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Thanksgiving has ended and now the mad dash for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa gift hunting really starts.  But, I have to admit, I love the fact that my quirky kid does not care for the Elf on the Shelf and does not believe in Santa.  For me, it means completely less stress.  And, to be honest, you will never see a pinterest Christmas at my house.  It also means our holidays might be quirky to some!  Of course the gifts our son requests and receives will be viewed quirky by most or at the minimum not typical.  However, nothing is really typical with our son.

Seriously, our son has asked for some very quirky gifts over the years.  When he was 2 he asked for a pipe organ.  He settled for a rented piano.  When we realized he was serious about playing piano (discovered he had perfect pitch), as well as hubby playing it, we then purchased our own.  Piano is still loved and enjoyed, but even at 9 he still loves the church pipe organ.  Starting at 3 he specifically told us to tell his friends to bring him broken stuff instead of toys.  I do not remember how many comments we got at first over this.  But over the years, all of our friends are used to our standard line “in lieu of gifts, please bring any broken toys or appliances that our son can take apart or hack.”  At 4 he started requesting specific brands of fire alarms.  He was even spending his own money to purchase them.  He wired them up with his snap circuits and jumper cables to perform light tests as well as to make them play music.  At 5 he requested a projector.  He was tickled when a member of our church brought him a broken one.  Funnier part was that after he messed with it, he got it working.  He still uses that projector!  At 6 he called up his uncle, who has construction connections, and requested a blower vent fan.  He was the happiest 7 year old when he was presented with an old industrial furnace blower for his birthday! It took a bit to get it down to TX but he with daddy’s help they designed a plan and constructed a spot for it in our garage for their soldering station.  One year he was sent a broken in-car disc changer from an Aunt.  Another year he was sent old (from the 90’s) stereo equipment from an Uncle.  And, almost every family member and mom friend has given him some broken or old electronic over the years.  He continues to put in requests to friends and church members.  These are the best gifts!

I know we are not alone with a quirky kid or quirky gift requests.  Thus, I thought I would share about some great gifts for the quirky.  And, when dealing with the quirky, no need to follow suggested age range (unless of course there is a sibling who might put pieces in their mouth).  Here are some of our son’s favorite gifts over the years:

Broken/ Used Electronics Lego K’Nex
Little Bits Kano Computer Snap Circuits
Lightup NXT Mindstorms Hexbug
Circuit Scribe Science Kits Gears Gears Gears
Electroninks Arduino Launchpad MSP430
Touchboard Robot Kits Robot Arm
Remote Control Vehicles Rocket Kits KEVA blocks
Magnetic Construction Kits Straw Building Kits Tinker Toys
Laser Pegs Marble Runs VEX
Zometool Q-Ba-Maze Erector
GeoMag Dado Squares Zoob
Circuit/electronic Kits Tinker Crates Kipkay Kits
Microscope Betamag Popular Mechanics DVD
Chemistry Sets Bug Kits Hydrodynamic Set

Besides the kits listed above, books are another huge hit.  Especially the books from MAKE, books for various programming languages (Scratch, Processing, Java, etc.), and Lego Technic Ideas Books.  In fact, our son has a gift subscription to MAKE magazine.  He often requests technical manuals and how to books.  For book series Nick & Tesla, Murderous Maths,  Horrible Science, Horrible Histories, Horrible Geography, Frank Einstein, and George’s Secret Key to the Universe have been huge hits. Lastly, do not forget tools.  Tools make great gifts too, especially those fancy screwdriver sets for taking apart the latest smart phones and electronic devices.  Tool sets also have a much longer lifespan in our house!

In addition to getting gifts for our extended family members, we have our son participate in getting gifts for the less fortunate.  Every year our church has a giving tree.  I take my son shopping so he can pick out what he thinks other little boys and girls might like.  We also pick out books.  Our son has always been an avid reader and willing to pass on his books.  As a former school psychologist, I know how important books are.  And, since our church helps out homeless families year round we feel it is especially important to give them books that they can keep.

Lastly, in preparation for the holidays we also do a big round of giving away.  Our son has already started going through and deciding what he wants to sell, what he wants to pass on to friends or cousins, and what he wants to donate to a charity.  We started this two years ago when we participated in the 40 bags of giving during Lent.  Well, we now try to give or get rid of something whenever we bring something new into the house.  It also helps that we have done several lessons via the Story of Stuff and so it is easier to understand why we do not need so much.  Trust me, he still has a lot.  Hopefully in the long run he is learning how to give to others and understand that we really do not need a lot of stuff.  

Ultimately, the best gift is the time away from the noises and craziness of the outside world.  Yes, we do go out and see all the Christmas Lights.  And, we take part in various community events like lighting the Menorah and lighting the Christmas Tree.  However, we also make a point to have some down time just as a family.  Whatever your faith may be and whatever traditions you have, just enjoy the time you have together.  Happy Holidays from one quirky family to another!


This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Surviving the Holidays with a House Full of Gifted!  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_surviving_the_holidays.htm .