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December 13, 2011 3:02 PM   Subscribe

What are some gifts for pre-schoolers that will make them feel like grown-ups? I'm thinking along the lines of fancy snap change-purse for a girl, for example (what are those called anyway? the ones with a metal snap), and other things that children don't need but LOVE to have.

Thanks a lot and merry Christmas !
posted by midnightmoonlight to Shopping (36 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A set of discarded keys is always a big hit.
posted by michaelh at 3:05 PM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by ootandaboot at 3:05 PM on December 13, 2011

posted by nkknkk at 3:06 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding the key thing, but adding something lockable. Something that "only they" can open is extremely fun, maybe one of those voice activated banks from the toy store? Or the one that has an 'atm' card?
posted by one4themoment at 3:09 PM on December 13, 2011

When I was in preschool, my parents took me to see Santa, despite the fact that we were Jewish -- I guess they didn't want to deprive me of the quintessential American child experience. Anyway, I sat on his lap and he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I told him that I wanted an umbrella. "Santa" delivered -- I got my little child-sized umbrella and I felt very grown up. (And my parents probably had the cheapest fake Christmas ever.)

Also, I would have loved the hell out of a fake checkbook when I was little, but it's possible that with the ubiquity of debit cards these days, kids have no idea what a checkbook even is.
posted by enlarged to show texture at 3:17 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

A watch - even better if you can find a cheap pocket/fob watch. Time is a big thing between adults and kids - they're the ones who schedule your life. A kid I knew had a clip-on fob watch that I thought was the coolest thing ever.
posted by clerestory at 3:21 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ooh, I remember my kid umbrella too! Good stuff guys, keep it coming ;D
A watch too, a very big deal when you're young.

You're right, they might not know checkbooks, but maybe they'd be excited to have a debit card. Wonder if the bank would make me one named after their kitten. Mr Ginger Mittensdale with some fake number combo 123456....
posted by midnightmoonlight at 3:21 PM on December 13, 2011

With regards to the coin purse, are you talking about something like these? I found them by searching google for 'coin purse with metal clasp' - I'm not aware of any other name for the type of clasp. Etsy also has some lovely ones.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:22 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a box that I keep valuables in, like some rare coins, a watch that my wife gave me when we got married. My daughter saw how I kept important stuff in it, so she also wanted a treasure box. Now we both keep treasures together. I'm not sure that it's qualifies as "grown up," but she does feel as if she has a place to keep rare things that need special care and aren't just toys.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:26 PM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

I LOVED the play jewelry sets! They were really cheap and came with clip on earrings, a necklace and a bracelet!
Also the mirror and brush sets!
posted by TangerineGurl at 3:29 PM on December 13, 2011

What about a nail polish that's made for kids? I just googled for kids nail polish, so I don't know how safe it really is, but it appears to be nontoxic, water based, and have no odor.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:30 PM on December 13, 2011

Best answer: I have a 3 and a 5 year old; they love having their own flashlight, little packet of tissues, a picture frame of their very own with a picture they have chosen (of themselves, a friend, or a relative), little notebooks and a neat/fancy/fun pen for taking "notes" and making "lists", and a lockable box to keep their treasures (coins, rocks, rubber stamps, etc).
posted by ellenaim at 3:34 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I LOVED having a little bag all my own. First it was a toy purse, then it was a fanny pack (IT WAS THE 90s, DON'T JUDGE), then it was a tiny backpack. I carried all of my favorite stuff in it (a few "lucky" objects, a couple small toys), tissues, binoculars, tictacs, crayons, gel pens, and a little bit of money. It made me feel grown up and responsible, and I always had something to entertain myself with when bored.
posted by phunniemee at 3:38 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I loved having a receipt book for playing store. (Carbonless carbon paper! Felt so official.) Bonus: Introduces the concept that receipt and "ree-seet" are the same word!

This may be scaremongering by the purveyors of kiddie chewable toys, but I've read stuff lately that keys are unsuitable toys because they contain lead. (Also, my brother was 18 months old when he put a set of unsupervised keys in his mouth and fell off a chair, causing a horrific tongue cut. I imagine you're talking about older, less mouthy kids, but still, it was very scary for all involved.)
posted by purpleclover at 3:43 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a kids Avon hand lotion & chapstick set when I was a kid that I thought was super cool and grownup. I remember rationing out the hand lotion because I was convinced I would never again have anything as wonderful in my whole life.
posted by jabes at 3:46 PM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]

Sunglasses! The big cheap plastic ones they make in kid sizes. We LOVED those.
posted by thelonius at 3:47 PM on December 13, 2011

One thought - it's not clear from the question whether the kids in question are yours or someone else's. Before getting a 'mini-grownup' item for a toddler who isn't yours, you should check with the parents about their rules and preferences. My mother would have gone ballistic if I was playing with an adult-looking purse or (even worse) makeup given to me as an adult at age 3. The giver would never have known, of course, and would have been thanked politely, but that type of item would have been taken away the minute the giver was out of eyeshot.

(There's a big difference in a lot of people's minds between playing with real adults' stuff and actually being given one's own versions of those items by adults, as well - so err on the side of caution even if, say, you know that little Jenny plays with her own mother's lipstick all the time.)
posted by Wylla at 3:50 PM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

A compact with a mirror, perhaps?

Pocket watch
posted by backwards guitar at 4:23 PM on December 13, 2011

A child size yet still usable mop and broom. Yes, I'm serious.

My girls love aprons. You could put together a child appropriate chef kit- picture based recipe cards, apron, that sort of thing.

I agree with Wylia, check with the parents' values before getting any type of make up, nail polish or hair stuff. Not everyone is okay with their kids being pageant ready.

If you hate the parents, get princess high heeled shoes. The clomping sound is enough to drive any normal person to crazy.
posted by myselfasme at 4:33 PM on December 13, 2011

In addition to the great suggestions above, I'd suggest some Monopoly money, and used-up gift cards or grocery loyalty cards (etc.) as play credit cards. And his or her own "coffee" mug. And non-working (but real) cell phones and remote controls.
posted by argonauta at 4:45 PM on December 13, 2011

Yeah, my toddler LOOOOVES to help mommy clean. I highly recommend kid-size broom, dustpan, scrub cloth, non-toxic cleaning spray. Compact with a mirror also an excellent idea, especially if presented in a child-appropriate purse. My toddler also loves my silk scarves.
posted by Go Banana at 4:58 PM on December 13, 2011

My 4-year-old loves her kid-sized broom & her flashlight.
posted by belladonna at 5:05 PM on December 13, 2011

Curious Chef makes kid-sized cooking kits of various types.

My toddler adores his broom. He sweeps my floor all the time. The dirt ends up in entirely different places!

He also loves his kid-sized gardening tools and gardening gloves. He has a bit of garden that's his, and he sits in it and just digs the dirt for MINUTES ON END. (We planted a few inexpensive and hardy annuals, but they only lasted a few weeks. Mostly he's all about the dirt.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:01 PM on December 13, 2011

From memories of my sisters and current knowledge of my son: a dead cell phone or mp3 player. Markers or other non-crayon art supplies. Tools or cleaning supplies. Feather boa. Wallet.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:04 PM on December 13, 2011

My 2 year old loves pulling stuff out of my wallet, so I'm passing on one of my old ones filled cards and toy money for her to fool around with. Seconding sunglasses, and adding strings of colourful beads. Old rotary dial phones are good, too.

I've seen these book like objects on Amazon, and I'm not sure if I like them or not.
posted by thylacinthine at 6:19 PM on December 13, 2011

Oh man, this question made me remember the utter joy at receiving one of my absolute favorite gifts ever when I was that age - a little pink suitcase. My dad went on business trips all the time and I was always obsessed with his suitcase, so my very own tiny suitcase was splendid. I used it on real family trips and sleepovers alike for ages.
posted by gatorae at 6:20 PM on December 13, 2011

I'm going to second something like a treasure box. My daughter loved receiving, and still loves, her little jewellery box with the spinning ballerina-fairy. She uses it to keep really important thing stored safely - you know, like school photos of her friends; her diary key; foreign coins; her first lost tooth and shed snake skins.

And I agree - a small suitcase would also be great, especially for when they threaten to run away. Kids these days don't even know how to make a bindle stick.
posted by peagood at 6:36 PM on December 13, 2011

A wallet with old cards and play money in it.

A clip-on tie for a boy, if they see the adult men around them wearing ties.

An old cell phone (with no service, but that has batteries).
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:48 PM on December 13, 2011

My brother loved his tool belt. It was a small adult tool belt, but he put his toy tools in it. Add some kid-sized safety glasses, and he was in heaven. He had a small plastic toolbox as well.
posted by Maarika at 8:20 PM on December 13, 2011

Office/Post Office items, in an old briefcase/bag/container. Something that shuts with a satisfying click is ideal.

Keeping the child's age in mind, add stamps (stickers), envelopes (salvaged from junk mail), labels, notepads & notebooks, pens, Post-its; sheets of (recycled) paper, file folders, rubber stamp & pad, and TAPE, TAPE, TAPE.

In fact, a selection of tape - blue and green painter's tape, masking, transparent - would be a great idea on its own.
posted by Slugette at 8:43 PM on December 13, 2011

My 3.5 year old carries her umbrella everywhere hoping it will rain. She also loves her tool set (plastic hammer, wrenches, etc) and will run to get it whenever we pull out the real tools to fix something. Purses come and go, the backpack was big for a while.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:13 PM on December 13, 2011

Seconding Slugette's idea of office supplies. One of the best things my dad found for my siblings and I was a working CASH REGISTER. And not the plastic kids kind, but a real metal one. Add paper money and you're all set.

Along those lines, a little bank, piggy or otherwise. Give the kids all your loose change.

The second best toy we had growing up was our dress-up box. It contained my mom's discarded '80s dresses and pumps, and even her poofy wedding dress slip which was the coolest thing ever. She added to the box over the years with neat clothes she's pick up at thrift stores. We always had the best Halloween costumes.

So if the kids you know like to dress up and play pretend, get them a large plastic bin and $20 worth of crazy clothes and accessories from Goodwill. Not even necessarily kid-sized stuff.
posted by book 'em dano at 11:05 PM on December 13, 2011

I got a four year-old some Victorian pennies (satisfyingly large). And notebooks. There are pretend cheque books for children (eg) but probably best for older children who can read and write.

Agree with tools and suitcases. Also agree that if they aren't your children it may be worth checking with the parents if it's something like a handbag, as some people would object.
posted by paduasoy at 3:47 AM on December 14, 2011

Before getting a 'mini-grownup' item for a toddler who isn't yours, you should check with the parents about their rules and preferences.

Nthing this - and also in terms of gender preferences too. Though a girl on my bus dropped her 'handbag' and it turned out to be full of toy cars...

I would have loved any stationery as a kid, particularly if it let me play offices. I always lusted after things like date stamps or special notebooks and pens. I could read at a pre-school age but I couldn't write, if that helps.

The suitcase is a lovely idea. Something like those vintage vanity cases would be cute - you can get ones like that made for kids now, and they often come decorated with things like rockets or pawprints.
posted by mippy at 8:34 AM on December 14, 2011

In my town a kid could get their own library card as soon as she could write her name. My girls got them at 4 years old and loved them. I kept all our cards in one place and gave them out at the library so they could check out their own books.
posted by CathyG at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fake diamonds in a velvet bag.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 12:14 PM on January 4, 2012

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