Sometimes, planning a kid's birthday party is a piece of cake compared to tracking down the perfect present. Parents often want to give their children something special they'll enjoy for a long time to come, rather than a trendy knickknack. Party guests may also stress over selecting a gift the birthday kid doesn't already own and that will elicit a happy response. When strolling through the store aisles in search of the present, perhaps go for something classic. Amid the trendy toys and pop characters, there's plenty of timeless kids' stuff that never goes out of style. Take a cue from following five gift ideas that appeal to both boys and girls of all ages and are guaranteed to please.
Boys and girls alike enjoy playing games. If the birthday guest of honor is a video game fanatic, you may want to check out popular electronic games. Don't be afraid of sticking to the basics of marbles, checkers and chess, either. Multigame sets with boards and pieces for a variety of games are entertaining as well. Simple card games, such as Go Fish and Uno, are easy for kids to carry around and play on the go. On the other hand, if a game looks overly complicated, time-consuming or chock full of small (read: easy to lose) pieces, keep walking.
If the birthday tyke is learning how to count or spell, look out for educational games that reinforce those skills. Or, if an older child has a particular interest in a subject area or has a fondness for a certain character, there's probably a game out there to match.
Parents having a hard time thinking of an appropriate birthday gift for a son or daughter may be wise to remember wheel appeal. Boys and girls adore toys that roll -- especially when they're riding on them.
A birthday toddler may be ready for his or her first tricycle. A few years later, he or she can graduate from three wheels to two (or four, if you count training wheels). In case a bicycle feels passé, consider roller skates, rollerblades or skateboards. Just don't forget the obligatory helmets and padding that should come with bikes and skates. You want your birthday child to have fun and also stay safe.
Not every kid grows up to be Picasso, but arts and crafts are a beloved childhood pastime. Drawing and coloring are the ultimate boredom solutions, and parents treasure their resident artist's handiwork as well. For that reason, if you're stumped on a present, art supplies are a solid choice. Younger children will be satisfied with a pack of jumbo crayons and a coloring book. Tweens might like a more elaborate marker set or watercolor kit. Or you can make your own gift grab bag filled with various artsy items. Some potential additions include: sketchbooks, stickers, glitter pens, construction paper, colored pencils, sidewalk chalk, glue sticks, modeling clay and paint-by-numbers sets.
Just like every child develops a favorite color at some point, he or she probably picks up a preferred animal along the way as well. Tapping into that animal instinct is an easy way to figure out the ideal birthday present. Younger children may take a cue from the family pet, which probably means picking up a dog- or cat-themed book or toy. Dollar stores and toy outlets usually carry bags of miniature farm animals, sea creatures or dinosaurs, which can be a hit. If an older kid is fond of a particular animal, a poster, set of stickers, notebook or T-shirt bearing its image can fit the bill. Last but not least, stuffed animals are also delightful gifts that kids keep around for years.
Books are the ultimate timeless gifts for boys and girls. They can open up new, imaginative worlds and create lifelong memories for the readers. From the first birthday onward, books serve as appropriate, affordable and gratifying presents. Think about the titles that meant the most to you as a child and maybe select one of those to share.
Like games, books can also have an educational element to help build essential learning skills. If you're picking out a book for someone else's child, feel free to ask about any special interests the child has and go from there. After all, one boy might have more fun flipping through a big book on fire trucks while another might be crazy about insects info and pictures. Preteens may be interested in particular book series, such as Harry Potter, that you can take into account while shopping.
And for a special birthday touch, write a note on the inside cover to commemorate the occasion.