Seasonal gifts that inspire, educate and are friendlier to the environment.

Yes, it really is that time of year again.  Some of our students have their Christmas tree up already, our boss has already started planning Secret Santa and my kids, well, they’ve began the Christmas movie countdown having watched Nativity already.

Whether you’re a Christmas lover or a Scrooge-type, gift-buying for children can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start in an age when children apparently have everything and the shining aisles of every toy shop or supermarket offer endless choices of plastic upon plastic upon plastic upon plastic. A recent Blue Planet episode had viewers collectively gasping at the evolving ocean plastic crisis. Can we provide environmentally-friendly, plastic-free gifts that don’t stink of apocalyptic doom?

The good news is yes we can! The even better news? These can be gifts that encourage open-ended play, self-discovery learning, mastery of skills and relationship building not to mention promotion of gender–neutrality. The incredible, eye-bulging, mind-blowing news? There’s a convenient list below. High tens all-round!

The Hot Ten…

  1. Adventurer/Outdoor Pack

A cotton rucksack, binoculars, magnifying glass, compass, whistle, aluminium water canister, some bungees?  You could even stretch to ropes, tarpaulin/sheets and pegs, perfect for den-building and outdoor expeditions into the nearby woods. See Muddy Faces for more ideas.

  1. Sensory Kit

You can build a treasure basket of natural items, encourages deep, focused play exploration in babies and younger children. See Nurture Store for ideas.

Gloopy doughy fun basket – include the ingredients for making gloop or play dough in a natural basket, ready for little one to make with a supervising adult. You could even include instructions. See Learning4Kids for more details.

  1. DIY Baking Kit and Recipe

Ingredients, a recipe, metal cookie-cutters, all presented in an apron. Cookies and cupcake treats that they can make ‘all by my own’.

  1. A Tinker Kit

How about a real toolkit that includes a mallet, screwdrivers, measuring tape, pliers, nails, screws, you could even throw in those old scraps of skirting boards that you’ve been hoarding for years! No wood? Alternatively you could offer old appliances and devices for them to pull apart and investigate. (See Muddy Faces for more ideas).

  1. Memberships

For a curious little person, a membership to museums, Historic Scotland, the Zoo, Dynamic Earth or RSPB nature reserves could keep them occupied all year long.

  1. A block of classes

Parents sick of furniture being used as a gym? Try a block of Parkour classes, skateboarding, trampoline, climbing, dancing, acting, circus skills, the list could go on and on…

  1. Sewing or knitting box

Sewing – box of any kind, thread, needles, pins, scissors, buttons, embroidery hoop, some fabric scraps. Great for encouraging fine motor skills and imaginative play.

Knitting – a variety of needles, wool, basic patterns, or offer a block of sessions with yourself teaching them the skills.

  1. Tour around a venue

Football stadiums, museums and public venues can offer tours but equally interesting could be a bike tour, perhaps a magical Harry Potter tour or one of Edinburgh’s many eery historic and gory walking tours of vaults and creepy hidey-holes.

  1. Gig/show tickets

A ticket where they have an experience as well as spend some quality time with you will stay with them for a while.  Cinema, theatre, festival, gig, a show, find out what they like. Remember, Taylor Swift is SO last month!

  1. Subscription to a magazine

Okido – design-led and science-based, it stirs the imagination and the eyes! (3-7 years)

National Geographic Kids – stunning photographs and stories from around the world, all in a handy kiddie-friendly format (6+ years)

Eco Kids Planet – opening up the world of nature to children with an environmentally-minded focus. (7-11 years)

The Phoenix – a comic style magazine of fictional stories and activities encouraging children to think and learn (6-12 years)

The list above is by no means exhaustive. I’ve seen lists reaching the hundreds but I’m time limited and you have imaginations, so hopefully this will inspire you to think outside the box a little. Happy design-your-own-non-plastic-gift buying!

Please comment below if you have any super suggestions you’d like to share!

With childcare becoming an increasingly in-demand career in Edinburgh and the Lothians, our in-house childcare expert, Clarissa, is writing a series of blogs to show you how important a career in childcare is and why you should be getting yourself, or loved ones, interested.