Author Topic: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!  (Read 1095 times)

julia

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My partner and I are quite environmentally conscious and I've been struggling the last few years with finding a frugal and environmentally sustainable gift for my two nieces (now 6 and 3) without appearing cheap to my brother and sister-in-law.
They receive endless toys from both grandparents (very well off), aunts and uncles, and their own parents.

For one of their birthdays last April, I bought two clay pots, soil, seeds, and paint (so they could paint the flower pots) for grand total of 8$.

I'm not into "experiences" with them because I don't feel comfortable taking them out - I'm not a kid person and get quite bored. I also only see them maybe 6 times a year. So I ask for no "theatre, movies, etc" suggestions please.

I was thinking of just baking fancy Christmas treats and making a platter for them. Any super unique ideas? (I don't want to buy brand new things because that is wasteful). Thank you kindly!

Mrsweisass

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2019, 06:43:19 PM »
I have had excellent success with my local Buy Nothing group. Depending on how active yours is, they often have lots on offer that can be recycled into a gift. Also, promises of experiences (choosing dinner for a week, make your own slime, etc) has been popular. For reference I have an 8, 5, 3 year old.

marble_faun

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2019, 07:18:23 PM »
There have been some threads on here about frugal birthday gifts for kids, which you could try searching for.

My suggestion would be sidewalk chalk!  You can find organic varieties if that seems important.

ElleFiji

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2019, 05:06:34 AM »
To totally disregard your request... What about sending their family to a kuds' play, or buying then ŗ family membership to a museum if that's in budget where you live. Something that you don't have to attend.

Otherwise, you can look on Etsy for toys, or look around your home to see what you still own from childhood (a special Beatrix potter mug? I had a cat towel and tiger bath towel and cat grocery bag from before age 10 until after 30 - all made for adults but feature animals).

My little niece gets me on a deep level and will often ask for something like potato chips or a whole box of cookies for a holiday.

Bigger niece is slowly building up a selection of unique handmade jewellery.

Cranky

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2019, 05:23:42 AM »
Books from the thrift store. A family membership to the Children's Museum (you don't have to be the one to take them!)

It seems that my 3yo grandson is asking for me to knit him mittens "white as snow, like in the book" for Christmas...

Blue Skies

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2019, 05:47:29 AM »
One of my most memorable birthday presents as a kid was when my aunt (who I almost never saw) took me out shopping and I got to pick out my own gift.  It was awesome. 

Take them out for ice cream.  Or give them a gift card to a local ice cream shop that the parents can take them to.

Take them to a trampoline park, or other kids activity place.  Those places require the adult to stay, but you don't really have to interact with the kids, just watch (or read a book).  Or again you could give them a gc for it and make the parents take them.

My daughter used a gc she got for her bday to buy her own big bag of hershey kisses.  She loves having her very own stash of candy.

If they don't already do advent calendars - gift them an advent calendar at Thanksgiving instead.  There are tons of different ones, or you could make your own.  This gives them something fun to do every day while waiting for the actual holiday.  And your gift doesn't get lost in the sea of all the other gifts they got.

Really, for a kid who already gets a lot of stuff, there is no magic gift that doesn't just seem like more stuff.  I am so over kid stuff littering every surface of my house.  The parents will love you for getting them either experiences or food.  They don't require storage.

NV Teacher

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2019, 07:11:00 AM »
A family membership to the Children's Museum (you don't have to be the one to take them!)

Check to make sure the parents will take them.  I gave my nieces and nephews a season pass to the aquarium. They went once.

Cranky

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2019, 09:00:45 AM »
A family membership to the Children's Museum (you don't have to be the one to take them!)

Check to make sure the parents will take them.  I gave my nieces and nephews a season pass to the aquarium. They went once.

Oh, definitely! But most parents IME feel like they have plenty of plastic junk piled up in the playroom, and are enthusiastic about something else. It's just a matter of finding out what...

gatortator

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2019, 01:12:07 PM »
books.  be like Iceland. 

https://www.treehugger.com/culture/icelanders-give-books-christmas-eve.html

I take my kids to a locally owned bookstore and they pick out the books for their cousins.  fun for everyone.

for birthdays,  cash.  simple, easy.


AMandM

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2019, 09:19:01 PM »
Along the lines of your clay pot & seeds idea, which I love:

Wool and knitting needles + a kids' how-to-knit book
Same but for crochet
Kitchen tools + kids' recipe book
Ingredients and instructions for homemade soap/candles/cookies/soup --you often see these packed in a mason jar
Origami paper & instruction book

Most of these you could find at the thrift store, if your family dynamics allow that. My sisters would love thrifted gifts; my husband's in-laws would view them as insultingly cheapskate.

tthree

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2019, 09:50:47 PM »
Hit up second hand clothing stores, garage sales, online sites for some dress up clothes.  The more vintage the better:)

Malkynn

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2019, 04:39:30 AM »
You don't need to be the one who takes them out for experiences in order to gift them experiences.
That's why gift cards exist.

Whether or not they use them is irrelevant, your goal is to not look cheap while not producing plastic waste. Gift cards for movie tickets, kids' parks, ice cream, whatever, will all meet your goal.

Otherwise, you could offer to contribute to an education savings fund if you don't want to waste money.

Cranky

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2019, 05:25:21 AM »
Hit up second hand clothing stores, garage sales, online sites for some dress up clothes.  The more vintage the better:)

Oh, a dress up box is an excellent idea! And that's something you can add to for years...

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2019, 08:29:26 AM »
Books. Favourite kid books are held onto and enjoyed for years and years. I always give kids books.

If you're going to be baking, make them a bunch of baked sugar cookies of all kinds of shapes that can be stored in the freezer. Then put together a box of icing pens and sprinkles. Mum can take out ready made stuff for them to decorate on rainy days. I did that for a friend of mine one year and it went down very well indeed.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2019, 01:37:06 PM »
Last year my sister gave my daughter a giant tub of Nutella and my son a family-size bag of Cheeto puffs.  Those were probably their favorite presents - I don't buy a lot of junk food, so these were treats. Plus, they got the whole thing to themselves with no requirement for sharing.

I also second the idea of books.  One of my uncles sent us each a book or a $10 gift card to the bookstore every year.  It helped instill a love of reading in most of us.

ElleFiji

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2019, 02:35:37 PM »
Last year my sister gave my daughter a giant tub of Nutella and my son a family-size bag of Cheeto puffs.  Those were probably their favorite presents - I don't buy a lot of junk food, so these were treats. Plus, they got the whole thing to themselves with no requirement for sharing.

I also second the idea of books.  One of my uncles sent us each a book or a $10 gift card to the bookstore every year.  It helped instill a love of reading in most of us.

Those would be my favourite gifts too.

tyrannostache

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2019, 04:03:31 PM »
Julia, I love the plant pot idea.

Once upon a time, i was pretty good at giving creative, frugal, relatively sustainable gifts for my nephews. Most of the materials came from the secondhand store. A few big hits from their younger days:
-T-shirts decorated with fabric paint designs/stencils
-Fort kit (a few sheets, some hefty clips, rope looped through some strategic spots, all bundled in a bag made from an old pillowcase).
-Minimal sewing superhero capes (made from old sheets, etc)
-Treasure Box (Cool box or thrift store wooden box painted with kid's name, filled with something fun. Pirate Booty, candy, etc.)

They're older now, so it's just books books books, silly socks, or gift cards for more books. :)
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 04:05:10 PM by tyrannostache »

Lichen

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2019, 04:52:00 PM »
We only give books to children under the age of 12. If I know the child well enough, I make a special point to select books that I know are well within their interest area. Sometimes we pair books with other small trinkets. For example, one year I purchased a vintage backyard nature book for my 6 yo nephew at a thrift store, along with a small child-sized backpack. I added a magnifying glass and a notebook/pencil we already had lying around. The "Nature kit" gift was a favorite of his for a long time -- he'd send me pictures of things he found doing the activities in that little thrifted book from the 1960s. Another idea would be a child's book about space or astronomy, teamed up with a pair of children's binoculars.

Thrift stores, second hand bookstores, and library sales are a great place to find books. Nonfiction and science-oriented children's books work especially well for pairing with other items to make a "kit."

Blue Skies

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2019, 05:01:51 PM »
Along the lines of your clay pot & seeds idea, which I love:

Wool and knitting needles + a kids' how-to-knit book
Same but for crochet
Kitchen tools + kids' recipe book
Ingredients and instructions for homemade soap/candles/cookies/soup --you often see these packed in a mason jar
Origami paper & instruction book

Most of these you could find at the thrift store, if your family dynamics allow that. My sisters would love thrifted gifts; my husband's in-laws would view them as insultingly cheapskate.

While these are lovely ideas, most require either a truly independent self-starter of a kid, or for the parents to supervise and help.  IME giving these kinds of gifts to my niece and nephew, they just sat around.  Mom and dad were too busy to help the kids with them, and the kids either couldn't or wouldn't figure it out alone.  My mom used to do these kinds of gifts too, and has since stopped unless she knows she will be there with the kids to do them. 

And FYI - origami is probably a 10+ kind of gift.  A 6yo is not going to be able to fold on a line well enough to do it.  I tried an easy folding project with a group of 1st and 2nd graders and they all had trouble.

11ducks

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2019, 10:26:39 PM »
I do craft supplies for my nieces- packs of coloured paper, stickers, markers, crafty pipe cleaners, bobbly random fluffy glittery sticky things and glue on wiggly eyes that you can make art with. At least it will keep them busy and then parents donít need to keep them.

DeniseNJ

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2019, 09:01:07 AM »
Definitely hit the thrift stores. 

The toddler is easy.  A box of tissues will do. When my kid was three he would have been thrilled with a matchbox car for a buck.  I knit a friend's son a teenage mutant ninja turtle hat that he wore into June.  See if they have funky hats at the thrift store for dress up.

The six yr old is a little harder, but stickers are fun.  Also vintage toys are nice.

nessness

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2019, 10:16:47 AM »
Thrift stores all have their Halloween costumes out now. A box of dress up clothes would be perfect.

My daughter just asked for a live plant for her 5th birthday next month, but I don't know how common that is.

Books are great gifts for kids, and since they're not typically sold with packaging, you could check thrift stores for used books in like-new condition and no one would know the difference.

ETA: bath bombs are fun too, and you can make your own with natural-ish ingredients.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2019, 10:19:41 AM by nessness »

julia

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2019, 01:02:52 PM »
Wow thank you for all the feedback and ideas guys - this is great!!


The six yr old is a little harder, but stickers are fun.  Also vintage toys are nice.

BINGO! I have a huge box of filled sticker books from my childhood... I could pass them on to the 6 year old.

Thrift stores all have their Halloween costumes out now. A box of dress up clothes would be perfect.


All the dress up ideas are great too. I could get my partner to build a cute wooden box to store the clothes in and I'd paint her name onto it :)

AMandM

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2019, 01:35:18 PM »
While these are lovely ideas, most require either a truly independent self-starter of a kid, or for the parents to supervise and help.  IME giving these kinds of gifts to my niece and nephew, they just sat around.  Mom and dad were too busy to help the kids with them, and the kids either couldn't or wouldn't figure it out alone.  My mom used to do these kinds of gifts too, and has since stopped unless she knows she will be there with the kids to do them. 

And FYI - origami is probably a 10+ kind of gift.  A 6yo is not going to be able to fold on a line well enough to do it.  I tried an easy folding project with a group of 1st and 2nd graders and they all had trouble.

You're right--I completely forgot the ages OP is dealing with.

MsPeacock

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2019, 03:03:10 PM »
A dress up box is a gift that keeps on giving. Kids LOVE them. Old costumes, funny clothing from the thrift store - particularly sequins, bridesmaid dresses, crazy accessories (giant sunglasses, a purse, etc.), sparkly shoes, Halloween costumes, etc.   Dress up boxes are also great because they are something kids can play with pretty independently and also tend to enjoy for years (e.g. 2 year olds like them, 6 year olds like them, 8 year olds like them...)

Same with sticker books - loved for many years, takes up little space, kids can do on their own.

Ditto recommendation for gift cards to events - you don't have to attend. Just get a giftcard for the movies for the family

I would add that play kitchen stuff is hugely popular with preschool age kids. You can find small size pots, pans, plates, etc. - likely at thrift.

Goldielocks

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Re: Looking for Sustainable + Frugal Christmas gift ideas for young kids!
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2019, 01:34:27 AM »
Fun and super comfy pj's.
or
A new cuddle blanket.

It's a Classic Christmas present from an Auntie (when the kids already have a lot of toys).   Will be well used and doesn't cost much if you look around (Costco, dept. stores, etc). Well used and practical is very sustainable.