Kiddie Koncierge: Cool Gift Ideas
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Kiddie Koncierge is the SF
Bay Area's premier resource
for fun, interesting, unique,
and creative kids activities.

We provide
recommendations, reviews,
and resources on all sorts of
fun things to do in San
Francisco, Berkeley/Oakland,
San Jose, Marin, and beyond!

Looking for some interesting and different gift ideas for family and
your kids?  We have a few new ideas and we'll be adding more as
the days get shorter.  These gift ideas are also good for birthdays
and other special occasions.

Stocking Stuffers
Looking for something to round out a stocking for your child?  Live
in the East Bay or just happen to be there?  How about Hot Wheels
for $0.70 each?  Go to the
Ace Hardware at 2145 University
Avenue in Berkeley about a block from campus
.  Head
downstairs to the hobby area and check out the bin on the stairs.  
They have a dizzying array of these little diecast cars.  We use 'em
for grab bags, stocking stuffers or a little add-on to a gift.  You
could use them for party favors.

Personalized Books - Photo albums, cookbooks, etc.
Why send snapshots or weblinks to someone who doesn't use the
Internet?  Half of our relatives don't or won't use the web. Our
solution?  There are a plethora of sites around offering great
looking photo books from your digital photos at a reasonable price
(from $10 on up depending on number of pages and cover styles).  
We have been doing this for gifts for a couple of years now and
they come out great.  We have regularly used
Shutterfly.  While
some like
Blurb, we have not been as pleased with their templates
and product. Yes, you do have some more degrees of freedom
with Blurb, the end result still looks and feels better with Shutterfly
in our opinion.   Also, Blurb makes you download and app and
uploading pictures can be combersome.

Make a cool, professional yearbook on what the family has been
doing all year.  At around $30, it isn't cheap but it is highly personal
and you can create your own look and feel. It takes a couple of
hours of work to select your favorite pix, upload, and organize them,
but once you are done, it is easy to send them direct or send them
to yourself for distribution.  It is also easy to save different versions
of the same book (just copy the book add a page or two and call it
something else).  Right now, Shutterfly has special offers including
free shipping and 50% off additional orders of your book (So, order
one.  Ship.  Get the discount on all the rest of your books).  

Custom Christmas Tree Ornaments
We have been doing this for as long as our child has been able to
pick up a brush.  We now have a new ornament every year for our
tree!  The glass balls are very inexpensive at Michaels or some
other craft store and glass paints or pens are also inexpensive.  
After all is said and done, the per unit cost is probably less than
$5, but the sentimental value return far exceeds the market (not
saying much nowadays!).

California Academy of Science Gift Memberships
These are great gifts for a number reasons: 1) It is a great value
(unlimited free admission to one of the best museums around,
members hours, free lectures and more) and 2) it is
100% tax
.  Yes, you read correctly, tax deductible.  In this day and
age, how many gifts can say that?  There are three caveats:  1) it is
not cheap.  Memberships start at $99.  2) It is not flashy.  It will look
a little lame against the American Girl doll or chemistry set. Good
luck trying to explain the long term view to your child.  3) kids under
6 get in free, so this is a family thing.   
org/join/membership/  For that matter, any museum or zoo
membership makes a great gift.  Print out our
Reciprocity Guide
and attach it so that they can get an idea of just what their
membership can really do.

Experiential Gifts
After a while, there is just so much stuff that one can have.  Either
there is just not enough room or you just don't want to add another
layer to the landfill.  We know that a lot of our grandparents just
don't want anymore stuff, so one year, we gave them a cool
experience.  One idea was to take them on a Safari.  No, we didn't
fly them to Tanzania.  Rather, we drove them to Santa Rosa and
took them to
Safari West.  You ride around a vast expanse of
hillside in jeeps and get upfront and personal with all manner of
grazing beasts.  Once your ride is over, you can visit their beautiful
aviary, their other animal exhibits and have a nice lunch or spend
the night!  Other animal-oriented experiences that are off the
beaten path include the
Shambala Preserve near L.A..  Shambala
is actress Tippi Hedren's (yes, from the Birds) labor of love to save
exotic pets, circus, and zoo animals from neglect or someother
fate.  It is a truly special place.  Once a month, they open their
facility to tours.  For 3 hours you can visit their little Eden.  
Unfortunately, it is only for adults (18 and older) but it is a great gift
for that relative or friend who has everything.  For tour information,
visit and click on the "Tour" button.

Book Exchanges
This is more of a birthday party thing.  One of our readers came up
with this idea because their kids were inundated with stuff on their
birthdays, so they were seeking a way to downplay the consumer
orgy while allowing everyone to come away with something.  The
idea is this:  
no gifts, no goodie bags.  You instead ask the guests
to bring a book to share.  The guests drop a book in a basket when
they arrive and take a different book when they leave.  The kids
actually love it.  Bear in mind, not all kids will buy off on this.  It is
also easier to start with this concept before the kids are old
enough to know the difference.  We have done this two years
running and it has been highly successful.  Not to worry, our child
gets lots of great toys and other things from parents and relatives.

That’s it for now!
Kiddie Koncierge Cool Gift Ideas
Updated November 15th, 2010
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