Raise your hand if you’ve ever been ten minutes late to a kid’s birthday party because you had to mad dash to Target first to buy a gift and then wrap it in the car in the parking lot of the venue before you walked in? I’m asking for a friend. Yes, yes, I know it’s not about the gift, but I hate the feeling of a last minute thoughtless purchase simply because our family loves the art of gift giving–so much, in fact, we have a family trademarked term for the person whose gift is the most thoughtful or most loved by the receiver…the Jesse Bear Award. The term originated probably 20 years ago when my mom found this darling bear that came with clothes, and the child we were all celebrating threw everybody else’s gift to the curb when she opened it. My mom took the Jesse Bear Award every celebration that followed for a good several years until her winning streak was broken. To this day, when a child’s birthday is approaching, we indulge in some good smack talk about whose gift will delight the child the most. If I recall correctly, for Dash’s birthday one year, Heidi sent my dad a text after hearing about the garbage truck he was purchasing for Dash: “Oh, so you think he’ll like your garbage truck best? Wait until I buy him a REAL garbage truck. Your garbage truck is dead to him.” We are a very emotionally healthy bunch, what can I say?
We usually spend about $20-$25 on birthday gifts for kid friends. Lainey usually has her own ideas for her friends since she knows them best, but for other friends, the kids and I generally pick something out together that will be loved and used. Ideally when we get an invite, we hop on Amazon and pick out something thoughtful right away. Even better, if we know friends who are also invited to a celebration, we’ll team up with a friend for a joint gift that’s a little nicer.
So, to avoid the ‘ol five minutes before the party slap-dash-wrap-needless-plastic-crap routine, I’m gathering five gifts kids will love based on gifts my kids have geeked out over and things that get played with and used the most in our home by friends of all ages. These all have earned the Jesse Bear Award stamp of approval.
- Disco Lights & Microphone
This is the GO TO gift. For ANY kid. Or adult, for that matter. If we’re sticking to gift budget, we’ll go with one. If we’re teaming up with a friend for giving, we’ll put the two together for a full dance party effect. Our disco lights and microphone get so much use in our home, never lose their happiness power and have transformed many a Friday nights into family celebrations we won’t forget. For our last neighborhood gathering, we brought these babies out in Nella’s bedroom, and suddenly the kids were IN DA CLUB. Laughter, dancing, singing…instant party.
- Walkie Talkies
We used these walkie talkies all summer long at my dad’s cabin, and the kids were entertained for hours, setting out on hide-and-seek hunts, delivering messages, playing spies. The range on this set is incredible (we took it on the boat and could still communicate way out in the middle of the lake). The kids love them so much, we had another set sent to the cabin because there were so many fights over them.
- Glow-in-the-dark Magnatiles & Black Light Flashlight
I’ve professed our family’s love for Magnatiles many times, but they really are the toy that brings everyone together. They entertain toddlers, teens–even the adults can’t keep themselves from sitting on the floor and building with these. And don’t let a kid already owning these be a deterrent. Kids who have Magnatiles want more Magnatiles. This little glow-in-the-dark set is super fun for night building. Throw in a little black light flashlight to up the glow factor.
- My Pop-Up Body Book
Dash brings me this book every. single. day. An Instagram reader recommended it after I shared about Dash’s insatiable interest in the human body. This isn’t just a book you “read”–it’s a book you explore…for hours. The pop-ups are incredibly elaborate and within each body system section, there are inserts and mini books tucked inside, diving into every area of the body and delivering fascinating information at the perfect appropriate level for kids. With all the Halloween accessories available right now, it’s a fun gift to wrap–dangle a little skeleton from the ribbon.
- Whatchamadrawit, Sketch Book & Chalk Pastels
You can never go wrong with Arts & Crafts for kids. Fill a box with items that spark creativity, and any parent will thank you (easy on the glitter). We are currently loving this “whatchamadrawit” set–a box full of cards with ideas of imaginative things to draw. Draw a fruit that has a banana body and a pineapple top. Draw a flag for a country where you are the ruler. Draw a creature with a mouse head, lizard body and caterpillar feet. This one is fun to pull out at restaurants while you’re waiting for your food. Lainey and I have been taking it out to the driveway and using chalk to draw the prompts–so much fun and gets us out of our balloon/heart/rainbow drawing rut.
I am pleased to announce we have a birthday party this weekend, and we will not be wrapping a gift in the car…fully prepared!
Happy Weekending, friends.