My daughter was four when we met. She had her own ideas, her own likes and dislikes, and her own preferences for clothing, toys, and everything else. And my friends wanted to throw me a baby shower. I aimlessly wandered the aisles of a big box store, trying to build a registry for a little girl I barely knew. Luckily, I have smart friends who tackled that registry and also thought outside the baby shower box. Have you been invited to an adoption shower for an older child? Here are some gift ideas for when cute little baby toys don’t cut it:

Give your expertise.

I became mama to a baby with a full head of hair and little tolerance for imperfection. Luckily, I had a few friends with expertise in this area. One of my friends traveled several hours to style my daughter’s hair, bringing products and accessories with her. Another friend gave me a basket of hair goodies and a homemade coupon for ongoing styling lessons. These adoption gifts were lifesavers.

Maybe you don’t know how to style hair. That’s okay. You know how to do something, though. Bring food. Offer to run errands. Babysit. Give piano lessons.

Give experiences.

Sometimes bonding and attachment comes easily with older children. And sometimes it takes a bit more work. Consider giving the gift of “quality time” for the child and her parents. My daughter and I received a gift certificate to a paint-your-own pottery studio that allowed us to spend fun afternoon chatting and being creative together (plus souvenirs to remember the experience). Another great gift we received was a scrapbook kit complete with book, paper, and stickers. After our first vacation, we spent many hours working together to add photos and text to this scrapbook. It became a treasure that my daughter still likes to share. Museum or zoo passes and tickets to sporting events or concerts may also be good options.

Give books for later.

One of my wise friends included a bag of hand-me-down books with our adoption gift. Most of these books were far above my daughter’s reading level (and attention span) at the time. But I tucked them away, and sure enough, my daughter was itching for chapter books in no time. Every time I went excavating in my closet for a “new” book to read at bedtime, I was reminded how many people care about my family. It was like getting 20 presents, all spread out over the course of several years.

Give “part of the story” gifts.

One of my most treasured adoption gifts was a “mom” mug from my own mother. She had reserved this mug for her morning tea for years. No one else was allowed to use it! This was a beautiful gift of affirmation from her that I love and now reserve for my morning coffee.

Some of my daughter’s favorite gifts are things that used to belong to me. Old Christmas tree ornaments and jewelry remind dredged up from basement storage remind her that she is an important part of our ongoing family story.

Did you give (or receive) any of these gifts at an adoption shower for an older child? What would you add to this list?