This is a sponsored post by Sago Mini Box. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are my own based on my personal experiences. This post also contains affiliate links which help support One Simple Party. As always, we only recommend things that we truly love. You can find our full disclosure here.
It happened again. We received a birthday party invitation a few weeks ago and have no idea what to give the child.
It’s always the same story. The birthday girl or boy has too many toys. All of the toys are the same. There is nothing in the toy aisle that the child doesn’t seem to own. We have NO idea what to get the child.
Shopping for a child’s birthday gift can seem like an overwhelming process these days. Especially if you don’t know the child very well.
Every time you get what seems like a fresh idea, you find out that the child either already has it, the toy has terrible reviews (I can’t even tell which are real reviews and which are fake these days) or your little doesn’t want to give that as the gift. And is adamantly against it.
Let me add that this also happens when we are Christmas shopping.
As the recipient of many gifts for our kids over the years, our favorite presents to receive are educational gifts. This might be because I used to be a teacher. It’s only natural for me to love toys that help kids learn and discover their worlds.
But I think there is more to my passion for educational gifts. Maybe it’s because educational toys tend not to just sit around and stare when compared to their mainstream counterparts. Or maybe it’s because they aren’t made of plastic. (I’ve been convinced since the kids’ early babyhood that the quality of a toy is based on the material that it’s made out of.) And most don’t do the same thing over and over again.
So, in this world full of toys, how do you choose the perfect birthday gift for a kid these days?
I recommend focusing on educational gift ideas. These gifts are designed to enlighten, embolden and inspire children. They foster creativity and encourage them to explore their world.
And educational gifts have become much more interesting over the years. They are no longer boring things that kids cast aside. (I remember a certain math book I was given for my 8th birthday that promised to make me smarter…and ended up in the yard sale pile pretty quickly.)
Educational gifts are cool too. And you are giving the gift of learning at the same time.
Here are some of my favorite educational gift ideas that I’ve discovered during shopping for presents for many children’s birthday parties over the years.
Time to Make and Play
One of our favorite family activities is making things together. But with busy schedules, I’m not always sure how to organize afternoons full of creating on the fly. This is where craft kits, printable fun and other paper projects come in.
A wonderful educational gift idea that I discovered recently is the Sago Mini Box. This subscription box kit is filled with a variety of uniquely designed toys, crafts and games that preschoolers can make from paper. The bright colors and fun themes – think space, fairy tales, planes – are sure to get any gift recipient’s imagination soaring.
The activities in the box also focus on building skills the child will need in the future – empathy, creative problem solving and emotional intelligence. And as a family that loves to give the gift of spending time together, I find that the Sago Mini Box is a wonderful way to help others foster connectivity with their kids.
Depending on your gift budget, you can give an entire year subscription. (There’s even a way to save 30% off of your first box here.) Or if giving a full year is too expensive, there’s a month by month subscription available. One option is to give one box and then cancel the subscription. Or plan to send three or six months – whatever is in your budget. There is no commitment when you choose the monthly box option.
You can discover what the Sago Mini Box is all about here. It is a truly creative educational gift idea for any preschooler to enjoy.
Build their Library
If you aren’t sure where to start with educational gift ideas, head to the bookstore. Books are long lasting, keep a child’s interest for longer than fifteen minutes and help them cultivate a love of reading.
And believe it or not, but many people don’t have enough of them. You will find households full of dolls and blocks, but little on their children’s book shelves. Yet.
We had a preschool friend whose mom always gave the most beautiful picture books to the kids. She went to the local children’s bookstore and selected one based on their recommendation. These gifts were prized and we still enjoy them to this day. One never gets too old to enjoy a good picture book.
Another type of book to consider are activity books. From sticker books to decoder books, there are lots of options to keep kids interested and learning.
We enjoyed these water activity books (affiliate) when the kids were in preschool. They were the perfect entertainment for the restaurant to keep them busy while we waited for our meals.
Usborne also offers an assortment of educational book ideas that kids love. Try a sticker picture atlas (affiliate) or a collection of challenging mazes and puzzles (affiliate). They even have a sticker book featuring STEM adventures (affiliate) that will lead them through different science explorations.
Not sure how to choose the perfect book for the birthday child?
There are so many books, selecting just one can be overwhelming. When choosing a book for a present and you don’t know the recipient very well, start with the theme of the child’s birthday party. This offers good clues of the child’s interests.
Then, find a book that is appropriate for their age group. For example, when we had a dinosaur party, one of our favorite gifts were these dinosaur activity books (affiliate). The guests guessed that our little loved dinosaurs based on the party theme and chose an activity book just right for preschoolers.
And if you are worried about giving a duplicate present or still not sure they will really like your selection, include a gift receipt. That way they can exchange the gift if it isn’t of interest to them after all.
Learn a New Skill
One of my kids’ favorite educational gift ideas to receive are classes. They love learning something new with others. Check out local art studios, nature centers, Lego workshops and other experience based opportunities for gift certificates. You’ll be surprised how many things your kids can explore in their own backyard.
Or take the learning online and gift a class through Outschool (affiliate). This online educational opportunity offers hundreds of classes for kids to enjoy. From dragons to multiplication, there are lots of fun learning experiences that kids can enjoy from the comfort of their own home.
Why limit the birthday child to learning only one skill? Another idea is to give a gift subscription to Creativebug (affiliate). At Creativebug, the recipient can choose from an array of child focused craft classes (affiliate) from paper punching to sewing projects. It’s a great way to explore all of their creative interests in one place.
Another of my favorite educational gift ideas is a STEM toy. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. So a classic STEM toy explores all four of these disciplines.
The best part about a classic STEM toy is that it has multiple possibilities. It doesn’t just do or say one thing. The child can transform it into lots of different things, which is what makes these toys so amazing.
Over the years, we have received lots of fun STEM toys that my kids still play with years later. There are magnetic building blocks, electric circuits and science labs.
Unfortunately, some STEM toys might seem a bit expensive for a birthday present. Check out these great ideas for STEM toys that are priced for any budget or find some creative STEM gift ideas here (affiliate).
The Gift of Toy Rotation
One of the issues when the kids were little was the abundance of new gifts that they received for birthdays. Although I know I could have said “no gifts, please” on the invitation and to well meaning relatives, I believe that receiving presents for birthdays is a childhood tradition. There is a joy in being a recipient and a lesson to learning how to be grateful for a present.
But living in a city apartment meant that space was at a premium. So, finding a place for all of the new toys proved tricky. I am sorry that I didn’t know about toy rental subscriptions back then. They would have solved my problem.
You can give the gift of new toys monthly with this toy rental subscription (affiliate). The recipient goes on the website and can rent two new toys for the month. This is a great way for a child to explore their ever changing interests with lots of different toys.
If you want to get creative with your educational gift ideas, think about giving the gift of music. Presenting a child with a musical instrument to try is a great way to help develop their love for music.
We recently received a new set of recorders (affiliate) to enjoy for a recent birthday. This traditional instrument is a great way to teach how to read notes and play basic songs.
If the child is ready to learn something more complicated, you could try a child size ukulele (affiliate) or a guitar. Or if the child already has a musical passion for a specific instrument, you can gift some accessories to accompany their musical experience. As an avid piano player growing up, I loved receiving new piano music books to try. A guitarist might enjoy a set of strings or guitar picks.
You could also give the gift of music lessons. If you know a child has an interest in a specific instrument, call your local music shop and purchase a gift card for a lesson. Educational experience gifts are always prized.
Dress Up Fun
One of my favorite parts of watching my kids’ childhood has been seeing their imaginations grow through playing dress up. It’s amazing how a costume and a good storyline can transform your child into someone else. It’s a beautiful part of childhood.
Encourage this creative play with the gift of dress up. From a dazzling costume to an accessory to go with an already coveted one, there are lots of ideas for dress up gifts here (affiliate).
If you love this idea, but aren’t sure what kinds of costumes the child might enjoy, look to their birthday party theme. A princess party hostess might enjoy new jewelry accessories, crowns or dress up shoes. A pirate party host might need a hook or a parrot for their favorite pirate costume.
And get creative. Not all dress up accouterments are purchased at toy stores. I have found some amazing dress up accessories at vintage shops or made them myself.
Play a Board Game
The best part about educational gifts for kids is that they don’t have to seem too educational. You can “sneak” in the learning and your kids won’t even know it.
Board games are a great way to learn and play at the same time. Kids can learn everything from their letters (like this Airplanes to Zebras game (affiliate)) to practicing their logical reasoning skills with Labyrinth (affiliate). You can even find a criminal mastermind in Scotland Yard Junior (affiliate). Or even create your own transportation jungle with River, Roads and Rails (one of my very favorites growing up that I still play with my family today) (affiliate).
Kids can learn geography with Ticket to Ride – First Journey, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Race Around the USA (affiliates). Or practice their knowledge in trivia games such as Guess in 10 – Animal Planet and Trivial Pursuit Family Edition (affiliates).
If giving as a gift, add some packets of hot cocoa or a microwave popcorn pouch. Kids will love having a treat while they play a board game together.
Kids Night In
Sometimes kids need a night off too. Give the gift of a fun kids centered night at home with these Kids Night In kits (affiliate). Each kit has themed activities to have a wonderful night of play. There are books to share, crafts to make and even a snack to enjoy – everything keeping education in mind.
And if you want to get even more creative, put together your own themed kids night in box as an educational gift. You can include a book to read, game to play, snacks to share and even a craft to make as a family. Check out more ideas to make your own DIY kids night in box here.
So if you’re in search for a birthday gift idea that the recipient will play with long after the party, look no further than educational gifts. Over the years, my kids have received many wonderful gifts. But the ones that they still play with and enjoy today are the educational gifts.
These are also the gifts that they have formed the best memories of. It’s amazing hearing them chatter now about a toy that they received many years ago with the same delight as when they got it.
Do you have any other educational gift ideas that you love giving as gifts? We love discovering new birthday gift ideas. If you have educational gifts that you love to give, be sure to share them in the comments below. This way we can all to our resources for amazing birthday gift giving.