I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
March 13, 2013
If you have school age kids, you know the children’s birthday party drill all too well. As soon as you put your kid in preschool, the invitations come hard and heavy, one after another after another after another. We’ve talked here before about the awkwardness of the party itself (Remember my most awkward kids birthday party moment EVER?), but one thing we haven’t covered is the gift.
I like to be prepared for parties, and try to keep age-appropriate gifts on hand– but you should know that this has only come after YEARS of trial and error. I have been the stepmom who stuffed a ten or a twenty (depending on the degree of friendship) into a birthday card envelope and sheepishly handed it to the host. I have been the mom stopping by Toys R Us for a gift and a gift bag and tissue paper and a card, mere minutes before the party began. And I have been the mom who didn’t even have time to make it to Toys R Us before the start of the party, and had to resort to whatever the corner drugstore had to offer.
NO MORE, I say. NO MORE.
Those awful memories have helped me to be a little more prepared when it comes to parties, and I’ve bought enough presents over the years that I know now which ones will be sure-fire hits. Here are a few of my favorites:
At $14.99 on Amazon, this gift is a great bargain. The kid will have to send off for the butterflies, yes, but Insect Lore now lets you do that online, which saves time– and trust me, this gift is worth the wait. The kids and I did this a few years ago and absolutely loved it– and every single one of our caterpillars hatched! You can also opt for the Ant Hill or a number of other bug-growing kits- Anything from Insect Lore is fabulous and educational and super fun for everybody.
And then there are Sea-Monkeys! Who doesn’t love Sea-Monkeys?! You can get a deluxe kit like this one for around $20 at Toys R Us and it makes a great present for a boy or girl- Chances are the parents will remember them from childhood and be pretty pleased, too.
Operation is always a safe bet when you have no idea what the kid will be into. We’ve bought this gift for others several times– I love it because both boys and girls love it, parents will have fun playing it again, and it helps with fine motor skills. It’s also under $20, which is nice. Just be sure and buy batteries- They’re not included with the game.
One of my all-time favorite gift ideas has to be this book, Papertoy Monsters. It’s under $12 on Amazon (I’ve also recently seen it at Michael’s) and it’s filled with 50 awesome, fairly easy to put together paper monsters. My son is IN LOVE with this book, and now has a collection of hilarious paper monster creations that we add to all the time.
LEGO sets are always a safe bet. Most of you know this to be true for boys, but did you know the new LEGO Friends sets for girls are just as fun? Every girl we’ve bought a set for has LOVED them– This particular “Olivia’s Tree House” set is $21.99.
Oh my gosh, Perplexus is RIDICULOUSLY fun. Available for all skill levels from about five years of age on, it’s basically an unbelievably elaborate obstacle course inside a plastic ball. My son got one recently and I became obsessed with it until I solved it. It took me HOURS, y’all. It’s such an ingenious toy- You will be amazed. Perplexus is fun, educational, and best of all, the whole family can enjoy. Most Perplexus balls are between $15 and $20.
You can’t go wrong with an art jar. I got one on sale, put it away, and pulled it out on a boring rainy day- The kids stayed busy making things for the rest of the day, and they still dip into it for supplies on a regular basis. I’ve begun refilling ours with odds and ends. Art jars are always at Toys R Us and Michael’s and generally run between $10 and $20, making them a perfect party gift. They’re big, too, so the birthday kid will be thrilled.
Got any great ideas of your own? I’d love to hear them!