My workplace participates every year in the United States Marine Corps Reserve's "Toys for Tots" program. About the beginning of December an NCO in full dress uniform shows up for a quick ceremony, and then for the next two weeks a box stands in the lobby for contributions. For the last couple of years, I have taken a football direct from the cash register at City Sports, a few blocks away, to this box.
For some Christmases of my childhood, a football was the standard gift. A football cost more than I could easily afford on a small allowance, but it didn't hurt the family budget. It would be used a lot, and it could be counted on to wear out in about a year. One child could amuse himself with it if need be, two could play catch, and four or more could play football. (Three, I guess, could be quarterback, receiver, and cornerback, but I don't remember us doing that much--it was the baby boom, and there were always many kids around.)
A football also has the merit of getting one out of doors. I began to reconsider televised football one winter day when some of us went out to play touch football at the halftime of the Sugar Bowl, and played until well after the game was over.