Tag Archives: party favors for toddlers

Kraft Works

I will preface this post by saying that MJ is in the other room screaming — caterwauling, actually — to be let out of her crib. She’s supposed to be napping. She has concluded this is no longer necessary. I have begged — respectfully — to differ. I have told her she needs to stay in bed for the hour. As she is capable of screeching the phrase “Mama, I want to get up!” at a seismic volume for the entire time she’s there, it promises to be a hellish 60 minutes. Her voice could crack windows. Not to mention my sanity.

The point is, I won’t make it. So I’m going to be quick. And probably sloppy. You try blogging while your toddler screams bloody murder at you. Try doing anything, other than tearing your hair out. One grey piece. By one grey piece.

So quickly: Mom and I dropped MJ at preschool this morning and drove to Studio City to shop at our favorite kid’s clothing store, Entertaining Elephants. It wasn’t open yet, so we took a stroll down the block to see what else was there. This was how we stumbled into Kit Kraft. Talk about a lucky find.

Had I known about this place I would never, ever, have darkened the threshold of Michael’s last week. To say I hate the aforementioned is to not just put it mildly, but to hardly put it at all. I detest it. It makes me feel inferior, overwhelmed, and depressed all at once. The idea of a crafting store that is also a chain goes against common sense, as well as all of my instincts. My mom had a craft store in Brookyln in the 70’s. It was called By Hand. It was about 300 square feet, and contained fabric, beads, and hand-dyed yarn. Everyone who came in was: a Communist, covered in hair, and wearing only things they had made and dyed themselves.

That’s what a craft store should be.

Kit Kraft isn’t that, but it is definitely closer than Michael’s can ever hope to be. It’s clearly Mom and Pop, for one thing. It has the feel of a hardware store from the 80’s, but with feathers and beads instead of hammers and planes. Although it probably has those too. It’s smaller than Michael’s, so you don’t end up — like I did — wandering through the aisles muttering “How do I get out of here? How do I get out of here?” The inventory is awesome: disparate, comprehensive, and wide-ranging. (Don’t like those adjectives for that sentence? Think I fell asleep at the thesaurus? Give a try at composition when a toddler is keening at you in the next room. You’ll sound like English is your second language too).

Back to Kit Kraft. They seem to have everything there. I found Dover sticker books in every possible variety for the party gift bags (too bad they’re not scented, but you can’t have everything). Mom bought MJ some cute plastic animals. Then we spent fifteen minutes admiring the mind-boggling assortment of combat-related model sets they had, covering every war from the Peloponnesian to the Korean. (Yes, I looked for something Genghis Kahn-related. That was the one they didn’t have.)

So the next time I need a tiny model of a World War II tank, ostrich feathers in every conceivable color, any kind of dollhouse furniture, copper cut-outs in any imaginable shape, a model airplane, beads, stickers, or a life-sized fake human skeleton? Or if I just need a reminder that the world is not yet totally homogenized, that there are still pockets of originality and whimsy?

I will go there.

In the meantime? I’m going to MJ’s room. To surrender. Who needs Genghis Kahn when you have a three-year-old?




Poor Favor

Nothing is ever simple.

At someone’s suggestion — brilliant, I thought — I decided to get Beanie Babies for the kids’ gift bags. They’re “vintage” now, yet plentifully available. You can get them on ebay for about a buck apiece. So I ordered a mixed lot of 20. I have 16 kids coming. Plenty of room for error.

They just came.

They look good, but thank God I ordered extra. First, one of them had a small hole in his leg, out of which wee white beads trickle every time I move him. I could sew it up, but who am I kidding? I won’t. So he’s out. Then there are three — yes three! — owls wearing graduation hats. They’re cute — ish — but they say “Class of ’98” on them. Talk about dating yourself. That may seem quaint or collectible to someone in their thirties, but to a three-year-old it’ll just be weird. And alienating. If three-year-olds can be alienated. I know their parents can. So ixnay with the owlsnay.

The remaining sixteen dolls are cute — mostly assorted dogs and birds. I have to say, though, they smell musty. The way your fingers do after you go through the racks at a Salvation Army. They’re new with tags, and many of them are still wrapped in plastic, but nevertheless they’ve been stored in someone’s garage for, well, at least 13 years now. Their odor reflects this.

What to do?

I have decided to kill two birds — Beanie, of course — with one stone. I have placed the dolls in their individual party sacs to allow them to air out some in the next day or two. But I have also placed….wait for it…a clementine in each bag. What an old-fashioned, harmless, tasty, and — yes — aromatic addition! And hypoallergenic! I think.

Anyway. Hopefully in two days the dolls will smell more of citrus and less of a thrift store. As for the three owls? Perhaps I’ll stick them in my garage and get back to them in another fifty years. They could be worth a fortune.