Archive for the ‘For children’ Category

Gingerbread musings

April 19, 2010

Paying their way: my numeral cookie cutters make a batch of "2" biscuits

I did it!  I made a batch of “2” shaped gingerbread cookies for the slew of second birthday parties coming up, using the numeral cookie cutters I bought a couple of months ago.  

I frosted them in different ways and personalised some of them with messages like “Cory is 2” and “Happy Birthday!”.  I thought they looked great, and suitably festive, especially when packaged.

However, my confidence dipped when I went to the first party.  It turned out to be a full-on, almost-no-expense-spared sort of children’s party.  (I mean, there wasn’t a clown or magician, but I think next year there will be).  I had felt pretty good about my special cookies gift, until I saw the hordes of other people all turning up with big flossy parcels.  Then I began to feel…cheap.

I couldn’t help it.  But then again, I reminded myself, this little boy is little more than an acquaintance.  We haven’t seen Cory in probably four months.  It seemed like madness to rush out and buy a $15 – $30 toy for a child we barely know.  Plus, his wealthy parents seem to have purchased him every toy his heart could possibly desire.  What on earth could I have found that he didn’t have already?

So I found myself in a “But it’s the thought that counts!” kind of moment.  Maybe the gift was a little cheap (?).  Certainly it only cost me a few dollars instead of the dozens I’d normally have to have shelled out. 

But despite being relatively inexpensive, it wasn’t an easy gift.  Baking the cookies, frosting them in various ways, including hand-frosted messages…that took a lot of time and effort.  It would have been much simpler to just visit a local boutique and have them giftwrap some puzzle or train or something – done in a matter of moments. 

All the same, I couldn’t help wondering what the parents thought about it, later on after the party trimmings had all been swept up.  Did they comment to each other, What a charming and original gift, and that homemade gingerbread sure does taste good! 

Or did they say, Cheap bitch!

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Cheap ‘n’ cheerful for children

March 15, 2010

Here’s the cheapest, easiest gift for a toddler aged around 2 years old: stickers.  Yes, bright, shiny, colourful stickers – of animals or flowers or trucks or whatever.  It’s amazing how much joy a little piece of gum-backed printed paper can bring into a small person’s life.  They are simply fascinated with them.

Pack an envelope with them and you’ll have a delighted toddler, and delighted parents – any  gift that makes their kid happy will make them happy too. 

Stickers make a great anytime gift, or can be a supplementary gift to accompany more substantial birthday/Christmas gifts.  Such an easy and simple gift idea, it’s easy to overlook a little cheapie like this.

Cookies-by-numbers

February 19, 2010

Numeric cookie cutters - any number of gift uses

Not long after I posted about the Helvetica cookie cutters, I happened across this set of number cookie cutters, from zero to nine. 

I bought them for myself, but they would make a great gift for anyone with young children who likes to bake.

I’ll also use them to make gifts: ‘age number’ cookies for birthday parties (I’ll make fancy, frosted ‘2’s for my daughter’s upcoming second birthday) and as cute party favors.  They’ll also make amusing novelty cookies for milestone birthday parties, such as 40th birthdays.  Plus, in a similar vein, cookies for wedding (or other) anniversaries – , ’10’, ’25’ etc.

I can’t wait to use ’em!

Daddy’s little monkey

February 17, 2010

Monkey business: a patterned skirt for a little girl - and a 'play on words' for her parents' amusement

I got this handmade skirt for the 2 year old daughter of a former work colleague of mine, Jon.  Jon liked monkeys, and always had an (amusing, ironic) monkey photo or stuffed toy monkey around. 

So I thought this little skirt, in a monkey-face print, would be great for his daughter’s second birthday this week.  It’s a cute skirt for her, and a tongue-in-cheek joke for her parents. 

Just an example of how nicknames and in-jokes can form a great basis to work a gift around.

Related link: Nicknames – a spin on personalisation

Clucking good puzzle!

January 21, 2010

Ideal puzzle for a 1 to 2 year old child

My toddler daughter received this lovely wooden puzzle from a friend, as a Christmas gift.  It’s ideal because it’s not too complex – only 4 pieces, hardwearing, and the knobs on each puzzle piece make them easy for little hands to hold. 

As a bonus, she loves to clap the egg and wing pieces together, like miniature cymbals!  The two wooden pieces clap together with a most satisfying sound.

I’m also hugely amused at the egg piece, which sits by itself in the puzzle.  Cute!

This makes an ideal gift for any 1 to 2 year old child.  It’s fun and educational.

Only Hearts Club

November 6, 2009

P1040939I’ve bought this charming doll for a soon-to-be six year old girl – I think she’ll love it. 

It’s an “Only Hearts Club” doll – a collection of bendable, attractive dolls that are modelled on girls’ bodies.  So they are slim and cute, just like real girls.

Makes a nice change from Barbie (too busty – what is she, a stripper?) and Bratz dolls (too slutty).  I’ve always refused to buy those dolls on principle.

But this little doll is a gorgeous blend of pretty and realistic, and fashionably dressed too.  Wish I’d had one when I was six!

Glorious gingerbread houses

October 27, 2009

A gingerbread house kit makes a wonderful festive gift for children and families.  Gingerbread houses are popular in North America (where people often make them from scratch, too) but less well known in other countries, except possibly Germany, from where the tradition originates. 

Kits can be as basic as little cottages, or come in more elaborate forms like mansions, chateaux or castles.  There are some beautiful examples pictured at this blog, plus more information on gingerbread houses and kits.

Gingerbread house kits make great gifts because:

1.  Kids love building them – it’s fun, creative, unusual and edible.

2.  Parents love a gift that keeps their children occupied and learning, often for many hours.

3.  The whole family can be involved.

4.  The finished result is (usually) beautiful and (always) edible!

I gave a couple of kits as family gifts last Christmas, and they were great successes.  The fact that gingerbread houses are not a common tradition in my corner of the world makes the gift even more delightful for recipients, due to the novelty factor.

Colourful kids

October 19, 2009

Most kids find gifts of clothing bor-ing!  They’d much rather have toys!  But a personalised item of clothing, well, that’s different  – and Simply Colours has some marvellous ones.

You simply choose a pattern and name/message, using their very user-friendly website – here are some examples.  The prices are reasonable, too, I think.

Shains!

October 11, 2009

Introducing a fantastic gift for older children (about 7 to 14) – “shains”!  These recycled, customisable bracelets allow youngsters to express themselves in a cool and creative way.  Definitely a hot gift for 2009.  Read and view more about them here at the Shains website.

A great idea for this Christmas, too.

One great thing: Smarter Than Jack

September 18, 2009

I have previously posted about the joy of finding “one great thing” – a versatile item that works as a wonderful gift for all sorts of people.

My best find to date was a new book called “Smarter Than Jack“, a collection of 87 true animal stories, submitted by their owners – some of the stories were sad and moving, some of them were funny, many of them were amazing, and all of them were interesting.

That book made a terrific Christmas present back in 2002, because it “worked” for everyone: those who liked to read, those who didn’t like to read so much (because the stories were all quite short, so the book wasn’t too demanding), for older children, for adults, for males, for females.  And most people like animals, especially smart, funny or clever ones like those featured in the stories. 

I got great feedback about that book.  It also had the twin bonuses of:

– making Christmas that year very simple, because so I didn’t have to find a variety of gifts.

– getting a tenth book free, thanks to the bookstore’s 10-trip card for purchasing books.

The first “Smarter Than Jack” book has since spawned a range of  related titles, but I haven’t given any further of them as gifts, not wanting to get a reputation for repeatedly giving animal books as gifts.  But it did make a spectacular one-off, and I’m always on the look-out for the next “one great thing”.