Kids gifts that will keep them (and you) cool.

Sports & Leisure Essay
Written by Nathan Mattise

I’ve been trying to steer my youngest sister towards the current and creative since she was born. For every Miley Cyrus or other Disney queen tune she’d like we’d slip Phantogram in there just the same.  Her easy bake oven escapades had to be filmed with The Flaming Lips as a soundtrack, her holiday cards are made as if she was an amateur typographer.  You can imagine there’s a lot of pressure to gift well when the occasion arises. No simple Barbie will do.

With sis’s BDay on the horizon, here are five children’s gifts I found while on the hunt. They’re all guaranteed to help the young one in your life stay edgy while making sure you stay cool to the ones who matter most.

Graffiti sketch pad set (via Uncommon Goods)

Everyone loves to draw and color, but everyone loves to draw and color more on unique surfaces (c’mon, big kids at Chuck’s or little kids on any table). Inspire someone to channel their inner Bansky in a completely legal way within the comfort of their own home. It’s a toy I’d certainly play with… which is probably why they run out of stock on occasion due to high demand.

Monster Comics (via Chronicle Books)

Similar to the first idea, drawing seems to always be a hit. These comics (plus!) are based on silly looking monsters (things that seem to be a plus for alternative folks as they age). The twist is that the magic pen will allow you to reveal some of them in the backgrounds while also creating your own.

Little Hero Capes

Self-explanatory. They’re customizable with a variety of shapes or initials to put on the back and choose-your-own color schemes. Hero bracelets and masks also available.

Make your own ukulele kit (via Uncommon Goods)

Instruments always go over big even if they may drive a parent or two crazy.  The ukulele kit scores big for the fact kids can design it to their liking and that a ukulele is one-size fits all (it’ll be cooler then dusting off a recorder in their late teens).

Highlights for Kids magazine

Yes, you can get it delivered to somewhere besides a dentist office. It’s a practical gift because kids love getting mail (oh yeah, and because it has good brain teaser and informative essays at various reading levels too). It also has benefits such as supporting an old, independent publisher devoted to children’s entertainment, providing a child with ample ammunition for some nostaglia afternoons down the road… and supporting the print media for those of us still dreaming of working within it one day.

Update (2-26-11): Check out the Little Hero Cape in action

(Links today from stores listed above, Coolhunting gift guide 2010 and Dwell.com)

If you have other cool gifts for kids, e-mail them in. I have some BDay shopping to finish in the very near future.
Sports & Leisure Essay
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