The best gift for a five-year-old girl is one that matches her interests and developmental level. Whether that's fairy wings, an art kit or a set of model cars really depends on the girl in question. When shopping for a birthday gift for your favorite five year old, try to remember that there's really no such thing as "boy's toys" versus "girl's toys." Some girls love everything about fairies, horses and dolls; others prefer pirates, tigers and superheroes. She might be all princess all the time -- or she might hate pink. Tailor your gift to a girl's specific interest regardless of gender-coding and you're home free.
If the girl in question is indeed the kind of girly-girl who loves dressing up, by all means give her a gift that caters to that impulse. A set of tutus in different colors, a collection of nail polishes in bright colors -- preferably a nontoxic brand such as Piggy Paints -- or a pair of fairy wings and a wand would all make for a lovely gift. For an inexpensive alternative, go to a thrift store and pick out a selection of hats and shoes, then package them in a pretty storage container.
Dolls and Dollhouses
Lots of kids love dolls -- it's just that some are called "action figures." Gifts of Barbie dolls and accessories can be controversial because some parents feel it promotes poor body image expectations. Ditto for Bratz dolls, with an extra side of inappropriate sexualization. Some parents are okay with this; some parents are not. Shop accordingly. Alternative doll choices include the American Girl Doll line, although these can be quite pricey. More affordable are the soft plush Groovy Girls. If the five-year-old girl in question is a budding Goth or just loves all things Halloween, the Monster High doll line is scary-cute. Another idea if you're looking for a splurge is a dollhouse for all those dolls to live in.
Some girls go ga-ga over anything pet or animal related. Depending on the girl, we might be talking horses, dolphins, kittens and puppies -- or tigers, dinosaurs and zebras. For the horse-loving set there's always My Little Pony toys. For other animal lovers, a plush toy might be the best thing. Don't neglect the possibility of a vet play set as well, complete with medical equipment and sometimes a mini animal carrier for the "patient."
If your five-year-old gift recipient is at all active, consider giving her an outdoor play toy such as a scooter -- pink if you like -- or a jump rope to practice with. A number of toy outlets also sell hopscotch rugs and tiles to play with indoors or out. If your girl is a gardener, try a set of gardening tools built to her scale. A kite or kite kit would also be a welcome gift for an outdoorsy five-year-old girl.
Educational gifts don't have to be boring. Some kids think flashcards are a great game and assign themselves homework after a long day on the playground. In that case, a dry-erase board with lines for writing letters may be the perfect gift, or try a magnetic alphabet set or a teaching clock. If your five-year-old girl loves games, try Scrabble Jr., Monopoly Jr., a colorful Go Fish card set or a Cranium brand game such as Hullabaloo, Balloon Lagoon or Cariboo. A word and picture domino set is another great educational game gift. All of these gifts develop math skills, pattern recognition skills and the all-important ability to follow directions and take turns. For a splurge, consider buying a kid-friendly computer tablet such as the ones from Leapfrog or Vtech. A timeless low-tech alternative is a good book or two. A visual dictionary is one possibility; an "I Can Read" or "Hello Reader" set is another. Your local library will have tons of other suggestions that you can tailor to her specific interests.