What Do 6-year-olds and 8-year-olds want?
April 9, 2009 4:11 PM   Subscribe

What gifts should I get for my friend’s daughters, ages 6 and 8?

A close friend and her daughters are coming to visit, and I’d like to get gifts for the girls. I haven’t seen them in a while, and I don’t know what’s hip with kids at the moment, so I could use some gift idea suggestions. I like to get them gifts that are unique, but they are often most excited about receiving gifts that are popular/trendy.

The 8-year-old wants to be a mechanical engineer when she grows up. I think this is because she's trying to emulate Violet Baudelaire of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. I’ve found some fun-looking, age-appropriate books about inventions and inventors, but I’d like to get her something else, too. Any hands-on, science-y recommendations would be a help here.

I don't know the 6-year-old's specific interests very well. She's outgoing, energetic, and social. She takes karate classes, and I think she enjoys them.

I don’t have a firm budget. I’d like to keep this at or under $50 per girl. However, if there’s something fabulous for a little more, I might splurge.
posted by TEA to Shopping (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do they live somewhere else? Getting a local favorite food or toy is never a bad idea.
posted by ColdChef at 4:14 PM on April 9, 2009

Floam? Or even a huge set of markers. Kids of that age love crafty stuff. Find a cool toy store and they'll usually have a section of cool craft stuff. Heck, even a bunch of gimp. Not to bee sexist, but I've never met a girl that age who doesn't like that stuff (though I'm sure they exist) and most boys like it too. Or Magic Sand.
posted by GuyZero at 4:27 PM on April 9, 2009

Best answer: Do they still make Erector Sets? Really anything that encourages them to build and create things (even together!) from nothing. And it's gender-neutral! (No, but really, I bet an Erector Set would be right up the 8 year old's alley.)
posted by phunniemee at 4:33 PM on April 9, 2009

Floam is a big hit with my nieces and nephews. Also those little gel-caps with sponge dinosaurs in them. Sidewalk chalk. Silly putty. One of those giant playground balls. A roll of paper and markers or crayons. If you're looking for something they'll treasure forever, that's not it. But if you want them to remember having an awesome time at your house, this will work.

(my kitten is also a big hit with the nieces and nephews, but maybe that would be too much.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 4:55 PM on April 9, 2009

Ello sets are pretty fun, and would span both ages. Having a lot of paper and a good set of markers or coloured pencils as GuyZero suggested would be a great thing to have around too, even on top of any other gift. Because sometimes, even if a present is the most awesomest ever, attention spans are only so long and a little variety is nice. A book like the Usborne Art Treasury or Animal Things to Make and Do to give some fresh ideas and the supplies to create with can be fun (For the adults too, actually - I love ours). A couple of wind-up toys for races, and a DVD of a recent movie or something retro and cool that they might like might be nice too. Pee Wee's Playhouse has been a big hit around here, and it lets us grownups drink lattes and read the newspaper on Saturday mornings lately, and we are very grateful for that.

I also try to grab toys like the ones on these two pages whenever I see them, and keep them around for gift emergencies and rainy days, because they've always been really, really well-received (except for the growth chart and chandelier - I'd never give or use those). Despite some of the recommended ages, I find that most of them work work well for ages 5-95.
posted by peagood at 5:16 PM on April 9, 2009

For the 6 year old, check out Gift Hero!
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 5:29 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Whee! This is fun! Thanks for all of your ideas!

I've hosted this family before, and I always stock up on craft supplies and clear off some desk space for the girls before they arrive--otherwise, I'd never have a chance to visit with my friend, their mom. :-) I'll be sure to add Floam to my supply list this time around. Also, I really like peagood's idea about using craft books for fresh ideas.

An erector set sounds pretty good for the 8-year-old--I'll check them out.
posted by TEA at 5:37 PM on April 9, 2009

My neices and nephews of that age are pretty into Webkinz - stuffed animals that you can register online and play games involving them on the website. YMMV if their folks allow them online or not though.

For the older there's a pretty cool book called the Daring book for Girls that might be up her alley.

Sea Monkeys are pretty fascinating for kids and are under 10$ at Target. And you can just flush them when the kids leave :)
posted by mazienh at 5:58 PM on April 9, 2009

Magnatiles! There were such fights over them here, that I had to order more. We have both the solid ones and the clear versions. I have to say that the clear ones have a leg up as far as coolness goes. Also, I have to admit that both Mr. dancinglamb and I find ourselves playing with them more than occasionally.
posted by dancinglamb at 6:04 PM on April 9, 2009

My daughter is 7 and the hot toys at her school right now are the Maui Toys Sky Balls and Water Bouncers, Zubber and the Crayola 3D chalk.

Also, you sound like a lovely person and a good friend.
posted by jrossi4r at 6:06 PM on April 9, 2009

Best answer: Spirograph + extra, multicoloured gel or ballpoint pens
3-D drawing kit with glasses
Owl pellet (you can order them from here)

Dress-up stuff- especially wigs.
For a wicked-fun interactive activity, let them dress up, encourage them to create characters, then have a "talk show" where you act like a host and interview each of them, kind of formally (Oprah style). Record the whole thing on video like a little TV show (the kids can sing a little theme song and stuff, too). Interview them by asking stuff like, "What are your favourite foods? What do you like to do on a Friday night? What are your pet peeves? How old are you, anyway, Mrs. Reddy Hair? 30, huh? So what is it like to be 30? Any words of advice for other 30 year olds? What are your words of wisdom for all your 6 year old fans out there? etc." Their answers will be hilarious. Then let them interview each other, and you. You learn so much about them from what they say in the interviews! Then you can make them a DVD to keep for fond memories and to show their friends.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:36 PM on April 9, 2009

I have an 8-year old. Yes on the Webkinz, absolutely not on the Floam. It makes a god-awful, sticky, stainy mess. All my kids hate the stuff.
posted by _Mona_ at 7:26 PM on April 9, 2009

Singing Monkey Balls have been a hit with just about everyone I've shown them to, including my turning-eight-tomorrow(!) niece. As in, she plays with them daily. So do I. They're just magnets (strong ones), but they're a tactile joy.
posted by funkiwan at 9:47 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

another vote for seamonkeys- they can change the way kids see life forever.
posted by iiniisfree at 10:04 PM on April 9, 2009

yes on webkinz if they are allowed to mess around on the computer.

for an outdoor type toy, my kids love their foxtail softie
posted by domino at 5:59 AM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: Frickin' Floam, I hate it. It's worse for clean-up than Play-Doh.

Hula hoops (if the weather is nice), a deck of cards with good pictures for their favorite games (or a game YOU teach them) -- something they can enjoy at your place and when they get home.

I am teaching myself knots, and all of my kids are surprisingly interested in trying that, too. My daughter (about to turn 10) likes making bracelets from embroidery floss, as well as using beads, wire, etc.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:53 AM on April 10, 2009

Ooooh, the Spirograph is pretty cool. The 5yr old I nanny for loves the hell out of it.

Just popped in to say that while it's not terribly original: Legos are a classic. Everyone loves Legos. Seriously. Can't go wrong there.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:40 AM on April 10, 2009

art stuff is always good. for a kid who like tech stuff, consider some basic drafting things like compass, protracter and such
posted by Redhush at 6:47 PM on April 10, 2009

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