Is it just me or are there really more spring and summer babies than autumn and winter ones? We've been on a roll of birthday parties, including Sabrina's, since early April, and the partying continues through July. At this point we're making weekly trips to get birthday presents, and I've been trying as much as possible to make the giving fun and meaningful for Sabrina. Gifts that create an experience for the recepient and require a little bit of thought on our part are my first choice. I also try to avoid hundred-piece toys that just add to the clutter of the playroom. Here are some ideas:
- Original and personalized craft kits with everything a parent needs to work on a memorable project with their child. For example, start with a wood box, wood letters spelling out the child's name, a terracotta piggy bank or a ceramic plate. Add acrylic paints in assorted colors, paintbrushes in various sizes and a kid-size apron. Put it all in a bag, add a note with some simple instructions and wishes for a happy birthday.
- This is a favorite gift Sabrina got for her birthday. Buy a large plastic measuring bowl and fill with a few plastic kitchen utensils such as measuring cups and spoons, a spatula and mixing spoon. Type up an easy baking recipe and give it a fun title like "Sabrina's Brilliant Banana Bread." Add one or two key ingredients (preferably non-perishable ones) and you've created a fabulous cooking and eating experience the child will surely remember. Of course, Martha Stewart has a great recipe for Banana Bread.
- Books are always good gifts, and they can be the start of a nice experience kit. For example, Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed can be given with a pot and packet of easy to grow seeds. Or, the very inspiring I Love to Collage by Jennifer Lipsey Edwards given with some child-safe scissors, a pack of construction paper and some glitter glue are sure to be a hit with parents and children.
- I love giving copies of Sabrina's favorite books as gifts so she and her friends can know the same stories. A nice idea is to buy a second copy to donate in the birthday child's name. Let the family and child know you've done this.
- A subscription to a magazine. Hive Five, by the publishers of Highlights, is wonderful for toddlers and contains no advertising. Sabrina enjoys every new issue immensely and loves getting something in the mail. Since the subscription takes about 6 weeks to kick-in, you can buy a current issue to wrap and explain in a note that new issues will keep coming all year long.
- This is my husband's great idea: the gift of food. You could have a lot of fun with this one! How about a fruit basket? Pick one each of some of the more exotic varieties of fruit families don't usually buy and label each fruit with its name. Or, put together a selection of healthy treats from a health food store. eco child's play recently reviewed natural lollipops that you could also include.
- Whatever the gift, we always include a special piece of art created by Sabrina for her friend.