Here’s a gift just for moms and dads: a shopping guide specifically tailored to the needs of the most frazzled and time-strapped among us.
We asked Scout’s friendly local parenting expert, “Mom Knows Best” columnist and former executive director of Somerville Local First Kat Rutkin, to track down the best gifts for kids of all ages at a few of her favorite shops. Some are practical, others are purely fun, but all are guaranteed to inspire big imaginations in the smaller residents of our city.
By Kat Rutkin
The best baby gift in town, still, is the ever-popular Somerville onesie. It’s never too early to start in on city pride. And these are custom made for Magpie, so your baby can be a proud local and a trendsetter. Magpie, $24
FRIENDLY TOYS WOODEN HELICOPTER
Many small kids are already familiar with the Herb Chambers helicopter that’s known to whirr over Union Square. You can give them their own to keep forever thanks to this adorable little helicopter from Friendly Toys. It’s 100 percent natural, biodegradable and safe for children. Loyal Supply Co., $27
PADMINI IS POWERFUL
Published by Bharat Babies—a company founded by Somerville mom and constant inspiration Sailaja Joshi— Padmini is Powerful is a beautifully illustrated introduction to Hindu Gods in a baby-friendly board book format. Bharat Babies books are available at Magpie Kids and Porter Square Books and are totally charming. Learn more about Sailaja in our recent interview with her! Magpie Kids, $9.95
PLAN TOYS KITCHEN SET
This tiny kitchen is non-toxic, biodegradable and comes with pans and a spatula. But the best part is that it’s tastefully decorated, and the product dimensions are only 12 x 7.2 x 11.3 inches. Big fun in a pint-sized package. $69.95, Magpie KidsSEEDLING MAKE YOUR OWN SUPERHERO CAPE
If there’s anything cuter than a kid in a superhero cape, it’s a kid in a superhero cape they designed themselves. Unleash the superhuman creativity of the children in your life with this great Seedling set. $39.95, Magpie Kids
BOBA MINI DOLL CARRIERS
Cute, tiny versions of a baby carrier—just like mom or dad wears!—for your little one’s stuffed animals and dolls. (Replicating parental exhaustion is optional.) $29.95, Diaper Lab
What’s that saying? “Be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn?” Now you (or your kid, I guess) can be both. These come in a variety of colors to accommodate all unicorn styles, and are held on with elastic so your mythical creature can be truly hands free. $14, Magpie Kids
BROOKLYN BOULDERS KIDS ACADEMY PASSES
For an after school or weekend activity that’s sure to please active kids, look no further than the Brooklyn Boulders Kids Academy. Passes for two-hour, kid-focused climbing and team-building sessions can be used for drop-in or scheduled visits. I don’t know if this is a better gift for kids or the parents who arrive to pick up their worn out kiddos at the end of the session. Brooklyn Boulders, starts at $49 for a one-day pass
This story of a third-grader named Amal is perfect for kids learning about different cultures, holidays and traditions. Like Padmini is Powerful, Amal’s Eid is published by Bharat Babies. $19.95, Magpie Kids
OPINEL LE PETIT CHEF
Fans of Montessori learning methods will tell you that even very small children can be involved in daily cooking activities around the house. This set is both practical for small hands and incredibly beautiful, and teaches correct knife skills. (In our family, that might just make our kindergartener the most skilled chef in the house.) $50, Loyal Supply Co.
CLASSES AT CRAFTWORK SOMERVILLE
This crafter- and maker-space on Highland Avenue regularly hosts classes for kids ages eight and up, including Monday Crafternoons, a semester-long afterschool program that meets weekly and features rotating teachers who cover book-binding, screen printing, eco-dying and much more. Prices vary, www.craftwork.rocks
EEBOO 1008 PIECE PUZZLE
This puzzle has no “correct” side to complete—either one can be done for the fun of it! Interesting patterns on both sides make hours of puzzle fun for the whole family. $17.99, Magpie Kids
SPIROGRAPH DRAWING SET
These things are hours of fun for kids of any age, really. I often fight my son for a turn with his. This set also comes with four pens to mix up designs, providing hours of entertainment! $12, Loyal Supply Co.
SUMMER LULU JEWELRY
Becoming a mom isn’t the end of your fashionable days, even if you occasionally end up buying your clothes where you buy your food. (Guilty!) Summer Lulu accessories are the ultimate in multitasking, serving as both jewelry and teethers. The company was started by a Cambridge mom, and the necklaces are made by moms, for moms (and kids). They’re beautiful and safe for baby to chew on, as they’re made of food grade silicone—just like a pacifier—and come in a variety of styles and sizes. And they’re not just good for moms and babies; kids with sensory issues can use these as well. Summer Lulu is the very proud official chewelry of the American Autism Association! Prices vary, available at Magpie Kids, Two Little Monkeys and online at summerlulu.com
SAKURA BLOOM SLINGS
These are a useful splurge for the new mom in your life, great for wearing newborns, babies and toddlers with beauty and grace.* They’re perfect to stow in the diaper bag or car for those moments when you need an extra pair of hands—and an extra dose of style to distract from the sleepless look. Available in silk and linen blends and in several gorgeous colors, every carrier sold at Diaper Lab comes with free babywearing assistance from a team of trained experts, as well as the emotional support of a team of experienced moms. $95 and up, Diaper Lab
*Grace not guaranteed, although the beauty of the sling makes up for that!
Give the gift of an experience! Membership to a local institution can provide hours of entertainment, and it’s something your favorite family might not think to purchase for themselves.
THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE is a local favorite—straddling the Charles River, the building literally bridges Boston and Cambridge. Family memberships start at $90, but for those who regularly visit by car, a premier membership offers two hours of free parking per visit and can save hundreds of dollars per year.
DRUMLIN FARM, a Mass Audubon Sanctuary just 25 minutes away in Lincoln, offers family memberships starting at $32. The staff is engaging, the displays are interactive and the size is manageable for smaller kids—but the best part is that they have little stools everywhere, so you don’t have to keep lifting your kid up to see the animals or use the sink. It’s the little things, really.
This story originally appeared in the November/December print edition of Scout, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Somerville (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.