Be sneaky to my 3 year old, with my blessing!
July 3, 2007 7:17 AM   Subscribe

What gift would you give to a three-year old to tease her for her half-birthday?

We've decided to do small celebrations for our kids' half-birthdays, mainly because we wanted the excuse to see their reaction upon waking covered in stickers. In other words, we want it to be silly, goofy, quirky, and an "un-birthday" (for more context, they love April Fools' Day). We've also planned the "dinner that looks like dessert" and "dessert that looks like dinner," but we don't have a gift. Given this theme I'm conveying, what small gift would you give a playful 3-1/2 year old, that's silly or tricky in either its nature, or wrapping, or how she has to go about getting it? Because of her young age, she probably wouldn't be interested in practical joke gag items, but she is relatively precocious otherwise, or likes to think she is at least. ;) She also pretends that she's a cat most of the time, if that gives any more ideas, but I'd like the gift to still be something she'd enjoy after the party (i.e., no cans of cat food).

Thanks in advance, creative sneaky mefites!
posted by artifarce to Shopping (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Get a few small toys. Tie them to helium balloons that will suspend them just out of reach, and make her figure out how to get them down.
posted by hermitosis at 7:25 AM on July 3, 2007

Whatever gift you give, give only half. Make her wait for her real birthday to receive the other half.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:28 AM on July 3, 2007

You could get her a whole cat costume - ears, whiskers, a tail, then hide them throughout the day, so she finds bits and pieces and can wear them around on her half-birthday.
posted by blackkar at 7:39 AM on July 3, 2007

Best answer: She might be a bit young, but you could try a treasure hunt for the present. Draw a clue to each location where the next clue is found and give her the first one. I use post-its because you can stick them under / behind things. If you can't draw, you could print thumbnails from a camera, but it would be a lot more fiddly.
posted by crocomancer at 7:42 AM on July 3, 2007

So cute! The ability to cover a young child in stickers while sleeping almost makes me want to have kids.

I like the idea of a half present, but maybe give both halves on the same day instead of waiting six months, since at 3 1/2 she probably doesn't have enough sense of time for that.
posted by footnote at 7:56 AM on July 3, 2007

Seconding blackkar. Costumes are always great. My daughter had a cat-obsessed friend at that age who liked to dress up like a cat and dance along with the cats in Cats.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:58 AM on July 3, 2007

Best answer: To combine two of the ideas above, give half a present with a treasure hunt to the second half.

Do you have the soundtrack for Cats? I babysat a two year old who LOVED it. As soon as she heard the chords to her favorite song, she'd shriek 'Oooh! Growltiger!' and pretend to be scared.
posted by happyturtle at 8:17 AM on July 3, 2007

I second DieHipsterDie.. the half gift should be agonizing. In fact, just give them an ornate key that unlocks their super awesome real b-day present (in 6 months).

Then proceed to use the key as leverage for 6 months of good behavior. i.e. "Little Johnny, You stop playing with those kitchen knives or I will take away your b-day KEY!"

That will make them squirm.
posted by jlowen at 8:21 AM on July 3, 2007

i was totally going to suggest treasure hunt. i loved that stuff when i was little.

and, i have to say, this is a really great and awesome idea.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:39 AM on July 3, 2007

I don't know about the half of a present idea. To a 3 year old, 6 months might as well be a hundred years.
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:44 AM on July 3, 2007

I was thinking half of a Barbie.
posted by plinth at 8:48 AM on July 3, 2007

Since the theme seems to be a sort of backwards celebration (at least in the food), how about wrapping up toys she already has? Perhaps the bigger ones, in obvious ways, so she can tell what it is through the wrapping (the opposite of what wrapping should be). You can hide them (the opposite of a normal party display), so that it's a game to find them.
posted by carmen at 9:13 AM on July 3, 2007

Best answer: As I think about this more, I am beginning to like the idea of the half birthday as the kickoff date to some larger process which culminates at the real birthday. A process designed to teach lessons of long term focus, goal setting, discipline, and collaboration.

6 months is 26 weeks, perhaps a coloring book, art project, simple model, or collection that will take approximately 1 night a week of quality kid/parent work together time to make progress towards completion by the birthday. Then in front of all the friends and family at the b-day party the kid can present their hard work to all the adoring fans.

Help to teach a lesson that doing/making something really cool takes focus. Definitely tie in the 6 month project with the grand finale..

Examples.. building a model airplane could lead to going to an airshow, or some sort of nature collecting (pressing plants, insects etc) could lead to a big trip to a museum or wild animal park. Do something around what the kid is already interested in and use it as a chance to build character, teach lessons, cultivate interests and most of all spend quality time together.
posted by jlowen at 9:24 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

.. and of course your gift to them on the half birthday are the items necessary to kickoff the project.
posted by jlowen at 9:30 AM on July 3, 2007

Make it a hobbit birthday, where she gives presents instead of getting them. Have a few little toys at hand and have her wrap them and pick who gets what (this can be really silly, with you suggesting that sister gets the tie and daddy the doll, so she has the opportunity to put you right.) Of course, after she gives away all her prezzies, she'll get one of her own.
posted by happyturtle at 10:53 AM on July 3, 2007

On the treasure hunt theme, how about a string or path of something (bread crumbs!) to follow to find her present.
posted by kjs4 at 5:48 PM on July 3, 2007

This is one of my earliest memories, and although my mother refuses to believe it, a happy one (grin)

On the morning of my third birthday my much older cousin cousin gave me a wrapped present that I wasn't allowed to open until after dinner. But I was allowed to hang on to it, and shake it, and try to guess what was in it. I spent the whole day trying to figure out what was in there, it had this odd rattle that was driving me nuts! Turned out, it was just a box filled with dried beans. After a few seconds of laughing at my horror at this discovery, he produced my real present, which was a little toy calculator. I went from near weeping to thinking this was the best joke I'd ever heard! The calculator as soon discarded, but the Birthday Beans live on in family legend.

P.S. The reason my Mamma was cross was that my baby brother, unattended during the hilarity, ate some of the beans. He was fine.
posted by weegreentoad at 8:48 PM on July 3, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. I'm marking as best answers the ones I used (or will use in the future), which seems kind of silly since they're all good and I just had short notice to pull it together, but there you go.

Also, if you plan on replicating the sticker scheme, make sure the oldest isn't allowed to convince the target child she must've just stuck them on herself while she slept. ;)
posted by artifarce at 11:11 AM on July 4, 2007

I just saw this sweet animation about how big empty boxes are a great prompt for exciting play.

How about a huge, empty cardboard box (save for some art supplies separately packed inside) wrapped up and presented with a ribbon? Ultimately it will be frustrating (an empty box) but a 3.5 year old can do a lot of fun different things with a big empty box.

I still get incredibly excited when large objects are delivered just because their boxes could be used to make awesome cubby houses. This is if only I could fit my 27.66 year old self inside.
posted by pipstar at 6:23 PM on July 4, 2007

« Older Why does every movie have to have an earthquake...   |   What should we do in London on expenses? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.