No, this is not turning into a consumer blog. But, I thought I’d share a bit of my thinking around gifts as it’s on my mind a lot at this time of year. I cringe when I see some of the things people get Q. If they really knew him, they wouldn’t get him pirate things or books with violence, etc. But some of these folks don’t know him. They know he’s a boy, and they look for what they believe to be boy things. Ugh.
When folks ask what Q might like, I’m thrilled! Sometimes the list will include something with fairies or glitter, but I mostly just try to stay gender-neutral and high on the creative possibilities.
Here are five different ideas that are easy to come by at the last minute, don’t necessarily involve mail order, and have a huge price range. So if you’re in need of finding something that doesn’t “gender funnel,” have a look!
Five gift ideasthat you’ll never find in the pink and blue of aisles of certain big-box stores.
1. Pipe cleaners – ingenious. These inexpensive items (usually about $2) can be turned into literally anything. While my son prefers to make earrings, necklaces, and bracelets out of them, others fashion them into people, complex geometric figures, never-ending chains, food items, etc. The possibilities are truly endless.
2. Magnets. There are so many different magnets that you can find for kids to play with. From magnatiles (Q LOVES these), which appeal to a wide age range (and don’t have the small pieces dangerous for little ones) to the technical goobi packs that allow kids to build with multiple magnet sizes and connectors. Kids love to play with magnets. Heck, I love to play with magnets. There’s something mesmerizing about magnetism. It’s sort of like a magic power.
3. Bikes. I know, it’s a big-ticket item, but bikes are great. Kids can tool around the neighborhood, or the park, or ride with you as you walk to the nearest coffee shop, desperate for a dose of caffeine. Unfortunately, many bikes are “labeled” by gender: sparkly bikes for girls, flame-covered bikes for boys. Ridiculous, as it’s the same hardware. But you could always push back and get a girl a flame bike and vice versa. Or find a nice, classic red bike and avoid the issue altogether. (Just a note: As I looked for a link to paste in here, virtually EVERY bike is either a “boys” bike or a “girls” bike. And they have nicknames to accompany the intended gender, like crusher for boys or Jasmine for girls. Utterly ridiculous. But I promise you can find a nice benign bike out there.)
4. Science kits. Like magnets, science kits, especially those involving dramatic chemical reactions, are fun for everyone. Take a pinch of this, a scoop of that, add them together, mix, and whoosh! You’ve got some sizzling, smoking, gurgling fun.
5. The basics: Paper, markers, crayons, scissors…and don’t forget the glue! You can’t avoid the basics when thinking about kids. In fact, so many folks try to get fancy toys and supplies for their kids that many kids are actually lacking these basics. But kids can never have enough paper (especially colorful paper), markers, crayons, scissors, or glue (glue sticks to avoid the huge mess, please). Again, the possibilities are endless. Cut out shapes, glue them on paper. Make 3-D models. Draw mini pictures. Draw huge pictures. Really, the enjoyment could last forever, and your kiddos will be able to express who they are through their creations as opposed to the supplies and toys dictating who they should be.
When we give kids toys like these, we send them the message that we know they can create, that they can explore, and that they can be who they want to be. Their playthings don’t box them in, which is so important when what they see around them in the world so often boxes them with subtle messages.