Birthdays are exciting days that children often look forward to weeks in advance. Parents will plan parties and make their child’s favorite meal, but it can sometimes be difficult to know what exactly to buy them, especially if they seem to have everything they “need”. There are plenty of alternative ideas that your child may appreciate more than you think and that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
In the United States, the average age children receive their first smartphone is around ten years old. They are busy texting and snapping away photos throughout their day which they can later swipe through and look back on. But there is something special about having hard copies of the photos. Why not buy them a photo album book that you can either create together or print off and frame them for them? Another idea is to purchase a Polaroid camera that prints the images out instantaneously. They will thank you later.
Subscription to a Magazine
While it may be tempting to skip over this section, don’t. While magazines are not nearly as popular as they used to be, they are still valuable in their own right and offer cognitive skills that can’t be learned from smartphones. Reading print is a very different experience than reading digitally. According to Dr. Nicola Yuill from the University of Sussex, because magazines have a larger canvas than the average reading book, there is more space that can be covered in words and images, which are often used as landmarks to reference back to. It is a highly sensory reading experience helps improve memory while also encouraging sharing and social reading. On top of it all, it is a highly sentimental and owned object which are becoming rarer to have.
Handmade gifts are also a thoughtful alternative. If they really enjoy bath time, try and make bath crayons made of glycerin soap. This way they can continue being creative even while bathing. Or if you can sew and your child is into fixing things, make them their own little tool apron with pocket dividers to put their tools in. If they are into cooking and baking, why not make them an apron for the kitchen in a pattern you think they’d enjoy. Homemade playdough can also be a fun gift to give or to make together so they can also learn what goes into it.
For children that are more active, take them out for the day and have a day full of adventure, whether that be going kayaking together, horseback riding, hiking or having a picnic. These are great ways to bond with the child, encourage healthy psychological development by being outdoors, and create lasting memories with them. If the weather isn’t in your favor, consider going to a performance such as a play, musical or dance performance. If your city has a children’s museum, spend time together exploring and learning about various animals and sciences. Figure out what their perfect day would be and see if you can make part of that come true.
There are monthly subscriptions that will send your child a box every month. This could be a new monthly art project, a box about travel and various cultures, cooking tools and recipes or science experiment. This is a way to give them a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
What about giving them a “date night” once a month so they can have the full, undevoted attention of their parent? There are few things more valuable than spending quality time with your children. Whatever you choose to do, they will appreciate the thought you have put into it.