Tis the season of baby showers, christenings and any other gift-giving occasion to welcome a new arrival. If you’ve been invited to a bris, baptism or first birthday bash and are coming up empty-handed on your quest for the perfect present , consider the latest trend in gift-giving: subscriptions. We’re not talking Highlights magazine here, but rather a boxed mail-order delivery. Googaro features an assortment of carefully selected baby gifts (think: your own personal baby store shopper) that are eco-friendly and BPA-free. The selections include toys, books, snacks and other items, and are tailored to specific age ranges: 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-2 years and 2-3 years. Subscriptions are available on a monthly basis at $35 a pop, or you can place a one-time order. If you’re looking to take the guesswork out of gift-giving, or if you want to surprise an out-of-state family member or friend who’s just had a new baby, then let Googaro be your go-to gift.
In a Nutshell: A gift-giving subscription service for new babies that’s as satisfying for the gift recipient as it is for the gift giver.
With just about two weeks until school lets out, I am faced with the inevitable truth that my kids will soon be home with me, and I will be tasked with what I like to call a “Herculean feat”: keeping them entertained, while not killing each other. Sure, they’ll be doing some camp time here and there, but with plenty of down time on the calendar, it’s a ripe opportunity for them to do something that’s productive and that doesn’t have to follow a set schedule. Ah, the beauty of unstructured time!…What is that, anyway? After hearing so much about ‘brain drain’ and ‘summer slide,’ I figure it’s my job as a parent to keep them intellectually challenged and mentally engaged even when they’re not in the classroom. Because those requisite trips to the library and beach quickly lose their novel appeal, what’s a mom to do? If you’re like me and have plenty of weeks to fill between now and September, you might want to check out Green Kid Crafts’ Summer Survival Collection. Each month, the company will send your child a specially themed box of goodies, containing all the stuff they need to keep their brains running smoothly. June begins with a Backyard Science Box that let them get down and dirty as they explore what lies beneath. July’s Gardening Box helps cultivate little green thumbs–perfect if, like me, you “forgot” to weed out last year’s garden and plant new stuff. And if you make it August without killing anyone (!), you can check out the Around the World Box, which lets your child become a globe trotter without needing a passport. We’ve reviewed Green Kid Crafts’ other kits, and my 5-year-old is still playing with the puppets she made! A big hit when there’s plenty of down time–or just when you’re all out of ideas for boredom busters–these go-to kits will be your new best friend.
In a Nutshell: Step away from the Nintendo DS, and grab a friend (or sibling) for a fun afternoon of crafts, exploration and more. Great for a rainy day, summer vacation respite or any time your kid claims “There’s nothing to do.”
Until earlier this week, when our electricity was restored following the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, family time was all about board games, crafts and anything that could be played by firelight. While those first few rounds of Candyland were doable, the novelty soon wore off. (I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t envisioning an escape plan–for one.) And with school closed for more than one week, I began seeing signs of brain drain I hadn’t seen since summer vacation. Before I was ready to throw my hands up, our mailman delivered a welcome treat: a trial sample of Little Passports, one of the more entertaining boredom busters we’ve seen in a long time. This subscription-based service lets kids ages 7-12 play armchair traveler as they journey along with fictional characters Sam and Sonia around the globe. We received the USA Discovery Kit, containing a detailed, kid-friendly map, disposable camera, travel journal, scratch art book and other resources for guiding your imagination. I was curious to see if my somewhat skeptical 8-year-old daughter would bite (having grown a bit board game-weary and missing her precious screen time). After we looked through the kit’s contents together, I purposefully left the room and waited to see what kind of “magic” would take place. Within minutes, I checked back to find her sprawled out on the floor, filling out her journal. “Guess how many states I’ve been to already?,” she asked. “Eight!” was her proud response. Not only did Little Passports give her a chance to share her vast knowledge of geography, but she was invigorated by the possibilities of unexplored destinations (perfect to capture on film at a later date). Little Passports isn’t only worthwhile for encouraging education, but helping to promote it continuously. You can sign up for subscriptions on a per-month basis, or have them delivered periodically. Who doesn’t like getting mail, especially the “wish you were here” variety…
In a Nutshell: Be it a cure-all for wanderlust or an inventive gift this holiday season, this mail-order gift is destined to transport imaginations and young minds alike.
Both of my girls have a flair for the dramatic. Whether they’ve inherited their parents’ passion for plays or have innocently been bitten by the theater bug, they adore putting on shows and having my husband and I as their hostages…er, captive audience. And because we are always on the lookout for toys and other fun stuff that can appeal to 4- and 8-year-olds, especially ones that are imagination-driven, we couldn’t resist Green Kid Crafts’ One World Puppets. Delivered right to your child’s door, this box is teeming with all the supplies needed to fashion paper doll puppets from repurposed materials. It comes with eight recycled cardstock dolls, an entire wardrobe of cardstock clothes (we love the vintage print romper!), wood craft sticks (in a rainbow of Popsicle hues) and glue dots for easy assembly. What do we love about this kit? Where do we start? First off, these aren’t your mother’s paper dolls; there are no tabs to wrestle with — simply slip the clothing on the dolls via the perforated tabs –and the outfits are playful and stylish. Once they’re dressed to the nines, use the glue dots to affix the ethnically-diverse dolls to the craft sticks and voila! Time to sit back and enjoy the show. Did we mention this company’s entire line of crafts is eco-friendly? Because they are subscription-based, you won’t find them in any toy store. Definitely the gift that keeps on giving, Green Kid Crafts are perfect for the out-of-state grandparent or friend in search of a special holiday surprise for a beloved child.
In a Nutshell: Tickets, please. When it comes to crafty kid kits that offer plenty of creative play, this one steals the show.
When it comes to holiday shopping, what do you get for the kid who has everything? I’m exaggerating, of course, but sometimes it feels like my girls have more gifts than Toys R Us. While we swap out old stuff twice a year to make room for birthday and Christmas gifts, it still seems like the stuff multiplies overnight. I don’t remember being this spoiled as a kid, but then my mother reminds me of the infamous Toy Closet, a bottomless pit of toys, dolls, board games and books that was forever busting its seams. Talk about history repeating itself!… This year, we’re on a special lookout for non-traditional gifts that are easy on space and that encourage kids to use their imagination, instead of an iPad (yes, we’re still at that tender age). Earlier this month, we reported on KiwiCrate, a subscription-based service that supplies kids with all the tools needed to make themed projects. We loved the fact that it’s a gift that keeps on giving, month after month (or however long you choose to sign up for it), and that it’s an ideal boredom buster for a child who’s had one too many tea parties. Well, lucky for us (and our readers), we’ve found yet another all-in-one mail-order craft service that provides plenty of activity for willing participants. Like KiwiCrate, the BabbaBox is a monthly crafts and educational projects kit for ages 3-6 that is as engaging as it is entertaining. Centered around four key components (create, explore, story tell and digital), each package in the series contains all the ingredients to tap into your kid’s creative juices. We got our hands on this month’s Gratitude box, a perfect one for the holiday season when the “gimmees” threat to outweigh the “giving.” My 7-year-old dove “write” into the thank you card-making kit. Taking what can be an otherwise tiresome task and adding some spice to it, this was no ordinary fill-in-the-blanks card assortment. Quality stock note cards in the likeness of a tree beckoned my daughter to decorate them with the included colorful leaf stickers, each one indicating what she was thankful for this year. Other cards in the mix, including a fold-out one that spells out “THANKS,” offer an alternative to the discriminating artist. This particular craft kept her occupied for quite some time, and required minimal supervision from me (how often can you say that when it comes to your kid’s projects?). And that was just one part: the BabbaBox also contained a design-your-own-trivet and serving tray, both of which make personal additions to any holiday table; a story about giving thanks for things we normally take for granted in the outside world; and–my daughter’s favorite–a disposable camera for snapping photos of family and friends to later craft into a gratitude journal. As a mom, I was impressed by BabbaBox’s presentation and its well-conceived ideas for a number of related projects. For the parent or grandparent looking for something a little different this holiday season, this is one box that begs to be teared into and offers an easy answer to “What are we going to do today?”
In a Nutshell: For the not-so-crafty mom comes a crowd-pleasing product that lets kids roll up their sleeves and get to work. Great for an indoor play day or a day home from school.
I fear that in a matter of few weeks, our family room will come to resemble a toy store under attack. I’m not even talking about Christmas morning alone; in our family, the holidays become a month-long event of packages arriving on a regular basis from extremely generous out-of-state family and friends who want our girls to wish our girls the merriest. And yet, every year, these little ladies wind up playing with a couple of select toys, while hardly batting an eye at the loot that would make any normal child envious. It’s not to say my girls are greedy, but let’s just say that they are content with what they ask for and receive. While we would never deny the opportunity for loved ones to shower our kids with happiness, sometimes one ingenious gift can keep on giving, long after the decorations have been stored away until next year. This holiday season, we are ecstatic over the creative mail-order service, Kiwi Crate. Aimed at kids ages 3-6, this monthly-based subscription lets a gift-giver mail a themed craft set to the lucky child in their life, containing everything needed for a fun-filled craft day. Subjects range from colors, for which kids can design their own stain-glass window, to dinosaurs, during which kids can fashion own fossils. You can sign up for a monthly subscription or for a few months at a time, ensuring plenty of activities to last throughout the year. We’re sure Santa will appreciate the lighter load, too.
In a Nutshell: What kid doesn’t love getting mail? This holiday season, treat the child in your life to a gift she’ll anxiously await–and won’t forget after you take down the Christmas tree.