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Alternative gift ideas for kids

DH and I are going to our niece's (his sister's daughter) birthday party soon and we need to buy a gift. She's turning 5. My concern is that I don't want to buy another toy because this child is so blessed (last grandchild/niece or nephew in the family) with so many toys. She has her bedroom bursting with toys plus the living room and more. Last Christmas her mom said she took a break from opening gifts because she received so many, that's how many she gets (lucky her)

Last year we gave our niece a Barnes and Noble gift card to buy some books since she's old enough to pick out ones she likes. Is it ok to do the same gift again? Honestly I'd rather put some money away in a college fund, but I don't believe her parents have one and I think it's rude to ask if they do. Any ideas on gifts that aren't toys, something she can maybe use later or a way to give her money for future use? Thanks for your help.

Re: Alternative gift ideas for kids

  • A membership to a local zoo, amusement park or museum ?

    Maybe a gift card to a place that can give her a child's spa day or a gc for a cooking class aimed towards children.
    short+sassy
  • If she has a lot of stuff, I would focus on an experience over another thing.

    Why don't you plan an activity that you can do with her (e.g. something like the above zoo/park/museum/class/spa)? Then you also get to spend some time together and her parents aren't on the hook to organize it.
    image
    short+sassy
  • Do you live close to the niece? Maybe you could give her an experience like backyard camping at your place or painting a tea cup at a local ceramics place or decorating sugar cookies at your place. 

    I do think the book idea is a good one too. As she gets older, it will probably be easier to find ways to give towards future use.
  • Great ideas thank you so much for your feedback! We did contemplate a gift card to a local farm adventure park last year, however the yearly pass is double what we normally spend per child on gifts for the year (there's 7 nieces and nephews total so we set a small, equal budget for birthday and Christmas.) I guess we could dog ear half of the amount of the season pass and give it to her parents, I just hate to have them have to chip in. I could talk to some of the other aunts and uncles to see if they'd go in on the other half, but they usually just give gifts or clothes...worst case we just give clothes too not as much fun but more practical for the parents.
  • Sometimes cosmetology schools have spa packages for little girls if you want to check around.
  • You could also try this place if one is near you. http://www.sweetandsassy.com/spa
  • I don't think its inappropriate to ask if the parents have anything set up that you can contribute to. My niece set up Savings Bonds accounts for her daughters. My mom got them for the grandkids as a way to limit the toys they got, because like your niece, they got more then enough. When the kids were older, they appreciated how much it added up to. So my niece has done that for her kids, and it's helping a lot with toy control. When you have gifts coming from 4 sets of granparents, 2 sets of great grandparents, plus all the aunts and uncles, they get more then enough. They still get something small, but the bulk of presents is in savings bond.

    If they don't and the niece lives near by, what about a "date day" which you can give her a gift certificate/coupon for. It's something you can do with all your nieces and nephews. Basically it's a whole day with just you and them. You can go to the zoo, park, movies, bowling, bake cookies or whatever age appropriate thing you can find. It doesn't have to cost you a lot either, you can make a picnic lunch, walks in the park. It's not about how much or little you spend. It's about you spending a day with them and focusing on them and the memories it will make. And those are priceless and take up no space. And the added bonus, it gives that parent a break for a few hours or the day.

  • dutchgirl76dutchgirl76
    100 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    edited October 2015
    I guess I should have clarified what I mean about asking about the college fund. DH is the first person in his entire family to go to college. Unfortunately his family doesn't value higher education and often makes comments about "what a waste all of those non-major level courses are", even though I work in Higher Ed. My hope is that this attitude will change some day as their oldest son will be ready for college soon and his current career goals require a college education. Given their specific views on education I don't want to ruffle feathers and assume they've started a fund for something they don't "believe" in. I think I will ask if they have a rainy day, or when she gets older fund that we could contribute too, however my guess is that she doesn't have one. I'd be open to starting a bank account where we keep money aside for her to use later, however we never did that for any of the older niece and nephews who are now in their teens. As the other nieces and nephews got older we started to give cash at birthdays and Christmas and assumed they'd spend it how they wanted.

    I like the idea of the kid spa day and I like the idea of taking her out. My IL's do take our niece out a lot to do fun stuff like water parks, picnics, holiday outings etc. We typically join them for some of these events since SIL is rather strict about who she'll let take the niece out of the house, she doesn't typically let any of the aunts/uncles take her without mom being there too. We could always gift a gc knowing someone will use it, hopefully DH and I will be free the day they go to tag along. 

    Thanks again for all of the great ideas, I feel a lot better knowing of these alternatives.
  • The nice thing with savings bonds is that they can use it for anything once they hit 18. They can use it for college, to purchase a car. My one niece didn't cash hers into until recently & they used to help with the down payment of their first home.

    dutchgirl76
  • DH and I are going to our niece's (his sister's daughter) birthday party soon and we need to buy a gift. She's turning 5. My concern is that I don't want to buy another toy because this child is so blessed (last grandchild/niece or nephew in the family) with so many toys. She has her bedroom bursting with toys plus the living room and more. Last Christmas her mom said she took a break from opening gifts because she received so many, that's how many she gets (lucky her)

    Last year we gave our niece a Barnes and Noble gift card to buy some books since she's old enough to pick out ones she likes. Is it ok to do the same gift again? Honestly I'd rather put some money away in a college fund, but I don't believe her parents have one and I think it's rude to ask if they do. Any ideas on gifts that aren't toys, something she can maybe use later or a way to give her money for future use? Thanks for your help.
    What about something creative?

    Kids usually love crayons and coloring books and finger paints and things that they can use to express themselves.

    A savings bond, too, is nice....so is a keepsake gift.  Maybe something you can add to over the years....I still have a gold charm bracelet that my aunt gave me, starting when I was about 6, she put a charm on the bracelet for each special milestone --- there was one for Christmas, one for Communion, one for Confirmation, one for a Sweet 16 and there were a couple more charms for Christmas to round it out.
  • Books or you could purchase her a bond that matures in 20 years or so, that way when she is old enough she'd have some money?
  • I saw this on FB, I love the idea since Christmas gets so out of control too: http://moneysavingsisters.com/4-gift-christmas-challenge-want-need-wear-read/. As you've all said the remaining money could then be dog eared for outings, future savings or a vacation.


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