I’ll be honest, I’m not always on top of things when it comes to buying gifts in advance for my kids’ friends’ birthday parties. In fact, the last time we found ourselves checking out in Target 20 minutes before a party again, my daughter asked — in front of a line of people, thank you very much — “Mom, how come we always have to get a gift on the way to the birthday party?” It’s just that no matter how long an invitation stays taped to our refrigerator, that party date always seems to sneak up on us too quickly. Or maybe it’s that buying a gift for another child requires making choices (What does he like? How old is she? Does he already have it?) — and I procrastinate on making choices until I absolutely have to do it. But given some good gift suggestions and the fun challenge of putting a package together, I might actually have a pretty good future with the child birthday party gifts ahead of me.
Enter these two party kits, appropriate for just about any age, budget friendly and a lot of fun to put together — especially when you include your kids.
The Explorer Kit: promotes outside adventure, a love of nature and scientific exploration and observation.
Materials Needed: a small cardboard suitcase or comparable container, a magnifying glass, an insect net, one or two field guide books or tri-fold posters (check your local bookstore for region-specific guides), a blank sketch book and a box of colored pencils
Invite your child to decorate the front of the suitcase for her friend, or help her by drawing or tracing letters for her to color.
Write “Nature Journal” on the sketch book or adhere a typed printed page.
Tuck everything inside the suitcase and glue on a few plastic bugs for fun if you wish. Your child’s friend (and parents!) will love this thoughtful gift that encourages curiosity and adventure — and your child might love it enough to create a second one to keep at home.
The Spa Kit: everything a girl needs for a night of pampering and fun.
Materials Needed: a small cardboard suitcase or comparable container, a brush, soft headbands (to hold hair back when applying the face mask), homemade face mask, a body wash puff, nail polish (try non-toxic Piggy Paint for little ones who might put their fingers in their mouths), nail stickers, a cute eye mask. You can also throw in a bag of microwave popcorn or some treats to eat during the spa fun.
You can find several natural face mask recipes that are safe for kids online. We soaked oatmeal in water and added a little honey for ours.
Arrange all the items in the suitcase, tie a bow on the outside and prepare to see a little smile on the birthday girl’s face when she opens it. She might even invite you to stay and share in the pampering.
More from Kelle Hampton