As of this year, I DO!!!!
<-------- See that over? That right there is the (now) beloved Birthday Box.
Just a little background of the inspiration behind this: I have DREAMED of the day when I would not be a first-year teacher or a new college grad or newly in the adult "real world" and I am delight to report I am finally NOT in any of those places.
Now, before I sound too big for my britches and all, "I am SO MUCH OLDER now and it is SO AMAZING being SO MUCH OLDER now!!!" understand my reasoning which is completely logical. Coming out of college, starting a career job - you are just in the stages of trying to establish yourself/your life! There are bills to pay that you never knew existed and could anticipate, there are fun things that you discover you would like to do but can never afford (even sometimes) because you are paying all of those aforementioned bills, there are... well... you get my drift - I'm sure - and maybe even you identify with me?
So, the point is: when you are there in that place, you don't have very much disposable income. Now this isn't so much a problem for me because (believe it or not) I don't enjoy shopping that much unless I actually have a purpose or as I like to call it a shopping CHALLENGE. What falls in this category? Gift giving!!! I pride myself on being an AMAZING finder/shopper and giver of gifts. Now, this doesn't have to be anything expensive or even totally obscure or unique but much more the most appropriate gift for anyone that they would most appreciate in the time when the gift-receiving moment occurs - be it a milestone birthday, the fact that they are getting ready to go on a trip, etc. etc. etc.
So where am I going with all of this? OK. Here it is: I DON'T like to shop to indulge myself but I DO like to indulge myself to shop for other people and find them the "perfect" gift. Basically, this means that my "love language" is giving/receiving gifts. Surprisingly, it has taken me a while to recognize, accept, AND embrace this but I finally have and I am learning to have fun.
OK. So do you remember going to the doctor or dentist office when you were little and IF you did OK with your appointment (or didn't for that matter and needed some incentive to, you know... like, stop screaming bloody murder and scaring all of the other patients being treated? Anyway...) there was a treasure box at the end full of novelties? Well, I wanted to have a bit of the same type of thing in the art room BUT not make it conditional so that nobody would have to be excluded. At the same time? There has to be some kind of structure with this prize box but still? I didn't want it to be so crazy that it was counterproductive and made the prize box not as much fun. I wanted there to be a little bit of anticipation about it! I wanted them to really REALLY look forward to that day when they were allowed to dig freely in the amazingness that IS The Birthday Box.
So? (To make my long story about pretty much nothing important even longer) The Birthday Box makes it so everyone gets to pick from it eventually BUT(!) they have to wait until their birthday. And what's in The Birthday Box? Well, ONLY the coolest erasers currently known to man: THE IWAKO ERASER. Never heard of them? Well, while the name might imply that they just erase things, they are much MUCH more than that. They are from Japan and popular with school children because they are actually three-dimensional puzzles that help to exercise fine motor skills. So fun... so fun!
I discovered these last year when I was planning my preschool daughter's birthday party and I wanted to do something fun but not totally five-minute toy-ish cheap and unforgettable like so many things that are in the favor aisle at Party City. I found out that while you can buy these for a buck a piece at places like Michael's or AC Moore, there usually aren't very many types to choose from AND sometimes you accidentally buy imitation IWAKO made of completely subpar rubber and with bad puzzle design. (I am always a critic of things.)
So, I did lots and lots of research and I found that I could buy them in bulk on ebay and save as much as 50% off the retail price!!! Basically, the more you buy? The more save. Here is an assortment (that they decide) of 200...
Something else about buying in bulk assortments? You are more likely get to cool (or rare as the collectors like to call them) IWAKO that are way more interesting than the cutesy animals that they always sell in Michaels and AC Moore. In my shipment of IWAKO that I opened today I found some of these fun ones...
Here are some of the really unique ones I found among the assortment I just pick up from the mailroom:
- A pair of pink shoes
- Noodle bowls that has a lid and probably something fun inside of it
- A pink cupcake
- A fire extinguisher
- Food type items of the dessert sort
- Dinner plates
- A yo-yo that has real string to try it out
- A top that has real string to try it out
- A different kind of panda bear than the usual design
- An type of Japanese ice cream sandwich that looks like a fish (these really exist and they are SO good!!)
- A blue hedgehog
- An anime type tiger
I introduced The Birthday Box to the classes this week so summer birthdays (as well as the current week's birthdays) could have a go at picking their favorite eraser and so far it is a BIG hit. Funny enough, the boys are the ones who are loving it more than the girls in that they are taking longer than the girls!!! One of my boys, a senior who is one of the star basketball players, actually took 20 minutes total picking the one he wanted and that involved trading what he had back in THREE TIMES. Too funny... and completely cute (I think).
Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes with The Birthday Box but my estimation is that it will continue to be well received as my calendar of birthdays has me getting it out so often that I just about have to carry it from class to class with me because that's how many birthdays there are. I am perfectly willing to do that though.