Thursday, November 15, 2007

13 Gift Ideas for Kids

The number of toys that have been recalled for one reason or another is atrocious. It's really got me thinking that I don't want just anything for MetaBaby because you don't know the integrity of the item. This goes double if you haven't had the opportunity to vet the item in question. That said, what do you do when Christmas or birthdays come around? People want to give your son gifts because they care about you and him, and they want to see that little face light up (his, not yours). So it's hard to say "please don't give my child a gift." It's not fair to the giver or to the kid.

I'm also torn because of my aforementioned resistance to buying too many toys.

Well, there are always ways to compromise. There are good, safe toys that MetaBaby could benefit from, so I made a wishlist for him at Amazon. It includes items like books, music (that I wouldn't hate), and a few safe toys. Of course, there are always other things, but those would involve conversations. For example, MetaNana got MetaBaby one of the cutest little wooden trikes I've ever seen, and it was perfect because he didn't have one. He uses it all the time, and it allows him to express his dangerous side (i.e., standing on the seat!!).

That said, I figured I'd compile a list of 13 other gift ideas to give or be given that:
  • don't break the bank
  • are useful to parents and kids
  • potentially good learning experiences
  • are not plastic, over-packaged, blinking things made in China
This is just a start, so feel free to add on with more ideas :-)
  1. Get something small to keep the little one happy, and make the real gift a deposit into a 529 account.
  2. Homemade "coupon" for something fun with you, like a day at the zoo or museum.
  3. Give homemade sweets (e.g., cookies, chocolates).
  4. Take a cooking or baking class together. Or a "class" where you teach the little one how to cook or bake.
  5. A few seeds and other relevant items to plant something (e.g., flowers, herbs, tomatoes).
  6. Tickets to a favorite event.
  7. A class or series of classes (e.g., dance, art, something at a local museum).
  8. Pick a favorite non-profit organization to donate to (e.g., cute of Oxfam).
  9. Perhaps the instructions, tools, and help in building something (e.g., soapbox car, or check out The Dangerous Book for Boys or The Daring Book for Girls from the library for more ideas).

    From New Dream:
  10. The makings for hand puppets: Brown lunch bags, googly eyes, stray buttons, scissors, markers, etc.
  11. Box of dress up clothes: Old dresses, high heel shoes, cowboy boots, collared shorts, and millions of other fun outfit ideas can all be found at thrift or second-hand stores have great selections.

    From Suite 101:
  12. Gift certificates to a local movie theatre.
  13. Art supplies (e.g., construction paper, paints, crayons) to replenish the back-to-school box.

Side Note: This is not a cheap gift, but it's an interesting one. Between November 12 and November 26 only, the One Laptop per Child program has made available their revolutionary XO computer.
For a donation of $399, one XO laptop will be sent to empower a child in a developing nation and one will be sent to the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. $200 of your donation is tax-deductible (your $399 donation minus the fair market value of the XO laptop you will be receiving).
Perhaps it sounds crazy to give a destructive toddler a computer, but consider the following per David Pogue, guru to the geeks:
  • Spillproof
  • Rainproof
  • Dustproof
  • Drop-proof
  • Fanless
  • Silent
  • Powered by a solar panel (6 hours, or 24 if reading) (2,000 recharge cyles, 4 times more than the average laptop)
  • Weighs 3.2 lbs.
  • Built-in video camera, microphone, memory-card slot, graphics tablet, game-pad controllers and a screen that rotates into a tablet configuration.
  • Runs on Linux (only geeks care about this one ;-)