Birthdays have always remained the most important occasion of nearly everyone’s lives. We want to make the most of this day and plan things much in advance. We pass on the same attitude towards our kids as well. Right before the birthdays, parents, friends, relatives and near and dear ones of the birthday girl/boy/woman/man start scouting for the right birthday gift. The budget varies depending upon the feelings, the behavior of the birthday-person and also upon the birthday gift that the person gave. Earlier, there used to be specialized stores wherein there was a huge stock of greeting cards, slam books, soft toys and other gifts. Some of these stores still exist; however, the warmth and excitement to choose gifts from such places are missing now.
I very well know that you have clicked on this post to read about the possible gift options for the upcoming birthdays. However, I would like you to choose the right birthday gift by reading this first.
The Modern Gift Dilemma
People scout for birthday gifts online – some even get it personalized and customized. Thanks to the personalized gifts, my cupboard is full of mugs with my husband’s name on it. He doesn’t want to use them or even discard them. In a bid to give an exclusive gift, we don’t even realize whether the birthday gift will actually be useful to the person. He or she might not like a lamp of personalized photos on it. Nonetheless, he would have to accept and appreciate it. So, when you choose a birthday gift for kids, make sure that the kid is happy with what he or she receives.
How Birthdays Can Harm Nature
I do not want to be a party pooper. But many birthday parties are a threat to nature, especially that of the little ones. I would like to begin with gifts. Kids are mostly gifted things like toys – most of them are made of plastic that eventually are discarded and harm nature. When it comes to food, children are not that happening consumers and wastage is a little bit more than the usual at times. Ah! How I can forget the decoration – balloons, banners and the like. These take many years to decompose. And lastly the return gifts – they are mostly plastic, which again is not eco-friendly. Many people are taking an active step against such birthday parties; however, there still is a long way to go.
Finally, here are some suggestions for birthday gifts. The gifts that I mention might seem a little off to you, considering your budget for the person and your wish to make him or her feel special. However, if you make the person understand the concept successfully, such birthday gifts are not only good for the birthday-person but also for nature as well.
New-age Birthday Gifts for Kids
1. The Gift of Time
And I am not asking you to gift a watch or a clock to the birthday person. The present age is quite cluttered. People spend most of their time in front of the screens. Each has his own favourite medium – while one parent watches Netflix, the other is busy with the television and the kids are stuck on to YouTube. So, gifting time on birthday seems to be the best option for me. Now, you will ask me how time can be gifted. For gifting time, you need to plan the day in advance. Take the kid for an outing by leaving your cell phones at home. No, you cannot take your kids out for movies. You need to spend time together – talk, eat, sing, laugh, recall old memories, talk about things that make you happy, cook together, dance, and do everything that you are not able to do in daily humdrum. If you are thinking of this gift for the elder ones – you can take them for pampering outings – spa, manicure, pedicure et al. And if you are my friend and reading this, give me the gift of time, please. I would love to have a heart-to-heart conversation.
2. The Gift of Experience
This gift is quite close to the gift of time. When you give the gift of time, you automatically gift an experience to your kid. When I ask my husband to buy a toy for my little girl, he asks me to give her an experience instead, however much expensive it is. He asks me to take her to book stores, restaurants (where she will learn how to eat on her own), malls (where she will learn how she can’t be stubborn and have everything on display) and the likes. So, for an upcoming birthday of a kid, you can gift her experience of a play-area, a farm may be, a zoo, a planetarium, bird-watching, etc.
If you wish to build character, you can take the kid for a visit to an orphanage, old-age home, blind associations or religious charities as well. To make the kid aware of different religions, the kid can visit a different place of worship apart from his or her own religion – maybe a Temple, a Church, a Derasar or even a Gurudwara. And it is not necessary that you take the kid on her birthday itself. Instead, gift an experience-coupon on that day and schedule a trip later in the week. (Experience-coupon can be prepared at home in the format of a greeting card)
3. The Gift of Playtime
Play is the best gift that can be given to kids ever. However, the meaning of play has got lost somewhere in the midst of expensive playthings, especially the pretend-plays and soft toys. Kids are pretty demanding these days due to exposure to several advertisements and videos available on the internet. And it is not wrong in giving them exposure. However, there can be a way out. You can teach your kids borrowing such toys and sharing the ones they already have. This makes absolute sense, especially in the case of soft toys and pretend-plays which do not amuse a child for longer periods. When it comes to toys, I prefer giving wooden blocks, puzzles, story-building games, clay, slime and even active sand. These things are quite helpful for kids in building different types of skills. And most of them are eco-friendly as well.
4. The Gift of Art
This is quite an age-old option. People have been gifting colour-kits, bead-boxes, origami and other art and craft options to kids. I really like the new age D-I-Y gifts that are doing the rounds. Irrespective of gender, kids can be gifted tiny knitting or sewing kits, do-it-yourself greeting cards, mask-making, 3-d houses and others. These are quite fun and keep the kids engaged for some time. Another option is to take out some time and gather some old waste things in your house. Team them up and gift it to the kid. Sit with the kid and try to create some good things out of these waste items. If possible, put them up for sale and use the money for an ice-cream treat or a charity. What say?
5. The Gift of Nature
With the reducing green cover on the earth, gifting a plant seems to be the right option. When you gift a plant to a kid, the kid learns to take care of it. Watering, adding manure, waiting patiently for the flowers to come and relishing the taste if it is a fruit or vegetable tree. And the best part about plants is that they flourish with the kid and remind him or her of the birthday and good memories, every time.
6. The Gift of Books
Since the birth of my kiddo, I have been gifting books to all and sundry. I love them and want to spread the message of how important reading is. So I gift storybooks, art and craft books, sticker books, activity books, pop-up books and even used books if someone is willing to accept. Books are books – they are like jewelry to me which can be passed on to coming generations. Books are timeless and I cherish every book that has gifted to me or any of us in the family. Instead of gifting a bundle of books, you can even subscribe to weekly or monthly books to kids who will cherish this gesture for sure.
7. The Art of Return Gift
Yes, returning the favor of a birthday gift is an art in itself. Recently, I attended a birthday party wherein kids were given personalized boards and coasters with their names etched on them. Times have changed and return-gifts need to be as special as gifts. On our kiddo’s birthday, we returned the favor with biodegradable ceramic mugs. It is necessary that return gifts should be useful. They should not clutter the home of the guests. Gift something that is of routine use or can be passed on to others for usage. Possible ideas are mini plants, plant seeds, cane baskets, jute bags, d-i-y kits, etc. Home décor, decorative items, plastic toys might just add to the heap of return gifts present in the homes these days.
The Way We Celebrated Birthday this Year
Throwing a birthday party is an experience in itself. However, keeping minimum wastage and nature in mind, birthday parties can turn into a beautiful experience. My little one just celebrated her fourth birthday a couple of months ago. Attending lavish birthday parties of her friends had made her a little conscious of her birthday. She wanted a birthday party as well. We had not yet thrown a single birthday party for her. All her three birthdays were quite low-key being just a family affair. But this year, she wanted to be that princess that her friends have been on their birthdays.
To keep things simple, we asked her to choose just four of her friends for her fourth birthday party. She found it fun and interesting. To avoid dress-clashes that generally girls have, we kept a theme of jumpsuits on her birthday, after confirming that everyone already had a pair at home. At the end of the day, there was no wastage of water, food and plastic, of which we were very particular. However, while wrapping things up, my daughter reminisced her last birthday. Mom, my third birthday was much more fun. She missed how she had talked at length to her grandparents, went to the local playhouse, had cut cake right in the morning and had quiet time with her parents as well. Nonetheless, she is waiting for her fifth birthday party now with a list of five friends.
Let us make birthdays for what they essentially are – a day to celebrate the day we were born. Make the most of the time available at hand by spending it with people who have made our lives special. Happy birthdays!