Meaningful, Ethical, Green & (Not-too-late) Gift Ideas for the Kids and Mamas in your Life
Want presents this holiday that are less about stuff, yet still allow you to enjoy the act of giving and receiving? Of course you do. Here’s a look of what some of our TheGreenMama.com team are doing! (And, yes, this includes great last minute gift ideas too.)
For babies & children
Laura, mama of “Baby Henry” (7 months)
“I am planning to expand Henry’s library this Christmas and asking friends and family to do the same. I especially love finding treasured tales at thrift stores and new books printed with the environment in mind. We have a small home without much room for extra toys. Books are the perfect gift that can be used and cherished for many bedtimes to come.”
Linda, “Rain or Shine Mamma” to two young girls
“It’s so easy to get caught up in the spending and consumption hysteria of the holidays, so last year we decided to do things a little differently.
Now we give our girls just four things each: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read, and I think that works out great. As a fifth gift we also do an activity as a family. Last year we took the girls ice skating and this year I think we’re going to go bowling, since I know that’s something they really want to try.”
Cecelia, mama to a new baby and a preschooler
With our newborn son & almost 3 year old daughter this year is about introducing the holidays. We are talking about lights, the solstice, & family, plus singing lots of songs. Because money & space in our small home are tight, (and we aren’t big believers in “things”), we are planning to keep gifts from us & Santa to a minimum.
We have a small collection of books & items from the year tucked away that had been given to our daughter when her new baby brother was born. We didn’t let her have them all at once, so we’ll dip into that stash for one gift from us. “Santa” (newly introduced concept this year to her) will bring swimming lessons. The gift includes a hand-me down swim suit from a beloved cousin she hasn’t worn yet & a bath towel from our closet that I hope to embellish with a fun patch or three (if I get my act together in time). This will be our first year giving gifts to our daughter, and I don’t think we’ll be giving our infant son (2 months old) anything other than breastmilk & near constant cuddling.
Manda, mama of the “Zeds” ages 8 and 4
Our holidays are always a little strange. This year we are celebrating Advent, Hannukah, Solstice, and Christmas. We went to see St. Nicholas but it is the Gift Witch who fills the stockings. You get the idea, but you can also read more about it.
In general, we tend to celebrate this time of year by doing things like packing up our entire lives and moving across the country on the train (which was great!) or visiting Tutu and Pupu (umm, that’s Grandma and Grandpa to you) in Maui or leaving everything behind except two suitcases full of used tennis shoes and moving for four months to Guatemala. Indeed, this year we are planning to pack everything up and move again—although this time just across the park. You get the picture: adventure instead of stuff.
This year, Laura (see above) gave us the same idea that Linda uses! It really helps our family: who tends to scorn stuff but has children getting to the age where they expect at least ONE gift to go along with the earnest volunteering, donating, and moving. And, last year, we also decided to start an Advent Box–where all of our Winter Holiday stuff lives (including two menorahs, a star for a Christmas Tree, some felted creatures, a Halloween Spiderweb tree ornament, lights, and seasonal books). Last year, each of the girls got beautiful, handcrafted whimsical, wooden music boxes for their box.
For something they want: we are still choosing between rollerskates and a cute, portable record player for the 8-year old and the 4-year-old is getting a set of wooden Waldorf dollhouse dolls and we are cruising Craigslist for a used, wooden dollhouse (but we may just make one and save that for a birthday).
For something hand-made we are going to substitute an adventure and this year it is heading out to visit the bees that used to live in our yard at the Hives for Humanity new B & Bee!
And in lieu of something to read we are going for a new round of our beloved, audiobooks Sparkle Stories (which happen to have a 12-days of Christmas audio book that covers that time between Christmas and just after the New Year!)
And for the Mamas?
Laura, Vancouver BC
“As a new mom, time to myself seems to have all but disappeared. Now that my son is old enough to go a for more than a few hours at a time without nursing I am really looking forward to recharging my batteries and taking some time for myself. A yoga membership and a standing promise to babysit each week is at the top of my mama wish list this holiday season.”
“I’m really big on functional gifts and since I spend a lot of time with my kids outdoors I’d love a new set of wool underwear. I get cold really easily, so wearing wool for my base layer helps me stay out longer and play harder, even in freezing weather. I also love that it’s a natural material.”
“The mama gifts I’d love to receive are a great haircut (I have curly hair & finally found a stylist who gets my untamed mane), a date with my husband, or a professional massage. (And childcare so I could enjoy them). Any or all of these would be lovely!”
Because we have our hands full at nearly all times, our helping others is limited. We plan to volunteer in a pre new year event to winterize our daughter’s school. Additionally the parent group we participate in has “adopted a family” to gift this year. I’m going to a local store tonight (children willing) to pick out their gifts.
Manda, Vancouver BC
“Umm, well, I will definitely be renewing my subscription to EcoParent Magazine (cause, yes, even though I am biased because I write for them, I find it to be the Mothering Magazine of our time and thus essential!). What I have been dreaming about though is a get-away with my husband. We’ve never actually done this since our kids were born and I’m not sure how we’d do it… but I want it!”