Have you ever wondered what to get your friend who is a about to be a new foster parent? Have you asked them what you can pick up for them and they say, "Nothing. We are fine." But you and I both know that, even when we have a lot, it is still always so special when your tribe steps up and drops off something thoughtful.
So, after talking with a number of foster parent friends of mine I put together this list. It originally appeared in my Week One blog post from The Call to Love Book Club. I have since updated it and wanted to share it here as a post of it's own.
If you have a friend just starting out on their foster care journey, or if they have been in it for a few years, these items can be really helpful.
You might want to throw a Foster Shower for your friends, or just take care a few of the items yourself.
You can also set up a Meal Train or an Amazon wish list. But just know that however you help, it is appreciated. Even if we can afford to pick up some of these items ourselves, it is always better to do life in community. Fostering can sometimes feel so lonely, having a special gift from someone in our tribe can give us the strength to keeping following our call to step up and love on these children.
So here we go. My list of the best gifts for your fostering friends!
Snacks Stop by your local big box store and grab some snacks for your friends. Keeping a bin of non-perishable snacks for children of all ages can be helpful, esp in those first moments after arrival to help ensure bellies are filled as soon as possible. Think Goldfish, Cheerios, Granola Bars, etc.
Bubbles & Lotions When some children arrive one of the first things they need is a bath and a change of clothes. So, some really nice smelling bubble bath, shower gel and / or moisturizing lotions, for children of all ages and genders is a great gift. Consider getting the good stuff that is really moisturizing as some of the children that arrive will have skin sensitivities or very dry skin. And while you are at it... maybe some bubble bath for mom & dad!
Calming scents. Not everyone is into smells, but some folks (like us) really enjoy calming scents to help create a less anxious environment. If not for the children, then for the parents! I even have a diffuser for the car that releases Arbonne's Harmony essential oil to help with the odors and moods in my mom mobile. Check with the family and see if they would appreciate this gift of calming sprays, candles, essential oils, diffusers etc.
Night lights Children of all ages feel anxious their first night in a new home. Especially if they have been abused at night, it can be a scary time. A calming night light or even one of those that shines a cool design on the ceiling, can be very helpful. Some children will prefer to sleep with the lights on, so a gift of some energy efficient bulbs is also a great idea.
Small plastic cups & smaller eating utensils. It seems like kids go through a ton of cups throughout the day, esp if you have friends over. Having a cupboard of cups & water bottles to grab can be helpful. Depending on the age group your friends are open to, you may want to get a full range of sizes so that they are prepared.
Bedding The softer and more comfortable the better. These kiddos will be anxious, especially that first night and soft sheets and blankets will help. Also, a must have is a fully zippered mattress protector. I always recommend this so that the mattress is completely protected from any struggles your child may have in the night, or anything they may have brought with them (lice & bedbugs are not uncommon with foster children).
Pajamas A variety of styles and sizes are helpful to keep on hand. I cannot stress how nice it is to have these in soft textures. Just like you and I, if the kiddos are able to put on some cozy pjs, it helps them relax a little.
Gender neutral comfy clothes of all sizes. For example sweat pants, t shirts, under wear, etc for them to put on after the bath. Some kiddos don’t arrive with much so to have a couple cozy options to put on right away is helpful. Check in with your friends to find out what ages they are open to and then you will have an idea of the sizes they may need.
Tru Colour Bandages. They are a company we LOVE as they make band aids of multiple colours that will match most skin tones. Finally! If you are white you may not have realized that for some crazy reason, they have not made bandages in any colour other than beige! Looks discreet on my wounds, not so much on my kids. They are more costly than the ones we are used to seeing in the store, so if you wanted to get a variety pack for a new foster family who may be taking in a diverse group of children of various skin tones that could be helpful (esp if they arrive with any wounds). Check them out here.
Movie Night Supplies Most kiddos love movies and it’s a great way to spend time together when everyone feels nervous and a little awkward. So depending on the ages coming into their home buy them some popcorn cups or popcorn flavours, or anything that could make a first movie night fun.
Game Night Supplies As they are getting to know one another, a family game night can be a great way to laugh and connect. Buying them some games would be a great way to help them out (or maybe throw in some snacks and drinks to really make it a lot of fun!).
Storage bins For all the stuff you just got them! Bins for toys, bins for boots, and bins for all the stuff that piles up around the house when you have kids. Lots of foster families store clothing by sizes for easy access when a new placement arrives, so having them separated in bins can be really helpful. Consider using a storage bin as the box for your gift.
Hangers If your friend is taking in little children, they might appreciate little hangers. They are helpful to keep everything organized and not falling off the big hangers.
Adult Beverages Wine... lots and lots of wine! Haha. I joke... a little. But if your friends enjoy wine, dropping off a bottle or including one with your shower gift can be a appreciated on those stressful early days of parenting. But not just wine, also consider some caffeinated beverages to help them keep going during the day, or herbal teas to help them relax in the evening.
Encouragement cards. Maybe place an encouragement card inside your gift and request they wait to open it the first night they are fostering. Remind them of how you are there for them and that they are capable of doing hard things. If you are hosting a foster shower you could bring a pack of cards and have the guests fill them out at the event.
And... when in doubt, you can never go wrong with a gift card. Whether your friends are just starting out, or if they are well into their fostering journey, every loves a gift card!
Gift cards. They will need to make some shopping trips when the children arrive (for the stuff I missed on this list), or they may be exhausted and need to order some food to be delivered. In those moments using a gift card provided by you, will feel like you are in that moment with them. Think of...
Stores that sell children's clothing (even if the girls come with stuff now - they will be growing and the season is changing and kids socks last like a minute!) Places that offer children's activities (to jump, to bowl, to swim, etc)
Park district gift cards for them to go play, or to register for extracurricular activities
Family friendly restaurants (esp if they deliver).
Grown up restaurants (esp if they deliver) so they can have date nights after the kiddos are in bed.... Or just go for GrubHub!
Gas stations (for all the appointments they will now be driving to)
So here are my thoughts. I'd love to hear what you think is missing.
Have a fun party!