Create · Play · Read

Ultimate List of Minimalist, Eco-friendly Gifts for Kids

Claudia Fontes The Horse Problem sculpture Argentina Venice Art Biennale 2017If 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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  • Does the object “spark joy?”
  • Is the toy long-lasting and does it inspire open-ended play?
  • Is the gift meaningful?


  • 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.


First, you can tell them that you are trying to reduce your global footprint and would prefer “no presents.” However, some people love to give gifts so saying “don’t give us anything” might be seen as offensive and could make you look ungrateful. So, instead, you can suggest the following types of gifts:
  • Upcycled, recycled or second hand
  • Hand-made
  • Books (pre-loved books would be best)
  • Experiences
  • Classes (museums often offer wonderful art classes for kids)
  • Memberships
  • Subscriptions (The Art Tiffin, for example)
  • Gift Cards
  • Cash
  • Passes for a meaningful family experience


  • 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.


If you still feel that you just must have a wrapped present, then here is my ultimate list of minimalist, eco-friendly gifts for kids for all ages:
  • 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 Wee Can Too Organic Veggie Crayons Eco-kids Eco-Crayons Eco-Crayon Sticks Azafran Organic Crayons Crayon Rocks
  1. Honeysticks 100% Pure Beeswax Crayons $22.99 – 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!
  2. Wee Can Too Organic Veggie Crayons $16.99 – 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. 
  3. Eco-kids Eco-Crayons $10.99 – 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.
  4. Eco-Crayon Sticks $19.99 – Made from beeswax and soy wax.
  5. Azafran Organic Crayons $10.00 – The least expensive organic crayons you can find.
  6. Crayon Rocks $15.99 – 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.
  • LEGO Classic for older kids and Duplo for toddlers and prescholersLEGO DUPLO Town Big Construction Site 10813 LEGO DUPLO Town Truck & Tracked Excavator 10812, Best Gift for 2-Year-Olds LEGO DUPLO Town Backhoe Loader 10811 Construction Toy LEGO DUPLO Town Airport 10590 Buildable Toy for 3-Year-Olds LEGO DUPLO - Jungle Set Age 2-5 - 86 Pieces - 10804  LEGO DUPLO 10805 Around the World LEGO duplo 10584 Park Forest
  1. LEGO DUPLO – Jungle Set – $79.64 
  2. LEGO DUPLO – Town Big Construction Site – $65.11 or smaller set –  $21.40
  3. LEGO DUPLO – Around the World – $104.19
  4. LEGO DUPLO – Photo Safari – $149.99
  5. LEGO DUPLO – Town Airport – $17.59
  6. LEGO DUPLO – Park Forest – $64.31

Green Sprouts Organic Blankie Friend and Finger Puppet Set green sprouts Finger Puppets made from Organic Cotton Green sprouts Finger Puppets made from Organic Cotton Organic Finger Puppet Flying Dragon

  1. Green Sprouts Organic Blankie Friend and Finger Puppet Set $26.81 – Or, if you don’t need the blankie, then just Green sprouts Finger Puppets made from Organic Cotton. – $17.99
  2. Green sprouts Finger Puppets made from Organic Cotton – $28
  3. Organic Finger Puppet Flying Dragon – $10
  • Hand PuppetsChunkiChilli 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 Hand Puppetss
  1. ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Pig Hand Puppet – $34
  2. ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Penguin Puppet – $34
  3. ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Tiger Hand Puppet – $28
  4. ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Monkey Puppet – $34
  5. ChunkiChilli Kangaroo Hand Puppet – $36
  6. ChunkiChilli Organic Cotton Owl Puppet – $34
  • Magnetic Play Theatre: Castle $49.81 – 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.Magnetic Play Theatre: Castle
  • EverEarth Eco City Train Set $52.49 – This is the train and city of the future which will teach your child about renewable energies, electric cars, solar panels, etc. _DSF4238
  • EverEarth Toddler Workbench with Tools $30.19 – If your child likes tools as much as Adèle does, then they’ll love pretend play with this eco-friendly, wooden workbench:EverEarth Toddler Workbench with Tools
  • Wooden Doll HouseHape All Seasons Kid's Wooden Doll House  Melissa & Doug Hi-Rise Wooden Dollhouse  Skylar Dollhouse  PlanDollhouse Chalet Dollhouse with Furniture 
  1. Hape All Seasons Kid’s Wooden Doll House $114.45 – Comes with furniture and accessories.
  2. Melissa & Doug Hi-Rise Wooden Dollhouse $97.49 – 15 pieces of furniture, garage and an elevator that actually works!
  3. Skylar Dollhouse $89.99 – 20 pieces of furniture, a dog and 4 dolls included.
  4. PlanDollhouse Chalet Dollhouse with Furniture $162 – 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 $20.82 – 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! Loopdeloom Weaving Loom Kit
  • Ride on toys – for gross motor skill development.Ride On Toys Hape Scoot Around Kid's Wooden Ride On Balance Bike World of Eric Carle Ride 'n' Roll Caterpillar Ride On Janod Forest Fox Ride-On Baby Toy
  1. Hape Scoot Around Kid’s Wooden Ride On Balance Bike – $64.37
  2. World of Eric Carle Ride ‘n’ Roll Caterpillar Ride On – $49.95 – 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.
  3. Janod Forest Fox Ride-On Baby Toy – $72.27
  • Wishbone 3 in 1 Original Balance Bike $206.10 – 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 $71.99 – 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!Micro Mini Deluxe Kick Scooter
  • Wooden Memory GameMemo
  1. Memo “My First Memo” Card Game –  $15.99
  2. Plan Toys Fruit and Veggie Memo – $14.99
  3. PlanToys Animal Memo – $19.15


  • 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:

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? Eric Carle Gnomes by Will Huygen and Rien Poortvliet The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler Under Water, Under Earth by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski Atlas of Adventures: A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe by Lucy Letherland Zoo - ology by Joelle Jolivet

  1. The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler – A funny story with rhymes about gift-giving and kindness.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?


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