Minimalist Children's Gift Guide

I can hardly explain how relieved I am that Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all of the rest of that nonsense is over. The more that I reflect and plan for what I want in the coming year, the more the idea of simplicity comes to mind. Being bombarded with sales and gift guides has made me sick to my stomach, prompting me to avoid my email inbox for days at a time. I will share some more about it all — simplicity — in the coming weeks as we move into 2018, but today I want to share one of the steps that I am taking to bring simplicity into our lives now, during the holidays.

When it comes to childrens’ toys, I have been overwhelmed by the prospect for as long as I have been a mother. It started when they were first born and kept growing further out of control over the years, until the present day wherein my children have an entire playroom full of toys that hardly get played with in any meaningful way. Many people don’t realize this, but having a lot of toys is not good for children. Not necessarily because it spoils them (which it may in fact do) but because it overwhelms them. Having fewer toys allows children to play more deeply, thoughtfully, and creatively.

Over the past year, I have been slowly simplifying my children’s toy collection. I still have a long way to go. I am doing it in increments because I do not want Roman, in particular, to feel devastated by the process. He is, like most children, attached to his toys. Even though he is just four, I want to start teaching him about the difference between quantity and quality. I am also very excited to teach him the meaning of giving to those in need. I haven’t had any luck with this so far, surprisingly, because he is a compassionate child. But I do plan to make it a concept that he comes to understand well much more, especially as he moves from age 4 to 5.

You will not likely be able to control the gifts that your children receive from others, unless you are willing to have a somewhat stern and difficult conversation with each person that gives them gifts, but you can thwart the problem by requesting specific things that you know your child will actually use. You can even offer to do the shopping for them, as my mother has allowed me to do for the last couple of years. This year I filled a large part of their gifts from her with art supplies which I am always happy to have on-hand. I know the supplies will be well-used, loved by my children, and stored neatly in the art closet — not contributing to the mess in their playroom.

As for the gifts that me & Santa will be giving my children this year, I am following the “Something They Want, Something They Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read” approach. I have long-been a fan of this gift-giving movement and I am excited to finally be putting it into practice. I love the simple and practical nature of it. It is a way to give children something that they will love, but also some things that are practical and useful. I am sure that it will lead to a little less excitement around the tree on Christmas morning, but hopefully it will also lead to more deep, meaningful play in the months & years to come.

Roman’s Gifts:

Something He Wants // Duplo Batcave Challenge
Of all of the various building sets that Roman has had over the years, his Duplo sets have proven to be the most versatile and long-lasting. He plays with them over and over again, always building something new, interesting and creative. They are also outrageously durable. His Duplo sets take a beating, as do all toys of a little boy, and of the many sets we’ve had none have ever broken.

Something He Needs // PlanetBox Lunch Box & Bag with Dinosaurs
Earlier this year, Roman’s beloved preschool closed. So I spent the first few months of the school year homeschooling him. A few weeks ago, he started at his new preschool which has a kindergarten prep program. I am asked to send snack with him every day and I’ve been using a flimsy old lunch bag that I’ve had sitting in a cabinet for years. I’ve been wanting to invest in a really special lunch box for him for awhile. After a lot of research, this one kept coming up over and over. I am hoping that it will be a wise investment that will last him through the rest of his pre-k year and into kindergarten. I also love that this lunch box is eco-friendly, made out of safe, non-toxic, and recycled materials — safe from lead, PVC, phthalates, and BPA.

Something to Wear // Columbia Kids Snow Boots
Last year, I couldn’t afford to purchase snow clothes for my children. I did bundle them up and take them out into the snow a couple of times, but not for long because they didn’t have the right clothing for it. This year I was determined to get them proper snow clothes so that we can spend more time outside, even in the winter months, making snow angels, sleigh-riding and building snowmen. These boots will be the last piece that Roman needs for his snow clothing outfit. I am buying them a size up so that hopefully he’ll get more than a season out of them. Snow boots are easy to fill with thick socks.

Something to Read // Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs
Reading at bedtime has always been a favorite pasttime of my children. It helps to settle them and we all find peace in the routine. Recently I haven’t done it every night as I would like to because I’ve been so exhausted by day’s end. I’m adding a couple of new books to our little collection to get me get back into that habit. The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. If that’s not motivation for all of us to be reading to our little ones, I don’t know what is!

Minimalist Children's Gift Guide

Marina’s Gifts:

Something She Wants // Barbie Baby Doctor Playset
This will be Marina’s first Barbie doll and I am so excited about it. My Barbie doll collection was perhaps my most favorite possession growing up. I had them for years and they provided countless hours of creative play for me. I picked this particular set because Marina is terrified every time we go to the doctor. She freaks out like a maniac. I am hoping that a little roleplaying with this set will help to show her that the doctor isn’t so dangerous. Fingers-crossed…

Something She Needs // Melissa & Doug Cleaning Set
Roman is very good at independent play and entertaining himself these days. Actually, he always has been. Marina, however, would rather play with someone or do whatever Mama or Roman happens to be doing at a given time. That makes getting basic chores done difficult for me as you might imagine. I am very excited to give her this play set so that she can “help” me at chore time. I’ve always been a fan of Melissa & Doug products, are well-made and promote free, creative play.

Something to Wear // Snow Suit
As I mentioned above, I’ve been gathering snow wear for both children so that we’ll be all ready for snow this year when it arrives. It will be Marina’s first time having a sleigh ride and I can’t wait to see how excited she will be.

Something to Read // The Going to Bed Book
This book has been in our collection since Roman was born. It was given to me at my first baby shower and it has always been my very favorite book to read to them at bedtime. There is something about the rhythm and cadence of this book that I find so lovely and it always seems to settle my wild little dears. Sadly, our copy of the book got misplaced in moving twice over these last couple of years. So this is actually a replacement, but I know it will be as well-loved as any other book that I could give her.


So, there you have it. I realize that this post comes a little bit late in the grand scheme of holiday preparation, but I hope that it will serve as food-for-thought for your last-minute preparations and maybe even for years to come.

This is not a sponsored post. These are actually the gifts that my children will be receiving this Christmas. Thanks for reading.

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