Birthday and Holiday Gift Ideas
We’ve all been there. You get the birthday party invitation and you have NO IDEA what you’re going to buy. You don’t want to accidentally duplicate something the child already has, but you want them to be excited when they open your gift, and lets be honest, no kid is excited about getting clothes or money (although their parents are!)
I’m here to help! You can support the mission to help our kids connect with nature while checking an item off your to do list. I’ve compiled a list of nature based, educational, FUN gift ideas for kids of all ages. The best part? I highly doubt someone else is going to be buying these gifts for the birthday boy or girl (unless they read my blog, haha!)
1) A Bug Vacuum
With this handy, dandy tool your kids can get up close and personal with insects and arachnids. They can suck up creepy crawlies, then view them in the observation jar which has a magnifying lid. Just make sure you remind the kiddos to release the creatures back where they found them after they’ve gotten a good look.
A decent pair of child sized binocs (not the toy version) is a great gift idea for budding naturalists. Kids can not only use them for spotting wildlife, but while playing imaginative games both indoors and outdoors.
3) A Butterfly or Ladybug Kit
We have done both of these and I am obsessed with them! Although the raising and release of the insects is seasonal, you can purchase the kit at any time during the year and send the voucher in when it is warm enough to raise them. It is SO cool to see the larvae grow and change and is such a great learning tool for kids.
4) A Bucket
Duh, right? This is THE BUCKIT blog for a reason. Well, 2 reasons. Once of which is that I believe you should always have a bucket with you for adventuring. For carrying things, collecting things, for mud, water, sand, you name it. I love this collapsible version because you can store it under the seat in your car and kids love opening and closing it.
5) A Birdfeeder
My kids love to watch the birds in the yard, especially the cardinals, blue jays and woodpeckers. I love this window mount bird feeder for an even closer view. Teach your littles to be still and patient and the birds will come inches away from them to this feeder!
6) Garden Tools
Anyone else have willing helpers? Put them to work! Let them dig with you in the garden. One of my kids’ favorite things is finding all the worms and grubs while I’m planting.
7) A Fishing Pole
One of my favorite childhood memories was fishing with my Dad. I even won a contest or two! Your little angler will love the thrill of reeling in their own fish and then releasing back in to the water.
8) Walkie Talkies
This would be SO fun for a play date game of hide and seek in the back yard, or for a secret mission!
9) Magnifying Glass
Great for getting a close up view of the outdoor world. Plants, insects, and maybe even animals can viewed with much greater detail.
10) The Backyard Box
This box is full of 60 wooden coins. Each coin has a nature based backyard activity on it. If you’re feeling stumped on what do to with the kiddos outside, send this to this box and have them each pick a designated number of coins then head out on an adventure!
11) Flash Cards
I love the idea of combining education and nature. Flash cards are perfect to toss in to your bag on your way to dinner, or anywhere else where your kids are going to have to practice patience. If they’re old enough, they could even play with them with another child and make a game out of quizzing each other.
I know these sort of fall under the “toy” category that we are trying to avoid but they’re a great way to give your kids a break from barbies, blocks and army men (oh my!) Your kids can use their creativity and imagination during pretend play with these. The dung beetle can roll a ball across the floor and the butterfly can flit around the room looking for nectar. These also great make party favors as well.
13) Nature Puzzles
Puzzles go hand in hand with education as they are great for critical thinking and fine motor skills. There are TONS of nature puzzles out there depicting every environment and animal you can imagine. You can find a puzzle to fit every age group, from 6 months and up. As your child assembles the pieces, you can talk about what animals they see, what the animals are doing and where they live. Some puzzles even have a seek and find element that tells you how many of each animal are pictured and your child can count them.
14) ROCK ON! Geology Game
My kids LOVE rocks. They also love to play games. How cool is it that there is something in existence that combines their two loves?!
15) An Aqua Scope
This awesome device gives you the ability to see under water! There are quite a few products out there that serve this purpose, however, make sure you are reading the reviews on them, as functionality is not equal between the various products. This one has a nice wide base for a larger viewing area.
16) Break Your Own Geodes!
I remember doing this as a kid and it was so fun not knowing what you’ll get. Also, it was fun breaking things 🙂
17) A Camera
If you have a child that loves electronics and hates being peeled away from their screens, this may just be the way to do it! Give your kids a photo challenge and tell them 10 things they need to find and photograph in the back yard before dinner time. Looking through the lens of a camera provides motivation to find subjects to photograph, and thus explore.
One of my absolute favorite gift ideas is to give family memberships to local zoos, aquariums, gardens, museums, state parks, etc. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Some are pricier than others, so if it isn’t in the budget to buy the membership, tickets are great too. You can often find deals on Livingsocial or Groupon to make them even cheaper, especially when combined with cash back from Ebates.
But wait! There’s more! Many zoos, aquariums and museums have reciprocity programs that give you free or discounted entrance into other zoos and aquariums across the country when you purchase their membership.
For example, if you purchase a Philadelphia Zoo membership, here is the list of the reciprocal zoos and aquariums.
Here are some other ideas for local family memberships:
- Adventure Aquarium*
- Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- Delaware Museum of Natural History
- Delaware Nature Society
- Delaware State Parks
- Hagley Museum
- Longwood Gardens
- Maryland Science Center*
- Maryland Zoo
- National Aquarium
- Salisbury Zoo
- Smithsonian’s National Zoo
- Tyler Arboretum
Memberships can also be a very practical option when you know you will visit an attraction more than once in a year. Oftentimes when you add up the cost of tickets for your family to go twice, it ends up being the same price or less expensive just to buy the membership.
*Check Groupon and Livingsocial!
19) Magazine Subscriptions
What kid doesn’t love getting mail with their name on it?? Our kids love their magazine subscriptions. They are great to throw in your purse to keep them busy on the fly with tons of vivid pictures, games, stickers and more. Nat Geo Kids and Ranger Rick are two of our favorites.
There are some things that I would consider to be “must haves” when adventuring as a family, especially with babies and toddlers. I’ve done the hard part and tried everything under the sun so you don’t have to. All of these items double up as gift ideas for families. The pricier items could be a gift from the grandparents to the family, or a baby shower gift. You could even make a gift basket by combining the less expensive items.
1) An off road stroller
The BOB is the crème de la crème of strollers featuring air filled tires and suspension. This is what you’ll see the majority of when you visit super popular attractions like zoos and theme parks. Our BOB has been able to handle off roading with ease and has a decent amount of storage underneath. I highly recommend buying the cup holder attachment!
2) A carrier
A good baby carrier is an absolute must have for family adventures. Perfect for introducing babies to the great outdoors, it keeps them safe and warm while still allowing them to see everything and even take a nap as needed. The Tula has been our go to carrier and we have it in both sizes, standard and toddler. This makes an excellent baby shower gift!
4) Bug Spray
5) Sun Hat
Sunscreen can only get you so far, especially with wiggly babies it can be easy to miss those precious ears and the back of their neck so do your best to keep a hat on their head to keep them from getting sunburned. My favorites are made by iPlay. They have excellent coverage, are lightweight, hold up well to being washed and stay on (unless your little cherub rips them off every chance they get.)
6) Rain Boots
EVERY nature explorer needs a pair of good boots to splash through the mud and puddles in. Our favorite brand is Western Chief. They are easy to pull on, hold up well over the years and there are a ton of cute styles. D and O are huge fans of their light up boots!