I know the “no gifts” children’s birthday parties are really popular right now, but I believe the act of gift-giving plays an important role in childhood: it trains children to be thoughtful (and also gives them confidence when walking into a birthday party!.) But I don’t think it’s necessary to spend $20-30 on every classmate’s birthday party. Today I am sharing a gift that’s inexpensive, cute, and still very thoughtful!
One of my favorite go-to gifts is a sketchbook and colored pencils. Coloring books are great, but my children get bored so quickly with them. Their sketchbooks allow them to be more creative, plan better, and feel more like an artiste! Now please know that I have no background in art, I was just encouraged by my daughters’ school to get a sketchbook for each child in our family and have seen the beauties and benefits of doing this for the past few years.
Here are some ways children can use sketchbooks:
1. They can take them to a local art museum and sketch a painting or sculpture.
Most art museums these days are incredibly welcoming to children and sometimes even offer sketchbooks on site. This is a great way to expose children to art without drowning them in it (i.e. showing them flashcards of Van Gogh and Picasso doesn’t really give the same effect as actually trying to sketch these masterpieces.) This is a also an great activity for grandparents to take a grandchild to do. It’s quiet, low-key, but still enjoyable for everyone involved.
2. They can bring their sketchbooks along to the park/playground, errands, and restaurants for entertainment.
My friend Amy gave me this idea and I now do it: She brings sketchbooks when they go out to dinner as a family and when her children get whiney or bored, she brings them out and suggests that they draw a painting in the restaurant (albeit sometimes a really cheesy one, but who cares!). Mine love rising to this challenge, too. And it’s so much more appealing than breaking out the iPads;).
We even gave our two year old her own sketchbook during our recent car trip. She LOVED being like her older sisters while scribbling alongside them.
3. They can practice self-portraits or sketch their siblings.
Makes for some good laughs when they sketch each other!
Another activity when you need a little quiet in the house : send them in the backyard (or sit with them if they are young) and have them sketch a tree or a bird or anything they see. Drawing nature helps them appreciate it more. Be sure to date the sketches, too, so you can remember when they sketched what. They will love looking back through at their masterpieces!
I’m sure all your artistic people out there will have more sketchbook ideas in the comments below (please share!) but now you know why I think giving a sketchbook is a great little birthday gift. You can pick one up at Target or order on Amazon (links below) and can get creative with what you pair with them: colored pencils, markers, a book about art (recommendation from my daughters’ art teacher below) or museum tickets are some fun ideas.
I waited to the last minute on this particular gift so I printed out some fun resources from the Dallas Museum of Art’s website, which – like I’m sure many big museums do – provides several themed guides with ways to explore the museum with children (like finding paintings with “dogs” or art with “mysteries” behind them).
This children’s sketchbook gift is nothing fancy, and seriously only cost about $7 to put together, but I think it still turned out cute and appropriate for a classmate.
Hopefully the mom didn’t think I was super cheap! It’s the thought that counts, right? I hope so!
P.S. If you live in or plan to visit Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art always has free admission for everyone and the Nasher Sculpture has free admission for children under 12. A great activity on hot summer days!
See more creative gift ideas for children here.
Southern Stationery calling card.
Top/legging shorts: Hanna Andersson (sold out).
Sketchbooks and More: