Sunday, December 11, 2011
2011 Best Nanny and Au Pair Gift Guide
I have yet to meet a nanny or au pair that hasn't bought the kids they care for a little gift for the holidays. When choosing a gift for your employers and their kids this holiday season remember the main goal of giving them a holiday gift is to show your appreciation and respect. That doesn't always require much money.
For example, I always suggest that in-home child care providers give their charges children's books. Simply read our reviews of children's books in our Saturday column, "Weekly Trip to the Library." Click here to see our list of the best books for gift giving. Click here for a list of interfaith children's books you can give to your charges.
You also can't go wrong giving the children matching, snuggly jammies. Other great gift choices include inexpensive board games, puzzles, Legos, or hobby models the family can do together. See if a local theatre group is putting on a production of "The Nutcracker" or other holiday themed show. Tickets to a ballet, concert, or play make a terrific gift for the entire family to experience together.
Not all nannies and au pairs buy the parents that employ them a gift, but I still like to give the parents an inexpensive, sentimental gift. The gift of time is the cheapest gift to share with your employers. Make up a gift certificate for free babysitting one evening so the parents can go on "date night." If you have enough in your budget you can give them a movie theater gift card for them to use on their date night, along with your free babysitting gift certificate.
Since the best gifts come from the heart it is appropriate for nannies and au pairs to share handmade gifts with their employers because they work very closely with them and their children. Handmade gifts should either appeal to the personal tastes or interests of your boss, or have some practical use. You can't go wrong snapping photos of the kids over the year and making a small scrapbook for the family of the children. Knitted scarves, mittens, or hats or baking a favorite dessert make great gifts too.
Here are some inexpensive gift ideas I've found online for nannies and au pairs to share with their charges and their parents this holiday season.
If you want to purchase your gifts online better buy them in the next few days. Most online stores say you only have five more shopping days to gaurantee getting your online gifts in time for Christmas.
For the Kids:
Melissa & Doug Shape, Model and Mold $14.60
Shape, Model and Mold set includes five easy-grips, wooden stamping cubes, three rolling pins, four modeling dough tubs with molding lids and a patterned wheel press. Recommend ages three-years and above and for $14.60 any nanny or au pair can afford this gift.
Alex Tub Tunes Water Flutes $11.03
My charges love these bath toys. With these five Water Flutes, kids can experiment with music and learn to play songs during bath time. They will discover different sounds and tones with these real musical flutes that can be tuned with water to create a variety of sounds. For older kids Play the real flutes for the tub are tuned by filling them with varying amounts of water to produce multiple tones. The gift ncludes easy-to-follow, waterproof, song sheets as well.
Wild Science Worm Farm $15.09
This worm farm teaches children about earthworms and their importance in our ecosystem. Grow vegetation and watch how earthworms help to move soil and help the plants to grow. There are removable privacy screens for the side of the habitat allow you to see how the earthworms live. The farm includes tank, two packets of colored sand, tweezers, pipette and a 24- page booklet.
Lego Creator Street Speeder $13.55
Some Lego kits are expensive but there a plenty of affordable options too. This Lego Creator Street Speeder provides three ways to cruise the city in style! Kids can hit the road in this sporty green street machine with opening doors. Then they can rebuild it into a cool hot rod or a lightning-fast race car! Instructions included for all three models. Provides multiple building opportunities for beginner and intermediate builders alike! Vehicles have opening doors, loaded with details, and sporty green and white striping color scheme.
EverEarth Amazon Blocks $15.07
These adorable building blocks are eco-friendly and child safe.This solid wood toy is from the new Ever Earth line by Maxim Enterprise. Create your very own jungle layout with these 25 fun building block shapes. Made of sturdy durable wood, fun brightly colored screen printed chunky shaped blocks. Ever Earth Toys are made from renewable forests. Solid wood from renewable forests. Water-based, non-acrylic, non toxic paint and the packaging is made of attractive recycled materials. Perfect for kids 18-months and up.
For the Entire Family:
i Tunes $25
This is the perfect for almost any child (or parent). Each gift card includes an iTunes store code redeemable for music, movies, TV shows, audiobooks, games, and more. Recipients can sync to their iPod, iPad, or iPhone, burn music to CD, and watch or listen on their computer-Mac or PC.
Blokus Classics Game $14.40
Blokus encourages creative thinking and has received a Mensa award for promoting healthy brain activity. The goal of this game is for players to fit all of their pieces onto the board. When placing a piece it may not lie adjacent to the player's other pieces, but must be placed touching at least one corner of their pieces already on the board. The player who gets rid of all of their tiles first is the winner and strategic thinking helps as you block moves from your opponent. Blokus sometimes comes to an end because there are no more possible moves.
Four players make this abstract game especially fast and exciting; however, it can be just as fun for two or three players. Blokus has come up with a number of different ways to play the game to make it more thrilling when playing with less than four players. Draft Blokus allows a player to use more than one color and Reverse Blokus reverses the entire game so that the person who places the least amount of tiles on the board is the winner. It can even be played in a solitaire version when one player attempts to place all of their pieces in a single sitting. A game of Blokus typically lasts a 30 minutes. As a practical feature, raised edges on the board help keep the tiles in place and allow convenient clean-up. This game includes 84 pieces in four vibrant colors, an instruction guide, and one gameboard with 400 squares.
Blokus is simple to understand, but the game's complexity is revealed shortly after everyone begins to play. It can be addictive, even for those not normally into abstract games. Blokus is a catalyst for spatial thinking, as players form images in their mind before placing the pieces on the board. Children and adults can play together for hours of competitive family fun. As Europe's 2003 Game of the Year, Blokus is adored by many and even played in professional tournaments.
Rory's Story Cubes $6.86
Rory's Story Cubes is a pocket-sized creative story generator, providing hours of imaginative play for all ages. There are infinite ways to play with Rory's Story Cubes. You can play solitaire or with others. Here are some suggested uses: party game or ice-breaker, literacy development, speaking and listening skills, creative inspiration, mental workout, problem solving. Rory's Story Cubes is a pocket-sized creative story generator, providing hours of imaginative play for all ages. With Rory's Story Cubes, anyone can become a great storyteller and there are no wrong answers. Simply roll the cubes and let the pictures spark your imagination.
For the Parents:
Godiva Chocolates $25 and Under
The best chocolatier in the world has 50 chocolate gifts for under $25. Check them out by clicking here.
Wine Gift Sets $40 and Under
If the parents love a nice glass of wine with dinner after a hard day at work wine.com has great gifts sets that many nannies and au pairs can afford. Click here to see the gift set choices.
Hand Print Stepping Stone
Packed with recycled, earth-toned stained glass and letter stamps, you'll have everything you need to make a unique decoration for your employer's garden. Kit includes plastic reusable stepping stone mold, seven pounds of stepping stone mix, recycled stained glass pieces, letter stamps, mixing and writing tools, and easy to follow instructions.
1. Be the Best Nanny Newsletter $10
2. Working Mother $10
3. Parenting Magazine $10
Mom's Ultimate Family Organizer
This comprehensive, one-stop organizer is an essential tool for the busiest person of them all -- mom! Inside the sturdy binder is a system for managing motherhood: calendar pages to keep track of family members' schedules, directory pages to locate everyone from the kindergarten teacher to the carpet cleaner, and planning pages for birthday parties or the family vacation. Helpful sticky notes and tear-out lists make it easy to stay organized, while survival tips and tricks from real moms offer encouragement. When life gets hectic, this binder is in control. This binder includes: a month-at-a-glance and week-at-a-glance calendar pages, fold-out summer break planner, catchall pockets, perforated tear-out lists and notes, and sticky notes.
Movie Date Night:
1. AMC gift card $25
2. Regal Entertainment Gift Card$25
Books for Parents:
1. Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change $18.96
2. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic: 101 Holiday Tales of Inspiration, Love, and Wonder $10.17
3. The Working Parents Cookbook: More Than 200 Recipes for Great Family Meals $10.36
What are you giving the kids you care for and the parents you work for this holiday season?