Uncle with cape, sans gift
August 4, 2010 7:54 AM   Subscribe

My lively niece in Boulder is turning 3 fingers old on Saturday and I want to weigh in with something that doesn't get the shelf within 5 minutes. Ideas?

She's super active, is already practically riding her bike without training wheels, calls John Mayer and Lady Gaga songs (from memory) when she hears them on the radio. All this to say she's a smart cookie and a bundle of love for this uncle. I don't yet have kids of my own so I'm a little slow on the bitty birthday uptake. I live across the country from her and need to move fast and get it shipped...So what do I give her?!
posted by anonymous to Shopping (27 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by k8t at 8:05 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

3 fingers old :-D

Art supplies are my recommendation. Crayons, paper, glitter glue, and all of that good stuff.
posted by jgirl at 8:11 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was 3 I would have given my heart and entire imaginary kingdom to anybody who gifted me with a complete set of every available color of Play-Doh. And now they make sparkly ones!
posted by Mizu at 8:28 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding art supplies.

I gave my niece these slippers for her third birthday and they were a huge hit. It's been almost a year and she's still wearing them.
posted by something something at 8:28 AM on August 4, 2010

A pony. Or puppy. Or kitten.
posted by 2legit2quit at 8:29 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

My own lively little girl turned 3 on Monday. She loves loves loves these Fisher-Price roller skates we bought her (as in, wears them every waking minute, even in the house).

The other things I have suggested for her out-of-state loving uncle include art supplies, as jgirl mentioned, t-ball or ring-toss games. The kind of throwing games with a velco ball and paddles can be good for this age.

You have to ship, so a scooter is probably out of the question, alas. My kid also likes things she can manipulate--she loves to play with a connect-4 type game we have, not according to the rules but just dropping the tiles into the array. My mom sent my daughter a little gold-cloth drawstring bag with quarters in it, and she loves it, though this may be particular to my daughter, who likes to carry money around in the pocket of her jeans.

Bike accessories can be fun. Does she have a handlebar basket, horn shaped like a dinosaur, streamers, her own little water bottle and holder, and so on?

My daughter loves her big brothers' marble run. They have to set up the runs, but she can spend a lot of time rolling marbles through it once they do.
posted by not that girl at 8:32 AM on August 4, 2010

Oh, as the mom of a kid who is hard to wear out: if you have a big budget, an indoor trampoline like this could be the best thing ever--and free shipping from Amazon!
posted by not that girl at 8:34 AM on August 4, 2010

I've given child-sized table and chair sets (not that specific set though), and they've been huge hits. Ikea also makes them, and there are pricier options at PB Kids. Kids love having their own little place for arts and crafts, playing school, snacks, etc.

They also make insanely cute armchairs.
posted by barnone at 8:35 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

If she enjoys wearing things on her head, I suggest animal ear headbands. I taught a six-year-old who still loved them, but three seemed to be where the other kids wanted hers.
posted by SMPA at 8:36 AM on August 4, 2010

Play Silks? A relatively old blog post about how this one woman's kids love play silks.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:37 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

I love giving easels (double sided) with crayons or appropriate art materials. One of the only vague memories I have as a child is me at my easel.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:39 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Magic Cabin is full of amazing uncommon toys and will ship for you. Barring that, picture books are usually a big hit with people turning three fingers old.
posted by corey flood at 8:41 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

start planning now for her 4th b-day. Frequent Goodwill, and buy outlandish, interesting, costume-y clothes. Wash them and hang in the sun to ensure freshness. As kids, we had a "dress-up box" that inspired lots of play.
posted by theora55 at 8:56 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Tuck-In Pet is so cute, on the Magic Cabin site. I imagine any 3 year old would be thrilled with that. For a bit more, this play table can be used with water or sand. I would use it indoors with dry beans, but my kids were never ones to stick things in their noses.
posted by toastedbeagle at 9:08 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

A tutu? there's plenty online. tutusbyjesi.com, and tutugirl.com, to name two.
posted by Gungho at 9:31 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

A square dance petticoat.

We got one for my daughter for 2 bucks at a thrift shop and it was a tresured toy for years.

Over time, it served as:
short dress
and cuddleup.

She got it at about age 3, and is in college now. She still won't let us throw it away.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:35 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have 2 girls, aged 4 & 2. Everything above is perfect, but for Christmas this year, both of them are getting opera wigs.
posted by mdiskin at 9:49 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

This might be a crazy suggestion, and 3 might be a bit young, but how about a Ukulele? She doesn't need to worry about cords, or playing things correctly, but it sounds like she'd have fun acting out and making sounds. Plus, a uke isn't as loud as you might think, so she wouldn't drive her parents crazy.

A cheapo uke is $25, so don't worry about her breaking it.
posted by fontophilic at 10:02 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

some kind of a microphone?
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:24 AM on August 4, 2010

I will second mdiskin's opera wig. Holy crap, those are amazing!
posted by mdonley at 10:58 AM on August 4, 2010

I have a 3.75 year old right now. Things that are big hits around here are her echo microphone, any kind of art supplies, Play-Doh, outdoor play stuff like buckets and shovels, big plastic toy trucks, bubble blowing liquid (if you go this route, get the expensive bubble blowing stuff rather than the super-cheap stuff, and get a 12-pack of smaller bottles), and most belovedly, her BRIGHT PINK TRICYCLE.

If you want to be beloved by the child, get this. Bear in mind that if the parents have wall-to-wall carpeting, they will hate you forever.
posted by KathrynT at 11:05 AM on August 4, 2010

Oh also along the art supplies lines:

* All paints, glitter glues, &c MUST BE WASHABLE. I cannot stress this enough.

* Crayola paints and crayons are markedly superior to other brands. I wish this weren't so, but it is.

* If you buy paints or whatever, make sure to also get brushes and GIANT PAPER. Nothing is as fun for kids as giant paper.
posted by KathrynT at 11:15 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding the play silks and square dance petticoat. Regarding the petticoat: I'm 40 and have had mine since I was 6. My 6yo now enjoys it and uses it for all sorts of fabulous costumes.
posted by tidecat at 11:15 AM on August 4, 2010

Bilibo seems like some versatile fun.
A simple sit-on scooter maybe two or three (they make cheaper plastic ones too) to play with friends?
And she's just the right age for a balance bike like a Skuut.
posted by cross_impact at 11:58 AM on August 4, 2010

Big Lego/Duplo type sets...
posted by bardophile at 2:16 PM on August 4, 2010

A real proper (wooden) easel, kid-sized. Yessss.
posted by ifjuly at 8:44 AM on August 5, 2010

My grandfather always have us cool, science-ish, educational gifts, that we loved. The effort you're expending on good gifts, over the years, will be treasured.
posted by theora55 at 12:26 PM on August 16, 2010

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