First Friends

First Friends portrait

Dora the Explorer tchotchkes, piggybanks, rattles, alphabet blocks, Baby Einstien videos — all make for totally acceptable children’s gifts but all spell a big ol’ fat M-E-H.

Give the babes in your life something more exciting than a pair of SpongeBob slippers, will ya?

Gift them a custom toy portrait by Miami-based artist Erin Chainani. Through her business, First Friends, simply e-mail or mail Erin a snapshot of your tot’s most treasured toy and she’ll paint it along with its name in watercolor, gouache and ink (starting at $95). For an extra $30, Erin can frame your portrait and gift wrap is free (yes!).

Erin received an M.F.A. in Costume Design from the Yale School of Drama and a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard University. When not designing clothes or chasing after her two-year-old twins, she sells her custom paintings for children throughout the States and internationally.

Each piece leaves a lasting impression — unlike that Zhu Zhu pet parked at the bottom of the toy bin.