Every year the toy catalogues fill with the latest and presumably greatest in plastic creations designed to bring a smile to your kids' faces. But more often than not they bleep and beep and are then cast aside for the next thing. So what can you get for the kids in your life that will be treasured for longer than it takes to unwrap it?
1. A classic board game. I don't mean Mouse Trap or anything with too many bits and pieces to keep track of, but a good, solid checkers set or snakes and ladders board will be lovingly retrieved from the toy cupboard every holiday for years. If you want something more modern, Settlers of Catan is a popular board game well on its way to becoming the new generation family favourite.
2. Construction kits. In a world of pre-fab toys there are kids crying out to get their hands dirty. Model aeroplane kits, jigsaws and even the humble Lego set are all on the rise as kids reach for something interactive and creative.
3. A paddling pool. This has to be the greatest of summertime inventions – no matter how old, bent or faded, ever year that tiny pool will be dragged out of the shed and filled to bursting for another season of fun in the sun. Try Bunnings or Clark Rubber for a cheap and cheerful version that they'll never (figuratively) grow out of.
4. Posters. These are a great way of supporting and sharing your kids' interests without having to invest in an expensive or annoying talking plastic toy. Plus, allowing children to decorate their own bedrooms gives them a sense of freedom and ownership that can be altered as easily as peeling blu-tack off a wall.
5. Cooking lessons. Masterchef may be on a downward slope but foodies are still springing up all over the country, each younger than the last. Show your kid they've got talent to be proud of by enrolling them in a local one-day course.
Throw away the pile of plastic and give a gift they'll treasure