In 2009, ThinkGeek created a brilliant gift: the Star Wars Tauntuan Sleeping Bag. Imagine your Star Wars fan seeking warmth from the inside of a mounted tauntaun — without the stench — as seen in The Empire Strikes Back. The problem: it was an April Fool’s Joke. You couldn’t really order it from ThinkGeek.
But the masses spoke, blogged, tweeted and emailed, and the prank became a present, thanks to licensing from LucasFilms. You’ll find this plush Tauntaun sleeping bag, with lightsaber zipper pull and printed internal intestines, for $100 at ThinkGeek.
So I knew exactly what to get my Star-Wars-fanatical, five-year-old nephew this year for his birthday. And he loved it. The gift was so well received, his seven-year-old sister cried because she wanted something so great. I didn’t see that coming. But I did believe their father, a devout Star Wars fan, would be driven to tears of joy.
I never went to summer camp. So I’m living vicariously through my 10-year-old niece. Today she embarks on a week of hiking and horseback riding, campfires and canoeing, and s’mores and swimming. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about the summer heat, mosquito bites, pouring rain, poison ivy, cabin chores and creaky bunk beds. But I imagine she might feel homesick, so she will receive a summer camp care package from her Uncle Gift Giving Guy and Savvy Auntie (tm). I browsed several sites for summer camp gifts and chose Beyond Bookmarks, which offers the “funner size” of the Camp Life care package for Teens and Tweens. This summer camp gift package includes:
- Chucknuka Uglydoll in purple
- Hangman travel game by Magnetic Poetry
- Waterproof playing cards
- Carabiner (clip-on) pen
- 16-ounce water bottle
- Lip balm with sunscreen
- Clip flashlight (with batteries included)
- Mosquito repellent wrist band
- Glow necklace
- Water squirting frog toy
- Beach Safe waterproof storage tube on a lanyard
- Green bandanna (which doubles as wrapping instead of tissue paper)
- Fill-in-the-blank thank you note
You can customize your care package with add-on items like an autograph pillowcase with black fabric marker, friendship bracelet kits, binoculars, glow sticks and seek-a-word puzzle books. If you want to treat your camper’s cabin mates, add in a small gift for them when you order the care package. Before you order from Beyond Bookmarks, make sure you have the shipping address and the phone number for the summer camp. If the camp only uses a post office box, select U.S. Postage Service for shipping. (UPS cannot ship to a P.O. box.) If camp is a few weeks away, you can schedule delivery for a future date. Don’t forget to add a personal gift tag message. From your shopping cart, click the red “Add Gift Tag Message” button. Type in the “to” and “from” names. You have a 100-character limit on your gift message.
I can’t wait for the letter from camp from our niece.
Yes, Virginia, I was Santa Claus at age nine. I put on my snow boots, winter coat and red hat. I wadded cotton balls into a beard and Scotch-taped it to my face. Then I surprised my sister and brothers, taking my place in the living room’s big chair. Each sibling sat on my lap and told me what they wanted for Christmas. I’ve always loved playing Santa to kids, and now I get to re-live being Santa with my nieces and nephews. Here’s what I gave them this Christmas.
For the nieces:
For the nephews:
Today my nine-year-old niece stuffed a monkey; my seven-year-old nephew, a Jack Russell terrier. And they loved it, thanks to Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear). This toy store, found in family-friendly malls, lets children create personalized teddy bears and stuffed animals, step by step. Here’s some advice from an uncle who delighted two Guest Bear-Builders.
- Build-A-Bear is more than teddy bears. Choose from dogs, cats, bunnies, leopards, tigers and other zoo favorites.
- If the kids are older than three or four, they will likely enjoy the bear building experience more. Younger kids may want the pre-built stuffed animals and might find the noise from the bear stuffing machine intimidating.
- Before you go, check online for printable coupons (such as $5 off a purchase of $25 or more).
- Prepare yourself for puns: “a beary pawsome experience you’ll always remembear!”
- Set a price limit ($30, $40 or $50 per stuffed animal) before visiting the store. For starters, the Marble Monkey cost $18 and the Jack Russell terrier was $22.
- The extras are why you’ll want a price limit. Adding a sound effect to the stuffed animal runs between $4 (for a dog bark or monkey eep) to $8 (to record a personalized message). Clothes and accessories range from $2 to $13.50. My niece picked the tie-dye two-piece outfit ($12.50) and my nephew selected the Harley-Davidson black leather jacket ($12) and denim shorts ($5). We skipped the shoes.
- When creating the birth certificate, you can skip the personal information like home address, kid’s date of birth, phone number and e-mail. On the other hand, providing a home address will allow Build-A-Bear to return lost stuffed animals.
- The stuffed animals come in great packaging called Cub Condos, a cardboard house that kids can color.
- The fun continues online. My niece and nephew received an animal ID and key code to play at Build-A-Bearville.
Do you know a PANK? SavvyAuntie.com coined this acronym to describe the “Professional Aunt, No Kids” demographic. About 45% of U.S. women do not have children, and many aunts give gifts to nieces and nephews.
My wife is a PANK. So does that make me a PUNK (or at least a PUNKcle)? Whether you have kids or not, here are gifts we will give our young nieces and nephews for Christmas this year.