Gift for the toddler who has everything

jennDecember 6, 2002

Forget the dilemma of what to get the elderly parents or grandparents who have everything... what about what to get the toddler who has everything? He's 3 and already has so many toys (big and small) that he doesn't need another toy. We want to give him something from Grandma and Grandpa that has meaning, but not another toy unless it is not "fleeting" as my husband said. He's very bright and conversational.

Do you have any ideas?

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Make him a book on tape. Purchase a book with stories, then have Grandpa read a page, ring a bell (to turn the page), etc.until the book is done The next story have Grandma do the reading. Give it to him and tell him that it's his book of bedtime stories from Grandma and Grandpa. That way he'll think of Grandma and Grandpa everynight before bed.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2002 at 5:40PM
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You say he's three? Well, you can count on one thing, by the time he is four or five there is little chance that he will really remember what you got him for this Christmas. In fact, there is not much chance that it will make any difference at all what you give him.

I know that you want him to have something that he will treasure and remember, but little boys are little boys and special things don't mean as much to them as you would hope. So don't fret about it. Wait until he is five. Then he will be more able to remember important things. Right now, even a big empty box will make him happy.

Now, having said that, I will go on to say that we have found that the best and most often used gift that we have ever given our grands was some of the computer series for the appropriate age group. If he doesn't already have them, the Jump Start for Toddlers and the Reading Rabbit series are good. They spend hours figuring out the puzzles. We have one disk that is now being used by the third grandchild and he is just as enthused about it as the two older ones were. They especially like finishing a set of problems and getting to print out a certificate.

There are also some Learning to Type programs that are a lot of fun for the youngster. Of course, if there isn't a computer in the home....maybe you could thing about getting an inexpensive one for him. He is not too young to start on one.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2002 at 10:39AM
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Buy him an inexpensive toy to unwrap and enjoy (sandbox buckets were always popular here as were Rubbermaid boxes for storing the small toys) and put the rest of the money you would otherwise spend in his savings account!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2003 at 6:42PM
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I have 4 grandchildren and it really gets hard to keep on with their birthdays and Christmas without getting so stressed that you feel you are at wits ends. I finally came to a "good" thought a couple years ago about helping them out with financial help for when they are older. I now put money into their savings for their birthdays and I get them bonds for their Christmas. It all works out quite well.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2003 at 8:09PM
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Start by purchasing him a full set of baseball cards each year. No child is going to remember a gift they received when they were three or four, but a full set of baseball cards will be treasured and will, most likely, rise in value.

If you feel that you have to get him something that he can play with today, pick him up a $3 or $4 toy car (Matchbox/Hot Wheels). He'll absolutely love it.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 9:48PM
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I think everyone is in that spot: kids have so much STUFF now that nothing means much. If you can think of something that represents time spent in a special activity that would be worth giving: tickets to a show or special event, a picnic planned, an outing. If you aren't near, than one he could do with his folks: Fastfood certificates or a movie tickets perhaps?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2003 at 3:49PM
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Thanks eveyone. Just to illustrate how much stuff he has, we just learned that someone (his parents? we don't know who) gave him a laptop computer for Christmas when he was only one year old! Not a toy laptop... I mean a real, HP laptop computer!!! How can you top that? And believe me, he has so many toys that a Matchbox/Hot Wheels wouldn't phase him for more than 5 minutes. It's a wonderful suggestion though, as are all the others. So much stuff is right! He's a very sweet, very bright kid, but we worry that at his young age the dye has already been cast and that his expections in life will always be on a grand scale.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2003 at 1:40AM
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I have grandchildren 2 & 5 - they love computer games - they have some wonderful ones that teach values, math, spelling, manners, etc. and are fun too. Children as young as 2 can play them.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2003 at 9:01AM
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My 3-y-o really liked the "grandma reading on tape" book. If you do that, leave a gap after the ringing of the bell for the kid to remember that it means to turn the page, get ahold of the page, actually turn it, etc. My mom kinda rushed that interval.

I give my kids a box of cereal each Christmas--something sort of fun and out of the ordinary from what we normally buy. It goes away after they eat it!!!!

As he gets older, maybe you can have some category of present like this that's slightly goofy, and only grandma and grandpa give it to him. That'll give him an expectation on a SMALL scale, and reinject some intimacy into the gifts. Each year he can wonder, what weird cereal, or what weird food, or what funny pasta shape, will G&G get me this year? (and get to know someone in Kenosha, WI, or some other test market, who can send you their test-market cereals!). Or what T-shirt w/ what funny saying or great picture?

So he knows the category of gift, but not the humor and thought, etc., that went into it?

My grandma made my bro's their flannel & cotton pajamas. My big brother hated to wear the shirt when he slept; it got in his way. But it was comfortable, so he took to wearing it to school. My grandma thought this was funny, so she took to making him 2 shirts for Christmas every year. She went all out to find the most goofy fabric imaginable--the most babyish, pajama-looking flannel she could find. The more infantile and obviously-sleepwear-looking the design, the better. It became a little joke between them.

Same grandma loved choc.-covered cherries; my dad (her SIL) loved fruit cake. They always bought them for each other for Christmas. The funny thing is, boring and predictable though it was, it was a neat little bond between then. The rest of us shied away from buying those presents; we knew Grandma loved the cherries, but we wouldn't get them, bcs that was horning in on Dad's territory. Once my dad teased her by putting the cherries (a predictable box shape & size) inside a slightly larger box--she laughed and said she'd worried suddenly she wasn't going to get any cherries!

My daughter once got all excited opening a present (the gift was $$) from an aunt, because the aunt had tossed in a bag of Teddy Grahams--"look, mom, FOOD!" she cried. I was tickled to open the gift from my aunt and find the Brach's Christmas Nougats I loved but couldn't find.

Those are the gifts that are intimate, I think. They're fun, and they're not too serious. but they reflect a genuine interest in the other person, and an ongoing dialogue.

True, they're fleeting, but the bond isn't, and the story isn't. And truly, ANY gift will eventually end up in the landfill!

At 3 he's too young to get this idea particularly, but he can identify w/ food (or juice w/ Elmo's pic on it, etc.).

Also, something he'll use daily might be better--aim low instead of high--a backpack, a stepstool, slippers, a shirt w/ a big old truck on it (C.W.D. has great pictures on boys' T-shirts), a plastic cup in his fave color, etc.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2003 at 12:06PM
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I had another great idea: Unit blocks.

These are the preschool-sized blocks; they are a very specific ratio to one another (hence the name "unit") and therefore teach mathematical concepts and spatial relationships.

There are lots of places to buy them (do a Google search on "unit blocks"). They're not the cheapest blocks, but they're big and heavy enough to be very stable when you stack them very high.

I have lighter-weight pine ones that are smaller than true unit blocks (though they ARE in the same mathematical ratio to one another), and they're pretty good. But I wish I'd splurged on the heavier ones, which will be passed on to great grandkids!

The cool thing about blocks is that they're VERY low-tech, and very versatile. You can play guns w/ the long one, build a shed for Thomas and his engine friends, build a castle for your knights to go next to the plastic one, set them up to be a city that Cinderella rides by, anything.

A kid can combine them w/ Legos, w/ trains, w/ any existing toy--and can play w/ them by themselves.

Kids play with them for a LONG time--until 8, easily.

Grandma can buy a standard set now, and buy fancy ones to add on to it later.

And most other adults won't think of them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Barclay Woods has a great explanation of the

    Bookmark   March 20, 2003 at 4:16PM
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Make him an ABC scrapbook. Dedicate each page of the scrapbook to one letter of the alphabet with pictures, stickers and sayings that apply. Include pictures of all family members, pets, significant family events and places. These books are great fun to make and kids love them. They can be taught to treat them with respect and they will last a lifetime.

Do a Google search for "ABC Scrapbook" and you'll find a treasure of ideas to start with.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2003 at 7:16AM
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We have 11 grandchildren now and will soon have 13. Seven of them live in New York which is too far for us to visit on any regular basis. We don't even know four of those kids. Because they also don't visit us, I really see no reason to send gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I send a card to each and a family gift at Christmas.

For the local grand children, we do give gifts, but never spend much on each because we can't really afford it and the kids have everything they can ever want. Our gift to these kids is a year-round gift. They get us.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2003 at 10:17PM
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Grandparents (especially Roberta),

As a mom and step-mom of three boys (7, 5 and 1) who have every toy imaginable and who is running out of room to put these things, I can tell that the gift of your time is most treasured! My boys cannot tell you who bought what - but they remember the time Uncle Joe took them to the movies or the time Uncle John went to California with us for vacation. I told my two brothers (who are in their twenties and don't have a lot of money) to stop buying stuff and to just come spend time with the boys - they get a big kick out of it and don't even notice that their uncles didn't get them anything for their birthday or Christmas. Sometimes I think the adults make a bigger deal out of it than the kids do.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2003 at 5:07PM
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I have 6 grandchildren. The younger ones seem to enjoy the wrapping paper and bows more than the gift. The older ones, 2year olds, like McDonald's so McDonald bucks are fun for them and they get so excited to buy their own food. Also a teaching lesson in counting and different coins. The older ones get excited over money as they can put it all together and get that "special" thing no one seemed to know about. Also taking them to a new movie or zoo or monster trucks, rodeo, fishing, the picnic in the park, etc. They seem so proud that they get to go with you AND have a couple of dollars to get treats.
If we think back, what comes to mind of our granparents? What gifts they gave us or the special times we spent with them? I remember the things we did together and what special memories they are.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 12:08AM
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I so agree with Lea. I like to give time to children on their birthdays. Inexpensively, a picnic in the park, a trip to the library for story time, or chicken fingers at the mall food court are fun for kids. Slighly more expensive, take little kids to an indoor play area or a children's museum; older kids to a movie.

Obviously, your choice will be based on what your grandson enjoys. A young friend of mine says that her favorite birthday gift was when she was seven, and I took her to a fancy child's dress shop and she got to try on lots of pretty dresses. This cost nothing, yet she is 23 now and still remembers it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2004 at 1:27AM
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