Looking for Monthly Gifts for a Precocious Three-Year-Old
April 16, 2015 7:17 AM   Subscribe

My best friend (really, my sister for all intents and purposes) just had a baby. She has a 3-year-old boy who is super, super precocious (as in, "name all the parts of your mouth" elicits responses including "hard palate" and "uvula"). He's excited about having a baby sister but I know that there will be some dislocation as he adjusts. I want to do something cool for him so that he feels special in this first period of time where things are likely pretty weird.

He is just now starting to remember who I am from visit to visit, and I'm starting a tradition of sending him a card every month to say hi and just be in touch in a way that is more concrete. I was thinking it would be nice to enclose in a little box some kind of something that would be inexpensive but fun. I think my upper limit on these kinds of gifts would be about $10. I am the "Aunt Who Gives Books" and I already do a lot of that - I'm not against books, of course, but I also want to do some different things. This seems right up my alley, but is a little more elaborate than I was thinking. I mean, Birch Box for 3 Year Old Boy is really what I'm kind of going for, probably.

Kid likes blocks, books, yard tools (no idea you guys), and is kind of getting over trains. His lovey is an elephant and the family are pretty into animals - there are two dogs (he's not super into dogs) and one cat (he is obsessed with the cat).

So in short: looking for fun things that won't drive mom and dad up the wall that are about $10 that I can put in with his cards every month. I am fine sending a small box instead of an envelope.
posted by Medieval Maven to Shopping (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you said Birchbox, so here are 10 subscription boxes for kids: http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1037159/top-subscription-boxes-for-kids

the Kiwi Crate made the rounds of some blogs recently and looks like it might be a good fit.
posted by Flamingo at 7:24 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just started getting Kiwi Crate for my four year old nephew.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:32 AM on April 16, 2015

(fwiw, my 3yo loves yard tools too).

Lately I've been thinking of getting him a subscription to National Geographic for kids.
posted by vignettist at 7:41 AM on April 16, 2015

Response by poster: I literally never assumed there would be a subscription box for kids. I have no idea why not, actually.

So that's kind of great. Would still love suggestions for smalls I can put in with his card. :)
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:44 AM on April 16, 2015

Lego minifigs? If he's not old enough to appreciate those, playmobil has very cute little animals in a farm series and a zoo series and you could do one of those a month for years before running out.
posted by lollusc at 7:45 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

A precocious three-year-old would really love the wooden puzzle games by SmartGames; some of my favorites are Castle Logix and Day and Night, but there are dozens of others, all suitable for solo (or guided) play by little guys. (We have a lot of these at our house, and I carry one with my in my bag for quick play when waiting at a restaurant or something.)
posted by math at 7:45 AM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Since I'm getting ready to have a baby too I just checked out that Kiwi Crate. For a 3yo it seems like something that would need input from a parent too, which might be tough if there's a newborn in the house.
posted by vignettist at 7:48 AM on April 16, 2015

I assume from the focus on mailing things and references to visits that you don't live nearby? Because what I found is that older siblings need is one-on-one time with parents or other adults. Could you visit and take him out for some special trips to the zoo, the park, to see a puppet show? A special visit that's all about him, and not about this new baby that everyone else is all excited about. Or visit and take care of the baby so kiddo can get face time with his parents.
posted by Liesl at 7:56 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

glow in the dark ants, bugs, and lizards
those gummy sticky things that you can stick on windows
Think disposable, losable, figure play fun things
finger puppets

I love using my Amazon Prime Membership to send my 17 year old weird things for under $10.00. He wasn't totally impressed with the dried squid but the singing pickle went over well. I'm sure you could find plenty of things appropriate for a 3 year old. Also check out thinkgeek.com for nifty treats.
posted by myselfasme at 7:57 AM on April 16, 2015

Head to target and check out their dollar bins and the endcaps in the toy/stationary aisles. Lots of stickers, coloring books, activity and craft sets, small lego sets, holiday themed stuff. You never know what the big hit will be - my MIL sent my kids (2 and 6) these light up spinny disney things that I'm sure were $3 or less. They have been microphones, part of a doctor's kit, great fun when the power was out recently, all sorts of stuff. I'd hever have thought it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:01 AM on April 16, 2015

I know you said you already do books, but since your description of this kid fits so closely to my husband's recollection of his childhood, I have to suggest picture encyclopedias. Also, David Macaulay. Basically, books that are flippable for a precocious three year old but that he can start reading and absorbing all the details as he grows.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:03 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

You could get a Safari toob and drop a different animal in his envelope every month. (If you have a Michael's craft store nearby, you can use a 40% off coupon on one).

Also, Micropanda LOVES the gummy sticky things you stick on windows. That's a good idea too.
posted by telepanda at 8:13 AM on April 16, 2015

Another subscription possibility. My kid absolutely freakin' LOVES Little Passports. It's her favorite thing every month. They just started an Early Explorers subscription set for kids from 3-5. Definitely worth checking out.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:39 AM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Stickers are terrific for putting in cards. We gave stickers to a 3-yr-old when his baby sister was born, and he was so excited about them - especially the gold stars, because he could go around putting them on his parents and places like plastic cups; I think it both gave him a task when he was a little bit confused about his role, and also made him feel like he was contributing by helping with celebratory decorations :)
posted by heisenberg at 9:40 AM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

My 2.5 year old gets Schleich animals for special occasions. She has the 2014 catalogue which she calls her book and "reads" a lot - she loves to match up the toys she already has with the pictures and we've had a lot of conversations about animals because of it. I like them because they are so well made and just beautiful objects in themselves.
posted by Wantok at 8:47 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

MatchBox cars - a different one each month.

Glow sticks or other glow in the dark things like glasses or rings or necklaces (check if these are ok to mail or if they count as toxic liquid??)

Does he have child-sized garden tools? Not hand spades, and not cheap plastic toy versions, but real wood and metal in child size? (these might be too big or heavy to mail). Also gloves.
posted by CathyG at 12:35 PM on April 17, 2015

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