Cool auntie filter: what are some good birthday presents for a soon-to-be two-year-old?
April 29, 2008 9:08 AM   Subscribe

My nephew will soon turn two. What are the awesomest birthday gifts for a two-year-old munchkin? I have a maximum budget of about $50, and I wouldn't mind spending less than that. I would rather get him something thoughtful than something expensive.

My nephew's current interests include balls, trucks, dancing and doggies. He also enjoys things that snap together, especially if they make a satisfying click when they snap. I would prefer not to get him anything that will make his parents hate me, which probably includes anything with a lot of flashing lights or screechy sound effects.

Help me, parents of MeFi! What stuff did your kids love when they were two?
posted by craichead to Shopping (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Buy him a savings bond. I get one for my niece and nephew every year (along with a book or toy so they don't think they're auntie is totally lame.)
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:11 AM on April 29, 2008

I often struggle with this with my nieces. I want to get them something that will not just become part of the plastic toy heap. Some good friends of mine suggested art supplies -- crayons, paints, papers, stickers, coloring books -- because they get used up and don't take up space permanently.

But if you do want to go the route of multi-part clicky toys, there are always things like: Lego, Duplo, Mobilo, and MagnaTile. A decent idea of what's out there is here. Most boys who like clicking things together never tire of getting more Legos or whatever.

And if he loves dancing, why not make a mix CD of fun non-preschool music? A friend of mine has a three year old that loves bouncy tunes from artists like Feist, Junior/Senior, and Daft Punk.

That said, I often wonder if I shouldn't be following notjustfoxybrown's lead and just buying savings bonds for kids in the family.
posted by blapst at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2008

The Thomas wooden trains always make a nice gift, and boys that age are usually crazy about them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:28 AM on April 29, 2008

I like blapst's idea. When my daughter was 2 she loved to dance to non-preschool music like daft punk. Her favorite game was "tooth brush dance party" where I would crank the music, and turn the bathroom lights on and off rapidly. We would dance and brush!

Also my daughter LOVES playing with water in the backyard, be it kiddy pools, slip in slides, water guns, running through sprinklers etc etc. I like to encourage it because it gets her off the computer and outside running around. I swear that my 5 year old is addicted to webkinz about as much as I am metafilter.
posted by jlowen at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2008

I struggle with the same issues - I have 2 nephews and 1 neice. 7, 5 and 2 years old. What I often do is try to get them "experiences" but this can be tough for only $50.

For example, I got one of my nephews a "membership" at our local zoo. They send him a membership card and a packet. It gets him and 1 adult free admission to the zoo any day/time for 365 days. The downside is that the rest of the family has to pay when they go. My hope was that they would go 2-3 times a year, and it would result in a good family bonding experience.

I've done the same things with tickets to a children's theater, a children's museum, etc.

The other thing I've done, and since you're talking about a 2 y/o who might not appreciate "experiences" just yet, is to go to a children-toy-speciality store and then have them show me all of the things that are age appropriate. I ususally go with something that's highly educational, and that I think will actually get used and not just added to the giant heap of other toys that they get.

The last time I did this, I actually went with a multi-color, rather spongy, but durable, playground ball. I figured "what toy can be an accessory to just about any game, and what toy could help facilitate the imagination in coming up with new games? What toy would not limit the child to playing within the construct that the toy is marketed within, thus causing him/her to really leverage their imagination?" That ball was used almost every day, and to this day I think it was one of the best gifts I gave to any of my nephews/neice.

Here's a cool kid-specific toy store we have locally - see if they have anything similar in your local area. I'm unaffiliated with them, btw.
posted by xotis at 9:36 AM on April 29, 2008

Best answer: Our son just received "No No Yes Yes" as a gift, and he loves it. He dissolves into hysterical laughter and wants to read it again and again.

The left pages have "no noes" (baby has his finger up his nose) and the right pages have "yes yeses" (baby blowing his nose with a tissue). The no noes are pure comedy and basically an illustrated guide to every natural behavior of a toddler.

With a $50 budget you could get several books - our son is 27 months and to be honest, every time a friend or family member brings another truck, bus, or train into our tiny home, I die a little.
posted by peep at 9:40 AM on April 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

Have a picnic at the park, give him a cupcake with two candles and some ice cream, then take him to the library to get his own library card and check out some awesome kids' books.
posted by ldenneau at 9:48 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

My son is going to be two this summer and I completely agree that the most meaningful gift by far would a savings bond or a donation to his 529 college fund. Whatever toy you might buy him will soon be forgotten and he's really too young to fully "get" that you gave it to him. Buy him a little book (under $10), so that he has the fun of unwrapping it, make it your special book that you always read to him, and put the rest towards his future.

The other thing I'd suggest that would be really meaningful, and something that he'd understand was from you, would be a little book of family photos. We don't have family nearby and my kid loves to look at pictures of his grandparents, aunt and uncles and his cousin. I keep meaning to put together a little brag book for him, and if his aunt or one of his uncles did it, that would be a great gift that we'd always keep. Another toy? Not so much. I think when he's a few years older, a coveted toy would be more appreciated by him, but now, it's just more clutter around the house. I agree with peep about just sighing when another Thomas train, Elmo doll or molded plastic ABC toy arrives.

You're a great auntie for wanting to be involved in your nephew's life.
posted by Kangaroo at 9:56 AM on April 29, 2008

I like to buy things that will be used for years to come: books, a really good ball, lego, good wooden pencils, etc. Try to stay away from the gadgety now now stuff, and focus on the long term.

Or go with an experience gift, like a trip to the zoo or the aquarium, kids always have fun there.
posted by Vindaloo at 9:56 AM on April 29, 2008

When my son was two he lived for Lego Duplo. He carried them around the house and everywhere we went.

We got this Brio building blocks set for a friend's son's second birthday and it was a HUGE hit. The little boy was seriously into anything ball-shaped and the stick-togetherness of the set really appealed to him. Brio is just a good all-around brand for solid, durable toys.

PlanToys also has really great stuff.
posted by cooker girl at 9:59 AM on April 29, 2008

Some good friends of mine suggested art supplies -- crayons, paints, papers, stickers, coloring books -- because they get used up and don't take up space permanently.

I bought my neice a bunch of this kind of stuff last Christmas, but I also made her a custom coloring book to go with it. I stole the idea from LifeHacker and got some advice about the details in a previous AskMe.

Basically it just involves running your own family photos through some simple Photoshop filters, printing them out, and binding them. Also, make sure you include photos of any of the family pets (my neice was relatively unimpressed with normal shots of the family, but very excited to see Puffy the cat as a coloring book page).
posted by burnmp3s at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

ahem... that should be their ...auntie's lame and grammatically challenged.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2008

Best answer: As the parent of a two year old -- please, oh please -- resist buying anything that comes with 150 million pieces (legos, puzzles, plastic dolls with 50 pieces of snap-on clothing...).

I spend my life picking up and sorting toys. (My child doesn't really even enjoy them - just likes to watch them spill everywhere.) Wait until they're older and can participate in the clean-up process. Stuffed animals are over done as well....

As for suggestions, my child likes this....
posted by LakesideOrion at 10:16 AM on April 29, 2008

One of the most useful plastic toys my son has ever received was the Lego Block-O-Dile. The kid pushes it across the floor and it sweeps up Duplos, Lego bricks, wood blocks, Hot Wheels...pretty much anything that can fit in its mouth. He got it when he was about 2 and 8 years later, he's still using it to clean up after himself.
posted by jamaro at 11:19 AM on April 29, 2008

A kid-size picnic bench, made of orange plastic. oh the memories..
posted by proj08 at 12:02 PM on April 29, 2008

It really depends on the child, but my kid loved Lego Duplo at this age. As parents, we love that the Lego can be anything. We've got several Duplo train attachments, which we happily turn into all sorts of other creations. A rolling elephant, puppy, flower garden, house, tea party -- anything. We build towers and cranes and dump trucks and ambulances and all sorts of things. I love that you don't have to subscribe to a character identity, import an existing storyline or stick within whatever they tell you boys are supposed to like. I really think the Lego has a huge effect on play and self development in our house -- for parents and child alike.
posted by acoutu at 1:36 PM on April 29, 2008

My dad got this casio keyboard for my oldest son when he was 2, and now the younger one is almost 2 and uses it a lot. Older kids (around 8) play with it at our house too - it's had a long life and costs about $50. It does eat up batteries pretty fast though.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:36 PM on April 29, 2008

My just-turned-two-year-old is playing with her dollhouse right now. It's just a basic Little People dollhouse from the thrift store, with some people to go with it, and -- most importantly! -- a school bus.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:36 PM on April 29, 2008

My nephews were the recipients of Thomas train stuff. Within one or two years they had seventeen of everything. Kind of hard to be the cool aunt when you run the risk of giving them something they already have. My wife and I stuck firmly to Play-Doh for several years, because at two Play-Doh turns into rocks within a few weeks and always needs to be replaced. The boys loved it, and loved that we were always willing to sit down and get messy with them.

This year we're sending Ikea finger puppets. The youngest boy just opened his a week ago, and hasn't stopped playing with his since. They're relatively inexpensive, lots of fun, and small enough to mail easily if you aren't local.

Of course, Lego is always a big one. I had them, my nephews have them, but they do make a mess - maybe the Block-O-Dile is the way to go?
posted by caution live frogs at 2:39 PM on April 29, 2008

When my daughter was that age, a friend of mine bought her a child sized umbrella and she LOVED it. She would walk around outside where ever we went with that thing. One of my favorite gifts to give kids that age is a box of bandaids to use just for them and a doctor's kit to go with it. The next thing you know they will be covered in bandaids from head to toe and will be headed to the grocery store!

Have fun, it's a wonderful age!
posted by vermontlife at 5:01 PM on April 29, 2008

A big-assed cardboard box that you have cut windows in and decorated to look like a cool fort or a rocketship.
posted by popechunk at 6:43 PM on April 29, 2008

Considering that I spent an entire afternoon of babysitting helping the kids pick up the boxes of legos they split all over the floor, I am already in love with the Block-o-Dile even without seeing it in action.

Someone on here once mentioned wooden puzzle name stools. My grandma had these made for me and my cousins, and I looooved mine. Also stools are always useful for small kids to reach the sink, etc.
posted by radioamy at 9:32 PM on April 29, 2008

I used to really try hard to find the "perfect" gifts for my nieces and nephews when they were that age. Without fail, they'd end up playing with the wrapping paper or packaging and ignoring the actual item.

I've been giving savings bonds/college fund contributions and a small, fun gift OR giving the gift of time spent with the child. I think that creating a memory has a bigger impact than a material gift...this works a bit better with slightly older kids.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:52 PM on April 29, 2008

« Older Help Poodus find a University...   |   Detroit Green City Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.