First birthdays are an exciting time, and the bigger the party, the more stuff your little one accumulates. Usually that stuff is toys, toys, and more toys. Of course toys are fun, but often in the aftermath of it all they usually become just more clutter in the house and eventually make their way to a donation box or the trash.
Instead of adding to heaps of plastic, try going a different route when it comes to gift giving. If friends and family aren't excited about these ideas, then let them supply the toys and you can be the killjoys. (Your kid is one; she'll never know!)
Here are some ideas for alternative gifts to toys:
Contribution to a College Fund: If you haven’t yet set up a college fund for your baby, the first birthday is a great time. There are several account options to choose from. The 529 plan is very common and you can provide a link for friends and family to deposit funds directly. I can guarantee that this gift will be a lot more useful to them later on than the puzzle that will probably have pieces missing in a month.
Annual Membership Passes: Whether it’s the zoo, museum, or local aquarium an annual pass is a gift that lasts all year long. Educational and fun, a membership ensures that there is always a fun place to go with the little one.
Shoes: I know what you’re thinking. Shoes are not something that brings “best present ever” to mind for a kid but in reality at this age it’s more about the experience of unwrapping the box. Plus, a really good quality pair of shoes to adequately support growing little feet is a great gift. Both Freshly Picked and PediPed are stylish and comfortable.
Musical Instruments: Instruments are something that a kid can’t have enough of. Even if they have several of one type, chances are they all make different sounds depending on how they are made. Inspire the future musician with a variety of instruments.
Books: One thing that child, no matter how young, can literally never have enough of is books. BabyLit Books instill an early appreciation of the classics like Jane Eyre or Baby University Books can start them on the road to a love of quantum physics.
Toys are wonderful and much needed stimulation for babies, but they tend to take over the house sometimes. When deciding to go with a toy, look for ones that have staying power and inspire creative play. I really like Melissa & Doug, Hape, Sarah’s Silks, and B. Toys for these reasons.
Lisa is a breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama who was left drowning in toys after her daughter’s first birthday.