Weekends take on a whole different meaning when you have small children. Those dreamy days of sleeping in after a long week or festive night out, are gone. My kids wake by 7am each day, no matter how late we were up the previous night. Weekends are filled with a different sort of activities that I call “simple joys”. Winter brings us ski days with numerous runs down “Hully Gully”, springtime: bike rides and puddle jumping, trips to various parks and pools in the summer, soccer games and hikes in the fall and of course, peppered throughout all months of the year, are birthday parties. Yes, so, so many birthday parties. Sometimes it seems we live on an endless stream that’s filled with cake, balloons, favors and presents and I am just drifting along, steering sticky fingered and sugared-up kids on to the next venue. Last month we went to 3 parties in one weekend. Exhausting! When I was still single and childless I used to goff at the number of parties that my friend took her then 3 year old to. I was always asking her to go hiking or to a movie with me and her response was almost always that she was “busy with a kids birthdays party”. Little did I know that this kid-party world would soon be my reality.
All grumbling aside, I truly believe that a child’s birthday party is a magical event for all involved. My kids are always thrilled with any invite and count down the days until the fun begins. All these parties, however, can be expensive and the gift giving process sometimes seems overwhelming. Since my children are still small enough (3 &5) I can get away with picking out a present that is both age appropriate and not too over-the-top, price wise. Luckily, the Great Rocky Mountain Toy Co has an amazing variety of fun and educational toys for all ages and stages that will not break the bank. Here are a few of my suggestions, all under $20.
For the builder, engineer, creative and detail orientated child- boy or girl, I love Legos. There are a variety of cool kits for ages 4 and up that can keep kids occupied- sometimes solo- for hours. Playmobil is also a popular brand and has figures and toys already assembled if “the build” part isn’t so appealing.
Calico Critters, another one of my gift faves, are little animal-dolls that act a great tool for imaginative play. There are so many to choose from, kids can start a collection and add to it over the years.
I love gifting art supplies of all sorts. Individual paints, pastels, crayons and nice drawing pads or a special coloring book are always a good gift for various ages. The older kids really enjoy the arts and crafts “kits” that the Toy Company has displayed in the same area; make your own purse, lip balm, jewelry, t-shirts or plates- the possibilities are endless.
For a spring/summer birthday or an active child, check out the Stomp Rocket selection. Ideal for boys and girls ages 4 and up, kids really enjoy these body-powered air rockets which are sure to launch giggles and smiles right alongside their colorful nerf rockets.
The Great Rocky Mountain Toy Company has a large display of fun and inexpensive smalltoys and knickknacks near the front counter. Practical joke materials,science experiments, jewelry, cars and trucks, bath squirters and rubber animals all can be paired up and gifted or you can use them as a gift topper.
I know sometimes the kid gift possibilities seem as endless and overwhelming as the actual kid parties but hopefully this gives you some ideas and will make the chore of picking up a nice, affordable present a little less grueling. Stop in and ask the Toy Co. staff for more age appropriate birthday presents; they are the true experts and have loads more suggestions. By the way, they even offer free, and cute, gift wrapping so you’ll have time to browse and strategize for the next birthday party present.
ToyLovin’Mama, is Nelle Devitt- a mother to two playful, energetic (always) and well-behaved (most-days) children who lives with her family in Bozeman. Nelle is originally from Vermont but moved out west for college 18 years ago and never quite made it back (she married a “Westerner” and transplanted to the mountainous beauty of Montana). During college Nelle received a degree in English Literature and wrote for the college paper while earning a paycheck at the original Great Rocky Mountain Toy Company; the perfect day job. The toys and the general joyfulness of the toy store’s owners and clients stuck with her and continue to influence Nelle to this day. She is happy to talk toys anytime and is always up for “play-testing” with friends and family.