I am incredibly grateful whenever anyone sends a card, or gives a gift to my Daughter. It’s so touching that they are taking the time to treat her. And I love giving presents to all the little people in my lives. But in the spirit of “living with less”, I have been thinking about Minimalism, and how it’s antithesis or at least it’s nemesis is probably Children’s Birthday parties! Do you ever find yourself stuck for choosing a present for a Child? Especially when you know the Parents share similar thoughts to you; their house is already crammed full of toys. And chances are, if they have older siblings, they really don’t need any more clothes of books. You might not be working towards a slower, more minimalist lifestyle, simply your house feels too full already! You know you don’t much like the idea of any more “stuff” in the house, and a lot of households probably feel the same.
Sure there might be a couple of people in your life you’re close enough to to call a ‘truce’ on gifts, at least before the Children are old enough to notice. However, here are a few ideas I’ve come up with as alternatives to more plastic! Many are free, personal, and will create meaningful memories.
Name labels- especially once they have started at Nursery or school. These ones from tinyme survive multiple runs in the dishwasher and come in all sorted of shapes and designs.
Some seeds for the garden. They will love digging holes and planting them (or in a window box if they don’t have a garden). Something as simple as cress can be great fun, as it grows so quickly. For older Children tomatoes, or something simple to grow and nurture, -plus one which offers a delicious reward at the end.
Blank thank you cards like these from Amazon are a great idea. They will keep the kids entertained, and who doesn’t love a personalised card through the post. I used these for my daughter when she wasn’t yet two, and everyone who received them really loved them.
Bath Bombs-they smell delicious, and make bath time even more fun. Plus once they’re gone they’re gone! My daughter loves hopping in and watching them fizz. Lush do some spectacular ranges of colours and scents. or here’s a recipe to make your own
Set up a Mud Kitchen for them in their back garden. An old wooden spoon, a discarded bowl or piece of tupperware, and baking trays or pans can quickly make an empty corner of the garden into hours of imaginative play.
Another idea for the garden is a Fairy Garden, perhaps with some magical tea cups, a little stone pathway, and some glitter trails?
Although there are a range of great apps out there for free Children’s entertainment, signing them up to an educational app, or an Itunes voucher could be a great option for a slightly older child.
Cake them something, homemade is always tastier, all kids (and adults) know that. You could print custom labels off with their names and date of birth on for an extra personal touch.
You can make photo collages using apps such as Flipagram, these take a bit of time and effort collating the photos but will be lovely for the whole family to enjoy watching.
Make them a video, especially useful if you don’t live close by. It could contain reading stories, singing to them, puppets! Let your creativity and wanabe kids TV presenter run riot.
Or if you’re a little camera shy, draw them a picture story, write them a short story which incorporates them into the plot. Something they can treasure forever.
A voucher for a local activity, in the past i have organised soft play vouchers, pick your own vouchers, and entry to the local Zoo.
An annual pass is another lovely idea. Places such as RHS Wisley, the National Trust, or Painshill Park provide a years worth of memory building.
organise a treasure hunt, you can use treats along the way, or create challenges for older children-perhaps it could lead to their birthday cake even?
Similarly a voucher for a family friendly Restaurant is a nice idea for a treat the whole family can enjoy.
A babysitting voucher, either offering yourself up, or a professional, bound to be a hit with the parents more than any loud lurid piece of plastic!
Your time, take them out for the day for a treat, it can be something like the Theatre or Go Ape, Afternoon at a play centre or a simple picnic in the park. Just spend an afternoon letting them choose which games you play. Children enjoy your time and energy more than anything you can purchase.