Ask-Design-Mom Question:

Dear Design Mom, we are looking for a meaningful gift for our soon-to-be one year old boy’s birthday. Since he is the fourth child, we have many toys that he is content to play with. Same with clothes. We want to give him something that will be fun to open and play with on his birthday — something that is unique and age-appropriate as well. Any suggestions? — Kathryn

Design Mom Answer:
What a great question, Kathryn. Thanks for sending it in. There are so many neato toy stores around these days, that my first instinct was to send you somewhwere like Zebra Hall or Mahar Dry Goods or Craftsbury Kids (all excellent establishments by the way). But then I gave it some more thought and reminded myself that the wants of a one-year-old are pretty darn simple. I have tried many different first-birthday gifts over the years — for my own kids and for children of friends — but I think the best one was received on Ralph’s first birthday.

My sister-in-law Traci who was already a experienced mother at this point, brought him a shiny, mylar helium balloon on a ribbon, with a small weight attached to keep the balloon from floating away.

I could see within minutes of the balloon’s arrival that Traci was a super-genius-gift-giver. Ralph sat on the grass and used the string to pull the balloon down and then release it for a half an hour — a long-time for a newly one-year-old. The balloon lasted for days and it’s charms never faded for Ralph. When it finally lost its float, I could discard it with no guilt and without having to find a new home for it. Lovely. This kind of gift seems especially appropriate for a house like yours with plenty of toys.

Design Mom Readers, what are your favorite first-birthday gifts to give/receive?

balloon pic from getty images