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Holiday Gift-Giving: Beyond Toyland

As we continue this week’s series on
holiday shopping, I’m turning our attention beyond the toy
stores today; for toy recommendations see yesterday’s blog.

Toys are always appreciated (especially by the kids themselves!),
but there are other options out there that are fun, useful, and
don’t take up so much precious square footage.

First is the obvious – cute
clothing. Every new parent starts out deluged with adorable onesies
and tiny dresses and overalls, but the older the baby gets the
slower the trickle of clothing coming in. So clothing –
especially well-made, sturdy clothing – is always appreciated
if researched well. By that, I simply mean check on sizes;
don’t assume the size is the child’s age – ask
the parent. And make sure you have a feel for the family’s
taste on clothing: a leopard-print outfit for a little girl who
only wears red will not be a huge hit. Likewise, dressy clothes are
cute but less useful than, say, a couple sets of Carters outfits
with inter-matching onesies.

But the holidays are also a time to have a bit of fun and get items
parents can’t themselves justify, so now’s the time to
indulge in those saucy-slogan onesies and cute tees. My favorite
stores for these kinds of things include href="http://www.theretrobaby.com">The Retro Baby target="_blank" href="http://www.babesta.com">Babesta
(check out the Space Baby line), href="https://cipher.secure-orders.net/uncommon/idevaffiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=131">
Uncommonly Cute
(Word to Big Bird!), href="http://www.artypants.biz">Arty Pants (target="_blank" href="http://www.artypants.biz/bnbwear.htm">What
Happens At Grandma’s, Stays At Grandma’s
), and
. You’re sure to find something cute and original
at one of those stores.

If you’re not sure quite what you’re looking for, check
out My
Retro Baby
for vintage-inspired baby gear with a modern
twist. Or take some time to browse through href="http://ww9.aitsafe.com/go.htm?go=www.mom4life.com&afid=11509&tm=30&im=3">
Mom 4 Life
one of my favorite online stores filled with
thoughtfully selected items for mom and baby. They’ve got a
down-filled sleep sack
that I’d have snatched up
if I’d seen it before they sold out last year. Washable, no
less. If you’re looking for a more modern sensibility, target="_blank"
Sparkability has choice toys and gear with clean lines
and reasonable prices.

Now let’s talk about going off the map a bit here.
There’s nothing wrong with buying something that’s not
been specifically requested, as long as you think through the gift
first. Please don’t buy something for a friend as your subtle
way of trying to impose your baby-rearing values on her; giving a
co-sleeper to a friend who’s Ferberizing is not helpful, for
example. And before you buy DVDs for the baby, make sure the
parents are allowing the baby or toddler to watch television.
(Along those lines, most parents I know appreciate it if you check
in with them before buying a bunch of “character” stuff
– Thomas the Tank, Dora, etc.) Likewise, books that have
helped you are great to pass on to a new mom as long as they
don’t come with hidden criticisms. Giving your girlfriend target="_blank"
The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding when she’s
in the process of switching her 6-week-old over to formula so she
can go back to work is not appropriate! Passing on a general
reference book, like href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&tag=1mother2anoth-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2F1889392200%2Fqid%3D1139195724%2Fsr%3D2-1%2Fref%3Dpd_bbs_b_2_1%3Fs%3Dbooks%26v%3Dglance%26n%3D283155">
Baby 411
is fine. And lastly on the subject of
books, I think the book I reviewed recently – target="_blank"
The Frantic Woman’s Guide to Feeding Family and
– is a great gift if it’s to a
close friend that won’t read anything into it, like
“You don’t know how to cook!” I found it to be an
easy, helpful book for moms trying to get ahead of the family meal

If you’ve got a favorite piece of baby gear, by all means
pass it on – just don’t be offended if it doesn’t
work for the next family. Something like the href="http://www.tubbybundle.com/">Tubby Bundle may be
your best friend at bath time but seem superfluous to your
girlfriend. And I’m happy to give a href="http://www.mom4life.com/catalog.php?item=96&catid=5&ret=catalog.php%3Fcategory%3D5">
if I think the family’s open to that sort of
comfort object, but can’t take it personally if Baby
doesn’t bond with it the way Maddie did.

Top of Maddie’s list for any gift-giving occasion is books.
And books. And books. Kiddo’s got quite the library, and she
reads through all of them. If you’re bewildered about
what’s age appropriate, find a knowledgeable sales person.
Newborns are happy for you to read them the phone book; we started
collecting picture books early on. As Maddie became more involved,
we moved to board books – easier for her to turn the page
– and soft books with pages that crinkle and so forth.
We’re back to the classic picture books and Little Golden
Books, but every child’s different. At a store like Barnes
and Noble, they have a whole section of award-winning books, so
it’ll be hard to come up with a clunker. In general, Sandra
Boynton, Eric Carle, and Charles Fuge are authors who are hard to
hate; check out my href="http://www.1mother2another.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=34#top">
Top 5s Page
for specific recommendations.

Finally, think about the intangible gifts you can give, tailored to
the specific family. A family membership to the zoo is a fantastic
gift, one they’ll get miles out of all year long. Tuition at
a toddler music class like href="http://www.musictogether.com/">Music Together is a
wonderful grandparent gift if the family shows interest in
something like that. You get the drift!

So remember – you don’t have to buy out FAO Schwarz to
give a great gift to a friend, and there’s more you can put
on baby’s Christmas list than the TMX Elmo.

Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about ways to give if
you’re flat-out broke, as well as what to give the family who
has everything.


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