I am the grandmother of a soon-to-be eight year old grandson.
Can anyone provide me with some ideas for a birthday gift for April,
which is NOT commercial in any way. I would love to come up with a
gift which is meaningful and based, of course, on a relatively low
cost idea. I am very partial to ideas which are memory-based and/or
For example, last year I gave Brady an inexpensive camera and a photo
album, thinking it might spark an interest in photography. In the
past, I have given him a craft box which contained all kinds
of "tools" for his creativity. He loved it....so you get the idea.
I am just stumped, and I am tired of seeing the "toy of the moment"
that he'll often bring when he visits. These marketing-generated toys
have no intrinsic value and Brady can't even remember them a month
after they are lost or broken.
You didn't indicate the city or region of the country you're writing
from, but I know what you're talking about. Do you have a museum with
a museum shop nearby? They often have the most *wonderful* and
creative ideas for gifts! Equally good, some of the smaller
bookstores have quality selections not only of books, but of many
gifts at reasonable prices--or even packaged with a book related to
the item--and these too offer a broadened memorable gift selection.
You'll know the kind of bookstore I mean if you, for example, remember
one like this. The one I remember that fits the bill is in Tempe,
Arizona. It still comes to mind immediately even though I left there
nearly seven years ago.
Books with creative kitchen chemistry, or ideas for nature exploration
will often have small but incredible, and far more sturdy, "gadgets"
(not talking here about gadgets like we think of commercial...no
offense to anyone...junk, but rather along the lines of Inspector
Gadget...the microscope, the compass...I know there were at least 5
tools on this creative little thing one could pop in the pocket while
off on other ventures.
Create the "become a newspaper reporter" kit for him! You can get the
newsprint, the pad for note taking, of course the pencil, and work
*with* him to begin to develop his own little family newspaper that
would be printed and distributed among the relatives each month. This
could even correlate to the photography idea you had from that earlier
birthday, and you could help him perhaps to learn more about the
computer by turning out the printed form from your computer if they
don't have one (and of course, that means you benefit from this one
too because you get to spend some more quality time with him! lol).
Feel free to ask me more about this thought.
There is one toy that does tend to be commercialized, Barbara, but it
can launch some wonderful adventures into his tomorrows: those toy
ovens with the miniature cakes and cookie mixes. Add a kid-oriented
cookbook to that oven, work with him or ensure that others will, and
you will inspire the budding chef. Does that really work? Well, my
#2 son just turned 19 on the 23rd of March...he was 7 or 8, as I
recall, when I gave him one of these. I've taught each of my sons to
cook, and I'd like to consider myself fairly knowledgeable in this
field, given that I used to own an eggroll company and have taught
Chinese friends to make dimsum (but I'm talented in cooking and
baking, and that's my point)...but this particular son, of all of
them, can now, IMO, cook me under the table. He can't bake as well as
I do because he doesn't like to stick to a recipe, but he's the one
who got the little oven and became inspired to create. To this day,
btw, he's also a huge fan of Emeril (I hope I've spelled that
Take time to wander through a store, even to consider the
commercialized things they have. Something commercial, as you're
looking at it, could spark a better idea that you'd enjoy giving Brady
for that truly memorable gift.
I'll be eager to hear what you come up with, but I do hope these
thoughts will help you a bit in coming to that point, Barbara.
Date: Thu Mar 27, 2003 5:28 pm
Subject: Re: Birthday Gift Ideas
My ds spends hours in the "dress up trunk" mixing and matching items in
order to change personnas. The items do not have to be anything fancy, most
of the stuff in our's is from the dollar store (ie. bandana, unique belt /
sash, sheriff's badge).
Craft supplies are also a good way to encourage a child's creativity. You
could include a good craft book which will give them specific ideas of
things they can make using the craft supplies. Once again the supplies do
not have to be anything fancy. I've learned to make sure to include lots of
glue and tape.
I feel your pain sister! With so many birthday parties my DD gets invited
to, I hate getting the "toy de jour" for them. I started going to the
dollar store and making "kid buckets" 2 years ago. My first one was for a
little boy turning 7. I got a big blue plastic pail and filled it with
string, flashlight, batteries, marbles, magnifying glass, masking tape,
padlock, cards, note pad, pen, etc. I picked up all the "boy stuff" I could
think of that wasn't a toy - save the marbles. I then used paint markers I
had at home and wrote Matthew's name on the outside of the bucket and
decorated it up with simple squiggles, zig zags, spirals etc. I put a
ribbon on the bucket and we presented it as the gift - no wrapping paper.
It was the biggest hit! All the boys were clamoring over each other trying
to see all the "cool stuff" in the bucket.
I use the time of year to inspire the contents of the bucket. The Matthew's
birthday was days after school let out, so I thought "summer adventure fun
for a boy". For other friends it has been water guns, pool toys, Frisbees,
balls, jump rope, jacks, side walk chalk, etc. As the girls are getting
older I load up after Christmas on the little stocking stuffer type packages
of lip gloss, bath soaps, lotions hair doo-dads etc. I go back to the
trusty ole dollar store and get a cute plastic basket that can sit on the
bath counter and hold all the beauty secrets. Same thing only different I
have gotten "highly essential" *stuff*. The tap-on lights in fun shapes are
a huge hit (don't forget the batteries!), zany diaries and pens, fun cups,
stickers, stationery, craft kits, beading kits, key chains, necklaces,
bracelets, puzzle books.
Choose a theme, with girls it can be:
Bath and Body-
Boys Bath and Body (younger boys)-
character towels and wash cloth sets
character soap & shampoo
character tooth brush & tooth paste
character or cool design band aids
Underoos (character underwear)
(A close family friend's son **LOVES** Buzz Lightyear. FP this birthday
this year, I got him a spinning tooth brush, toothpaste, Band-Aids and glow
in the dark PJs - all Buzz. Out of ALL his gifts he got, the spinning Buzz
tooth brush was THE biggest hit! Go figure!)
tool box (presentation vehicle!)
assorted nuts, bolts, screws, nails
FYI - ALL the things listed above can be found at the dollar store or very
inexpensively at Wal-Mart, Target, Big Lots, etc. These are very nice gift
for very little money.
Use your imagination! Think of the child and what and where their interests
lie. Sports nut? equipment balls magazine subscription to SI Kids.
Budding musician? CDs of their instrument or a different genre. Video of
concerts or musicians documentaries. Book worm? EASY! BOOKS! book marks,
can you make a book signing of a fav author? What better gift than an
Anyway, you get the idea. It isn't hard. I hate commercial toys, we have
them, but not like some kids! I try to get DD things that she can *DO* or
build on a collection of things she already has. Lately we are simply
planning trips (big trips) as gifts to her and the whole family benefits.
Shhhhhh...it's a secret but we just booked a 3 day Disney cruise in
September for DDs August birthday present. She will open a small box on her
birthday with her cruise ticket in it. We will have other small gifts like
a waterproof camera and a couple pins for her to trade with. This is the
best thing we have done lately. We get a family vacation and DD gets a
*great* birthday present! We are doing the same for Christmas - a
special surprise trip. We spend money on very special memories, not junk.
Hope this helps!!
Diane firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
I've loved reading people's ideas for inexpensive boys gifts. Very
creative. We also have done the craft boxes, etc. by shopping at a
children's resource center that sells recycled products.
My goal is to put together gifts for $5.00 --almost impossible, and I
only manage it about half the time--but here are a few more ideas.
1)A coupon for time out with Gramma (Mom, Dad, aunt)
Scan the local papers for coupons for 2 for one Sundaes at Friendly's,
a donut and coffee deal at Dunkin donuts, Buy one get one free bagel
sandwich at Mr. Bagel. or whatever.
Make a special 3 by 5 coupon (decorate it with markers or stickers),
put your coupon, the coupon from the paper, and a five dollar bill in the
My kids love this--special time with just (Mom, gramma, uncle, or whoever
) makes them feel special.
If you can't find a coupon, you can still get two donuts and two drinks
at Dunkin donuts for close to five dollars.
If you wish for something more tangible that he won't forget,
buy a photo album for one dollar at the dollar store, bring your camera
along and ask a staff person to take a picture of you and your gift
recipient. Start a picture book of "Special times with Gramma".
2)If you're outdoor people, take him on nature hikes or trips to a
park(camera in hand)
with a picnic lunch (again, a nice handmade coupon makes it a special
gift--or buy an inexpensive lunch box,
put the coupon inside, and explain that it is to be used only for hikes
with Grammie, and schedule the first date right then.
You could create a scavenger hunt list for the hike--certain wildflowers
or cones and acorns or squirrels and birds or whatever you like) IF you
don't know about them, find a guide at a used book store or library to
3)A disposable camera at Staples costs under $5. My kids love taking
their own pictures, and Grammie gave that gift to my daughter one year.
(COmbine with a "Time with Gramma coupon" and chose a free destination to
photograph something.......favorite trees, public art --our city has lots
of outdoor sculptures and if you do a small amount of research ahead of
time, he might learn a little local history painlessly!), even buildings
he likes. (I'll never forget the day my 4 year old son told me he wanted
to collect mountains--which developed into a small photo album of him/us
on top of various small peaks.)
4)Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates time based gifts. And gifts
for less known eight year old boys are harder.
When I have the money, I buy ahead from 1/2 price shelves at CVS, Target,
even the local hardware store for the ages of my son and daughter,
assuming that they'll be invited to parties during the year. Right after
and before Christmas are the best times--you sometimes find 2 for 1 sales
like this last year at CVS. If the gifts don't work out for other kids,
they are there for Christmas or Birthdays for my kids (so I make sure I
buy things they would like)
5)As for commercial gifts, my son loves Bionicles, and so do his buddies.
If you don't mind the fighting concept(at least I think that's what they
do) they are about $7 ($5 last Christmas so I bought several) and are
Lego based. The combinations my son puts together out of his own head
makes me think we may have an engineer on our hands; always a clear
explanation of what each alteration is for.,
6)Chess set--and a promise to teach him.
Hope this sparks some ideas for all those who need gifts for 8 year old
boys (and girls)
7)Oh, one more!! Might not work unless the boys family is frugal too--but
in our family we exchange books we know each others kids may want (we
even trade lists sometimes)--but the source is used bookstores, Goodwill,
Salvation Army stores. If his family wouldn't think this is cheap (or
maybe even if they woudl!) how about a trip to a special bookstore with
Gramma--a used bookstore you've checked out for price and content ahead
of time. There is one here which charges $1 for paperbacks so a $5
coupon provides 5 books for a booklover if Gramma pays the tax!
This list is so great! Thanks, Liss and others who make this work.
I'm new to the group but thought I would share what my family has started doing
for birthday gifts for friends. I buy them a ticket to the movie house plus
a "medium special" of popcorn/soda. I can do this for less than $5 for under
age 13 and less than $7 for over. The kids think it's great!
Wife to Tom, Mom to 4 wonderful kids ages 17 to 10
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