Tuesday 8 December 2015

Clutter Free and Thrifty Gifts for Kids

We have been trying to embrace clutter-free living for several years now, being a home-educating family we also try to balance single-wage living with culturing creativity and education in our home - it can be a delicate balance.

clutter free thrifty gifts - our handmade home

Many people think that Christmas has become too consumerist , and we all see shops packed to the rafters with things we simply don't need. I thought I'd share some ideas with you for gifts that won't create clutter, can be had at little expense and most are educational too.

I have found the trick to gifting books is to give a book you love. It shouldn't matter if it is new or second hand, a good book can survive many owners, providing it is well looked after.

Avoid... anything you haven't read yourself. If it is a picture book it is easy enough to read in the shop, or seek out something you read as a child.

Books as Gifts - Our Handmade Home
Owl Babies and Tales from Acorn Wood
Both favourites in our home, this year we are gifting them to a little friend.
Crayons (or pens) and a Stack of Paper 
We have our drawing things out almost every day. Both the toddler and 9YO love to draw, write, scribble and colour. Buy an inexpensive quality brand of crayon (my preference is Crayola) or substitute washable felt-tips, chalk or multi-coloured ball-point pens for older kids. Choose regular thickness crayons, pens and chalk, it encourages correct grip and finger positioning from the start - which in turn promotes better motor skills.
A stack of inexpensive white or coloured paper A3 or A4 , a blank sketch book, notepad or even a ream of printer paper is a great resource for any child to have at their disposal.

Crayons - Our Handmade Home

Avoid... Colouring and Activity Books  - We had many colouring books languishing in a cupboard, I wondered why the children had abandoned the books so I did some research - Experts in early years education say colouring books hinder children's creativity, giving unachievable expectations of perfectionism rather than allowing imagination to roam free - so plain paper all the way then!!

Little kids go through clothes at an astonishing rate, especially babies and toddlers. I've found supermarkets and many high street stores to have brilliant low price ranges but (if the recipient is open to it) you should check out charity shops for big labels too. Just make sure tots can play in the clothes and they are machine washable. Clothes become a bad idea as children get older and they develop their own tastes, by the time they are 7 or 8, unless you know them very well.

Avoid... Anything that they can't run, jump, crawl, swing or pretend to be an elephant in - Sadly this is a trait of many girls clothes and we have had to pass on a variety of cutesy dresses and skirts because they are designed for precious little things to sit still in. Unless they are at a black tie event (and why are you taking your child to a black tie event?) putting such parameters on any child just isn't fair.

Add to a collection
We have a couple of toy collections that have been built up from small gifts, hand-me-downs and charity shop finds over the years.

Duplo - Our Handmade Home
Just part of our well loved Duplo collection.
If you are giving to a child who has a collection stick to the brand, and know that a little goes a long way - even if you can only afford one character or vehicle - it is the accumulative play-value that is the awesome thing. As long as the parents are on side there is no real reason you can't scour the charity shops for one of these, clean it up, pop it in a gift box, wrap it up nicely, whatever. Duplo, Lego, Playmobil, Brio and Wooden Dolls Houses all survive previous ownership very well and you might be lucky enough to find second hand if you look around.

Avoid...  anything that adds too much to the bulk of a collection, few people have the space to keep 2 dolls houses for example. If you are buying second hand avoid anything that can't be thoroughly cleaned.

Time vouchers
My kids would love to have a couple of hours drawing, playing, chatting or reading with a relative. It is sad that we live in a culture too busy to give time but it is such a simple thing to do. You could write out a nice I.O.U voucher for a lunch date, baking session, movie and popcorn, play date, board game playing session, or whatever else you fancy - it doesn't need to cost a penny and you can roll it into a babysitting gift for the parents too ;-)

If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them. Pop them in the comments below.

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