Raves! Great birthday gifts for every age
Baby Chaleco Performance Wear. If the birthday child is an active superdrooler, mom and dad will love this gift! This mom-owned company based in Bellevue makes “performance wear”: large, stylish bibs that will really stay on and keep your critter dry underneath. $34–$38; Hush Baby in Redmond Town Center. www.babychaleco.com
Books. Babies love books! Some of our top favorites include Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown; Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.; Big Little and Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli; and Barnyard Dance! and Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton.
TODDLERS TO KINDERGARTENERS
Earthentree eco-friendly toys. This Kirkland company, owned by a mom, offers colorful toys and musical instruments made in India from sustainable wood and decorated with safe, lead-free vegetable dye. $5–$28; www.earthentree.com.
Alphabet Blocks by Uncle Goose. These classic, award-winning blocks aid in the development of fine-motor skills, spatial recognition, math and language skills in kindergarten and preschool children. $22; Urban Kids Play.
My First Railway by BRIO. Made for kids younger than 3, these sets provide hours of imaginative play. $35; Teaching Toys and Books.
Realistic plastic animals from Bully. These are PVC-free and made in Germany. Sarah Furstenberg, owner of Clover Toys, says, “These are so great for the very beginning of imaginative play, as toddlers seem to love grouping animals into families.” $3-$7; Clover Toys.
For the animal lover: Adopt an orca! The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor offers a fantastic symbolic orca adoption program. The package includes a personalized adoption certificate, one special orca’s personal biography, a booklet about orcas, the museum’s newsletter and much more. $35; The Whale Museum. 360-378-4710, www.whalemuseum.org
For the theater fan: Give the gift of a live theater performance. There are many fantastic children’s theater programs around the area to choose from, including the Seattle Children’s Theatre, Moonpaper Tent Theater in Seattle, SecondStory Repertory in Redmond Town Center and the Village Theatres in Issaquah and Everett.
Peaceable Kingdom. This set of sturdy cardboard fairy “paper dolls” has a playhouse for them to live in. Each doll comes with multiple outfits and a stand. Perfect for the child who lives in the land of make-believe. $26; Clover Toys.
Puppets. Your child can play with the same puppets Mister Rogers picked for his Land of Make Believe when you give them the handmade king, princess, dwarf, dragon and knight puppets from Kersa of Germany. $30–$40; Clover Toys.
For the art lover: Eye Can Art Kits. Created by local art teachers, these kits have high-quality materials in a reusable can and cover a number of lessons, including printmaking and sumi-e painting. $24; Clover Toys and Urban Kids Play.
Snap Circuits. A great way to learn about electricity and build hundreds of inventions. $30; Clover Toys.
For the budding scientist: My First Weather Kit and My First Chemistry Kit, both by Scientific Explorer. $22; Urban Kids Play.
TWEENS + TEENS
Uglydolls by Pretty Ugly. Around $10-$20. Teaching Toys and Gifts, and the Bellevue Arts Museum.
Woolpets. Tweens can make their own animal stuffy from these fun felting kits. $16–$20; Clover Toys.
iPods. The teens have spoken, and this is what they really, really want. Nanos are a great choice. Small, easy to run with, and they come in screaming cool colors. $140; www.apple.com or Apple stores in Bellevue, Lynnwood, University Village and Southcenter.
For the future alternative-fuel superhero: a fuel-cell car kit by Thames & Kosmos. Build a car that actually runs on water. $99–$150; Teaching Toys and Gifts.
For the adventurous: Give them a climbing class from Vertical World in Seattle, Redmond, Everett and Bremerton. www.verticalworld.com
Learn to kayak with them by taking classes at the Northwest Outdoor Center on Lake Union. 206-281-9694, www.nwoc.com