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.
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!!