COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Help with birthday gift to 7 year old German Grand Daughter, please.

Help with birthday gift to 7 year old German Grand Daughter, please.

Old May 31st, 2017, 01:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,838
Help with birthday gift to 7 year old German Grand Daughter, please.

We will be in Europe in September when our Grand Daughter will turn seven. She lives in Germany, and her Dad, my Son, lives in Belgium just over the border from Aachen (long story). We are at a loss at what to get her that will not get lost and forgotten among all of the "stuff" she already has. I suppose the Hope Diamond would make a lasting impression, but we really like to give "experiences", rather than "things". "Things" get stuck in boxes or in a drawer and are soon out of sight, out of mind, while "Experiences" can stay with you all of your life.

Can any of you suggest either experiences or things that might fit the bill? Horseback riding lessons? Balloon rides? Educational trips? Children's camps? Children's concert/theater series? Any and all contributions accepted for consideration!

I hope that Woinparis reads this, as he is Belgian and has kids, but I have the utmost confidence in the depth of insight and experience of the Fodorites on this Forum that will result in some ideas.

Thanks in advance.
nukesafe is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,680
I know it is a "thing" rather than an experience, but if she likes dolls, then take her an American Girl doll. If one has her name, then get that one. If not, get the Girl of the year, or get one that looks like your GD. It will be a bit of a pain, but take it in the box. If you are close enough to a store, get a red AG paper bag.

Then, at the Dollie and Me web site, get some matching outfits for her and the doll.

I was so opposed to the hype, and the expense, but it was what she really wanted, so I took my Granddaughter to the AG store in NYC and got the doll of the year for her birthday. I have never seen her happier and she treats that doll as if it were a real friend, takes it absolutely everywhere from Doctor to cruises.

The dolls are extremely well made and hold up to real play. Your GD is a perfect age for it. Don't get the smaller Wellie Wishers. Get a regular AG doll. I am well aware that there are wonderful dolls in Germany, but the AG dolls are unique and worth every penny. DD is giving her another one for her birthday this Summer.
Sassafrass is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 02:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,838
Knowing nothing about dolls, this came as a surprise, Sassafrass. The idea of dolls never entered my male mind. Now that I have looked at the web site your suggestion has gone to the top of the "things" list.

nukesafe is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 03:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 183
What a great suggestion! My daughters (now both in their 20's) each had an American Girl doll that they cherished. Both dolls are currently safely packed away to save for their own possible future daughters.
KayTKay is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 624
I remember very little of my experiences as a 7 year old, although some odd bad experiences do seem to have burned themselves into my memory. But I remember my doll, that's for sure (her name was "Laura") and I remember some fun games and toys. My grandmother bought me a rather challenging toy where I had to manipulate knobs to steer a ball bearing through a maze -- I'm sure they don't make it anymore, but just telling you that I had for years and I bet I would still play with it if I had it (somebody probably threw it away when I moved from home ;(

Of course it is always a risk that a present will be a dud, at any age. But I think showing up with a big wrapped up "thing" is the best strategy -- and of course take her for a special treat to someplace that's wow. If there is a revolving restaurant somewhere near by at the top of something, they can be fun. Think "touristy" to the max.
frencharmoire is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,680
If you have any questions about the AG dolls, just ask.
Sassafrass is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 09:22 PM
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 2,302
Hi nuke.
Our last one is 7.
She loves 'bricolage'.
The last one she likes quite a lot is a box that makes chocolate. Shapes and mixes.
Dolls playmobils books are things that make her home look like a toy supermarket but she always likes it.
I brought back books in Romanian or such exotic languages and she liked them.
I suppose your grand-daughter speaks both French and English so a book in English that tells ministiries to be read by grand-dad before going to sleep would be appreciated too.
If all else fails give her a free visit to a dentist. ;-)
WoinParis is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 11:01 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,838
With her own chocolate factory she certainly will need a dentist, Wo!
nukesafe is offline  
Old May 31st, 2017, 11:24 PM
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 2,302
Good ! So she can say hello to my sister in law.
You can also take her to a very big swimming pool with water slides etc that is close by. It is in Netherlands I think but about half an hour drive. I went only once but the kids loved it.
Your son must know where it is.
WoinParis is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 02:15 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 96
Just a thought that if she is growing up in Europe, the American Girl dolls may not mean much, if anything, to her.

There are a number of amusement and water parks which she would probably enjoy.

But the obvious answer is to check with your son and/or the girl's mother. They know her. We don't.
Greenway is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 03:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,203
I think the thing with the American Girl dolls is that they can be personalized to a great extent. My granddaughter wanted one badly, and I initially said "No!" for the same reasons Sassafrass has given. But my husband talked me into it, and it was her very favorite doll for years. She's now 12, and I don't know if the doll has been put away, but the last time we saw her, at Christmas, the doll still went everywhere with her. You can also buy matching outfits for child and doll, but these cost a lot less if you buy them elsewhere.

We tried to get a doll that looked like my granddaughter, rather than one with her name. We were able to get a close match of hair and skin shade, and, since she had just got eyeglasses for the first time, we also got eyeglasses for the doll.

It's true that every child of her age in the US had at least one American Girl doll, and I don't know how much that influenced her love for this doll, but I think a good part of it was that it's not a doll that walks or talks or sings or asks you questions; it's just a doll, well made, that can somewhat resemble you and that you can use your imagination to play with.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 05:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 2,302
All the more a good idea. I don't think we know what an american doll is over here.
My daughter has 54 barbies, 36 walt Disney, 45 ? etc.
WoinParis is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 754
If it was me (I was 7 not long ago ) I'll choose Experience Trip, or Horseback riding lessons, because those things intrigue children (and even adults) to a highest extent. You don't need anything too expensive or fancy, a visit to some weaving atelier, or ceramic atelier, or chocolate atelier, where she could participate and shape her own things, would be very much appreciated. 7 is the age when the child really want to be in "action", and explore the "real" things and not just some toys. That's based on what I saw on 7 years old children around me.

For example, my experience in a chocolate atelier where I could paint a chocolate fish and brought it home:

Wo's idea of bricolage, or cooking box, is good too.

If it was me, I would also love books. I remember I read short poems and tragic folktales (lol) at 7. At 8 I read war novels. There's nothing that say a girl can't love war novels, so you may want to know your granddaughter's book preference before buying.
FuryFluffy is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,203
Here is one, Wo, and she loves Paris!


They're not very pretty, but maybe that's part of the reason why an average little girl likes them.

I refused to buy Barbie dolls for my daughters. I told my oldest daughter that I didn't want any dolls in the house that had a bigger chest than I did. The next time we were in a toy store, I saw her examining the Barbie dolls one by one to see if any would pass muster.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 06:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,886
My younger daughter had two American Girl dolls - and at that time it was a pretty significant expense for our family budget to handle. She played with the dolls quite a bit - a few of her friends had them, too, so they were able to play together.

Now my two older granddaughters (6 and 8) have their own AG dolls, and despite all the high-tech "stuff" that is around, I think they do play with the dolls.
scdreamer is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 07:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 8,684
frencharmoire, for you. I had one too!
gomiki is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 07:57 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 8,684
nukesafe, my friend's grandchildren love this type of book. There are several you can get. He did a Christmas book. You read and record the story. The child will have a book that you are reading to her.
gomiki is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,056
I must say, the idea of recording a book or stories for her sounds brilliant, but as an uncle and great-uncle, I'd often run things by the parents first, just to see what might best fit the child's interests.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,680
That is the Grace doll and the exact one my GD loves so much. In the book, Grace goes to live in Paris. At first, she does not want to go, but while in Paris, she learns to speak French and makes lots of friends. In the end, she comes back to America and sets up a bakery. My little GD made a bakery out of an old drawer with cakes and things out of paper and clay, and we made a flower cart with small cups and tiny silk flowers. In a way, these dolls are an on-going experience. The doll travels. It has been on many trips, including two cruises. It goes to restaurants with us. It goes to school and has lessons. It goes to the Vet with us, and My GD is sewing clothes for it. We have made furniture, like an egg chair out of paper mache and a balloon. The doll gets sick and needs doctoring. The doll gets injured and requires surgery.

The doll grew on me. At first, I did not think it was a pretty doll, but the longer my GD plays with it, the more beautiful I think it is, and I realize that is part of the charm. The doll is simply a little girl. It does not set some outlandish standard of beauty of being skinny or looking like a grown model-like woman. Now I am a complete convert, and consider it the best money I have spent on anything for my GD.

These used to be American history dolls, but now they have dolls of all nationalities. They have stores in Canada and Mexico and there is one store in London that now carries them, and they are shipping world wide. It is big business, and I hate that, but I do like the dolls, and you do not have to buy all the expensive stuff they sell.

Nukesafe, can you do both? A great gift and some experience with you?
Sassafrass is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2017, 09:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,838
I think I am convinced that the doll is a lovely and meaningful way to go and, in addition, I will work with Son to make some sort of experience activities possible. I have looked on the American Girl site, and I can choose a doll and accessories which they will ship to Belgium, so her Dad can hide it so it will be waiting when we arrive.

I'm afraid I'm a bit creaky now, at 86, to even attempt to keep up with a seven year old on any sort of expedition, but being able to know she is doing some memorable activity that I made possible will be enough for me.

I thank you all for your most valuable and thoughtful inputs. I knew I could count on you guys.
nukesafe is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information