Birthday parties. When you have young children, it seems like another one is always looming right around the corner. Since I hate to shop, I tend to stock up on gifts when I have the chance so I don't have to run out and grab something for every kid's birthday. I keep a bin of kids' gifts in the garage right next to my bin of to-be-reused gift wrapping supplies.
My favorite place to stock up on children's gifts is the thrift store. Oh, I have found some real gems in the toy department. A large wooden construction kit of bolts and screws. Ravensburg puzzles and Eeboo sewing cards. Problem is, you can only give second-hand gifts to close friends who you know will appreciate... a second-hand gift. Which is not every parent, nor every child to be sure. But now and then, you can sneak in a second-hand gift even to the unsuspecting. For me, that sneaky second-hand gift is most often not a toy (since, sadly, most folks expect a new toy to be all wrapped up in a lot of packaging and sealed in plastic wrap) but a book. A used book purchased at the thrift store that looks like new. Or if not "like new," then at least no worse-looking than many of the toddler-handled books you find at Barnes & Nobles.
The photo above shows a stash I purchased for around $10.
Some of those books look used and will go to the children of like-minded close friends and relatives. Or maybe even my own children. But the used "like new" books will be reserved and set aside for those who may not look enthusiastically upon the pre-owned gift. Perhaps it's the former elementary school teacher in me, but I love to include a book in almost every gift we give. On a few wonderful occasions, I've seen a child spend most of the rest of their party curled up with the very book we gifted. My own children love few gifts more than a new (to them) book. I keep an eye out for pristine coloring books and puzzle books, because when you just don't know what else to give, a coloring book plus a few art supplies purchased during a back-to-school sale usually works for most kids of either gender.
I keep all my gift books in a banker's box in the garage. Patiently waiting for their next lucky owner.
What are your favorite thrift store finds?
What are your favorite children's gifts to give and receive?