A significant amount of your time raising children includes hitting the kids’ birthday party circuit HARD. While you may be on top of your own child’s flavor of the month in toy trends, superhero stars, and cuddly characters, it’s not always easy to keep up with the current obsession of each of their playmates.
There’s a good chance of your well meaning gift being tossed into a pile of duplicates, eventually making room for the next object of affection.
The truth is, I don’t know any parent who says their kids don’t have enough “stuff”. And I know for a FACT none of us enjoy cleaning and organizing our excessive inventories of playthings.
So for your next birthday party, don’t be part of the problem.
Instead of another thing, show up with a gift the whole family can enjoy: no clean up required.
Send them to School!
A gift certificate to a class for kids is the perfect way for a child to try a new activity.
Music classes are a big hit for kids of all ages.
The Sonatina Center, in Dover, offers group classes for children of all ages in a small setting with a music professional. Classes include songs, stories, and a wide variety of exotic instruments most kids have never laid their eyes on.
Gift certificates and punch passes are available for purchase, allowing the parents to schedule their own session at their own convenience.
Art classes in a studio are a great way for kids to get messy and express their creative side while leaving the clean-up behind.
Paint for Fun, in Dover, is the only plaster paint studio allowing the instant gratification of bringing your new piece of art home with you that day.
Doodlebugz Studio, in South Berwick, provides an opportunity to paint a pottery piece of your choice, or get into a little glass fusion.
Board A Train!
I’m partial to this one because my boys are obsessed with trains. During the summer, Conway Railroad hosts “A Day with Thomas” which gives kids a chance to ride their favorite character and enjoy a full day of Sodor themed activities.
For a winter birthday, a train ride with Santa is a magical way to celebrate the season. Local locations include “Journey to the North Pole” in North Conway and Lincoln, and “Polar Express” in Portland.
Put them to Work!
When kids are at the age when they want to help, we need to stop what we’re doing and let them.
For a snow baby, pick up child-sized shovels and snow digging accessories.
In the warmer months, assemble a “yard helper” with a child-sized watering can, gardening cloves and plastic rakes. My kids could spend the day watering everything and anything in the yard.
For the “little cooks”, give an apron they can decorate and a DIY collection of kid friendly recipes.
Plan a Date Night!
If the budget’s tight, design a gift certificate for a play date. Make it special by setting up a theme like “Movie night”, a lego party, or make your own pizzas.
Both kids have entertainment for the evening and the lucky parents enjoy a night off. An affordable gift for you and a priceless gesture for them!
With a little thinking outside the box, we can break the birthday rut and create special gifts we can feel good about giving…and won’t end up in next year’s neighborhood yard sale!