Child’s play

Having children round to visit, or getting a present for a child you don’t know that well can be tricky – but I think I’ve found the answer.

Doodles at Lunch is a tear-off book of 36 slightly-larger-than-A4 paper placemats with lots of  activities on, such as colouring-in, dot-to-dot puzzles, etc. Parents can take a couple of mats and some felt tip pens with them when eating out or visiting friends, and they’ll keep the kids quiet for ooh, at least enough time for Mum to eat her main course in peace. There’s a ‘Doodles at Breakfast’ and ‘Doodles at Dinner’ book too and they’re suitable for children aged 4-11ish. They cost from £3.23 each, from

Otherwise, kids’ publisher Kutz do a series of cute little books called ‘Draw Thumb Things’, ‘Draw Thumb People’ and ‘Draw Thumb Animals’ which come with a little ink pad and a pen. Kids can make an inky thumb or finger print on a piece of paper, then use the pen to turn their prints into dogs, strongmen, tractors, etc. They’re around £4.48 each, also from – I’ve now got a couple in my cupboard for emergency child visits/birthdays.

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