Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘birthday presents for four year olds’

Wallet 3

Buying birthday gifts for children is… trying. Even though I am in possession of an honest-to-goodness child myself, I have no real idea what kids like or what they want. Usually I end up buying some combination of whatever it is Carla is currently into and whatever falls into my price range (somewhere around $15-$20 for classmates and $30-$50 for close friends/relatives). But it’s HARD to choose gifts for kids you don’t really know, even if you feel like you’re getting a Good Gift, and even if it’s something that your own child loves.  It’s even HARDER when the child in question isn’t the same age as your own child. When confronted with a three-year-old’s birthday, my mind goes completely blank. What did Carla like when she was three? Was she ever three? Do three-year-olds like LEGO or are they still in that put-everything-in-your-mouth stage? Or is three that magical age when toy packaging finally says it’s okay for your kid to play with pretty much anything? What toys did I hate the most? Which ones did I kind of enjoy? Which ones did Carla play with for five seconds and then forget forever? The answers elude me.

But! Thanks to my brilliant mother-in-law, I have found a new gift option that I think works well for kids of MANY ages. I’d say starting with age three (if you know the three-year-old pretty well, and think this would be appropriate) and going up at LEAST to age seven or eight – maybe older.

Now, I will preface this by saying I don’t think this is groundbreaking gift news, or anything. And because it may take a little extra poking around, it might be far less desirable than clicking “buy” on a “top gift for X age kid” on Amazon and getting something in the mail two days later. But I am newly enamored of this idea and, even though it seems quite obvious when I think about it, it was successful enough that I was startled into wanting to buy it for all children forevermore. There. Preface over.

This is the gift my mother-in-law gave to Carla and to my three-almost-four-year-old niece this year for Christmas, and it is henceforth my Gift of Choice:

A purse or wallet inside which you stow a gift card or two.

It’s super simple right? And yet a very satisfying gift to buy and give. (And get, based on the reactions of Carla and her cousin to this very gift.) The only problem is that you can really go overboard on the spending for this one, so you have to be crafty to keep it in budget.

Target gift cardBN gift card

The way I see it, you use the biggest chunk of your budget on the gift card/s. The critical thing (to me, and probably this is age dependent) is to make sure the gift card is for a bricks-and-mortar store. Ordering things online is not as exciting an experience for a kid as is walking through the aisles of a Target and saying, “I want that!” It doesn’t take much. A $10 gift card is delightful to a child of 5 (and I suspect to a child of seven or eight or ten, too), and will easily buy something fun.

For close friends or family, I might do $10 each to Target and Barnes & Noble. (Although, since B&N has really upped its toy game since Toys R Us closed, and because, as my husband is quick to point out, you can’t insist a child buy a book with a B&N gift card, $10 or $15 to B&N might accomplish the same thing as two separate gift cards.)  My mother-in-law got Carla a Barnes & Noble gift card and a gift card to Starbucks because she (Carla) loves begging for cake pops whenever we go there, and, with a gift card, she could buy one herself. I never though I would say this about a $5 gift card to Starbucks, but it was very empowering for my child. And there are plenty of other places where $5-$10 goes a long way. The LEGO store. Claire’s. Justice. A local ice creamery or candy shop.

Then, you use whatever you have left on the wallet/purse. Even if your budget is $15, you can totally make this happen. Target is a great place to find these things on clearance. I got a cute pink cross body purse for a friend’s daughter on clearance for $8.00, and then also found a little card holder/wallet for $3.00. Totally worth getting both, so I did! But lots of places have good options, either all the time or on clearance. Here are a few I dug up online right now — although it is probably best to see them in person, to make sure they will fit a gift card or two and aren’t TOO hideous.

Claire’s

Claires glitter 500

Glitter wristlet, $5.00 (photo from claires.com)

Claries cat 699

Cat Zipper Purse, $6.99 (photo from claires.com)

Amazon

Amazon clutch 1099

Clutch, $10.99 (photo from amazon.com)

 

Amazon dino 890

Dinosaur wallet, $8.90 (photo from amazon.com)

Amazon cat crossbody 999

Cat crossbody, $10.99 (photo from amazon.com)

Amazon shark fanny 998

Shark belt bag, $9.98 (photo from amazon.com)

H&M

HM card case 799

Card case, $7.99 (photo from hm.com)

HM shoulder bag 999

Unicorn crossbody, $9.99 (photo from hm.com)

Target

Target Nintendo 799

Nintendo wallet, $7.99 (photo from target.com)

Target clutch 399

Mesh clutch, $3.99 (photo from target.com)

Forever21

F21 yellow 553

Yellow wallet, $5.53 (forever21.com)

F21 gold crossbody 995

Gold crossbody, $9.95 (photo from forever21.com)

Walmart

Walmart Mickey 285

Mickey wallet, $2.85 (photo from Walmart.com)

Walmart Fox 659

Fox coin purse, $6.59 (photo from walmart.com)

Walmart Mickey 1041

Mickey crossbody, $10.41 (photo from walmart.com)

Walmart owl 930

Owl crossbody, $9.30 (photo from walmart.com)

Michael’s, Joann Fabric, Five Below, Tuesday Morning, and the dollar store would be other places that could have good low-cost options.

If I have any money left in my budget, I might stick some other fun item into the purse/wallet. Stick-on earrings or a matching slap bracelet or a pair of sunglasses.

Target slap bracelet 599

Donut slap bracelet, $5.99 (photo from target.com)

Amazon slap bracelet 799

Superhero slap bracelets, $7.99 (photo from amazon.com)

Target shades 599

Paw Patrol shades, $5.99 (photo from target.com)

Charlie shades 600

Heart sunglasses, $6.00 (photo from charming charlie.com)

Amazon shades 846

LEGO shades, $8.46 (photo from amazon.com)

Amazon earrings 399

Stick-on earrings, $3.99 (photo from amazon.com)

Listen, I will fully admit that part of the joy in this gift is the SEARCH. And if the search is not your idea of fun, or if you just want to grab a board game off the shelf next time you are in Target and be DONE with the whole thing, then this is obviously not the gift idea for you. But I know from experience how much fun it is for a kiddo to receive this present. Carla was so excited to have her own money to spend, and has loved picking out what she wanted to buy with her gift cards. And it’s nice for me to be able to say, “Get whatever you want as long as it’s within your budget!”

Wallet 4

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Sometimes when I most regret posting something, I am most grateful to have done so later. I felt super whiny and lame and, not to mention, you know, like a crap parent, the other day. And yet you were so kind and empathetic and I appreciate it SO MUCH. Thank you.

 

Moving on, and also trying to avoid panicking thinking too hard about the state of the world, my husband and I are contemplating what to do with the backyard. And one of the options is to add a playset. About which we are dithering wildly.

So I am here to ask your advice.

We have a smallish-backyard. The back edge is occupied by what we call The Weed Patch. It’s sectioned off from the lawn by long strips of wood. I’m sure they have some sort of technical name, like 4 x 4s or something. But to me they are just wood. The wood strips make a long rectangle of approximately 25 x 50 feet. Inside the rectangle is… dirt and weeds.

The prior owners had a playset and a trampoline in the rectangle, which, at that point, was filled in nicely with dirt. They had a weed barrier between the dirt and the actual ground, so it was a nice uniform brown. But they took their playset and trampoline with them (when we bought the house we made SURE they would take both monstrosities; surely WE would never need them, seeing as we planned to remain Forever Childless), and over time the weed barrier has been breached by weather and weeds. Today, it is a wasteland of pinecones and acorn shells and dirt clods and deer excrement.

I got a quote from a landscaping company. To add a new weed barrier and fill it in with playground mulch would cost $X. To eliminate The Weed Patch and make it a seamless part of our lawn would cost $X times 3.5. After I scraped myself off the floor from shock, it was obvious, right there, that the first option is better from a purely cost perspective.

But if we were to go to the trouble (and still considerable expense) of filling it in with playground mulch, it seems like it would be worthwhile to actually add a playset.

 

Playset

Photo from costco.com                                                                                                                                               This is the Gorilla PlayMaker playset, which is the one I like the most. But is the slide tall enough? What would I do with the sandbox part (NOT use sand, that’s for clam sure)? Would this really appeal to Carla for the next… five years? Flags, really? Why is the spacing of my caption so worked up?

BUT. Playsets are ridiculously expensive. And I would want one that is a) safe and b) durable and c) small enough to fit our yard.

Our concerns are two-fold:

  1. Would Carla actually use it, and for a significant number of years that would properly amortize the cost of the thing?
  2. Would the thing need regular, irritating, and/or expensive upkeep that would make us rue the day I ever got the Playset Wild Hare?

I am also a bit worried about the cost of installation, because there is no way my husband and I are going to put it together ourselves. A quick internet search sounds like it would be at least a third if not half again as much as the playset itself.

So we’re getting pretty close to the $X times 3.5 of getting rid of The Weed Patch altogether.

I have already bothered several people I know, to gather data and thoughts. (Some of them are super lucky to have spouses who can build their own playsets OMG I am so jealous.) But I need MORE DATA.

So I put it to you, Internet.

But do you have a playset? Did your kids use it? And, if so, how long and how much? My husband and I already said that if she’s out there swinging once a month, that’s not worth the price. But to me, I am envisioning throwing her out in the yard DAILY while I make dinner (where I can watch her from the window) or while my husband and I sip wine on the porch or while I lounge on the porch and read. Is this a playset pipe dream? The other benefit, of course, would be in inviting friends over. We don’t really have a good play area in the house, so it would be nice to have a usable space for the kiddos to go.

Also, what AGES were/are your kids when they enjoyed the playset the most? When did they outgrow it? Many of the reviews for various playsets imply that we should have gotten the damn thing two years ago, why have we waited so long? Yet the playset manufacturers throw out things like, “Great for ages 3 to 11!”

Did you install your playset yourself? If not, how much did it cost (if you don’t mind my asking)?

Which playset did you choose? Has it held up to the elements? What kind of upkeep does it require? We are in an area of the country that sees rain, snow, humidity, and wind, so the thing better be tough. I am more drawn to the wood playsets than to the metal/plastic ones; they just seem sturdier, and also seem more aesthetically pleasing (if you can call a playset of any sort “aesthetically pleasing”).  But I have no idea if wood is a better choice or not.

One of the friends I asked about the playset said she’d gotten hers from Craig’s List. It makes me nervous, for some reason, to do that. Not simply because of my inherent concerns about murderers. But I don’t know, I guess I am thinking that a playset is like a carseat, in that it really shouldn’t be re-used? That sounds ridiculous, now that I type it out. And I’m not actually certain of my facts, vis a vis the carseat re-usability. Yet my face still squinches up into a curl of suspicion and doubt when I contemplate the Craig’s List option. (I have never purchased anything from Craig’s List; see above re: murderers.) Do you have experience with that? Is there a better, less-murdery place to find playsets online?

It’s SO MUCH money — even if we were to say that THIS is Carla’s gift for her birthday AND Christmas — that I really really want to get our money’s worth, you know? Especially since we just have the one kid. But it almost seems like one of those decisions you just have to MAKE.  In which case, I might dither until the weeds overtake the house and pull me down into the damp crumbly wormy-scented depths of the soil.

Read Full Post »