About eighteen months ago I was in a training class at work with my friend Monica. She was under the gun to get a little boy present and she asked me for some ideas. That night I looked around the house, jotted down a quick list, and didn’t think about it again.
Over a year later she mentioned that she still keeps that list and uses it often. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly what I put on it… But in this day and age of gift guides, I think it’s only appropriate that 2014 becomes the year of the first No It All Gift Guide for Boys (Ages 2-6).
First up, what makes a good gift? A couple of thoughts:
1) Quality over Quantity: One good toy is better than five that break or could be freebies from the dentist’s “prize box.”. Especially because around two-and-a-half is when kids finally catch-on to the manic glee that is present unwrapping. But they also then become more interested in unwrapping than what is actually inside. Three wrapping recommendations to get more BANG for your buck:
A. Wrap all the parts of your present separately. Imagine a little box wrapped inside a bigger box wrapped inside a bigger box.
B. Start them as eco-babies with only reusable cloth bags so they never become addicted to shredding paper.
C. Wrap your presents in bubble wrap and then wrap them in paper. Or just wrap-up bubble wrap.
2) Useful & Cool: There are some presents that are just downright useful for parents, yet still cool for kids. Think animal hooded towels– they double as drying devices and exciting “costumes.” The rags we are drying our kids with can always be replaced.
3) Minimal Storage Required/Consumable: Absorbing new books into existing storage solutions is generally manageable. Finding room for the 18″ robot action figure? Looks like we have a new decoration for our fireplace mantel. Kids this age aren’t particularly excited unwrapping gift cards to children’s museums or the movies or amusement parks or ceramics studios, but they sure do enjoy the day it gets spent.
4) Educational: If they can learn something, extra brownie points.
5) No Batteries Required: Batteries make a great gift for this age range. But presents that make sounds or sing or mysteriously blurt out in the middle of the night in a Mexican accent “Da hero of da people has arri-ved ha ha ha ha ha!” should be considered judiciously.
And now… The 2014 No IT All Gift Guide for Boys (Ages 2-6)
Hooded towels: Aim for a decent level of quality as the cheap ones disintegrate into dryer lint. Extra points with boys if they have funny or dangerous animal faces on the hood. Extra points with parents if they manage to blend-in with their existing bathroom decor.
Swimming suits and pool towels: Swimming suits and rash guards with long sleeves take a beating. Their existing suit is likely faded, has been chewed-up by dragging their stomach across cement, or the elastic has given way and turned their rash guard into a knee-length dress. Target has affordable combos that hold-up well. The best quality after several years of swimming lesson field testing is Crewcuts followed by Lands End.
Rain boots and umbrellas: Their feet are alway growing. Their umbrellas are always lost.
Books: Books are educational, promote family conversation and are generally thin. Two of my personal favorites are Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and Honk!. Check the book reviews category on this blog for additional ideas.
Flashlights and batteries: You can never have enough flashlights. They must be living in Umbrellaland.
New rubber bath toys without black mold inside: Enough said. Please, nothing that shoots or squirts water at parents two rooms away.
Foam bath letters: Good for teaching literacy. The “T” and the “W” function as a hammer and punching guy respectively for those kids that are new to letters.
Pretend shaving kit and/or their own canisters of shaving cream: Shaving is endlessly fascinating. Shaving cream is even better. They don’t need the expensive stuff, but beware: the cheap stuff has those bottoms that rust and leave a ring on your tub.
Personalized super hero cape: Teeny tiny when it’s folded. Never seems to go out of style.
Sleeping bag: Exciting to get. Useful at grandma’s.
Knee pads, elbow pads and gloves: Good for bikes, scooters, skateboards, skates, those wheelie shoes, general protection when playing outside with your brother.
Helmets: See above. Helpful to have at home, at grandma’s, at school. Tough to have too many.
Kid headphones with volume control so as not to blast out their eardrums: Similar to helmets. Likely they had a pair but it has been chewed through by a zombie-child on an airplane. Similar to your iPhone headset, can never find it when you need it.
Magna-tiles: If you want to splurge, this is it. And due to the price point it’s unlikely kids have too many. They make building certain things possible that regular blocks have only dreamed of… and they’re way easier to get impressive results versus Legos.
Unbreakable piggy bank: Promotes saving. Plus it’s fun just to take coins out and dump them all over the floor.
Growth chart: Hard to decide if someone has room for this, but if it’s the fabric kind it can usually fit on the back of a closet door. Kids love seeing how tall they are and asking why they haven’t miraculously grown overnight.
I have lots of other ideas and I’m new to this whole gift guide genre, but dolling ideas out like breadcrumbs seems to be the secret to success. Happy shopping!
Note to Santa: This post is not meant for you so don’t get any ideas…