Ideas for eco-friendly gifts for children

If you have children, it’s likely that by now they’ve given you a list of everything they want for Christmas. Or, it’s possible that you have nieces and nephews or other children on your gift list this year. If so, today Recycla is going to talk about realistic gift giving for the young eco warriors.

Here’s the deal: Some eco websites will tell you to buy only 100% organic/sustainably made/whatever gifts for your children, but we all know that those aren’t the gifts that most kids ask for. So, if you’re interested in some super eco ideas and links, check out the Green Mommy’s post from last year and also this recent link. Otherwise, today we’re going to talk about how to navigate gift giving for children in today’s world.

First off, more is not more with children. Most kids are pretty happy with less and, in fact, will get overwhelmed if overloaded with new stuff. Recycla’s daughters are 11 and 13 and even now, they’re still genuinely appreciative of whatever they receive and are not greedy around the holidays and beyond. So don’t feel like you have to spend a set amount on the children in your life. For example, if you’ve budgeted $100 but end up getting things on sale, don’t go out and buy some cheap little something-or-the-other just to meet your set spending amount. This is an all-too-common occurrence with Recycla’s children’s grandparents and it is never necessary and usually leads to some thoughtless, wasteful spending.

When shopping for children, think long-term. Quality gifts that will last a long time are worth a little extra money.  Legos, for example, will be played with over and over for years and could even be handed down to the next generation. (In fact, Recycla’s daughters have a box of their father’s old Legos from the 1970s.)  On the other hand, the latest battery-operated geegaw will likely break within six months and end up in a landfill, so why waste your money on it?

And think about gifts that are multi-use, rather than single-use. Legos, blocks, and other basic building toys can be played with in endless ways and will totally enhance your child’s creativity. Even dolls and toy animals have an unlimited repertoire of games they can play with your children, as evidenced by the American Girl dolls and stuffed dogs that have gone on amazing adventures with the junior Recyclas, including polar exploration, spy antics and mystery solving, and learning to fly an airplane (made out of kitchen chairs).

Wood toys tend to last longer than plastic ones. Recycla’s two daughters still play with the dollhouse that Recycla’s father made for her and her sister more than 30 years ago. A decade ago, Recycla bought her younger daughter a wood castle that is still played with and has been relocated to the same “neighborhood” as the aforementioned dollhouse. Sometimes knights (both male and female) live in the castle, sometimes it’s horses, and sometimes it’s puppies.

If a gift is expensive, such as a bike, consider having several family members go in together on that gift, as did Recycla’s family one year when a certain young nephew got his first two-wheeler (actually, it had four wheels to start with).

Art supplies, like crayons, markers, paper, stickers, clay, and more are always fun. And believe it or not, some children actually like getting books as gifts. Is there a book or series of books that you enjoyed when you were younger that you think a child in your life would enjoy? Why not share that experience with your niece or nephew?

Or consider the gift of an experience. One year, a grandparent bought Recycla’s daughters tickets to a show and made a whole event out of it — lunch out, the show, and then ice cream afterward. Another favorite gift for Recycla’s girls is when their grandmother takes them to the book store to choose some new books.

These are just some ideas to get you started. What other ideas do you have ?

Photo credits: Lego.com, MelissandDoug.com.
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One thought on “Ideas for eco-friendly gifts for children

  1. Amen to investing in good, quality, PLAY WITH toys instead of spending on crap just to hit a dollar amount. I’d also add that we made the mistake of setting the bar quite high with the amount of gifts when our oldest was very young. Baby/toddler toys are quite inexpensive and then when a child grows older, they expect the same amount of stuff, but that stuff costs a lot more! Best to temper it when they’re young and credit the savings for future holiday gifts!
    We also added to classic toys over the years–Brio trains and track were in stockings for many years and my sons still adore Legos and cannot get enough of them.

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