Board games, art sets of all kinds, memory/scrapbooks, terrariums, walkie talkies; fun socks, hats and scarves; magic kits, unusual puzzles, science sets, costume kits…

  18. I agree with books, as well as magnetic tiles. Those are a BIG hit with my son and his friends, and have been for several years now.

  19. Journals (gender neutral themed – boys need journals too). Nice pens (middle school kids can groove on nice office supplies). Gel pens.

  20. Other books that middle school age kids are reading: A Dog’s Purpose (trilogy), The Maze Runner (4 or 5 books), Life As We Knew It (4 books). Also manga, fidget cubes, magic moon sand, fuzzy scrunchies, and Squishies.

  21. Anything crafty (weaving, jewelry making, Fimo clay, easy sewing kits) or artsy were favorites with my kids. They also really liked the Munchkin card game that has a TON of expansions! I’ll keep thinking 😊

  22. I think this is a fantastic idea. I LOVE the Creatable World Delux Character Kit! Great for any and all ages. They are on Amazon for around $22-$25.

  23. My high school classes definitely have lots of doodlers in them so yes to art sets. What about your favorite graphic novels? I have lots of students who like those or even a set of a series like The Maze Runner or something more fantasy based. Mortal Instruments??? Not sure about that one. Warm fleece zip up. Long cardigan for teen girls.

  24. I think you’re doing a lovely thing. As for the suggestions you’ve asked for:
    For artistic teens – a multi pack of sharpies
    For toddlers on up – I’ve heard great things about boogie boards (lil lcd writing table things? I know of quite a few ESL teachers that swear by them and they are less than $25 on Amazon)
    Amazon has a comic book making kit which sounds amazing.

    Also – as for those that are struggling this year – a few years ago, I was in a horrific horrific funk. Probably a grief/trauma induced depression that I chose to struggle through on my own, stupidly, instead of seeking help. Something that helped during the month of December was making an advent activity calendar so each day my kids and I had something to look forward to. They were simple things that didn’t cost much money or take much effort (candy cane hunts, Garfield Christmas special, sledding on the stairs in sleeping bags when the weather didn’t cooperate) but it brought a little bit of extra cheer during a really dark time. It’s a tradition we’ve kept going. Pro-tip on the candy cane hunt – get different flavors/colors for each kid. Dollar Tree has boxes for a dollar!

  25. Cars. My boys (who are grown men now) loved matchbox cars when they were young. They are cheap enough that you could get a multi-car set or include a racetrack or garage or some other accessory. I don’t have daughters so I don’t know girl stuff but maybe some sort of bath fizzie thing.

  26. 64 crayolas and coloring books, puzzles, deck of cards, yoyos, jacks, checkers, backgammon, chess, teddy bears, slinkys, starter ukulele, kites, and DOMINOES. That’s all I got.

  27. Since one former recipient weighed in about coats, maybe hoodies, fleece jackets, sweater jackets would work.

  28. Craft kits, art supplies are a must! Board games are always a huge hit with all ages. There are Eye Spy games that are a lot of fun. Barbies are always a good staple and some of the accessories, like the car etc, fit into the price point. Science kits and books are always great too. And I know some teenagers who love to cook so cookbooks (Chrissy Teigen’s is AWESOME!) would be a great gift for them.

  29. Just a note to say that I love that you’ve created this, and I love that there are so many people willing to help. It helps my spirit more than anyone could know just to even witness it.

  30. For teens, Amazon essentials makes a very budget friendly hoodie. I asked for it for my kids last year and they are still wearing them. They hold up!!!!

  31. The simplified JGM is brilliant and sounds like it will be easier for everyone involved.
    I don’t have little ones in my life right now so will leave the suggestions to the experts. But I wanted to thank you for introducing me to Project Night Night. It’s my go-to charity for people who suggest making a donation in lieu of a gift and everyone has absolutely loved it!

  32. To those who are struggling, one of my favorite things to do with my daughter is on the 12 days of Christmas leading up to Christmas Eve, we watch a different Christmas movie each day. And you can borrow them from the library! We try not to repeat ones and man are there a lot out there to choose from!

  33. Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano Wooden Musical Toddler Toy, Ages 12 months + $22.97
    VTech Tote and Go Laptop, Pink $22 Age 3-6 years


    Monster Illuminessence Small Space LED Mood Lighting Kit with Premium RF Touch Remote That Controls All Lights at The Same Time
    Introducing Monster Illuminessence. Color-changing LED lighting for instant ambiance in one simple to set-up kit. There’s no complicated device and software setup. Ideal for cozy spaces like bedrooms, office, bathrooms, or anywhere you want to bring your world to life with color. $14.88 Walmart My 18 year old daughter loves these!

  34. Any kind of slime-making kit, classic games like Guess Who? or Candyland, Play-Doh is awesome, and you can’t go wrong with arts and crafts. Puzzles are great, too!

  35. Memberships to the zoo, children’s museum, children’s theatre performances. Harry Potter costumes or any type of costume (in children’s sizes). Colorful knit hats/scarves (I’m assuming The Miracle isn’t limited to just southern TX). Child-sized instruments. (PS – I’ve been preaching the Gospel of Jenny Lawson in Topeka for the past 6 months; you have several new fans here.)

  36. I like Duplo Legos. The all in one fun box is around $18 on Amazon now and comes with the storage box. My 4 year old builds with his constantly. I love them because they allow for creativity; he builds something different every time so they have a lot of play value if that makes sense, and they’re big enough not to be a choking hazard for the child or younger siblings the way classic Legos are.

  37. As a voracious reader, I was discouraged when my child didn’t seem interested in picking up a book. Then he was given a collection of Calvin & Hobbes comics. It was like a gateway drug to reading—he read all C&H collections then moved onto other comics. Soon he was tearing through all the books he could get his hands on. Yay! So my suggestion is comics collections. Let’s make more readers!

  38. With a 9 year old and a 16 year old boy I try and find stuff that they can do together or something that works for both age groups because what one wants the other wants. Here’s a few things on our wish list

    CIRO solar robot kit 12 in 1 educational STEM learning science building toys for kids age 8-12

    4M 3D Glow-in-the-Dark Solar System Mobile Making Kit – DIY Science Astronomy Learning Stem Toys Educational Gift for Kids & Teens, Girls & Boys

    Melissa & Doug Created By Me – Striped Fleece Quilt

    Alex DIY Knot-A-Quilt Pattern Kids Art and Craft Activity

    Actually any gender neutral craft or art kit by Alex or Melissa & Doug is great.

    Any Star Wars Puzzles or Thomas Kinkade Disney Puzzles.

    Table top games such as catan, munchkin, and ticket to ride. The junior versions are way more fun then the adult ones.

    Card games such as Just Desserts, Munchkin, Superfight, and the meme game.

  39. Unicorn and llama Monopoly
    Glow in the dark Picasso magna Tiles
    Perler beads craft sets. The pattern ones you iron and it looks like pokemon or a emoji or whatever
    Radio flyer double intertube sleds
    Fisher Price bubble mowers
    Mega bloks sets

  40. Books, art sets, board games, card games, yes yes yes! Maybe some cute slipper socks (I got some really thick, cozy ones last christmas and they have a little fox face and ears), writing journals/diaries. 3 D Puzzles. Those faux shearling/sherpa blankets or funky throw pillows.
    I’m getting my nieces these awesome wall tapestries each with their favorite animal, for an impractical bit of whimsy. 🙂
    I’m glad that this whole event is still going to happen, and scaling it back this way is for the best, like a reboot! <3 I’m just excited to be able to buy gifts for my own family for the first time in … several years. I’m hoping to be able to contribute to this beloved event as well. xoxox

  41. I’d like the gifts limited to books and clothes for newborns. If you want to give other items, there are many organizations you can donate to. Maybe you could provide a list these organizations with links for people wanting to donate items and/or money and do so in your name.

  42. Amazon has some great kits for kids like Art Jars, science kits (the terrarium one is awesome) and craft kits. Or just go old school. Remember Spirographs? The Snoopy Snow Cone Machine? Lightbright? All great gifts for kids that most adults wouldn’t care much about.

    One of my favorite holiday memories was my mother pulling out her scraps of cloth, lace and ribbons to make “Christmas Clothes” for all of our old stuffed animals and dolls. We couldn’t afford regular decorations and a tree but we had so much fun creating little outfits together for matted Teddy Bears and Old dirty Cabbage Patch Kids and all the rest. Then we placed them all over our little duplex apartment like a toy Christmas Party. My mom made it fun and that memory will always stand out for me. Love to all the struggling Moms and Dads our there. You are amazing and your babies will never forget the special memories you make together. You could be making mud pies in the yard, it doesn’t matter. Make the memories, make it fun!

  43. Unstoppable Unicorns is a game that let’s you make a unicorn army. Shadows in the Forest is also a really cool board game.

  44. As someone who has been participating in this for years, I always looked for people who were asking for things like coats, shoes, etc. I understand that that becomes difficult to deter those individuals that are looking to benefit but I’m willing to to give a few scammers $30 coats if it also keeps kids warm.

  45. Squishy Circuits
    Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spining Treats Maker
    Creativity For Kids Grow ‘N Glow Terrarium
    Crayola Model Magic
    Yarn Unicorn Kit
    Kinetic Play Sand
    Connect 4
    Checkers or Chess Set
    Classic Magic 8 Ball

  46. Nathan Hale books for older elementary kids. Magnatiles are fun for everyone! RumiKub is a great family game for 8+ yrs, The Selection Series book for middle school girls. Rated is a new book that was popular in a school book club project. Art kits, puzzles, legos, building kits.

  47. I would like to suggest Lupita Nyongo’s book, Sulwe. It is an exquisitely written and illustrated children’s book about the beauty of the individual, of uniqueness and community.
    But I am 100% behind the smaller JG.

  48. Unisex backpacks and duffel bags. These are great for foster parents (like me) to gift to foster kiddos who are reunifying with their biological families around the holidays! It helps us avoid packing their belongings in plastic bags.

    Also: legos, Duplos, craft kits for multiple age groups, value packs of colourful socks, small book sets.

  49. A suggestion from another of my favorite bloggers who creates great gift lists each year (and she’s got five kids so you know, voice of experience) BONAOK Wireless Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone $29.99 and Prime eligible. She says there has never been a toy that has been played with as much in their house! By her kids but also by visiting kids, ultimate seal of approval!

  50. Below are a few recommendations:

    We LOVE Everywhere babies and 10 little fingers and 10 little toes which are both included in this boxed set (we read both when my daughter was still an infant and she still asks for them at 2yo): https://www.amazon.com/dp/0544531213/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_7OE3DbHV3JGZB

    My 2 year old would love this doll and b az by set: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D20AATK/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_q0E3Db0PDX90G

    Lego creator sets are always good because you can make more than one thing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GXBRFBW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_y5E3DbVZA1H1P

    Games can be great for getting the family together: giggle wiggle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IFMFXV0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_07E3DbRN9F5GT

    Telestrations https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001SN8GF4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_McF3DbFTHK54C

    My nephew had this marble run and everyone from the adults to my 2yo was mezmerized: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FVM1T7M/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H-E3DbXTEBDS0

  51. LEGO and books are pretty universal. Practical stuff like cold weather outerwear would likely be appreciated as well. All the toddlers I know adore Paw Patrol, so perhaps a toy from that show too.

  52. I truly feel if someone is asking for clothes for Whateveryoucelebrate…
    They need them ❤❤❤
    Should clothes/coats/shoes be allowed?
    Perhaps children’s sizes only?

    (The problem is that it quickly turns to coats and then shoes and then food and then gift cards and then stuff for mom and dad and then uncles and it snowballs so quickly. Maybe after xmas though we can open a post up to anyone who needs it and if people want to they can help. But for this December I think limiting it to one toy per kid might help keep the craziness of last year from happening again. ~ Jenny)

  53. When my kids were in Kindergarten they enjoyed Bristle Blocks. They are easier and safer to handle for 3+ yo children, and on Amazon. Great gender neutral toy.

  54. Hi Jenny and all my wierdos out there-

    I have one that is obsessed with everything succulent, another fun fidget is Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty, so many to choose from. I have one teen boy who.love love loves the small metal put together models available at Hobby Lobby. Bless all yall!

  55. Board and card games ! Puzzles ! Art sets, science/stem kits, craft sets, jewelry making, candle making, slime making kits, create your own journals, there are even create your own make-up and bath bomb kits…Anything creative or hands-on. I still love books the best ! The magnetic blocks are great. just make sure age appropriate and I do not recommend for homes with little ones or dogs. 🙁
    It awesome you are still doing this for the little ones ! My youngest turned 18 this past March. No little ones left for me (but they will always be babies in my eyes) Though after looking at all the DIY kits…Can I be a little one this year ? They all look like so much fun !

  56. When I was a kid I adored anything that taught me how to make something, like bracelet making, make your own slime… and of course, books, books, books. Also, for girls, anything frozen 2, per my niece!

  57. Skateboards, scooters, makeup sets, digital camera, board games, writing supplies/ gel pens, fancy paper etc… baby dolls, barbies, colored pencils with coloring books, science kits, craft kits (friendship bracelets are very popular right now because of VSCO girl trend), Lincoln logs, hot wheels sets, Pokémon card packs, fun bath sets with bath bombs and color tabs and bubble bath and loofas, electronic games like the bop it type things, wooden building blocks, big comfy blanket hoodies like the ones at Sam’s club for 24.98, perfume sets, hygiene sets that might include soap, cologne, deodorant etc…

  58. Tinker toys, make up kits, dig kits, Percy Jackson series (books) are popular for upper elementary/middle school, Tim Greene sports books

  59. Jenny, you’re awesome!!

    For LEGO I would suggest a 3 in 1 or Classic set, not as flashy but more opportunity for creative play.
    Pokemon are cool for a lot of kids
    Any how to draw book with some simple pencil crayons.
    Bath bombs are pretty popular for older kids.
    For books there’s a New DogMan book coming out that is very popular for the Grade 1 – 4 level.

  60. Oh, if you go for board games Peaceable Kingdom is a really great brand of cooperative games.

    Also for babies any board book, Fisher Price Little people.
    Any creative play items like play food or doctor kits are pretty popular.

  61. Forbidden Island ($14) and Forbidden Desert ($19) on the Amazon, with Prime. Both are cooperation games, which means you are teaming up with the other players to beat the game itself. It’s fun and challenging, and makes you think strategically. We play both with our teens. If you want something similar, but, um, odder, try Trogdor the Burninator board game. It’s not yet available (so maybe for next year?) We kickstarted it and so just got our game last month. It’s fun to be yelling “Our Trogmeter is too low, we have to stop eating peasants!”

  62. Our office gives to kids each year. Most times they want warm or nicer clothes. And toys. Last year I gave a young man comfortable dress shoes and a load of Pokemon cards (and other clothes, including socks). I spent more than I planned, but I was darned if I was going to let a young man who asked for socks for Christmas not get fun things as well!
    And our office gave a play kitchen and play cooking things and a Disney comforter.
    Occasionally there is the request for tech, but mostly clothes and toys.

  63. I do much love you. And James Garfield. And giving. I think your idea this year is great. It was depressing last year getting angry at the few greedy peel who spoiled it for others. Keeping it sweet and simple is perfect. Books are wonderful. So are Exploding kittens (the game) and art sets. A present per child, one that can be enjoyed over and over. I’m in! 💕

  64. I think right-sizing the JGM is a great idea. I love buying gifts and have participated for several years but the last couple have been more stressful and I wasn’t sure how much I could follow along with the comments and not trigger anxiety issues for myself this year. I thought, it must be so hard for you, Jenny, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you needed to take a break from doing it at all. Knowing we all just want to help each other, you are doing your best to continue the event in the spirit that you started it. ❤️❤️❤️ You are a wonderful person and I’m so happy to have found your blog and books and community.

  65. Board games! They are I expensive, so you could do a gift pack of 3 or 4 of the classics in your price range for a variety of ages. Trouble, Sorry, Monopoly, Life, Connect Four, etc. I also love the illustrated Harry Potter idea and Legos. Maybe a book with each toy to hit the price range? And to build on what one poster said, if you can’t’t do coats, maybe it’s a care pack that has a board game, book, a 3-pack of socks and mittens?

  66. Zoey and Sassafras books are WONDERFUL (3-8 years)
    Tamora Pierce’s books are also WONDERFUL (9-15 years)
    Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game (3-6 years)

  67. I love this idea. It makes a lot of sense! I would suggest a rechargeable book light—got one when I was maybe 8 (but not rechargeable obviously since it was the eighties) and used it a lot. Great for reading, making a fort, or if the power goes out!

  68. There are a few Snap Circuits sets that fall into that price range and would be great for a wide range of ages. The Goldiblox building sets are nice, my daughter really enjoyed those when she was elementary school aged. Thank you so much for everything you do, you have such a big heart.

  69. My son is going to be having surgery soon after Christmas to try and save his kidneys for as long as possible. I know for him something that can be done from a prone position would be lovely. Either book sets like Captain Underpants or art sets that keep things organized and in one place would be great. Even the cheaper side of Nintendo Switch games, a lot of popular titles are going to be on sale for $25/$30. Even a gift card to the Nintendo store.

  70. I used to be able to give quite a lot, but things for my family have changed dramatically and permanently. I don’t want help. What this change has shown me is how expensive things are that I never used to even think about! And food is at the top of the list. There may be families who can’t get food stamps, or can’t spare any of them for a special treat of candy, ingredients for homemade cookies, or maybe a special Christmas dinner. Is there a way we can donate for grocery store gift certificates or something of that nature?

  71. Rubik’s Cubes are still popular with geeky middle school kids. Also brain teasers and tavern puzzles. Things they can fit in their pocket and fiddle with throughout the day when they’re bored. Hanayama has several types on Amazon in a variety of difficulty levels.

    The Stikbot toys are also popular with elementary kids. They are kind of like the hot wheels of action figures. Generic, poseable and come in a variety of colors, styles, animals, monsters and sets.

  72. Activity books to work thru. Like:

    Arts and craft supplies and craft/drawing ideas books

    Boredom Buster books – full of great free activity ideas for kids and families to do

    A deck of cards and ‘The ultimate book of family card games’ or ‘101
    Family card games

    My kids have loved working thru such activity books and trying out all the boredom’s busters, card games or drawing techniques. It’s a fun family activity working thru the books. I get a new one each year as a finally gift. This year I got the ‘“LEGO ideas” book and look forward to LEGO fun to come.

  73. Craft kits! They seem to market most to girls but tons would be great for anyone. And I love the idea of kids creating and then gifting it even selling their hand made projects. Good confidence booster and way to share their creativity with others.

  74. Books need to be bought from indie bookstores and NOT AMAZON! Thanks for attending my TED talk.

  75. A friend of mine created a journal called The Book of Good. It’s on Amazon in both Constellation and Nature covers. They’re $9.99 @ and Prime.

    I’m planning on buying some for gifts this year – and for myself.

    The other suggestion I have is a card game called Fluxx. It’s $14.73 and Prime. I love this game.

  76. There is a cooperative board game called Outfoxed. It’s for ages 5 and up, but it’s actually fun for older kids too. (The 15ish year old babysitter was talking about how much fun she had playing it with my 6 year old.) And it’s nice that everybody wins or loses together.


  77. Jenga, UNO (cardgame), Craft supplies (crayons, stamp sets), nice box (to keep all your treasures), puzzles

  78. My 12 year old son has some challenges and has a very limited scope of what can hold his attention. He’s never “played” with toys even as a toddler. I’m trying to steer away from video games and last year we discovered “Bop It”. It’s a handheld electronic toy that involves listening to prompts and responding quickly. Can play solo or with friends. There’s several versions. The other thing I’m hoping can get replaced for him is Perplexus puzzle balls. Again one of the few things that forces him to sit still and holds his attention. We used to have it but loaned it out and it never got replaced. For teen girls, scrunchies, bath bombs, mist diffuser/essential oils, face masks, etc.

    Also, for kids of any age, I encourage sports equipment. Anything to get them outside or off the couch. Soccer balls, Ice skates , rollerblades, scooter, mini hockey sticks, really anything involving physical activity.

  79. i have worked with homeless folks, and they always need warm socks and underwear. I saw Jeanette Winterson once and she said “I’ve always been someone who required another world” My sons loved ” choose your own adventure” books and legos. I concur with art sets too..

  80. Fisher-Price Think & Learn Smart Scan Color Chameleon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CL1FJQA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_BoI3Db8WB0N39 there are ones one prime if you look at thenother options. Just scroll down a bit. Any of the Fisher peice think and learn toys are awesome for toddlers. The rocktapus has memory games and like 20+ musical instruments. The chameleon was a favorite with my nephews and I think the code a pillar is down to 29 — it teaches a kid the basic idea of coding because how you link hisnsegments up dictate how and where he goes. Forward. Right turn circle. Etc.

  81. I’m so glad you’re still doing it this year. I was wondering, because I saw exactly how everything went down last year and while there were some really heartwarming stories, and my kids were definitely excited to receive their gifts, there will always be people who take advantage. But I’m glad you’re still here, being the angel that you are. I keep saying that next year I’m going to be more stable and be able to help instead of need help, but I’ve just accepted it until I finish college and get this degree and hopefully get a stable good paying job it probably won’t happen oh, so I’m going to be signing up as a recipient again this year but I will definitely be around to revel in the beauty ❤️
    Here are some gift suggestions-
    A tent, my 9 year old is obsessed with forts like a lot of kids are, and this is a cool way to keep your house from being draped in blankets. Here’s a reasonably priced one-
    Pacific Play Tents 40205 Super Duper 4 Kids Playhouse Tent – 58″ x 58″ x 46″ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00083HOXA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_7DI3Db4KW34Y9
    Definitely books! From the plastic ones babies can chew on to…dare I say…your books?
    Coats, shoes, pajamas, stuffed animals, science kits, educational flashcards, scooters, craft sets…

    I love this idea! Can’t wait to see it in action.
    Also, for families looking for help, the USPS has a program where your kid can write a letter to Santa that can be adopted by a volunteer. You can find info by googling USPS santa

  82. Boardgames! Let them pick their own board game as long as it fits the price limit. Books!There are so many great books out there! I think limiting the categories is ok as long as they can still pick within the category something that their child would be actually interested in. Not all kids like to play the same kind of games and there are some great games out there. Not sure if you want to go in the direction of PlayStation gift cards/Xbox ones but a lot of kids like videogames too and that could potentially be an option since it would allow the child to pick their own digital copy of a videogame or to buy fun stuff for games that they already have. I love how kind your heart is and that you continue to be so amazing year after year!

  83. I definitely want to add a vote for clothing, because trying to get decent clothing (especially for teenagers, because we all remember how awful being unfashionable in high school was) when you’re on a tight budget but don’t qualify for assistance can be a nightmare.

    You can’t go wrong with giant stuffed animals. My dad gave me a giant stuffed dog for Christmas when I was 18 and I held onto that thing well into my 20s (I would still have it if it hadn’t been practically flattened from using it as a pillow so often). In my experience, little kids are very impressed by the 20″-30″ animals. Some of them push that $35 limit, but Amazon has a 39″ stuffed bear for a little over $30. https://www.amazon.com/MorisMos-Footprints-Stuffed-Animals-inches/dp/B01LWNO7J8/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=giant+stuffed+animal&qid=1574841311&sr=8-4

    Some of my favorite “toys” growing up weren’t actually toys, but “grown-up” things made for kids. A little purse, plastic costume jewelry, and when I was a little older inexpensive makeup or nail polish kits.

    I like toys that encourage kids to develop some kind of engineering skills; Lego, K’Nex, Erector Sets and things of that nature.

    Board games are always good (and encourage family time). My teenage nephews like this one their dad got them last year called Dead of Winter. It’s a zombie survival strategy game that requires everyone to work together to survive. You can find a lot of the classic board games we grew up with (Battleship, Life, Trouble, Guess Who, etc…) on Amazon for under $20.

    Along the line of Exploding Kittens, there’s also Unstable Unicorns (ages 14+), Taco vs Burrito (ages 7+), Not Parent Approved (which, despite its name, is for ages 8+).

  84. I’m an administrator for a program for students with autism. They range from 5-21. I love many of the suggestions here! I would add body socks, stuffed animals with color changing sequins, plastic animal play sets, costumes for kid sizes, puzzles, building kits, racing kits, fans, sets of matchbox cars/planes/transportation whatevers, bean bags, and balls of different sizes and textures. (I’m mentally going through classrooms and kids, trying to think of favorite items they return to over and over again.) I think this is the right direction for this year and I am so glad you decided to continue the tradition.

  85. I know some of you have the desire to feed those who are hungry (give grocery gift cards, etc) and there are great organizations nationally you can donate to that in turn directly helps feed the needy. I used to work w/and volunteer for a food bank-Second Harvest Food bank in Orange County CA. A truly remarkable organization I had the privilege to work for.

    Food banks coordinate and provide foods to local charities, who then distributes those to the hungry in the surrounding communities. When I worked there we additionally directed hungry people to local pantries near them that distributed food, and there was a department that helped people sign up for CalFresh (food stamps). You can donate your time, funds, coordinate a food drive at your job, etc. Anything you can do or donate makes a difference in your community. The food bank I worked with is affiliated with Feeding America which has locations nationwide. If anyone needs help or is interested in helping, here is Feeding America’s site and also Second Harvest’s site:



    As for toys I know I loved My Little Ponies growing up and the book “The Secret Garden.” “The Poky Little Puppy” was also a dear favorite as was Teddy Ruxbin and the glow worm. Also I’ve heard that the Sesame Street book “C is for Cooking,”
    is amazing to introduce little ones to cooking.

  86. Bears Vs Babies is an awesome game made by the same creators of exploding kittens. It’s a little more diverse and it stays interesting longer though because the game is so interactive. As a teen myself I know that others would surely enjoy it.

  87. Creatable World dolls! They’re $30 each and the dolls themselves are gender-neutral (they come with rooted short hair and a long wig that can be added if kids want their doll to have long hair). All the clothes are mix-and-match, and they’re marketing the dolls as for all kids. For $30 you get a doll, a wig, and enough mix-and-match clothing items for 3 full outfits that can be combined in any way.

  88. BOOKS! Wooden blocks, bath toy sets (with ducks), slime kits, play food, toy dinosaurs, capes, tents, fun flashlights, 3d puzzles.

  89. Personally, when things are hard, my favorite escapes are books, movies, and arts and crafts.

    Cool art ideas are:
    yarn and crochet hooks (people can make their own hats or something! It’s cool and fun to do and helps with anxiety for many people and it also gives a lasting thing). And the hooks will also last for if they do some time have enough money for cheap yarn.
    Some good quality sketch paper and some pens or pencils
    Other diy things like a make your own gingerbread house kit?

    For movies, you could for example do a movie and a set of pjs. Or a movie and a popcorn kit. Also helping people with less money for clothes to gift their kids some brand new pjs (perfect for sleepovers at a friend’s party in the new year too) or to have some snacks that would otherwise not be bought

    Maybe include some options for people that really need clothes, like a book with a pair of cozy socks. Or a cheaper card game with a tshirt/sweater w/e.

  90. PERFECT! I love this. I was just thinking about James Garfield. I want to do it, but I am like you. The scammers can’t take everything nice, you know?

    The Adorable Circle of Life coloring book, or something comparable, and some gel pens would be awesome.The pages are not too complicated to color for a kid, and the theme might make adults laugh.

    A hardcover of Anne of Green Gables or The Hobbit (perfect for reading to little ones) and a coloring book.

    The Phantom Tollbooth

    The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

    Squishables. They are the most bestest. https://www.squishable.com/

    There are many, many great superhero or Minecraft Lego sets available, too.

    As far as making memories, I, too, remember stringing popcorn, and it was magical. Spending time reading Christmas stories (The Little Drummer Mouse along with the classics), if religious, attending a church service. There are some beautiful Advent devotions online that are free. Spending time every day talking about the meaning of Christmas can help refocus.

    Help others. Make a craft out of construction paper, glue, and glitter (I know, it’s the Devil’s craft supply) and deliver to people at a nursing home. Make fudge or brownies and take them to fire fighters. It’s cheap, and sometimes being able to do something for someone else, feeling like you have something to GIVE, makes the holiday special.

    Watch Christmas movies. They can be free on TV, or a free loan from a public library. Play Christmas music, sing together in the car or around the tree. Read those special books by candlelight or under the Christmas tree if you have one.

    Eat dinner together and talk about what you’re grateful for. Even when we were at our most poor, we had so many things to be thankful for. Sometimes focusing on what we HAVE makes it easy to forget what we don’t have.

    I say this every year. To all the parents who are struggling, don’t stress it. My mom was a single parent, and some years she had no money to make Christmas. She bought us each one carefully chosen toy (like, really cheap toy), and we felt like we had the best Christmas ever. The ones she cried over when she looked at the bare tree were the ones we loved the best because the toys were so extra-special. We noticed that other kids got Atari 2400 for Christmas (I’m old, don’t judge), but we never questioned by Santa brought one family one thing, and another something much smaller. It’s important that we learn NOT to compare ourselves to others because there will always be someone else with more. If a kid got an Atari, my mom would say “That’s really nice for them!” and she sounded like she meant it. So we learned to be thrilled for our friends and also happy with what we got.

    I’m here if anyone needs to talk. I’mhttps://twitter.com/becomingcliche on Twitter. Hit me up. You can make Christmas magical without money, I PROMISE. If YOU are not worried about what your kids are getting, they will pick up on that.

  91. I second, third, and fourth board games! I remember my mom playing them with us, which was a BIG DEAL. Single parent, working and going to school, she was exhausted, so her time with us was all the more meaningful!

  92. I have been a preschool teacher for 16 years and hands down the toy that is played with by every child everyday is Magnatiles! They love them. They are expensive for most so would be a wonderful gift for the 3-5 year old crowd.

  93. My go-to’s for kids under 5 are blocks of all kinds (Duplo, wooden alphabet blocks, bristle blocks, colorful wooden blocks) and chunky puzzles. My gifts for kids between 5 and 10 are Legos, Lincoln Logs, coloring books and crayons, and board games. I usually get harder puzzles, erector sets, K’Nex, board games, and diaries for kids older than 10. Of course, I also buy books for all ages.

  94. Microscope? I always wanted one and of course my brother got one and I didn’t. Science for girls!

  95. Books – My kids fav was the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He’s 16 and I’m still planning on getting him the new one that came out so his collection stays complete. Even if he rolls his eyes now LOL. Agree with others, building block sets of any kind.

  96. My favorites for gifts are books (picture books), Legos (I prefer the bucket of Legos rather than a Legos kit (and Duplos for the younger ones), art materials, and board games. (I keep Legos in my college office for my students and for visitors with kids.)

  97. Books, especially picture books – but this gets harder the older the child is obviously. I myself love to read teen and YA, and it would be hard to limit it to specific books. But doable. If you limit to specific books I highly recommend The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater for teens. For babies something with touch or flap elements.

  98. I have to say, seeing all the people taking advantage of all of the kind and generous donors who have participated in the JGM has been very upsetting. I’m glad you have found a way to continue your tradition while cutting down the scam risk.
    I think the Curious George books are great. The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books are also very good options for older kids. Gloves and hats are also good choices. There’s nothing worse than feeling cold all of the time.

  99. We got a Zentangle starter book on Amazon Prime for a teen stuck in hospital and she absolutely loved it. Great for artistically inclined kids!

  100. Adult colouring books and a new set of pencil crayons or they have some nicer marker sets than the basic crayola kind now. Would be good for either gender since there’s everything from flowers and animals to Harry Potter etc.

  101. Basketballs, playground balls, soccer balls or volleyballs in bright colors, if available. It crosses almost all age groups. I know some adults would like them but probably would not scam for them.

  102. Add art supplies to the list of approved gifts please? Every child should have the experience of having their own set of new crayons, markers, glue, scissors, construction paper…you get the point!!! ❤️😊

  103. My teens would be happy to get anything fuzzy/fleecy. Slippers. Blanket. Blanket sweatshirt.
    They’d also like a drawstring sackpack to use as a gym bag for school.
    Nimona is a good graphic novel.
    Beanies (the hats not the babies) seem to be cool for teens now!

  104. Graphic novels are a huge hit with most age groups, including teens and reluctant readers. Some series our library has a hard time keeping on the shelves:

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Man, Dork Diaries, Teen Titans, Guts (and anything else by Raina Telgemeier), Big Nate, Captain Underpants, The BabySitters Club, Bone, Owly, Baby Mouse, The Olympians (George O’Connor)

  105. For those of us who LOVE art, but can’t draw a straight line, I recommend gifts like advanced dot-to-dot books or paint by number. Some are really beautiful…

    (I apologize if this isn’t the right place for it, but…) Will you be doing a 2020 calendar this year? I would LOVE to buy some for myself and gifts.

    B’shalom, Jenny.

  106. I never had children and have no gift suggestions, but I am on board with whatever the final choices are, and am very thankful that you organize this and share the joy in letting us all participate. Happy Thanksgiving, and I look forward to the roll-out of the 2019 James Garfield Christmas Miracle!

  107. Throw Throw Burrito (from the makers of Exploding Kittens) is also available and IT IS HILARIOUS. Card game meets dodge ball – what could go wrong?
    For teen/tween girls, I would suggest things like fairy lights and cute socks (fuzzy, no show, whatever) – you can never go wrong with those.

  108. Melissa and Doug play foods, especially the ice cream or frozen treats set. My almost 3 year old son is obsessed and we’ve been giving them to his friends and they’re always a big hit. Great to play with parents too. My son loves to make me treats. But there’s also taco sets and pretend cookie sets, etc.

  109. I love that you continue to do this for those in need (despite those who are too greedy/asshat-y to see the harm they do)! I love all these suggestions so far… the only thing I can think to add would be “Color-a-cape” (or the like) where you get to color in your own cape or butterfly wings. It lets the kids be creative and then play w/ their creation! I also love the idea of family board games (“On a Scale of One to T-Rex” looks hilarious… by the same folks who made the awesome Exploding Kittens game).

  110. Legos are great for any age. Books are better because it gives kids a place to go to that is different. Nothing with batteries, too costly. You rock, lady!

  111. As a creative and weird person of very limited finances, I’ve had great success in finding gifts and useful items at the Goodwill Outlet. I think there are many of them around the US. The Outlet is different than regular thrift stores in that everything is unsorted and most things are priced by the pound (about $1.15/lb.) Often the items are things that have just been donated, and things that were priced too high at the regular Goodwill and didn’t sell there. I only recommend it for those with a dumpster-diving mentality, and it’s helpful to have in mind some specific items you’d like to find. And try going a few different times, not just once (unless you just hate it). I wear gloves because random smelly stuff is going to be in the mix. But it’s a lot of fun (for me! Again, not for everyone!) and I have found some truly wonderful gifts for my family for a fraction of the regular cost.

  112. I have adolescent nephews who still play with LEGO sets. We got them a toilet paper shooter which works like a spit ball and water pistol and you load it with toilet paper. After the gifts are open on Xmas we’re giving them a pack of dollar store toilet paper and sending them out in the backyard to play with swim goggles to protect their eyes. What more could a teenager and pre-teen boy want? They read Harry Potter and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is airing on HBO this fall, that’s a great young adult book series. Build a robot sets are popular. “Choose your own adventure” books, Mad Libs books. My brother runs pre-teen role playing game parties which are a huge hit with pre-teen and teen boys. So Dungeons and Dragons books and role playing kits and multi-sided dice will keep older boys busy with their friends and out of the electronics for hours. Board games that are silly or gross are fun. Plastic tube and roll up sleds were always fun if you live where it snows. Art project materials like art drawing pads and good drawing pens works for teens who are creative. Hoodies/sweatshirts and fleece jackets like Columbia and Champion and Russel Athletic are great for teens. Because teenagers really just want clothes. I’m sad about the scammers, because there are lots of organizations that give stuff for little kids, but not that many for older kids, and nothing is sadder than turning into a teenager and your parent/guardian just can’t afford the stuff you really want. I remember losing my ability to trick or treat at Halloween the same year it was decided I was too old to Easter Egg Hunt. I was still playing with dolls at the time. Keep kids playing as kids for as long as you can, before they get forced to grow up by their peers and society.

  113. I participated about 5 years ago and sent someone a gift from their wish list and then realized (too late) that it was one of about 45 gifts they received. I was so discouraged that someone (and there were MANY someones) would think it was okay to ask for so much that I stopped participating. And every time I see the notice that the gift giving free for all on the backs of good people with good hearts is back again, I cringe at my former naivety. So I applaud your continued generosity and hope this year it’s hugely successful in the best of ways–helping to give one awesome gift per awesome child.

  114. I like the idea of making it easier for you, but I don’t know that this is, because now you have to put in all this work at the front end. I hope it does help, but scammers will steal anything to sell and make cash from for their own nefarious plans, so you may just be making more work for youself. I pray I’m wrong though and you find yourself much more at ease this year ♡

    Ps. I have been so blessed by what you started here and I pray that those blessing come back to you tenfold ♡

    *You could start an Amazon list, share it here and set it to allow adding? I think that’s a thing that can be turned off eventually. Then all us idea helpers can just add stuff, you can shut off sharing and edit it as you want, then use it for your project? *

    My ideas seem to revolve around STEM toys, Lego sets, headphones, and a smart phone watch for tweens instead of real phone. I actually have 5 kids from 2-12 this year, so I made a list for you to see my ideas lol. Hope it gives you some help in this start up side. https://amzn.to/2OUetwO

  115. Small robotics kits for kids – you can usually find them for $15-35 (and then up).
    Squishmallows? They’re about $30 Cdn on Amazon Prime. Kids and teens like them.

  116. “family puzzles” it’s one puzzle that has multiple sized puzzle pieces so that all members of the family can participate (for an example on Amazon, search for”MasterPieces Family Hour Ocean Park Ocean Pier Jigsaw Puzzle, 400-Piece”)

  117. Magic Tree House book set and Comfy Critters Stuffed Animal Blankets. Thank you for doing this!

  118. All of your ideas are great, though I’m not so much a fan of Curious George. Some book sets ideas – Chronicles of Narnia Box Set ($25 on Amazon), Dr. Suess Beginner Book Collection ($18.36 on Amazon), Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book Collection (10 books for $19.86), The Little House 9 volume set $28.25), Nancy Drew starter set ($24.19), The Complete Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set 7 books ($22.72), 75 Years of Little Golden Books (12 books for$31.99), Eric Carle Six Classic Board Books Box Set ($20.24), Pat The Bunny: First Books For Baby (3 in a boxed set $18.43), Anne of Green Gables (8 books for $19.49). Your new idea for this sounds like it will work well. You are a wonderful human being!

  119. My kids (two boys) are 5 and 6 years old and they still on occasion play with their (huge from years of adding on each christmas) set of wooden train tracks, so I would like to suggest wooden train tracks/trains. Also legos are always great. And I agree with whoever mentioned winter coats. What about socks and underwear? I feel like we are always running short on those. Hope that helps!

  120. Books books books…. I think people have already mentioned the ones I would mention.

    As for ideas on how to make Christmas great when you are struggling… Special Christmas ‘traditions’. I cannot stress enough how wonderful it can be to just have little traditions together. My favorite Christmas memory growing up is the long drives we would take around town to see all the decorations everyone put up. When I lived in San Diego there were actual special neighborhoods that were known for going above and beyond with decorating, but even after moving here we kept up the tradition of just driving around and marveling at the beauty of all the decorations.

    I also have memories of talking to ‘Santa’ on the phone every year, it was really a wonderful little thing that made me feel so special, that Santa would take time out of his busy schedule to talk to me. (Of course now I know it was actually my grandpa on the phone, but that doesn’t take away from the memories at all.)

    Another one was playing ‘anteater’ with my dad after decorating the tree and getting tinsel everywhere. We would crawl around all over the floor picking up the stray tinsel bits, pretending to be anteaters looking for food. It sounds weird when I explain it, but it was such a great little thing to do with my dad.

  121. I usually choose a boy and girl for our Peaceful Paths organization which is for those dealing with domestic violence. Our Publix grocery store put scrolls on a Christmas tree with pink or blue ribbon which has the particulars for the kids (sizes, fav colors, toys wanted, etc…). I nearly always get all on the list but also include shoes, socks, unders and definately coats. I very much like giving what is needed but every child should get a thing they want. That said, I usually try to get things the child can play with alone as I expect most of their parents are working or dealing with way too much on their plate to be able to give as much time as they would like to play with their child. I always hope I’m wrong on that.
    I very much would like to do more so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do here. Long live the James Garfield Miracle!

  122. I’m trying to think about teen boys, who I always think are some of the hardest to buy for… So maybe a basketball or a Nerf vortex howler (it’s like football crossed with a rocket), a Nike or an Adidas snapback hat, a simple drone/quadcopter, cribbage set or a magnetic chess board.

  123. I have a few… since I don’t have kids I get to be the investigative Aunt to many.

    My friends kidlets who are pre-teen/ teen seem to enjoy the diamond paintings that come in just about every freaking genre available. A gift that takes a while to finish, relaxing and at the end a sense of accomplishment when it’s done.

    Also a hit are the blank “comic book” sketch books so kids/ teens can draw their own graphic novels as are the “Wreck this journal” series — a fun way to express yourself in a journal following the rough guidelines given.

    Books – I was fondly surprised at how much my friends teens loved my books from when I was that age — Pippi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, Judy Blume books, Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, vs the “new popular for the moment” books.
    I also really enjoy giving the “5 Minute stories for fearless girls” , “Stories for Rebel Girls” or “Boys who dare to be different” type books. Stories but of empowerment and such 🙂

    Toys — rubix cubes are still a hit (who knew?) as they come in sets with diff difficulty (3×3, 4×4, 5×5) ; Magnetic building kits; and spirograph (who knew this was still around???)

  124. Games are great. One that I save in my “gift giving list” is Monster Factory – it’s great for 6-12-ish age range.
    I also like one commentor’s suggestion of winter coats for kids.

  125. I’ll 2nd the Melissa & Doug toy set options. There are a few on Amazon that are $25-$35. My nieces (and their mom) like them!

  126. I’ve seen child-sized fuzzy throw blankets with a matching stuffed toy that were quite cute.. They’d be easy to identify as belonging to the child if they’re housing insecure and snuggly warmth for neurodiverse or frightened chidren.

  127. I only found out yesterday about 211.org – that might be a resource for people who need help. It had a surprisingly wide and surprisingly diverse set of options even in my… resource-challenged… locale.

    For gift ideas, my problem is that I mostly buy things for our nieces/nephews that I’d like to have (or that I have enjoyed having!), so “not tempting to adults” is not really a thing for me. But Derwent “Inktense” pencils (they’re like watercolor pencils, but more vivid once you add water, and then permanent-ish once they dry) are absolutely amazing and I’d highly recommend them; brush pens are also amazing; I had a niece who requested assorted colored duct tape for literally 7 years, since she crafted with it, and colorful sharpies are also often a hit; the full set of Enchanted Forest Chronicles tends to be a winner (and ditto for Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books, and The Dark Is Rising and Chronicles of Narnia); ridiculous socks are often well-received (and if in kid sizes, an adult presumably wouldn’t want them?); and puppets or dress-up kits are often very popular with the 12-and-under crowd. Also stickers. 🙂 I hope this all goes well and smoothly for you!

  128. Dominion is a good card game for teens.
    Uno is fun, too, and a more family item.
    Taco vs Burrito is apparently a hit.
    Teens might appreciate a journal and cool writing implements
    I think slippers are a good bet – I know you said Amazon but Target has some fun animal slippers, including ones with sequins. Teens and tweens might enjoy
    Books are always a hit – I suggest some classics like The Phantom Tollbooth, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, The Cricket in Times Square, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Franweiler (check my spelling there, but whangdoodle IS spelled right smile) and the WInnie the Pooh books.
    I am of course in complete agreement that STEM items are good – especially for girls.
    Might I suggest jigsaw puzzles and brainteaser type of items too. Biographies of female scientists.

  129. I have kids from age 5 to 13. Some long-lived, much enjoyed toys they’ve had:
    Fisher Price Little People sets
    Green Toys tea set, vehicles, and other play sets
    Calico Critters
    Magnetic tiles
    Books and craft sets are also very much appreciated, although many non-picture books only get read once. Craft kits get used up, but the items made with them continue to get used. I also agree with the person who asked for jackets — If a parent is struggling enough that their child doesn’t have a warm coat, I would rather send a coat, if that is what the parent thinks is best.

  130. I know my kids appreciate the books,hair accessories,cars,crafts,and strangely enough socks!

  131. I loved it when it was simple. I gave some books. One time someone gave me your book!
    Later I gave your book to someone else. It’s a very good feeling to give and share books. Thank you for doing this again!

  132. Kinetic sand! Sparkle kitty is a fun card game similar to uno but sillier and you get to be a self rescuing princess which is awesome! Also, if you look playskool has 1 step transformers which is amazing for littler kids. They dont have to ask for help every time they want it to change forms. I usually ask for bath time stuff like color tablets or foam kits because its a cheap and easy sensory input for my son whose on the spectrum. Bubble blowing stuff is good for kids who are doing things like speech therapy as well. I know,those are generally less expensive than your target but perhaps it could be part of a bundle? Sometimes the best sensory stuff is inexpensive but when you have to constantly replace it due to use it can really add up. Those large cardboard building blocks are amazing, my kids will play for days with just those and as they get a little beat up I just reenforce them with duct tape. I think the last thing I would suggest is some sports stuff because that all adds up.

  133. Hmmm… I’ve tried commenting a couple times but it doesn’t show up, maybe this one will! I just want to say that James Garfield and Booksgiving are beautiful holidays and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I love helping and giving! I understand that some have taken advantage, but I also worry that a specific list will reduce some of the uniqueness, and I love that this holiday is so personal and full of trust. But I completely understand why. Our family/kids love gifts of togetherness and portable games such as Pizza Party, Dweebies, Qwirkle. Art supplies are wonderful for all sort of kids, and I saw a lot of items requested last year that were similar: Sandra Boyton, Dr. Seuss, art supplies, board games, mittens, socks/slippers, coats, play-doh, kinetic sand, baby toys by Lamaze and Manhattan Toys, and dolls. It’s a beautiful experience and opportunity to help others!

  134. I learned to knit when I was ten: it has always been a pleasure to be able to do it, even 60+ years later. To that end, for older kids, yarn and knitting needles, and simple how-two instructions. Books that will engage the young and still entertain the older kids. Ursula Le Guin, The Hobbit, Harry Potter.
    Decks of cards. Mittens, socks, wooly hats and scarves. (Warm hands and toes are important).
    Soft teddy bears and dolls, the huggable kind.

    Jenny, this is an amazing thing you do.

  135. I learned to knit when I was ten: it has always been a pleasure to be able to do it, even 60+ years later. To that end, for older kids, yarn and knitting needles, and simple how-two instructions. Books that will engage the young and still entertain the older kids. Ursula Le Guin, The Hobbit, Harry Potter.
    Decks of cards. Mittens, socks, wooly hats and scarves. (Warm hands and toes are important).
    Soft teddy bears and dolls, the huggable kind.

  136. I learned to knit when I was ten: it has always been a pleasure to be able to do it, even 60+ years later. To that end, for older kids, yarn and knitting needles, and simple how-two instructions. Books that will engage the young and still entertain the older kids. Ursula Le Guin, The Hobbit, Harry Potter.
    Decks of cards. Mittens, socks, wooly hats and scarves. (Warm hands and toes are important).
    Soft teddy bears and dolls, the huggable kind.

    It does seem I need to double post to get a single post to show up at all. I don’t know if it’s me or thee but forgive me if this shows up twice.

  137. Hello! First I want to say thank you! Our family was helped last year AND connected me with someone local. I had heard his story because we are both from the same area but saw his post on here and knew it had to be the same person. We’ve become great friends because of you!
    Next, for anyone else who struggles through this season, I get it! Something me and my kids have made a tradition now is making applesauce and cinnamon ornaments. That’s the only 2 ingredients and they could be purchased with food stamps. They’re super simple and so much fun. Plus smell AMAZING!
    Back to the friendship from above though, I don’t know if any of you remember a man named terry from last year who had lost his wife a few years before and it fell on the anniversary of his father? This man watched his father fall down a flight of stairs when he was 21 and that was how he passed! He doesn’t have any living family at all. His mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 and never went back to the doctor (she also never told anyone) and lived until 2009! But he literally has no cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings…. nothing. Just him and the kids. I want to do something for them this year that won’t cost a fortune. Anyone have any suggestions in the Ohio area? And I know how ridiculously unbelievable his story is, so much so that I had to go digging to make sure I wasn’t befriending some psychotic serial killer lol. But this shit is too insane to make up! Shoot, he found out after his dad died that he had an affair, had a daughter and her name is Terri too!!!!! She came and tried to get money when he died but when she found out there wasn’t any she never replied to him again!

  138. I’ve watched and participated in the James Garfield Christmas miracle for several years now. I like your idea of a limited list of suggestions. I do think it’s okay to include a warm item like a scarf or plush throw blanket (something non-age or size specific), but there should still be a limited list from which people can choose. I realize that there is a need for food/coats, but your specific Christmas miracle doesn’t have to be everything to everybody. Toys for Tots does toys and books. There are other places that can be for food and clothes.
    My suggestions:
    – Lego or Bristle blocks
    – Magnatiles or Magnetic blocks
    – the Zoey and Sassafras book series (https://www.amazon.com/Zoey-Sassafras-Books-1-6-Pack/dp/)
    – Squishmallow stuffed animals because they are greats for hugs and also make great pillows
    – Earbuds that tweens/teens could use with their phones
    – Scarf – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GZZV33Y/ is a mid-weight jersey material scarf of nice quality and it has a zipper pocket to store phone/keys (I own one of these)
    – Arts and crafts sets/coloring books/markers
    – Board games – There is a set of 4 games for $29.99 https://www.amazon.com/Grab-Go-Variety-Monopoly-Connect/dp/B01JPDJL2U/
    – I have to vote against the kinetic sand – that s%*# gets everywhere

    Jenny – Not for the James Garfield wish list, but for your own wish list, Sam’s Study made me think of you. https://www.amazon.com/Rolife-Miniature-Dollhouse-Wooden-Kevins/dp/B07Q5W6P3S/

  139. Sequin covered stuffed animals or pillows are one of my favorite fidgets… the kids seem to like them, too 😉

  140. Sensory putty. There are kids who might have trouble processing traditional toys but could benefit from sensory putty or other sensory toys (chewing bracelets, weighted stuffies, etc).

  141. Simple is not a bad thing, sometimes it’s necessary (hard-won lesson, there).

    I bought a book called This Book is a Planetarium for one of my favorite kids a couple of years ago, and he still plays with it regularly (despite being a really lucky kid with lots of toys to choose from). It falls right in your price range and I think will appeal to a pretty broad swath of elementary-aged kids.


  142. When my toddler loves the Melissa & Doug cleaning set (with the broom and mop and stuff), he also loves those pop up tunnels and play tents, the that’s not my book series (that’s not my train, unicorn, etc).

  143. I’m useless at thinking of anything specific but I’d love to see something totally frivolous and fun and not exactly needed, but wanted. A stuffed animal and a game or book. I’ll give to whatever it is because I want everyone to have something. Thank you for this.

  144. For preteen and teen girls, hair dryers or straighteners are popular and often overlooked. A charity called Appalachian santa asks for them regularly for that age group.

  145. I don’t have kids, so I don’t have any suggestions on what to get, but I’m glad to know I’ll still be able to give.

  146. Maybe 2 smaller gifts per child, a NEED and a WANT (ex. Warm gloves and a craft kit) neither expensive but then parents wouldn’t have to choose between picking something their kids really needs when they really want them to have a fun thing. We were the Angel Tree family a few times at my moms work and while I’m sure I enjoyed the not-freezing-at-the-bus-stop from a coat I got, I couldn’t even tell you what color it was, I remember the Minnie Mouse headband to this day.

  147. Worry eater plush toys. They’re soft stuffies with a zipper mouth so that kids can write their worries down and “feed” them to the worry eater. I know I could have really used one as a kid with undiagnosed anxiety, especially when we were having a “lean year.”

  148. Plumpies and Shlumpies are sweet stuffed or mostly unstuffed animal dolls. The prices range from around $20 to around $50. Their Amazon listings tell what age group they’re suited for. Embroidered eyes vs button-type, etc. The sloth shlumpie is soooo cute!

  149. Hey Jenny,

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so I’m not sure if this has been said or not, but weighted blankets/lap pads/stuffies. I struggle with anxiety, so I have them. My kids do not deal with anxiety, but they LOVE their weighted things – they use them all the time (they’re 5 & 2)

    We recently took in my pregnant sister and her two pre-teen boys. They both have ADHD, and some anger/emotional issues due to their situation. Believe it or not, they have begun using the weighted blankets and lap pads, and it has helped them tremendously. I’m actually planning to get them their own for Christmas.

    I know that Amazon has them, but there is a company called Mosaic Weighted Blankets local to Texas (I live between San Antonio and Austin) that makes them. They are legit affordable, run lots of sales (I got our lap pads in a $10 grab bag sale-didnt get to choose the design, but the lap pad was only $10!!). They also have an affiliate program.

    My other input would be things like slime making kits/bath bomb making kits/etc. 5 below has them & they can be ordered online. A big hit in our house are these amazingly soft little stuffies that 5 below also carries called Squishmellows. We all (grown ups included) have an obsession with them!

    🧡💜 Ashley

  150. Eligible recipients should include children who are interned in immigration centers, often separated from their parents. Books and toys and games that do not require batteries or electricity should top the list of gifts.

  151. I came here to suggest the illustrated Harry Potter books, but I see it’s already been suggested, so this is just me, seconding that brilliant idea!

  152. Hi Jenny!

    Sandra Boynton has a variety of books (board, and songbooks with CDs in them) that are sweet and supercute and adorable. There are magnetic blocks that aren’t too expensive, but they are a HUGE hit in my house (anything you can build works for my kids). My girls also really like the “stained glass” kits from Melissa and Doug (they are actually transparent stickers that correspond to the areas that get the coloring. While it takes some of the creativity away of choosing the colors for the areas, it does make for a lot less mess). as far as adult self-care items…. I’m always partial to a soft pair of socks, tea and getting to read. so there are my ideas, for what it’s worth 🙂 hugs to you and the family.

  153. Trying to think of the sort of things my teen girl might’ve liked. (Going by what’s on Canadian Amazon.)
    1. BH Cosmetics makes a cute eyeshadow palette, Galaxy Chic, that’s inexpensive. It’s about $30 on Canadian Amazon. It’s nice and space-themed.
    2. Record players are back in style. My daughter and all her friends have them. Taylor Swift’s 1989 vinyl is $23 on Canadian Amazon, Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go is $27, and Melanie Martinez’ Crybaby is $34. They’re all popular mainly with teenagers.
    3. Prismacolor makes very nice, professional-ish art supplies. Their manga drawing set is $30.
    4. Books! A paperback boxset of the Hunger Games trilogy is $25. Classic books (Dracula, Jane Eyre, etc.) you can’t go wrong with. This is oddly specific, but my daughter is very VERY into H.P. Lovecraft. I think Cthulhu is making a comeback.
    5. Board games/card games, newer ones made for teens. Sushi Go!, Forbidden Island, Coup, Love Letters, and Marrying Mr. Darcy are all big hits. I’m sure you could find a ton at good prices.
    6. Nalgene water bottles are very durable, large, and hip with the kids.

  154. There’s a store called Five Below that has wonderful craft/DIY kits, make-up sets, cuddly hooded blankets, and all sorts of cute and fun options all for $5 each or less. It might be worth looking there for more possibilities.

  155. It would be nice if there was a way just to send each kid a Project Night Night bag. Or making the requests similar to what is in one. A fuzzy blanket (or socks), a stuffed animal and a book. Or a board/card game instead of a book if over a certain age (like 12) With a dollar limit per child. Sort of a Saint James Garfield Christmas bag. (without the bag , of course)
    But I know there are people who want/need specific items. I just think it is so sweet you are still doing this again. I hope the people are good this year and follow what you ask of them !
    I hope you have a happy and blessed holiday season !

  156. For artistic sorts – watercolors! Get the kid’s PRANG watercolors because they’re as easy to use as a lot of fancy ones, aren’t chalky at all, and are very cheap. ($6-10) They’re not color fast, but I use them all the time for things I’ll scan and toss. Splurge and get real water color brushes though because the one included is worthless.

    Crayons and books, colored pencils and coloring books – the adult pattern books too not just Disney but check for nudity!

    Silly elmers glues… glow in the dark, sparkle, neon.

    Board games – we like Stratego, Mille Bourne, Yahtzee.

  157. Every year we do Christmas Eve boxes at our house, they include: hot cocoa, popcorn, a kids movie, and a set of pajamas. Perhaps in the future something like that would work too. Like 4 or 5 basic choices with variations for age, size, interests and possibly any special needs. I just hope you aren’t taking on too much extra work Jenny! I’m happy to help if you need it, helping with James Garfield is one of my favorite times of the year, and I know there are many others that feel the same!

  158. Pajamas, too many years later to mention the only Christmas gifts I really remember were pajamas my aunt sent me every year.

  159. I think this will help keep some scammers at bay, but certainly not the ones who say they have 5-8 kids plus 3-4 nephews and a neighbor who can’t post but who has three teens, who just happen to need art supplies and coats. Ugh. It’s often those same people who post under multiple names and different Amazon accounts.
    Still, I think it will cut down on the worst of it and I’m glad the JGM continues.
    I echo the votes for Melissa and Doug puzzles, and really any of their toys. They have dolls and train sets that are in your price range.

  160. Board games like Sorry, Trouble, Scrabble or Clue. It encourages family play time. Sorry and Trouble seem to be great for the largest range of ages.

  161. I don’t think I saw this mentioned in the first 200 or so comments (after which I got too impatient) and it kinda blows my mind that no one else thought to mention it. Frozen / Frozen 2 stuff is gonna make practically every little girl (and a fair share of boys too) under the age of about 10 or so go absolutely nuts.

    That said, I agree with someone else who said that it seems like it would be A LOT easier for you to just limit it to the categories (toys, books, arts & crafts, etc.) along with the 1 per child and price limit requirements, rather than trying to individually monitor every item in an ever growing list of acceptable requests.

  162. Illustrated HPotter books, a Roald Dahl book set, legos, that set of Frayola that has the sharpener in the back!

  163. My 8 year daughter has asked repeatedly for the new Jumanji board game. Its a a big hit for her and her friends!

  164. The little House on the Prairie books,Anne of Green Gables,The Chronicles of Narnia,The Lemony Snicket’s series of Unfortunate events,Nancy Drew/ Hardy boys books, Books ! Love what you do !

  165. I have an 11 year old nephew who is an anxious ADHD kid. He’s also unmedicated (his father refuses to medicate him). I’d like any suggestions or ideas to help him calm down & stay calm.

    We’ve (my family) given him fidget toys (lost them or flung them inside the house so we banned them).

    We’ve tried magnetic sand. He got it EVERYWHERE, so that’s also banned.

    Balls are not allowed in the house because he works himself up into such a state that we’ve nearly been injured by said ball.

    He loves soccer, but that’s quickly falling by the wayside due to winter weather.

    Puzzles don’t work because “I get bored” 5 seconds after he starts one.

    Books work…but although he loves to read, we don’t want this to be his only outlet for calming/quiet.

    A coworker of mine who also has an ADHD son said his pediatrician recommended one small bite-sized piece of chocolate after breakfast because the caffeine counteracts the ADHD. This doesn’t work for my nephew. It ramps him up to insane levels. Same for coffee (his mother has sent him home right after allowing him to drink some & it sent his father to the crazy bin dealing with him).

    He loves to learn but has such a tendency to, well, be so highly distracted that he forgets to (watch the thing he’s cooking, keep an eye on water… ANYTHING) that we have to watch him like a hawk whenever he does something that has the potential to make the house a disaster, because he will. & it’ll take weeks to get it all out. Combine that with his emotional age of around 6 & that we’re trying to help him be more emotionally mature & independent, it’s really frustrating.

    We can’t afford anything too expensive. My budget is much too tight for anything fun & so is everyone else’s. So ideas for toys kids like my nephew would be so very appreciated. We love him to pieces & want to help him find ways to manage his ADHD so it doesn’t interfere with his own or others’ learning.

  166. I don’t have kids, but a very good friend of mine is barely making it. She has 3 kids under with 0 help from anyone. Can I get her in this without telling her? SmallFatDog

  167. I don’t have kids, but a very good friend of mine is barely making it. She has 3 kids under with 0 help from anyone. Can I get her in this without telling her? Small

    (The best thing to do is to have her submit her own stuff, otherwise there have been instances where people have been gifted multiple times. Just have her leave a comment with her info when we go live. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  168. My favorite memories were playing cards or games with my parents and siblings. We were living away from family, struggling on one income, and I’m sure my parents were trying to think of things to do. They taught us how to play canasta and we would get to stay up late playing. They would let us choose Life, Clue, Uno, etc to play as well.
    Tons of laughing and it remains some of the best memories I have.
    I say all that to say a collection of games and cards to help build some happiness when life may be a little hard

  169. Nice sets of wood blocks for little ones, clay sets for medium age kids, jewelery craft sets for older girls, always books, I have no idea about boys gifts.

    Thank you for noticing an issue and making the effort to change things.

  170. Science kits are good for either gender and various ages 🙂 I’ve looked into them for my own kiddo and these all seem good.
    $30–Learn & Climb Science Kit for Kids – Set Includes Over 65 Science Experiments + Scientist Name tag!
    $30–Snap Circuits Snaptricity, Electronics Exploration Kit (Stem Building), For Kids 8+
    Dimple Lectrixs Stem Learning Snap ‘N Click Circuit Electronic Building Bricks Blocks (44Piece Set with 120 Projects) Light Up DIY Stacking Toys with Kid-Friendly Educational Toys
    $24–STEM Toys, Educational Engineering Model Building Set, Best Erector Kit, Creative DIY Construction STEM Learning Toy for Kids

  171. For what it’s worth, I watched the JGM in horrified fascination last year and read every comment all the way through to the end (I am a playwrite and I considered writing a play about the comments-I couldn’t look away-like a bloody murder scene!) I am in Canada and so maybe it’s different here because it’s often very cold and snowy but I personally think it’s possible to get warm outerwear elsewhere and that JGM should be for something wonderful (since JG is wonderful!) When I was growing up my parents gave us each a single gift for Christmas. It was always something spectacular that we used and loved for years (but not always expensive). I have 4 siblings. My parents were not poor and they were not well off either-just average but we still only got the one gift. We did get some stickers and notebooks and pencils in a stocking too. My grandma would also give us each one thing (it was always clothes). We made things for each other. Now I am a single mom of two glorious teenagers! We are a bit on the minimalist side already and I don’t buy tons for them (I do make things though). They each get one gift under the tree and a stocking with the coolest stuff I can manage in it. Each year I ask them what their favourite thing is that they got that year. Every year my daughter’s favourite thing is something tiny from her stocking they was probably an after thought on my part (example: last year it was a Spock action figure from the original Star Trek series-he sadly got lost this year and she was heartbroken! We have not been able to find a replacement). That Spock figure cost $5 (CDN). If all she had received was that, her Christmas would have been complete. Always my son’s favourite thing is a book. If all he got was a really great book (even better if it’s part of a series!) his Christmas would be complete. Each year my favourite gift is a movie trailer my kids make on our iPad. Of course we do lots of lovely things-bake and cook and drink tea and chat and play hysterical board games and listen to music and just generally hang out. And that makes Christmas festive for my kids. (They are 19 and 17 btw).

    So all that to say, I think keeping it really simple is the best way. The world has gone so materialistic and consumeristic (and then we have to Kondo ourselves to get rid of it all?!) that there is something refreshing and beautiful about offering a single toy or book per kid. Let them find Christmas in things other than just things. In the end, people matter more than things.

  172. I too have been blessed by this awesome event. I think things like sheets, socks, boring things like that can be a really nice thing to get. There is nothing like the horrible feeling of not being able to provide the simplest of things for your kids. Also, unique board games. Games like Forbidden Island or Ghost Fightin Treasure Hunters are wonderful cooperative games where the family plays as a team and there’s no anger or hurt feelings. I am lucky enough to not need help this year. But just barely. I’m hoping to help someone this year but I can’t do large items so a variety of smaller things would be awesome for those of us who would like to pay it forward even if I can’t do much.

  173. I belong to a local women’s group that raises money year round to do good for the children of our small community. We sponsor an angel tree for middle and high school kids. We found it getting out of control last year so we did the same thing–giving a limited list of items they could pick from. We have a hoodie, warm cozy blanket, bluetooth speaker, or …(I forget what the last thing was). We have the tree out for the community to help with and pick up the rest with funds we’ve raised. We also do baskets for home bound senior citizens. We do other things throughout the year. I enjoy being a part if this very special group of Ladies.

  174. Yes, yes, yes to magnetic blocks (magnatiles but a cheaper company specifically). I’m a preschool teacher at an infant- 2nd grade center and I have to say everyone from our toddlers up to our second grade after school kids loooove them.

  175. For those who WANT to help families who NEED help with Christmas gifts visit “Santas little helpers” on Reddit. They make families go thru a registration process and limit wishlists to under $100. Families with more than 4 wish lists or new accounts made this year have to send in photos of their children holding a specific sign as well as an address verification. Wish lists have to also have the “keep purchased items visible” option turned on. No one can post unless they’ve went through registration and been approved by mods.

  176. Melissa & Doug sets have been popular with my growing number of nwices and nephews (toddlers) – especially the music set!

  177. Roleplay sets are always great for imagination play, e.g.:

    For kids into STEM maybe something like:

    For creative kids:

    For active kids:
    https://www.amazon.com/Banwei-Adjustable-Illuminating-Durable-Outdoor/dp/B07N6MTX89/ with https://www.amazon.com/Protective-Rollerblade-Skateboard-Multi-Sports-Outdoor%EF%BC%88Age3-7%EF%BC%89/dp/B07S5SW9RH/
    https://www.amazon.com/Aeroway-Playpen-39-4-inch-19-7-Inch-Zippered/dp/B01K1AP1BQ/ with https://www.amazon.com/Click-Play-Phthalate-Crush-Plastic/dp/B00PYLU3GG/

    https://www.amazon.com/Emergency-Portable-Flashlight-Household-Survival/dp/B0774RRYZP/ perhaps with https://www.amazon.com/Headphones-Children-Lightweight-Cellphones-K8/dp/B07HNZRNG9/

  178. Stim toy boxes are awesome especially for school agers! Amazon has some awesome sets in the $20 range. For the tweens and teens, journaling supplies for private thoughts, diy slime sets, temporary hair chalk kits are all hits and are all fairly easy to find.

  179. Hello I was helped last year after my wife passed and I was deeply grateful for the help I cannot thank you enough for the love my family was shown. The amount limit worked well but I can suggest hoodie sweatshirts headphones Pajamas legos books

  180. I’m an elementary school teacher and a mom of two kids. My votes are for art sets, Barbies, Legos, Matchbox cars, baby dolls, wooden building blocks, dress up clothes and BOOKS! Lots and lots of books! Books can’t be the only presents, but every kid should be getting a book under the tree along with a toy.

  181. Amazon Essentials Kids’ puffer coats are $42 — slightly above your price range but maybe a good option to include.

  182. .

    Honestly, this is going to be hard. All kids are different, but I get it. And those with 6 plus kids are going to want to get different things for each child. Some people like to scam the system, but that’s on them. Karma is a B I T C H!

    I would give an option of 10 things for each age group, just so the parent would have some things to chose from. Some children tend to be more mature than others children their ages as well.

    Teens all love different things. Some like to cook, some like to color, some like make up some want a new wallet or back pack. It’s hard to chose things for them. But teens are old enough to be thankful for what they get, but you also want them to be happy.

    This is just my honest opinion. The bad ones hurt the good ones by doing what they did last year and it’s sad it has to come do things being done this way.

    Here’s a list of items I would love to buy some children’s. I have bought things for many kids this year already, so I was already looking forward to JGM and this year.

    Bubzi Co Baby Toys Owl White Noise Sound Machine, Toddler Sleep Aid Night Light, Unique Baby Girl Gifts & Baby Boy Gifts, Woodland Baby Shower, Portable Baby Soother, New Baby Gift, Gender Neutral https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y5Q5XRB/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_bbZ3Db55VJAPM
    Playskool Poppin’ Pals Pop-up Activity Toy for Babies and Toddlers Ages 9 Months and Up (Amazon Exclusive) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DSIQS6G/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_KbZ3Db2PJWJVD
    Baby Gift Set- Rub A Dub, Who’s in My Tub? 5 Piece Bath Set Includes Elephant Hooded Towel, 3 Jungle Safari Squirt Toys, and Book. Adorable Baby Shower Gifts for Boys and Girls! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078WDQWZC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_6bZ3DbWH1PANA
    Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker – Geo Diamonds https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014D4HHQI/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_WcZ3DbZ3SFAP6
    Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WVGSKWP/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_BeZ3DbZB99JTA
    Little Tikes Go and Grow Lil’ Rollin’ Giraffe Ride-On (Amazon Exclusive) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MTYTHQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_diZ3DbT73JVQQ
    VTech Smart Shots Sports Center (Frustration Free Packaging) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FVS6TGO/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_FiZ3DbFNDDT8N
    VTech Sort and Discovery Activity Cube (Frustration Free Packaging), Pink https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NRXSSWT/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_ViZ3Db9E30HZV
    Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J49UU0I/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_RjZ3DbYQ2M76Q
    Playskool Explore N’ Grow Busy Ball Popper (Amazon Exclusive) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U5U5VWM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_-kZ3DbJVE6F5P
    VTech 3-in-1 Race and Learn https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CS16KSU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_VlZ3DbBHNFWDW
    KidKraft Bucket Top Construction Train Set, 61-Piece https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007CMEVL8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_.lZ3Db8E4XZ6Q
    Li’l Gen Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls 3 Years Old & Up – Realistic Looking 7″ Dinosaurs, Pack of 12 Animal Dinosaur Figures with Dinosaur Sound Book (Dinosaur Set with Sound Book) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J65C9B5/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4mZ3DbXC70W9A
    Crayola Scribble Scrubbie Pets Mega Pack Animal Toy Set Age 3+ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DVX1NXT/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_IoZ3Db41BA3H0
    Melissa & Doug Examine & Treat Pet Vet Play Set – The Original (24 Pieces, Great Gift for Girls and Boys – Kids Toy Best for 3, 4, 5 Year Olds and Up) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074L8RV1F/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_VpZ3DbN8RPNF9
    Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Twins Luke & Lucy Dolls (Pretend Play, Baby Dolls, 15 Inches) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J6TJR2P/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_KqZ3Db7S7HG3Z
    Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad Pink, Amazon Exclusive, Toys, Gift for Girls, Ages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084JUNVU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_krZ3Db4Z574K1
    ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy for Boys and Girls Age 8 and Up – Toy of the Year Award winner https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IUAAK2A/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_LrZ3Db1N4YEZZ
    Crayola Inspiration Art Case Coloring Set, Gift for Kids Age 5+ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TFWOS8Y/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_-rZ3Db47F7F3E

    21 Razor A Kick Scooter – Blue – 13003A-BL https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00008X32C/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_vsZ3DbQQJA7XH

    Light-up Terrarium Kit for Kids with LED Light on Lid – Create Your Own Customized Mini Garden in a Jar That Glows at Night – Great Science Kits – Gardening Gifts for Children – Kids Toys – Dan&Darci https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0763TLL6V/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_ItZ3Db9NKJ1R3
    Toys For 7 8 9 10 11 Years Old Girls,Best Present Gifts For 6-15 Years Old Girl Boy,Bluetooth Wireless Karaoke Machine, Party Favor for Teen Boys Girls Toys Age 4-12 Gifts Toys for Teens Boy Rose Gold https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T9K47X1/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_ZvZ3DbXGDJQ2F
    Ultimate Unicorn Slime Kit for Girls – Best Value Unicorn DIY Slime Supplies Kits for Making Tons of Various Fail-Proof Slimes – Perfect Birthday Toys Gifts for 7 8 9 10 11 12 Year Old Girls https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07G3KD83R/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_exZ3DbZAGR6RY
    Light-up Crystal Growing Kit for Kids – Grow Your Own Crystals and Make Them Glow : Great Science Experiments Gifts for Kids, Boys & Girls – STEM Toys – Crystal Making Science Kit (Red White Blue) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FB2VN8L/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_IxZ3DbVZMX419
    NERF Fortnite Sp-R & Llama Targets — Includes Sp-R Blaster, 3 Llama Targets, & 6 (Amazon Exclusive) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07R9G84X7/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_TzZ3DbNM9TF5E

    27 . Monopoly Unicorns Vs. Llamas Board Game for Ages 8 & Up (Amazon Exclusive) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QB98HV7/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_aAZ3DbM3AVGQK

    Vere Gloria Men Women Small Canvas Messenger Bag Crossbody Shoulder Handbags Ipad Laptop Bag for School Travel Hiking and Everyday Use (Brown) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015W69K7A/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_DBZ3Db67EVQSQ
    STMT DIY Journaling Set by Horizon Group USA, Personalize & Decorate Yourplanner/Organizer/Diary with Stickers, Gems, Glitter Frames, Glitter Clips, Pen, Magnetic Bookmarks, Tassel Keychain & More https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XWV5X9N/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_nyZ3DbC7KBAY1

    30.Holy Stone HS190 Foldable Mini Nano RC Drone for Kids Gift Portable Pocket Quadcopter with Altitude Hold 3D Flips and Headless Mode Easy to Fly for Beginners https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M25O8E0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_puZ3DbT9MGRF9

    RUNMUS Gaming Headset for Xbox One, PS4, PC Headset w/Surround Sound, Over Ear Headphones with Noise Canceling Mic & RGB Light, Compatible with Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, 3DS, PC, Mac, Laptop https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XR6SKB6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_KDZ3DbQHSS7AJ

    Im gonna stop here because I need to sleep. I just cannot wait to play santa!

  183. Last year I got my 9yo daughter a boxed set of Roald Dahl paperbacks on Amazon for about $30-35. She loved it.

  184. Books, because books are universal. You can share as a family, make it an enjoyable time. It looks like there are a couple of Harry Potter box sets for $38-39. Also, games. Exploding kittens is great! Maybe Uno. Snap Circuits are super fun, too!

  185. Hoodies, winter jacket, backpacks. A lot of kids have blown through their backpacks by now, and warm clothes are always needed and wanted. I have a teenage son who woke up one morning and is suddenly 6’2 and 220, but is still a big kid who just outgrew everything overnight! I know kids are rough on these items and they’re always in need.

  186. Oh, I almost forgot! You can buy Archie McPhee items through Amazon Prime and they have some of the best weirdest and goofiest stuff around that’s really inexpensive and good for younger and older kids!

  187. How do we sign up for this? My biological daughter who doesn’t live with me is already going without Thanksgiving, it’d be nice for her to have a little joy at Christmas. She’s 15

  188. Stomp Rockets are awesome for a variety of ages. We have a lot of trees by our house so we take them to the playground and usually that is what all the kids on the playground end up doing. And the magnetic tiles are a great idea. I have 3 kids between the ages of 1 and 12 and they all love them. Biggest thing for the youngest right now is a shape sorter.

  189. Thank you for doing this. Memories – my husband and I strung popcorn and cranberries to hang on the Christmas tree for years. We’re a bit lazier these days. Not having kids, I don’t have any good toy suggestions. I think books are great gifts though.

  190. Any chance we could have an off-the-books JGM post? For folks who need the stuff that can’t be requested via the official JGM, to connect them with people who want to help? I have a weighted blanket and some winter coats I’d love to sent to someone(s) who could use them, along with shoes and other things.

    Like, it could be like the post about sending letters to those who need it. Those of us with Prime would still have free shipping, and once you’ve gifted someone you could post to that effect so everyone wouldn’t be sending a bunch of things to the same person.

    It’s just a suggestion. I know when I was a kid, getting a coat or a new outfit was just the best BC usually I only had like 2 school outfits and outgrew my coats.

    (I think we may do this after Xmas. Just an open post for people to put wishes. Maybe in January? ~ Jenny)

  191. You are a wonderful and amazing soul, and I have watched this happen from its very first year, with awe and love. I think this is a great revision, and I hope it makes this also a miracle that doesn’t feel like a load of stress for you. How about a soft thick fleece blanket in twin bed size? These come in gorgeous colors, and seem like a thing a teen might like because pretty and also good for making a space one’s own. (https://www.amazon.com/NANPIPER-YGA6080PU-Sherpa-Blankets-Purple/dp/B07BTXT8TT/ref=sr_1_5?crid=2OH6ORM1XD20S&keywords=twin+bed+fleece+blanket&qid=1574948589&sprefix=twin+bed+fleece%2Caps%2C211&sr=8-5)

  192. What a beautiful way to do christmas.
    Back when my children were still young, and I was newly a single mom starting off in a new city the school helped with our christmas that year. They gave all three of my children new clothes, and toys, and even got me a good jacket for the winter. I went home and cried, I was so happy, because without there kindness it would have been the first christmas where my children got nothing. Their helpfulness got us through one of the roughest patches in my life, and I’m forever grateful for that.

  193. Oh, and a suggestion… I would suggest a childrens book, a pair of socks or two, and maybe something sweet like a box of hot coco, or something like that.

  194. I work in a store that sells toys, games and collectibles, among other things. The big sellers this year are Magnetic Tiles, LOL dolls and other stuff, Pokemon cards, D&D kits and dice, Beyblade toys, anything Pusheen, and Funko Pop figures. Oh, and comic book/manga creating art sets.

    You are amazing Jenny!! Thank you so much for putting in the time and effort to coordinate this!!

    For those who have mentioned food donations, here is an idea. Each time you go to the store, buy 1 nonperishable item. Put it in a box, and when the box is full, take it to your local food bank. That way, you can still donate, but you are only spending a little bit at a time. I have found that spending a little bit of money a few times a month allows me to give back to my community without stress. I love to see the box slowly fill up, and when I take it to the food bank every other month or so, I smile for days afterward.

  195. To the person who recommended Santas Little Helper subreddit, I’d be very careful giving there. RandomActsOfChristmas is far better but I only buy for those who have plus registration. Best way to go.

  196. I think you are definitely on the right track! I know our local organization works with families all year with food, school supplies, clothing and Christmas donations. They are more equipped to make sure there aren’t scammers. One thing I know each family receives which I didn’t see on the comments (I could only get thru half of them) is soccer balls. Very popular with boys and girls where we live!

  197. I would love to buy a few books for a few children, but whatever you decide is wonderful. Thank you for your dedication to this lovely tradition despite those who might try to destroy it.

  198. marble run sets for kids

    About 7 or 8 years ago I got my 2 nephews a starter set and a booster set with extra connectors and whirligigs. Now there are 3 nephews and they all still play with them.

    Jenny – thank you for finding a way to carry on this marvelous tradition
    Tribe – your light shines clear and bright. Such a majestic eFamily!!

    Happy Holidays all…

  199. I recommend the SET card game. I’ve played it with my nieces and nephews at different family gatherings and it was a pretty quick game for multiple ages (10-70) to pick up and play together and have fun.


    Being from the Midwest, I have a lot of Christmas memories around people playing euchre or other card games, so a set of playing cards with a book about games to play would be good (as well as easily portable).

  200. First of, Jenny I love you. The memory of stringing popcorn with big needles and thread with my mom is also one I cherish.
    This group is a brilliant constellation of shining stars, and always a joy, and I’m happily stealing a lot of your gift suggestions for a couple of gifted grandchildren who are always a challenge.
    Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is on sale for 10 bucks and change today from Amazon. If you do shop Amazon, please remember to select the slower shipping dates to be kinder to their people.
    A warning about some other selections- I would avoid anything with magnetic pieces, which can be dislodged and ingested by smaller kids, they then can act like slow motion bullets in tissue. Families with childcare issues need all the help they can get. And lastly, beware of bath bomb products made cheaply that could cause embarrassing irritations. Always read the reviews- one said the Aarons silicone stuff destroys finishes and rugs.
    OK,so let the celebrations commence. I know the safety warnings are a downer, but theyre important especially with these kids. And ps, the mood lighting idea is super fabulous!!!

  201. I love the idea! When I was a kid we didn’t have much but one year an Aunt gave me a stamp set and I LOVED that stamp set for years. I still think about all the fun I had. Something so simple brought me so much joy!
    My only suggestion I don’t see posted is allowing a child who has special needs the opportunity for the parent to choose from a different age category, possibly much younger. My son is 14 but developmentally he is an infant/young toddler, so toys for teens he wouldn’t be able to use. Maybe some sensory items too like chewies, body sacks.
    But I love basic, toys. Magnatyles are so popular but so much fun for the preschool age on up but make me nervous with younger kids. Crayola products are awesome (they have my first Crayola Mess free on up to grade school products). Classic Legos are awesome too. I love this idea!

  202. Tween girls are hard. I suggest makeup sets and craft kits. Science kits for both boys and girls.

  203. A suggestion…avoid gifts with batteries or refills of any kind. Purchasing these could be a struggle later on and may cause the toy to be unplayable down the line.

    And…THANK YOU JENNY. You are a true
    wonder. ❤❤🌈🌈🙂🙂

  204. -Any books by Todd Parr.
    -The Dogman series – they are goofy, but ultimately about being kind and being who you are
    -Snap Circuits

  205. The ability to choose is so often taken from those who need help. It can be dehumanizing.

  206. I would have to say somethings for children with special needs my daughter has autism and she loves art & music and little toys like littlest pet shop etc.

  207. Agree with anonymous post #247.
    But also…it is your miracle Jenny, do whatever you want with it.

  208. I teach 3K in NYC, and I can vouch for the Magnatiles. They are wildly popular with the 3 year old set. Duplos also. Other popular choices for play are the gears building set, the easel and paints, and the play doh and play doh tools set.

  209. For younger kids there are 2 great books that are just as much fun for the reader as the listener:
    The Wonky Donkey:

    The Contests At Cowlick:

    I had this one as a kid, and have read it to both of my kids and they are fall-over funny, plus the reader gets to put on accents, yell, and just have fun!

  210. To the Anonymous in comment 210, I’m sorry to disagree with you, but SantasLittleHelpers on Reddit is NOT a good avenue for generous people to reach needy families. Their registration process doesn’t actually verify anything about the requesters, and the moderation on the sub is a joke. They give the impression of being organized when it’s really a free-for-all. Greed and entitlement are rampant. Some of the people requesting don’t even have children.

    Admittedly, there are some improvements from last year. No more wishlists for pets, adult wishlists are limited to $25, they added the requirement that any family with more than four children had to show a picture of all the kids together (so this year there are a lot fewer families with six kids but a whole bunch of them with four), but if you buy anything for anyone on that sub, there is still at least a 50% chance you are being scammed by someone who doesn’t actually need the help. Think of the train wreck here last year and triple the scope, and that’s SLH.

    As for gift suggestions for James Garfield, try limiting the options to items that can’t easily be resold or appropriated by adults- no electronics/video games/gaming accessories, makeup, or super trendy stuff. LEGO has a high resale value, so if you add them to the list, don’t be surprised if a lot of “big families” ask for them. Craft kits and books seem like safe bets. I don’t think winter coats or clothing need to be an option for a toy drive- there are other organizations to get those from.

    Do you have any way to verify that the people asking for gifts actually have the number of kids they claim, that the kids live with the requesters at least part time, and that only one adult per family is requesting for the kids? Double dipping and imaginary children are big issues on SLH so they’re likely popular tactics here as well, not to mention you have scammers inventing multiple families and using friends’ and neighbors’ addresses.

    Anyway, good luck, and stay away from SantasLittleHelpers if you actually want to help people.

  211. Why don’t you just limit on what the parents want? Like, say nothing gaming /tech related. Lower the limit to one toy under $30 and one thing the child really needs. Limit to only a jacket or a pair of shoes. I know the struggle. I’ve been there because with 12 kids, it is never easy but this year we have been blessed and I’m hoping to bless a few here as well. I enjoy reading your posts. Sorry I’m just now getting to this. But this is amazing and I’m sure with whatever you decide to do will be great. 😊 Hope you have a great day.

  212. Oh and for as for the Reddit (Reddit is full of scammers in general) , never again will I help there, especially Santa’s Little Helpers. I’ve bought one child a tablet, a table and chair set, toybox, and so many other things (just because her story hit home) and turns out the person was a scammer a few years ago. Spent so much on one person when could have made so many other children that really needed it smile.. That’s why I was happy to hear about James Garfield Miracle. I can come here and make more than one child happy. And I will continue doing so every year that I’m able to.

  213. For teenagers I suggest bedding sets, books, art sets, music, Jackets, and clothing items. Maybe treats for their stockings.

  214. I would love to see books in a gift list. Maybe a book or two age appropriate-all total under $10 and chose one more thing of the list, which is building (LEGO, knex, Lincoln logs etc) set/ art set/ science kit! /craft kit/ sport equipment (ball, roller skates etc)/game (card/board… lots of great suggestions here)

  215. I try to avoid any magnet building sets because some parents will still want to get them for their tweens who will still put them in their mouth and accidentally swallow them and can lead to life threatening bowel problems. A local radio celebrity had this happen to her almost 13 y/o one year. And the magnets were in different parts of the bowel and stuck together and he had to have surgery to get them out. I’m the gramma/great-auntie that gives books, coloring books with crayons, markers, gel pens, colored pencils, and puzzles of all sizes that doesn’t go by age but by skill. I have a grandson that was putting together 500 to 1,000 piece puzzles before the age of 5 with very little help and it was something he worked on a little at a time. I also give Maze books and Puzzle books and Dot-to-Dot that can have up to 1000 dots or for the younger ones have the alphabet.

  216. Love the ideas listed! What about doing the four gifts idea? Want (toy), Need (blanket, hygiene item, etc), wear (coat, pjs, etc), read (everyone loves a good book!). This way it’s a small but complete Christmas for each child? I’ve been a recipient in the past two years. I am truly grateful for everything that was purchased for my family. My children still play with their toys and happily wear their hats and warm wool socks! I even received a small emergency food shipment which held us over for a week until my paycheck was straightened out. Some of the food was taken from our porch but I figured someone needed it like we did so we made the other stuff stretch. I’ll never forget the help. This year, I’m in the position to help! I’m so excited to be able to give back. 💕

  217. I just wanted to suggest KEVA brainbuilders playset. It is a 3D puzzle that you need to build using wood planks and clues. It could be challenging enough for teens and little kids could use planks just for building. There is also a junior version for younger kids. Both versions of the playset ~$15 on Amazon. I also like this playset, because it does not include any plastic parts, all planks are made of wood.

  218. Hi Jenny! I would suggest recruiting people to handle a specific category and have them make a wishlist on Amazon for you to use. Like, I have a very big and comprehensive book wishlist for 3rd-5th graders that is for classroom donations that would be a great starting point. For instance, someone could do toys for 0-12 months, another could do clothing, toys for 6-8 year old boys… Then maybe you could just use those as shopping lists for recipients to choose from?

  219. Want/need/wear/read is definitely a thing in my home! Can’t go wrong with:
    fuzzy socks
    The Harry Potter series-7 paperbacks-heaven!
    The Wonder trilogy
    hat & mitten sets
    crayons and coloring books
    Thank you for doin this again-you rock!

  220. I’m surprised by the number of posters who are ignoring Jenny’s patiently explained post. I know the boundaries are being pushed because of concern and with caring about those who need a hand, but please listen to Jenny. She has made this change for a reason. The want / need / wear/ read is a nice idea, but that’s what got us to this point, and it doesn’t fall in line with what Jenny has decided to do this year. Jenny is trying to keep this under $35. She tried valiantly for a bit last year, but that went out the window as people flouted the rule and started asking for more than the $35 limit allowed, including jackets, which if needed, might be more important than a toy. How about a want OR a need? Jenny did say she might open a list after the holidays if people want to have a free for all list with fewer rules and no moderation.

    A nice selection of items to choose from to make this year more manageable is nothing to be upset about. What would be upsetting is if Jenny said forget the whole thing after last year’s debacle. By limiting and sticking to the rules this year, people may still give. I know of 3 people, including myself, who had no intention of giving this year. Maybe now I might. There was no joy here last year. The original JGM was not organized; it grew naturally that first year from a want to help those in need. It was a lovely surprise and a blessing for both those who gave as well as those who received. It was wonderful to behold the gifts sent and received with love. Now, many people expect the givers to provide everything to everyone, and many who request help have quite the attitude when not gifted with what they think is enough, or fast enough. The demands grew mind-blowing and wallet busting. It was too much, the constant re-posting of the requests. One person had re-posted over 25 times, each time adding more to her list and deleting what had been purchased. She was not alone.

    Now, some will say I don’t have to give. It’s my choice. Of course, it is. But I really want to give, and what if many of the regular givers decide not to give here this year? How will that serve the families in need who are happy to choose a nice gift from a carefully curated list, and are glad to follow the simple rules Jenny has set forth for this year? Let’s make sure the honest folks get some love this year!

    She has given ample heads up that things will be different, so there is plenty of time to look elsewhere for additional programs that can help. Let’s show Jenny our love and appreciation by following her request. It’s a way of sending our thanks to her for moderating another year after last year’s headache inducing drama.

    I prefer being Santa to being a Grinch. Let’s just make it easy this year and see if we can return to a semblance of what once was; I believe we are still that tribe who cares about one another very much.

  221. Jenny, thank you for doing it this year again, at all! Whatever you decide… they are blessings!

  222. Most little girls would love anything Frozen related. There are a handful of lego sets that are way above that, but a lot of toys and dolls, blankets and whatnot that would fit the bill.

  223. https://www.amazon.com/JOYMOR-Upgraded-Foldable-Cotton-Playhouse/dp/B07BR9Y8N1/ref=mp_s_a_1_26?keywords=children%27s+canvas+indoor+play+tents&qid=1575249725&sr=8-26

    I would like to echo the previous commenters who suggested a tent. For my son with Autism it is his favorite place at his therapy center and the church nursery. He needs a place to decompress and escape the sensory overload. This tent on Amazon meets the requirements and would be great for many ages to give a child a special place of their own.

  224. Every year I collect toys for kids who will be confined to a local hospital that takes patients regardless of their ability to pay. The thing I get reminded of every year is don’t forget the babies or the teenagers. It’s fun to buy toys for kids (I get to be a kid again myself, and buy the things I never had for someone else), but remember the infants and the teens. They are frequently forgotten.

  225. Jenny–This is lovely. May I humbly suggest, tho, that we substitute other books for the Curious George? I loved it (the original) as a child, but as an adult it really makes me cringe because of the slavery overtones (and I’m a 62-year-old white woman). There are so many great options you could do instead. Ezra Jack Keats, for example, has ethnically-diverse characters. Or Maurice Sendak’s books. Or Eric Carle. Anything except Curious George, oh, and Babar–similar issues there! Thanks.
    ~a Librarian

  226. I like the idea of something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read

  227. I like the idea above when someone said make the parents avoid certain things like tech and gaming related items. Those are the things that people seem to sell more. Also, I agree with making a post
    in early January for the ones needing help with clothes, shoes, food, toiletries and more. That way no one would actually be looking for it. If no one mentions it in the JMG post then it might be a little better!

  228. Toys for children with disabilities would be great to add! You guys helped our family last year and it was amazing! And luckily we don’t need your help this Christmas, the ability to get an adapted toy for my boys with Cerebral Palsy to share was so nice, no local Christmas program is really given adaptive toys to donate to families nor do they give you the option to specify that your child can’t even play with most toys ❤️

  229. Legos are always a good option. Apples to apples is good for a family game night. New crayons & colored pencils w/a new drawing pad was always a treat. I don’t think much smells better than a new box of crayons.

  230. Farkle. It’s a dice game that anyone can play, all ages love it! In Africa it’s called “Dix Mille” (Ten Thousand), in the South it’s politely called Farkle as in “Oh, Farkle!”. Our family plays it whenever/wherever. Amazon sells a box set that is less than $15.

  231. Developmental toys for babies! Help them learn fine and gross motor skills, pull to stand etc..

  232. My 2 brothers loved their Hot Wheels set (back in the 70’s.) I was just at Target where a couple of the basic Hot Wheels sets are $19.99 or less.
    They also loved their Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker, but I am pretty sure those aren’t around any more. I found a couple of Glow in the Dark spiders they made 45 years ago recently.
    More recently, my tiny 3yo grand niece loves her Mermaid Tail Snuggly blanket. And anything she can use for dress-up. Such as: sparkly, velvet, or colorful scarves, glittery costume jewelry, any kind of hat (or tiara) she can find!

  233. I think some basic toys would be good…like Light Bright, Etch-a-Sketch, Easy Bake Oven, Baby Dolls, Play Tents, Scooters, Bike Helmets,

  234. I think that you even want to do this again is lovely, and any rules you set should be obeyed or those who don’t should be ignored or deleted.

  235. Judging from the comments by some people, I’m worried this will be a duplicate of last year where so many just ignored the rules, and people still gave to them so they were rewarded for it. I don’t think those lists should be allowed this year, but it will be a mammoth job to moderate that as no one reads the rules and the over-the-limit lists just keep flooding in. Maybe next year this should morph into a Christmas card exchange and forego the gifts altogether. I think there was more scamming here than genuine need last year, but I hope those who really did need help were able to get it.
    I will be following Jenny’s suggestion to give to Project Night Night this year as it’s such a worthy cause, and I know where and to whom my gift is going.

  236. I posted early on suggesting a want/need/wear/read but the more I think about how crazy it got last year I thought perhaps a simple toy/game and a new book to cherish? The gift of Reading a good book is so special. The gifter can always add on surprises if they see fit. Also from what I’ve read about the reserving gifts issue from last year (aka being ‘grinched’) the recipient needs to chat with or call amazon and have them remove the ‘buy elsewhere’ from each wish list when they make it. That should remove some drama as well. Hope these are helpful suggestions. 🙂

    Also anxiety sucks..especially when your kid is suffering from it too. It’s been a tough day here.

  237. Games: Dominoes, Yahtzee, Mancala, Scattergories, Junior Pictionary, Ticket to Ride, Settlers
    Building Toys: Minecraft sets, Friends sets, Bulk create-your-own bin, K’nex sets, Snap Circuit set
    Art/Crafts: Craft Kits, Prismacolor colored pencils, Crayons set, Coloring books, Kids’ baking set
    School Items: Backpack, Lunch bag, Water bottle
    Warm items: Kids’ coat, Snow pants, Boots, Socks, Gloves, Flannel Sheets, Sleeping Bag
    Little kid favorites: Doll stroller, Tea set, LOL Dolls, Fingerlings, Play tent, Tunnel, Balls, Flashlight

  238. One thing I would Lee in mind is the many special needs kiddos that may require a different kind of gift. My son, for example, is 10 years old with severe autism and he doesn’t know how to play with toys. So, when I’m able to buy for him, which is not often, I look for things like sensory toys or chewy tubes, headphones or cds cause that’s his obsession. But, generally speaking with autistic kids, something sensory related would be great to have on the list!! Weighted items, fidget toys, etc.

  239. Three kiddos 12, 11, 7.
    In nursing school for LPN and struggling to work due to my daughter falling in June and breaking her hip. She is still on crutches and has another surgery scheduled for February, so starting to look for more
    work is futile due to having to travel an hour and a half for up to six days in February; and then stay home with her off school for about a month. It’s been a year.


    Thank you & send good vibes to us.
    Merry Christmas 🎄

  240. Heyyyy Kelly– you are a golden unicorn with a cape. And wings. And a crown probably.

    Thank you!

  241. Jean L. A., MI 4 kids Sorry my first time, I forgot to write down your number. Got your gifts, will arrive 17-20 Dec Merry Christmas!!

  242. Travis D #1015 Las Vegas, NV There isn’t delivery information on your gift list on Amazon You need to add Unfortunately I do not know how to help you. toni

  243. JS Houston, TX #991 Ordered your daughter’s Circuit set tonight. Delivery date is 17 Dec
    Merry Christmas!! toni

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