The Gifted Child

Thursday, December 4, 2008
Obviously there is much talk this holiday season about buying less, doing more. It makes a lot of sense in this time of economic uncertainty: Why not find the silver lining of doom and gloom and teach our children more about charitable giving and less about mass commercialism? Except one thing: The joyful exchange of gifts is not necessarily a bad thing. And we don't want to be like Dickens's infuriatingly self-righteous Mrs. Pardiggle (who proudly announces that each of her five young sons donates his allowance to worthy causes, while the narrator explains that the children look "absolutely ferocious with discontent") now do we??

Of course we as parents should teach our kids about the importance of charity as they grow up. And I wholeheartedly intend to start now, trying to explain to my 3 year old the difference between "want" and "need"; modeling charitable behavior. But is it wrong to also want to give him something absolutely perfect to unwrap with glee and anticipation? To watch his face light up like a glow stick as he unearths his new treasure? A present is about thoughtfulness and has less to do with money and more to do with connection and depth of relationship. Some of the best gifts I have given and received cost far less than some of the donations I make.

And so, here they are, some of my favorite picks for children this holiday season. This list is hardly exhaustive or even close to balanced and it doesn't evenly cover every age-group. Nothing is overly elaborate either. Nope, my list is comprised of random, sometimes simple and sometimes quirky items that I would be proud to wrap up in bows and give to all the little babies and children I love this holiday season. Without further ado, 12 of my favorite gifts, and nary a partridge or pear tree in sight:

1) Touchable Art Books: These interactive books give kids hands-on fun in a trippy art world ("pet Matisse's fish!" "Brush Venus's hair!"). Plus, they are much more fun than reading "Goodnight Moon." Again.

2) Skyscraper Block Set
: 36 piece set for the budding architect...or for the parent who is sick of ugly blocks.

3) Playhouse
: Let your baby
draw on the
walls--his own walls!
This biodegradable playhouse
made of recycled cardboard
can be your toddler's home away from home. And you know
how much kids love boxes. Hours and hours of entertainment.

4) Framed pad
: Elegant post-it notes--who knew? Kids can draw within the frame, immediately elevating their doodles to high-art; moms can peel and stick a pre-framed masterpiece.

5) Magic clothes
: Remember hypercolor shirts? They're back! But less gross. The
ink on these shirts change color when exposed to the sun, so pirate ships and fairies take on a new look.

6) Message In A Bottle Kit
: For when your kid needs to send out an SOS. Comes with a bottle, a cork, and wax.

7) Jigsaw Puppet puzzles
: These hip wooden puzzle pieces do double duty as puppets and puzzle pieces. The heads and bodies can be mixed and matched to make an endless number of new characters and fairytales.

Homemade, but not homespun, unique clothes: This "Scribbly love dress" is cool without being over the top and will have everyone wondering where you find such awesome clothes for your kids.

9) Puzzles that grow in difficulty as your kids grow in height:

Kid-o puzzles feature different configurations and backgrounds of increasing difficulty--so you aren't forced trying to make your 4 year old put the circle in the right place for the millionth time.

10) A simple camera:
Because it's never too early to teach your kids to see the world through various lenses.

11) "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan
: Bob Dylan wrote a children's book? Do you need any more reason to get this? "May you grow up to be righteous. May you grow up to be true." I might have accidentally purchased this for myself.

12) Something personalized
: Check out the host of personalized options in clothing and books we've previously showed to you. Particularly good for kids with names you don't see at the souvenir shop--can't you remember searching those carousels of little license plates, looking for the "Deepa" or the "Parul"?!?

Give good gift Devis!
Anonymous said...

Another option in the list of gift options ---Increasingly, friends of my children are opting for donations to a favorite charity instead of birthday, holiday and bar/bat mitzvah gifts. It is truly heartening when a child thinks of others less fortunate than themselves in a culture of material excess.

Anonymous said...

Our family usually celebrates Diwali with the same enthusiasm you have for Christmas. These are great ideas whatever your spiritual roots/tradition your family follows. Thanks!

JJ said...

Great ideas and I like how they stray from the usual ride-on toys/Fischer Price offerings. Thanks

Auntie N said...

I am feeling your introduction isn't going to be popular but I do agree with it. Yes charity is important but we don't have to be so black and white about everything and I don't think we have to feel guilty about, say, buying our children toys for the holidays. Some of these ideas are wonderful. I am going to get those art books for every child I know, whether for the holidays or birthdays of whatnot. Any suggestions for gifts for adults/friends? Andy anything that is particularly "Devi"?

Radman said...

When my child's first grade teacher told me that my son was "gifted" and that she was recommending him for the G&T program, i told her that in this county all children were either G&T or learning disabled.

teach your kids how to play chess and how to either appreciate or play a musical instrument.

Tani said...

Haha, agree with you Radman. But guess what? You still ahve to buy the chess set or instrument!!

Anu said...

Love these ideas...
About the camera: kids typically want something like mom and dad have, and most of us don't shoot with film anymore. Check out some of the digital cameras made for kids (made to withstand dropping and water, and very simple to operate). Fisher Price's Kid Tough Digital Camera and the V-Tech Kidizoom both look good.

Jasmine said...

I second the V-Tech Kidizoom--my son loves it. Also, I have the playhouse and "hours of entertainment" is NO JOKE. who knows why kids want to live in a little house inside their own house but they do!

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


jaime said...

Great ideas! I 3rd the V-tech least that's what we are getting our son. My nieces love it!

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


deepa said...

Thanks for all the comments guys! Will definitely check out this V-tech camera. And Radman, I too agree with you but tell me: When you DO have to buy a gift for a child, do you have any favorites, anything off the beaten track? Would love to hear your picks.

Anonymous said...

i've been looking for my name on a shirt/barrette/magnet ever since i could read 30+ years ago, how great to see it in a blog reference, thanks for the holiday tips...

Berchta said...

Thank you for the lovely post.
My daughter is a gifted child. So I usually have to buy her special toys. I want to try some new ones now. I was wondering whether you can tell me where to buy good educational toys for gifted toddlers

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