The Perfect $30 Gift for Any Kid, at Any Age, for Any Occasion

published Nov 16, 2022
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girl with bubbles and bubble machine side by side in graphic treatment
Credit: Girl with bubbles: Camille Tokerud Photography

Last June I impulsively invited my daughter’s entire kindergarten class to our backyard for an end-of-year party. (I think I was in the throes of sheer relief of having made it through our first year of school, and in Covid-times, no less.) The party theme was prompted by my kid: Sprinkles and Bubbles. Sprinkles on the donuts we bought, and bubbles … everywhere. It was a good excuse to pick up a gadget I’ve long coveted: the bubble machine.

A bubble machine is exactly what it sounds like: a gadget that does the messy part of bubble-blowing: dipping wands in a big reservoir of bubble liquid, and blowing air through. Think: All the bubbles, none of the sticky spills. I read through reviews and did some research, and ended up with a basic $30 model.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I filled the reservoir and turned it on, but to our delight, it worked flawlessly: issuing a rapid, iridescent stream of perfect bubbles. It ran quietly through our entire party, and after that it was a regular feature on our back deck all summer long. It was fun to turn it on while friends were over with their kids, but it wasn’t reserved just for adults: my husband’s graduate students giggled over it during a summer lunch.

And it hasn’t been limited to the outdoors, either. We’ve plugged it in at bath time, where it makes a regular Tuesday bath feel rather magical.

Like this light, this little machine is that rare thing: an inexpensive gift that is an easy choice for almost any kid or family. You could present it to a set of siblings at practically any age, up to at least 8 years old if not older — it’s perfectly fun, delightful, and a welcome addition to a family’s outdoor gear. It’s not a toy they’ll get bored of or outgrow to be thrown away in a few months.

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