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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- 

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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parenting, Uncategorized

Why my Grandparents are a blessing to me and to others around?

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.

Rudolph Giuliani

I always felt a void when it came to grandparents as I could not spend any time with mine. They were gone long before i was born. I only remember my nanaji and the little time I spent with him, he was already too old and frail to entertain the ball of energy that I was, but i do remember the joy he had in his eyes looking at his grandchildren.

I didn’t want my child to miss what I couldn’t enjoy in life and I am glad that my son is getting to spend quality time with his grandparents. I only wish his grandma was alive to watch him grow.

If Avyukt could write about his grandparents, this is probably what it would be like –

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activity, Babycare, Lifestyle and health, new mothers, parenting, toddler, Uncategorized

Quick Birthday Checklist that you shouldnt miss!

Are you planning your child’s birthday?

Here is a post for you to streamline your planning.

Birthdays have never been so exciting before. Well, yes, I used to be excited about my birthdays, but never did I get into such strategic details and planning before, I guess no one does until they have a baby.

This reminds me of A’s first birthday celebration and sleepless nights I had before it. It was even worse than those exam jitters. The first birthday celebration was a big affair and I wanted to do it the green way, check out the link to my blog here

Here is a basic birthday checklist that I am following for A’s second birthday.

1. Guest list- your guest list is the first thing before you start thinking about any event. It will give you an idea of what kind of venue you can book, once your guest list is in place you can decide about the menu and head count. So, basically it is the first step. For kid’s birthday party it is important that you have an age wise list of kids and also list the adults who will be attending the party (your menu may differ for kids and adults or a common kid friendly menu)

From the guest list arrive at a number that will definitely attend the party, make this number your minimum guarantee for booking the venue.

2. Venue- for smaller numbers and bigger houses a house party is the best and most economical way to celebrate. However, there are good options available now for birthday parties. From Quick Service Restaurants(QSRs) to banquets to play areas all are tapping birthday party market. Decide what fits your bill and book weeks in advance.

3. Invite- Create an invite that talks about the birthday theme, the invite should have following details

Date, Time, Venue, RSVP contact and any other note that you may want to include regarding theme etc.

4. Theme – Decide onto theme if any, so that you can work out other things like return gift, decor, outfits etc based on the theme.

5. Return gift- Return gifts or party favours have become like a mandate for kids’ birthday parties. I can’t forget how I used to wait to receive mine as a kid. Base the return gift on the theme and also keep in mind the age of the child you are giving it to.

Also consider the packaging, it should be attractive and easy to carry. Ensure what you are gifting is secured in the package.

6. Menu to be finalised- menu would depend on the time of the party. Kid’s love junk, parents love junk too, but parents hate feeding junk to their kids. Avoid keeping junk food in the menu.

7. Birthday Cake-  This post has taken me years back, how magical was the moment when mom put the big colorful cake in front with fancy candles; all the eyes focussed on the bday kid and the cameras flashing khachaak!! Somethings never change and why should they?

The only change is that there are better options available now offering fancier cakes and making our jobs tougher.

Try choosing the patisserie that you or your friends have tried and tested(tasted) before.
1 kg cake can suffice for 8-12 people. Before finalising the size, keep in mind other desserts that you have in the menu and the shape of the cake.

8. Party Games, prizes and props- Party Games/ entertainment is life of any party, choose games as per the age of invitees. Try to include games that all can participate in and have prizes that would suit all.  Keep a few extra prizes just in case there is a kid who asks for a prize or there is a tie between two winners.
Keep hats, masks etc or any other prop to go with your birthday theme, keep those handy for all to pick.

9. Photographer- Be it a house party or a party elsewhere someone needs to capture your precious moments. Have one person dedicated for it. It could be  a friend/ relative or a professional photographer.

10. Birthday kid dress and outfits for others in the family- well, this one is important but not as much as other points above. Choose a comfortable outfit for your child and carry an extra pair ( If the party is being organised away from home).

Easy isn’t it? Well, no. This is just a checklist, doing all or even a few of the above will take your time, efforts and of course money; but will also give you lots of precious smiles, laughter & memories in return.

Happy planning and executing. Do share your birthday party planning tips in the comments.


parenting, Uncategorized

letter to my son (Women’s Day Special)

Dear beta,

This is my first letter to you after your birth ( i wrote many letters, read emails to you during the 9 months before your birth, I am sure you have read them all by now)

As I write this letter, you are sleeping next to me, holding me tight and you leave me pondering how time is slipping off my hands. It looks like yesterday that you came into our lives to complete our world and make it a better place for us.

It’s that time of the year when restaurants are offering discounts for ladies and there are plenty of events being organised to celebrate the spirit of womanhood (it is the year 2018), you would wonder why? It is because people have chosen one day to promote equal rights including the “right to vote” for women; while in most nations, women may have got the right to vote, “equality” still looks like a distant dream. I hope it is not the case when you get to read this e-mail.

Everything great starts from home and so does gender equality, also before talking about independence, equality, empowerment and other big jargons, it is important to stop stereotyping women, men, or anybody as- strong, sacrificing, caring, giving, or as emotionally/physically weak or whatever. We are all individuals, each with unique characteristics.
I do not have any staunch ideals to follow, all I want is to pass on values that I have based my life on, some of which are-

Compassion and respect- There is this perpetual rat race to prove oneself better or to belittle the other; the world needs more compassion, it needs humans who are humans, people who value one another.
I have always held Respect over Love and I strongly believe that in a relationship if there is no respect the love eventually dies. Elder or younger, respect people around you.

Looking at the larger picture- Whatever tasks, big or small you shoulder, try looking at the bigger picture, the effect it will have in a longer run on others and on our environment. And do remember there is no job too small!

Lastly, “be yourself” – the last thing in my life would be to have you become like someone else. Never change yourself to please others. Do not behave like a boy or like a girl, behave like you would as a human being.

It is infuriating to hear people say “why are you crying like a girl”, or “that girl fights like a boy”, or “be a man”. Do not give in to these stereotypes.

I only hope I am able to raise you well, to raise you as “you” and not as a boy or girl. I hope I am able to help you bring out the best of you.
I hope I raise you as a confident, compassionate human being, that’s all I want my dear child.

Lots of love

This blog post is a part of #Womensdayblogparty . I’d like to thank my fellow blogger friend Deepika for introducing me. Read her interesting post for this blog party here

Also do go to my friend Latika’s blog post here to read her perspective on the topic.

parenting, Uncategorized

Must Visit- 5 Inexpensive yet Fun places in Mumbai for toddlers

Growing up in lush green Cantonment I now realise how fortunate I have been as a child to have the luxury of open green spaces, trees to climb on and traffic-less roads to go full speed cycling. The concrete jungles have snatched away the real fun that our parents could offer us. Closed play areas, malls, TV and mobiles have substituted the green parks and family picnics.

I try to give all things natural to my child and it also holds true for experiences.

This post is dedicated to 5 places in Mumbai which will give your toddler a fun experience being close to nature.

1. Aarey

The green pastures of Aarey Milk colony are the lungs that tirelessly work to keep Mumbai alive. This 400 acre of greenery will definitely give you some respite (at least for a day) from this cramped up city. Though not too well maintained, the Aarey colony has a lake and a popular picnic spot called chhota Kashmir.
Between 4-6 the milk plant is also open for tours; you can plan your trip accordingly and have your kid/s see how the milk that they drink is processed and packaged.

2. Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP)- This is another green place that you wouldn’t want to miss taking your child to. It is not any ordinary park and has much more to offer than just flora and fauna. The National Park has a mini train, a lake for boating, nature trails for hiking and also camping facilities.

It is suggested that you take a private vehicle as accessing these facilities which are spread out in sprawling 104sq kms of area can be challenging.

The park opens at 7:30 am and closes at 6:30 pm.

You could check more about the park at how to reach

For some facilities prior booking is required; please check the website for all the details. Continue Reading