Holiday Gifts For The Real Girls In Your Life
Amidst an avalanche of Bratz dolls in hot tubs, designer fashion for pre-teens, and once-adventurous Dora the Explorer now selling princess castles and kitchenettes, the toy aisles can feel more than a little claustrophobic for parents of daughters. Do her a favor this holiday season. Don’t think pink. Help her imagine the world a little brighter and a little bigger than the same old stereotypes repackaged as pretty in pink fairies, cute little shoppers, and “hott” teens. When thinking of a daughter, a niece, or any little girl awaiting a gift this year, think of who she is, not who marketers want her to be.
Here are a few suggestions:
- If she’s a builder, if she likes puzzles. . .Instead of pink castle Legos that invite her to play at being saved by a prince, how about colorful K’nex or a build-your-own robot kit?
- If she’s an artist. . .Instead of a jewelry making or home decorating craft kit, consider pliers, wires, wire-cutter, beads, and a book about tribal art.
- If she likes to run around…Instead of a pair of low-rise pink sweats that say “Cheer Team” on the bottom, buy her real sweats that she can dirty up and that will last past three washes. If you’re able, how about tickets to a college or professional women's game, or a T-shirt with a real professional women’s sports team logo. And don’t forget to buy her a soccer or basketball so she can be her own role model!
- If she likes to go to the movies…Instead of the latest animated boy journey video from Disney or Dreamworks, check out the Miyazaki collection, with great choices like Spirited Away, Totoro, or Kiki’s Delivery Service.
- If she’s musical…Instead of watered down pop music by Kidz Bop or Disney’s latest teen star, buy her a video or CD of a favorite musical, like Little Orphan Annie or The Secret Garden. Or give her a new instrument. How about a harmonica and a CD of Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday singing the blues?
- If she loves to read… Instead of traditional princess storybooks, why not The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch? And, instead of books based on popular movies or chick lit filled with shopping, boys, and mean girls, consider the world of fantasy, like A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket with Violet, a girl inventor!. Girls slightly older might enjoy The Prophesy of the Stones by 15-year old(!) Flavia Bujor.
- If she asks for clothes…Instead of that "princess", "too cute", or "my best subject is social studies" T-shirt, how about a girl-positive T like " "Be your dream", "not intended for decorative use", “everyone is beautiful”, or "take up space".
- And if she’s going through that phase where she wants to do everything the older teen girls do… Instead of Girls’ Life, buy a subscription to New Moon Magazine. If she’s already a teen, instead of CosmoGirl! or Teen Vogue, buy her a subscription to Teen Voices. And don’t forget great magazines that have nothing to do with being a girl and everything to do with the things she loves, like National Geographic, Discovery, Creative Crafter, Art World, or a magazine from the Cricket Group.
Notice how this holiday gift list avoids dolls, beauty accessories, and shopping toys? It’s hard to do. But if a special little girl wants a doll, consider a colorful Groovy Girl with her own guitar or a set of multiethnic dollhouse dolls. And if beauty accessories are a must (but why must they be?), how about making your own soap and putting scents to it? Finally, if this little girl loves to shop, don’t invade her imagination with shopping toys; instead, leave her imaginative play be, and make shopping what it is – shopping. That is, give her a gift certificate!