Gift Guide for Kids

OK, the kids are all quite good at making their own lists, but just in case, here are some ideas for kids, big and small.

From Nathalie

A friend recently shared her family’s gift-giving tradition with me.  Each child gets an ornament to add to the tree every year, Santa leaves one unwrapped gift for each under the tree, and each of the kids gets four gifts from Mum and Dad: “One to read, one to wear, one to play with and one to share.”  It’s a delightful formula that I will borrow for here.

One to read

Check our lists of favourite reads for the year if you are looking for book ideas.

If you are editing your book shelves in anticipation of adding more, please consider giving your gently used books to The Children’s Book Bank.  Every child who visits the Book Bank goes home with a free book.  It is one of the most magical spaces in the city, and I do so admire their mission to help children build their own libraries.  Take your kids for a visit, drop off your donations and go home with one new-to-you book for your child.

Madeleine hanging out at The Children's Book Bank.

Madeleine hanging out at The Children’s Book Bank.

One to wear

Everyone gets pajamas.  I love everything made by Hatley, a company named for the town in Quebec where the founders lived.  These pajamas have staying power: they will last through several kids and live to be handed down again and again.  Also available at Indigo. ($30)

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I like to get snarky t-shirts for Eldest, who is 13.  He loves them and wears them on heavy rotation all year.  This one is from Café Press.  $31.50

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Eldest has also begun to wear cologne, saints preserve us.  I’ve put something that I actually like the smell of into his stocking: 5 Paddles Brewing Company Beer Soap in Lemongrass made by Aide Bodycare from all natural ingredients.  The beer comes from a brewery in Whitby, where my dad now lives.  That’s the kind of connection I love to find for these little stocking stuffer ideas.

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One to play with

I’m sorry.  Here’s where I get boring.  All the Littles want is Lego.  Lego, Lego, Lego.

One to share

I like the gift of experience as a gift to share.  Carol recently wrote about her night out with her three boys at Ross Petty’s Cinderella, and the three of us are taking our boys to see Potted Potter next week.  Two actors, seven Harry Potter books, and one game of Quidditch in 70 minutes.  So excited!

And for a gift to share at home, board game night is always a hit with the boys.  This one is a favourite with them and me: Cathedral.  Position your buildings to best advantage inside the walled medieval city and prevent your opponent from doing the same.  I love handling the carved wooden buildings; the kids love beating me almost every single time.  (Did I mention I’m not so good at spatial reasoning?)  $30.  Available through National Geographic.

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And if you like your sharing to be sweet, check out the hand-made marshmallows from Wondermade.  $7.95 a box.  Delish!

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From Beth-Anne

Bring the 90s back with flower print dresses and Doc Martens, like these from Mini Mioche for $80.00  one of my favourite local, eco-friendly kids’ stores.  (Available in a variety of colours)

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Toting starts early – and anyone with a toddler can tell you that the hoarding starts at this stage.  Why not keep everything together with this bookhou print messenger bag?  Mini Mioche, $34

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Every Christmas list needs a whimsical splurge item and for me, it’s Alfred the Moose Felt Factory Animal Head.  Really, isn’t it just so cute? Mini Mioche, $100.

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Make that two whimsical splurge items . . . I have no little girls to buy for this year but maybe next year I will purchase this Star Bright Pettidress. Indigo, $35.20.

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Constructing and playing in forts and tents has always been a favourite pastime of my boys.  This Camo Frame indoor tent is ideal for hiding out, reading a book or escaping for some alone time.  Indigo, $65.95.

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Lego is a big hit around here but it’s Roominate that has caught my attention this year.  Roominate is designed by Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, two engineers with degrees from MIT, Caltech and Stanford on a mission to show kids, particularly young girls, how engineering is both creative and fun! Indigo, $22.95-$54.95.

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When my boys are not busy building forts or Lego, chances are they are outside.   If we end up with as much snow as last year, the Snowball Blaster will get lots of use.  Indigo, $39.95.

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Boardgames are quickly becoming a favourite with my middle son.  He loves strategizing . . . and winning.  Christmas Story Monopoly, Indigo, $44.95.

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I can’t believe how quickly the years are going by and I need to keep up with these hand imprints as long as their hands still fit on these ornaments! Indigo, $11.60.

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Earphones – I don’t know why but we always seem to need these.  Indigo, $35.00.

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From Carol

Most of my friends are finished having babies, but I’m so glad I’ve got a hold out friends who is due in a few months so I have someone to target for these handmade plush organic cotton animals by Fidoodle.  The ring of the rattle inside is soft and sweet, and baby can chew away at this safe toy with abandon.  The moose is my favourite; there’s also a bunny and a bird.  Available online or at Little House in the City.

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Perfect for older children are Bubynoa‘s handmade toys and dolls created from vintage fabrics – double-stitched because they’re made for use and play, although we’ve known some adults who buy them just to admire.  Little House in the City carries a range of her animal toys.
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For a truly special gift, treat your eyes and your little someone to one of Bubynoa‘s exquisite handmade people dolls.  They take days to make with details lovingly attended to.  And bestill my heart, these dolls reflect some of Toronto’s brilliant diversity, and the boys are just as wonderful as the girls.  Available at Bubynoa’s Etsy shop.

Also gorgeous for the littles in our lives are Hey Pomelo‘s handmade organic baby bibs, hooded towels, receiving blankets, quilts and accessories.  Made to last with fabrics that just get softer with washing, these pieces are truly functional beauty.  Available online and at Little House in the City

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Happy merry-making and gift-giving for the little people in your life!  4Mothers hopes the season is wonderful for you and for them.

Gift Guide for Teachers, Coaches, Instructors, Mentors and More!

Need help finding gifts for the adults in your kids’ lives?  Here are some fabulous ideas for your kids’ teachers, coaches and mentors.

From Nathalie:

I love to find the right gift for the right person, and for several years now, I have shopped for my kids’ teachers and coaches on behalf of the class, school or team.  At my kids’ elementary school, a class parent collects money from all of the families for a group gift, and a portion of what they collect gets pooled for gifts for the music, gym, French, and ESL teachers, as well as for the office staff, custodial staff, librarian and principal.  I am the person who shops for all of those gifts, and I look forward to it every year.  When Eldest moved to Middle School with different teachers for each subject, I was first in line to do the shopping for them too.

If you have a large budget to work with, it is often easy to give the gift of an experience.  I have given gift certificates to a teacher’s favourite restaurant, a membership to the zoo or to the Royal Ontario Museum for teachers with young children, and tickets to the aquarium and sports events.  Carol’s recent experience of a class where she learned to make chocolate truffles would be a great gift, or even one of the workshops offered at Carol’s store, Little House in the City!

Even with a modest budget of $20-$30, you can find so many apt and personal gifts.  Surfing fun gift sites is a huge part of the pleasure I take in finding gifts.  My top tip for finding the perfect gift for a teacher, mentor or coach is to go to a site like Etsy, One of a Kind Online, Redbubble, or Café Press and type in a key word for the person’s field of interest or hobby.  The hive mind is so very versatile; ask, and the interwebs will provide.

For the Math Teacher:

A square root t-shirt from Redbubble ($30).  (Check out what happened when I entered “square root” as a search term!  Or math.  So much great stuff!)

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For the French Teacher:

This notebook made from a re-purposed text book ($23), made by Margi Laurin, Maker of Stuff is so perfect. I met Margi at the One of A Kind show, but you can find her online.

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For the Coach:

I saw these amazing kits ($24) at the Etsy Made in Canada event.  They are made by Michelle at Aide Bodycare, and you can buy them on line through Etsy.  I think this is a great idea for any guy in your kid’s life.  It is a bit on the personal side, but sometimes we spend so much time with the coaches that they begin to feel like family!

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For the Hockey Coach:

I can’t tell you how excited I was to find these beauties at the One of a Kind Show: photographic image transfer art by Patrick Lajoie, who works out of Caledon, Ontario.  (You can also find him on Etsy.)  I first saw his work in the summer, when I bought one of his pond hockey photographs.  I have loved living with his art hanging in our home (on the landing outside of the boys’ bedrooms) was thrilled to find more iterations of hockey in the great outdoors.  At only $20 each, these are affordable, beautiful and unique gifts for any hockey lover.

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For any teacher with young kids:

I have bought many of these amazing Story Blocks by Fidoodle, and this year I bought a set for our kids’ gym teacher, who has a young son.  I love how versatile it is: building blocks, scenery for setting the stage for a story, action figures, and characters from both Red Riding Hood and Peter and the Wolf.  In order to create a gift basket with the theme of family reading, I’ve paired it with a book about reading to kids called A Family of Readers by Roger Sutton, about reading to kids from infancy through to the tweens, and with a gift certificate for a book store so that he can choose a book for himself.  I bought the story blocks at Carol’s new store, Little House in the City!

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From Beth-Anne:

For the Art Teacher – The Art Gallery of Ontario is currently exhibiting the works of Alex Colville.  The installation is an amazing collection of his finished works, sketches, interviews, and photos.  Consider giving an experience – a ticket for your teacher to enjoy over the holiday.  Don’t live in Toronto?  No problem, you can shop the AGO and purchase Colville inspired gifts like this binocular necklace.  AGO Colville Necklace $32

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For the Music Teacher – Encourage your teachers to rest-up this holiday with this whimsical pillow from coverLove for $43.00

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For the Math Teacher – Math, science and technology teachers usually have a witty sense of humor.  It’s always fun searching for the perfect kitschy gift that will get a laugh or two.  If jokey gifts aren’t your thing, maybe this geometric doormat is.  Available from the Drake General Store, $38.

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For the Science Teacher –  Janette, whom I met years ago through my moms’ group, is a scientist.  She has that witty sense of humor and enlightens me by posting interesting science-y articles on Facebook.  She gave me some ideas for what the science teacher may like including naming a star after them!  Her other picks: www.thinkgeek.com and http://www.ilovesciencestore.com where this DNA necklace ($29) and Atom keychain ($15) are from.   If Janette’s husband is reading, I have it on good authority that the meteorite necklace would be well received on Christmas morning.  Just sayin’.

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For the Classroom Teacher – The possibilities are really endless but I like these words of wisdom prints from Indigo.  This one says There Is Nothing Like A Dream ($29) and I think that’s pretty fitting for a classroom where dreams are nurtured by great teachers.

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From Carol

For the eco-conscious and slightly practically-minded teacher, Abeego natural food wrap is a great choice.  Handmade in Canada (Victoria, BC), this effective alternative to plastic cling is made from organic cotton and hemp, and covered with a blend of beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin.  Re-usable and durable, it will last over a year with proper care.  Best gift option is the set of 3 wraps (small, medium, large) for $18. Available at Little House in the City.

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Also lovely are the hand-printed, organic cotton tea towels created by Bookhou.  Affordable luxury and functional beauty at $16, and sure to brighten any kitchen.  Available at Little House in the City.

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