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The nights are drawing in early and the allure of comfort food and big blankets is ever-increasing. This must mean that Christmas is approaching!
Now I’m a lover of all things festive, but I know that this time of year is full of dread for many. This winter is particularly challenging for many due to the cost of living crisis. When you add to that the climate crisis and the in-your-face commercialisation of Christmas it’s easy to see that gift-giving may have lost its magic a bit. So if the thought of Christmas shopping for the little ones in your life is stressing you out, you’ve come to the right place!
This year more than ever, I think it’s vital to keep things simple. Vast piles of presents are costly both to your wallet and the environment, and let’s be honest they are pretty over-stimulating for little ones. So with that in mind, I want to encourage you to adopt a different approach this year….
The 4 Somethings rule
Instead of buying copious amounts of gifts that vary in quality, let’s try and focus on four really considered high-quality gifts instead. Below I have shared ideas for gifts covering the four categories of the ‘4 somethings rule’. In each category, I’ve included an idea that is completely free of charge to make this guide accessible to everyone, no matter what your budget for gifts is.
Here’s how it works:
- Something to do
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
Following that structure allows you to buy a range of different types of gift ensuring you are covering all bases, without doubling up.
Wherever possible I try to buy gifts from small, local and/or ethical businesses, and here are some of my favourite places to find those extra special gifts:
Something to do
I love getting people experience-based gifts because they often create really special memories and don’t create more physical belongings to clutter up our homes.
My go-to experience gift costs almost nothing to make but may cost some money further down the line so it’s a great one to make if money is tight at the moment. The gift I am referring to is an adventure jar!
An adventure jar can be created for any aged person and is really easy to tailor to someone’s particular interests or hobbies.
All you need is:
1x empty jar/container
1x sheet of paper or card
materials to decorate the jar/container
Simply take your sheet of paper or card and cut it up into as many rectangles as you want (id suggest a minimum of 10). On each rectangle write the name or description of an adventure that you can take together. Fold each piece of paper or card and pop them into the jar or container. Pop the lid on and then decorate your jar with a ribbon, label or anything else that the recipient would like.
Then each time you two have a free day together an adventure can be chosen at random for the jar and you can go off and make memories.
Depending on the age of your child the adventures could be anything from a trip to the play park to an evening at the cinema. The adventures could all be free of charge or you can use this as a way to spread the cost of a gift across the year.
If you are looking to buy a gift then Ethical Superstore is an excellent place to begin your search. I often think of this as a one-stop online shop because the range of products is so great that I don’t need to look elsewhere and can sometimes tick several people off my gift list in one go. In particular, for little ones the Green Toys range is lovely and there are also lots of different science or craft kits to choose from.
Something they need
Again, my no/low-budget recommendation here is to ask around or shop second-hand. Whatever it may be that your little one needs, chances are someone else is ready to pass it on and sometimes these items may not even have been used. If you can’t find something second hand then why not suggest that any family or friends club together to buy one gift? People like to buy useful things rather than feel they are gifting something just for the sake of it!
If you do want to buy new then I suggest heading to Kidly as they stock an excellent range of useful items for babies and kids. From table wear sets to hooded towels, you will definitely be able to find a useful and sustainable gift here.
Similarly, &Keep is a treasure trove of useful sustainable gifts. I particularly like the range of kids’ reusable bottles and bamboo toothbrushes.
Something to wear
Shop second hand
Unfortunately, there is sometimes still a bit of stigma around giving second-hand gifts and I’m ready to break that stigma! About 90% of my son’s clothes are hand-me-downs or charity shop finds, and the quality of clothing we have is excellent. So before hitting the big shops, ask your family and friends if anyone’s clearing out anything their kids have grown out of. Then hit the charity shops, Vinted or any other online marketplace and see what gems you can find.
Great for bold colours, fun motifs and gender-neutral garments. All Toby Tiger products are 100% organic and GOTS-certified. They also sell a gorgeous range of toys and books so you might be able to do a one-stop shop here! Even better…you can get 15% off your entire purchase just by clicking below!
If you are a fan of jazzy prints and animal motifs then you will adore the Kite Clothing range. Again all of their clothing is made from organic cotton, recycled plastic bottles or other environmentally approved fibres. Similarly to Toby Tiger, Kite are also GOTS-certified.
Choosing clothes for your children does get harder as they get older, so if it makes your life simpler then buying a gift voucher for older children is a great option. You could also plan a lovely day out to the shops together to choose a new outfit. That way you won’t end up buying something that is hidden at the back of their wardrobes for evermore!
A quick money-saving tip when buying vouchers (or anything for actually!)….
If you purchase gift vouchers through TopCashback then you will receive some money back on your purchase. Sometimes it’s only pence, but the pennies make the pounds!
Something to read
Now last but by no means least, my favourite thing to buy…. books! I think books are such a lovely thing to gift because they are educational, but they also provide the opportunity to share really gorgeous moments with the little people in our lives. Especially on those cosy festive evenings between Christmas and New Year, curling up with a Christmassy book is just the perfect activity.
If you are working to a no/low budget then how about signing your little ones up to the local library (if you haven’t already done so!) Simply the gift of their own library card will be exciting enough. Then you can plan a weekly or monthly trip to the library together and they can pick out exactly the books they want for no charge at all.
If you’d rather buy a book then I have compiled a list of my all-time favourite Christmas books for babies and younger children.
Unless I have the opportunity to visit a physical bookshop I always use Bookshop.org for purchasing books. This is an online bookshop with a difference. Bookshop are on a mission to financially support independent and local bookshops across the country. When you shop online with Bookshop, you are able to choose a physical bookshop to support. Then each time you buy a book online, your chosen bookshop receives a percentage of the sale. I love this concept as it means that I can continue to support my local bookshop even if I can’t visit them for whatever reason. Much nicer than my money going to one of the greedy global corporations!
So there you have it, a simple way to focus your Christmas shopping for any of the special little people in your life. Remember quality over quantity. Gifts don’t have to cost money, but when they do try wherever possible to support small, local and ethical companies. I love the saying “ An actual person does a happy dance when you shop from an independent business”, it’s a lovely image to keep in mind when parting with your hard-earned pennies!