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eco-friendly, education, engagement, Lifestyle and health, natural parenting, parenting

Eco friendly Return Gift ideas

What is a birthday party without party favours or return gifts? Kids look forward to bday parties for 2 reasons; 1. The Cake 2. Return Gifts
Last year we celebrated our son’s birthday the eco friendly way.  It was pretty doable, from décor to return gifts, all was either wood, paper or cloth.
You can check out the post here.  I am always on a look out for sustainable gifting options and hence this post on eco-friendly return gift ideas. Some of which I have personally tried and tested!

1. Piggy bank- A ceramic or wooden piggy bank. Piggy banks or Gullaks as we would call it have been one of my priced possessions all through my childhood and teenage years and that is what precisely I chose as party favours for my son’s first birthday party. The Gullak (piggybank) was a wooden house shaped box with lock and key. I sourced these from Sarahanpur in Uttar Pradesh known for artisans making brass and wooden artefacts and furniture. The gift was super-hit, everybody loved it.

2. A sapling or a plant with a pot- for Little A’s second birthday. I had a mix of return gifts. For kid’s above 3, I chose plants like ajwain, mint, tulsi etc and gave a pot separately, with a message ” plant me, water me and watch me grow”.  The plant was given separately so that kids can engage in potting exercise and take ownership, learn to nurture, watch it and relate to the lifecycle of plants and what is required for them to grow.

3. Wooden puzzles/toys- Unlike plastic toys, wooden toys last longer and look better.
There are few Indian brands selling wooden toys puzzles etc.  I have written a dedicated post on why we prefer wooden toys, you can check it here .

Also my personal favourites are Chanapatna toys. Chanapatna toys are wooden toys made in the town of Chanapatna near Bangalore. Channapatna is also known as GOMBEGALA OORU ( toy-town) of Karnataka. The toys are handcrafted and have a unique appeal to them, these can be used as art pieces or just as toys to play with.

Chanapatna kitchen set

For kids under 3 years I chose to give wooden puzzles/puzzle books and regular books. I bought puzzles from “little fingers at work” they have great variety of educational toys that are also reasonably priced. You can find more about them at their website. 

4. Small Terrariums or a Terrarium “make and take ” activity. – Terranium is a sealable glass container having soil and plants, the container can be opened for regular maintenance. These look wonderful, though slightly expensive these  can make a perfect return gift. Check this post to know about different varieties of terrarium and how they aren’t so difficult to make. Bigger Terrarium can make a good b’day/ house warming gifting option too.

image credits- whatagreenlife.com 

5. Craft kits- Craft kits are always a hit with moms and kids alike. You could gift a quilling set, DIY craft set for making paper bags/envelopes or just a kit with variety of craft supplies for open ended work. We absolutely adored the craft kit that we recently got in a party.

6. Terracotta clay with steel moulds or cutters- I love how clay can take any form, terracotta clay is natural as it is sourced from the riverbeds and prepared to produce various articles. It can be baked for strength or just used as it is. You can now buy terracotta clay at Amazon too.

The cutters can be bought at snapdeal or amazon. I found these at a throw away price for a set of 20 cutters. (click here )
You could alternatively buy cookie cutters and give 2 each to a kid along with some (250/500gms) clay and paint.

Here is a picture of me with my amateurish work at handbuilding pottery, I find working with clay therapeutic, you can tell that from the smile on my face in the this picture.

7. Books to choose from- You could keep 2-3 sets of different books and have the kids choose one from them.

8. Cloth hand puppets or dolls – hand puppets and cloth dolls look really cute and can be used as props for story narration and for pretend play. Not only the kids will love it, your mommy friends will love it too.

9. Plush toys – keep a counter/table with a placard saying “adopt a friend” and have 2-3 varieties of plush/soft toys, the kids can choose one and take it home as a return gift. The fibres used for a soft toy may not be natural, however it is better than giving plastic toys/tiffins/boxes that would soon break

10. Gardening kit- The real learning happens outdoors and there is nothing better than growing your own garden. Sowing the seeds of greener practices early on in life will have a positive impact on little ones. A gardening kit makes a great gift for young kids aged above 3. 

 A gardening kit for kids may include Rake, shovel etc, include a pack of seeds too to complete it.
These were 10 eco friendly gifts that I could think of, if you have anything in mind please do share here in comments.

The purpose of your gift will fail if you choose to give it in a plastic bag, try to use eco-friendly packaging for your return gifts. We have been using home made newspaper bags and for heavier gifts repurposed clothbags ( made from my old kurtas and pyjamas). I am going to do a dedicated post on packaging gifts the eco-friendly way!!

 

 

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activity, babies, engagement, music, newborn, parenting, toddler

Musical Bonding – A Playful and Innovative Music Class for Parent & Child


If you have followed my blog-series on music, you would already know what I am talking about.

Musical bonding holds a very special place for us and we have found our emotional connect to it; so, my series wouldn’t be complete without a dedicated post on it.

To get a better understanding of this parent -child programme for all my readers, I spoke to Aditi Shah, founder of Musical Bonding and here is what she has to say about one of her babies- “MB”!! 

    How did you come up with a programme that is so unique to Indian market?

Musical Bonding did not happen as a planned programme for the Indian market. The music provided by The Music Class allowed us (my husband and me) to have lots of fun with our two kids, singing, dancing and learning. Musical Bonding started as a simple attempt to make some friends in a new country and for the benefit of my own kids.

  Why Music, what does music mean to you?

I have background in Indian classical music and know that it is not the kind of music to get small children excited. On the other hand, I have also seen folk tunes have a deep impact on small children as well as adults. When I came across TMC music, I instantly knew that this is the kind of music both children and adults will enjoy.

   According to you, when should music be introduced to babies?

We all know that of the five senses in human beings, hearing is the first to develop. It develops in the womb itself and a baby knows parents’ voices even before birth. After birth, communication skills develop greatly by listening and not talking, and what better medium to listen and remember than music? I feel babies should be introduced to music in the womb itself but make sure it has to be the right kind of music.


  This program is for kids between 6 months to 5 years. How do you ensure that with such a vast age gap, each kid is stimulated enough and has some take-away from the class?

Five years seems like a lot, especially in the early years, where babies have so many milestones to cross. But in our classes we have always seen that having a mixed age group works very well as young kids love to watch the older kids and learn from them and older kids like to have fun with younger kids.


   What kind of music and instruments are the kids exposed to in this programme?

Our music selection is based on folk tunes from around the world. It not only provides kids a wide variety of music, but also wide range of styles. We introduce kids to mostly percussion-based instruments, high in sound quality and friendly for small hands to handle.


  What would you advise the parents to do at home for establishing a relationship with music? 

The name of our program says it all. Bond over music. Listen to music as family. Sing and play along…at home, in the car, anywhere you can play music and have space to move around.


  What do you feel about how music is taught in schools in early years?


I conduct workshops for teachers on voice modulation and how to handle music in class. What I see these days is that more and more preschool teachers are realising that music can work as an excellent teaching tool not only to teach language and music but also help with emotional development and expression, physical movement and coordination, and enhance overall teacher student bond. The big challenge that schools and teachers face is getting the right curriculum. Based on our experience, we now also provide music curriculum and teacher training to schools.


  You are now at many locations, how do you maintain quality?

Most of our team members have been parents in our class and often when their children have outgrown the class, moms still want to continue and join the team. We look for team members who are passionate about working with kids and bring the right attitude. Our entire team goes through training every week which helps us to maintain consistency and quality.

Thank you Aditi for answering my questions and for bringing musical bonding to us. 

If you have kids under 5, do bond over music with musical bonding and thank me later!!! 

Click here to check more about Musical Bonding class 


P.S. This post is a part of my series on music for kids and it is not a sponsored post.