If you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of gifts for the upcoming holidays (or birthdays and other celebrations), then you might want to consider going minimal. You don’t have to adopt minimalism as a lifestyle, but just think about the following when buying or receiving presents: Will the gift add value or clutter to your child’s life?
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QUESTIONS TO ASK REGARDING GIFTS
- Does the object “spark joy?”
- Is the toy long-lasting and does it inspire open-ended play?
- Is the gift meaningful?
HOW RECEIVING FEWER GIFTS WILL BENEFIT YOUR CHILD
- Having fewer things activates imagination and encourages creativity and resourcefulness.
- Having fewer toys increased your child’s attention span and focus as they won’t be jumping form one toy to the next.
- Having fewer belonging will encourage your child to take better care of them.
- Not having clutter around will help your child have more balanced emotions.
- Receiving fewer gifts is an excellent opportunity to teach gratitude.
HOW TO PRESENT MINIMALIST GIFT IDEAS TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
- Upcycled, recycled or second hand
- Books (pre-loved books would be best)
- Classes (museums often offer wonderful art classes for kids)
- Subscriptions (The Art Tiffin, for example)
- Gift Cards
- Passes for a meaningful family experience
TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR CHILD USED TO HAVING FEWER TOYS
- Take all but one or two toys away. No, really, take them away and hide them. Then, months later you can take one out and see how happy it will make your child. (Last year Adèle received gifts nearly every day. Literally everywhere we went someone would give her something. So, by the end of the year when she received her holiday gift Adèle said: “It’s not enough.” A week later we moved and she was only allowed one toy in the suitcase. Then, for six months she waited for her toys as they made their way to our new destination. In the meantime, Adèle was way happier, more focused and even learned how to make origami folding napkins, towels and clothes. When her toys finally arrived, she had not remembered most of them and we took them out gradually. This time, however, she said: “Can you please ask other people not to give me anymore gifts? I have too many toys.”
- Not ready to be this dramatic? Then keep out no more than 10 toys at a time and rotate them weekly or bi-weekly.
- Limit gifts to birthdays or a holidays and only give one special gift (preferably non-physical).
- Ask family and friends not to offer gifts directly to your child. This way you can filter the amount of presents your child receives and also if you don’t agree with something, you won’t have to give it to your child at all.
- If our child is older and aware of poverty and homelessness, then you can have them participate in giving to the less fortunate. I don’t recommend this for smaller kids as it might distraught and stress them before they are emotionally ready.
- Have your children practice gratitude and make it a daily ritual/practice.
ULTIMATE MINIMALIST GIFTS FOR KIDS
- A ball is the best overall gift.
- Crayons – You really can’t go wrong with crayons. Have you ever seen anyone run out of crayons? Every child needs to have a safe set to use. Here are the most eco-friendly ones you can find.
- Honeysticks 100% Pure Beeswax Crayons – These are the first crayons I got for Adèle when we were living in Australia. They are made in New Zealand from non-toxic, natural beeswax. They make them in three sizes chunky (perfect for little toddler/baby hands), long (to last a long time) and thin (more like the regular crayons). You can even wipe them off surfaces with a damp cloth. We have the chunky ones and they never broke, nor does it look like Adèle will be running out of them for years (even with all the drawing she does). They also smell of real honey and are therefor a very unique object which appeals to multiple senses (honey smell, waxy touch, colourful sight, sound on paper). They are not cheap, but for all the above-mentioned reasons a great investment nevertheless. A box will last a very long time!
- Wee Can Too Organic Veggie Crayons – Not very vibrant because they are made from edible, food grade, organic ingredients. However, they are the best, worry-free product for babies to experiment with.
- Eco-kids Eco-Crayons – No sharpening required and they are hard to break. These crayons are made from mineral pigments and natural wax and are designed to look like sea rocks.
- Eco-Crayon Sticks – Made from beeswax and soy wax.
- Azafran Organic Crayons – The least expensive organic crayons you can find.
- Crayon Rocks – Very original and fun, they are made in USA using natural pigments and American soy wax. These crayons can be used to help children strengthen their tripod grip muscles in preparation for writing. Due to their unique design, crayon rocks can be used by children with disabilities and developmental/ motor control disorders. They allow the child to make large/wide strokes and the colours are very bright. The recommended age for these are 3+ because they are small and can cause a choking hazard, so take note.
- Magformers – Read my blog article about them here.
- LEGO Classic for older kids and Duplo for toddlers and prescholers
- LEGO DUPLO – Jungle Set
- LEGO DUPLO – Town Big Construction Site or a smaller set
- LEGO DUPLO – Around the World
- LEGO DUPLO – Photo Safari
- LEGO DUPLO – Town Airport
- LEGO DUPLO – Park Forest
- Hape Quadrilla Wooden Marble Run Construction – Invest in one with more loops and swirls as it is more interesting and will last longer.
- Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray (60 pcs) – Large building blocks which come with their own box for neat storage.
- 100 Pc Wood Building Block Set with Carrying Bag and Container – Another natural coloured wood set but with smaller pieces. These are great because your child can even glue their creations and then paint them! Here are Adèle’s caterpillar and cat wooden sculptures made in this fashion:
- Jack N’ Jill Bio Toothbrush and Jack N’ Jill – Natural Toothpaste Fluoride-Free with Certified Organic Strawberry
- Finger Puppets
- Green Sprouts Organic Blankie Friend and Finger Puppet Set – Or, if you don’t need the blankie, then just Green sprouts Finger Puppets made from Organic Cotton.
- Green sprouts Finger Puppets made from Organic Cotton
- Organic Finger Puppet Flying Dragon
- Hand Puppets
- ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Pig Hand Puppet
- ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Penguin Puppet
- ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Tiger Hand Puppet
- ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Monkey Puppet
- ChunkiChilli Kangaroo Hand Puppet
- ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Owl Puppet
- Magnetic Play Theatre: Castle – A timeless toy for hours of imaginary play. The one pictures was my husband’s when he was little and the company still make the same ones! The scenery can be changed and even a small child can assemble it easily.
- EverEarth Eco City Train Set – This is the train and city of the future which will teach your child about renewable energies, electric cars, solar panels, etc.
- EverEarth Toddler Workbench with Tools – If your child likes tools as much as Adèle does, then they’ll love pretend play with this eco-friendly, wooden workbench:
- Wooden Doll House
- Hape All Seasons Kid’s Wooden Doll House – Comes with furniture and accessories.
- Melissa & Doug Hi-Rise Wooden Dollhouse – 15 pieces of furniture, garage and an elevator that actually works!
- Skylar Dollhouse – 20 pieces of furniture, a dog and 4 dolls included.
- PlanDollhouse Chalet Dollhouse with Furniture – Made from organic, recycled rubber wood, this one is the most creative one because its parts can be assembled to make different houses!
- Loopdeloom Weaving Loom Kit – This toys is my favourite new discovery! It’s both for kids and adults and you can make gifts for others with it! It’s very easy to use and multiple loopdelooms can be attached together to make larger items. Best of all – it’s small and potable so you can take it anywhere, including long airplane rides!
- Ride on toys – for gross motor skill development.
- Hape Scoot Around Kid’s Wooden Ride On Balance Bike
- World of Eric Carle Ride ‘n’ Roll Caterpillar Ride On – The seat is made from soft memory foam so this one is not as eco-friendly as the other two on my list. However, it does have a wooden handle and is inspired by Eric Carl’s classic book The Very Hungry Caterpillar which is a plus as it could encourage reading as well.
- Janod Forest Fox Ride-On Baby Toy
- Wishbone 3 in 1 Original Balance Bike – We bought Adèle the wooden one (as opposed to the recycled plastic) so that she could paint and decorate it the way she likes. The seat is height adjustable and the bike converts from three to two wheels! Also, because it is quite big, when it falls over it does it in “slow motion” which is safer.
- Micro Mini Deluxe Kick Scooter – Micro are the best scooters out there. If you chose another brand, make sure that the handle is also height adjustable. A friend bought one with a fixed handle for her child and the child hurt his teeth when falling as the handle was too high!
- Wooden Memory Game
- Kid-Tough Digital Photo Cameraor see more options here
- Wooden Chess
- Goula Fishing Game with Wooden Fish – Adèle started this game at 10 months old and has played it with much older kids. The fish are wooden and this toy is excellent for helping develop coordination, focus and fine motor skills.
- Klean Kanteen 12 oz Stainless Steel Water Bottle – Comes with both a Sippy Cap and a Sports Cap. It is made from food-grade stainless steel and can be purchased with a stainless steel cap (pictured on the left) instead of the plastic caps.
HOW TO CHOOSE BOOKS AS GIFTS
- Look for unusual ones that stand out – they can be extra big or have beautifully painted illustrations, for example.
- Pick books that have a meaningful message.
- Funny books are always a good option as they bring happiness.
Here are some of our favourites from Adèle’s library collection:
- The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler – A funny story with rhymes about gift-giving and kindness.
- Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle – A BIG book by the renown Eric Carle, it illustrates North American animals and is perfect for small children.
- Zoo – ology by Joelle Jolivet – A huge book with animals made in a printmaking style. Each animal has a word next to it describing what it is. An excellent book from birth which can be used as a reference for older children. The fact that it’s oversized and so big makes it extra special.
- Gnomes by Will Huygen and Rien Poortvliet – THE beautifully illustrated classic book about gnomes. A must for any household it will help your child get in touch with nature.
- Under Water, Under Earth by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski – A big, thorough, detailed book which can be read from back to front or vice versa! It illustrates what happens below the surface of the earth and underwater.
- Atlas of Adventures: A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe by Lucy Letherland – Another big book, this one takes you around the world, exposing your child to different countries and experiences without leaving the house.
Would you add any other items to my list? If so, which ones?
4 thoughts on “Ultimate List of Minimalist, Eco-friendly Gifts for Kids”
These are such great reminders! It’s so easy to get caught up in gift giving or buying things for your children.
Yes! Especially when there are too many choices…
Love this. I just de-cluttered my kids room because it was a little overwhelming. Especially for my son who has sensory processing disorder. Now he loves being in his room. I’m definitely going to check some of these out. (Loving the veggie crayons) thanks!
Spring Cleaning – perfect time to de-clutter! 🙂 🙂 I’m happy that your son can enjoy his room more! And you really can’t go wrong with crayons – such a time-less art material.