So, here’s the deal. I am a minimalist mama but I also love Christmas and presents and shopping and all. the. things. So, while it may seem as if these two are at odds with each other, I’ve simply found a way to incorporate the things that are important to me in my Christmas shopping.
What’s important to me?
Gifts that spark creativity. Being a minimalist mama means I prefer toys that help my kids explore the world. This exploration could be mental or physical, but I choose gifts with intention so that my money doesn’t go to waste on small, trinkety items that won’t be used after the first several days of “newness” wears off.
Gifts that are meaningful. I love to choose items that will hold a special place in my child’s heart (even if it means buying PJ Mask everything for my three year old). For older kids, it might mean ice skates + skating lessons. Sometimes it means re-gifting something from your childhood. The key is, you know your babies and the things they love!!
Gifts that allow for quality time. I want my children’s memories to be full of moments we spent together, whether its reading books, working on puzzles, or playing a game. Quality time comes from spending a large quantity of time together, so the more “together” gifts you give, the better!
To help you get started, I put together a list of some of my favorite gift ideas for kids ages 6 and under that hit these two markers.
Drawing Easel. This is the perfect gift for little explorers! The various sides allow kids to practice using chalk, paint, markers, pencils, crayons, the list could go on. This easel is big enough for several kids to be drawing at once which makes it perfect for siblings or play dates! Everything from Melissa and Doug is quality, and the fold-up flat feature is a WIN for mamas like me who live in small spaces. You can get it here!!
Traffic Play Mat. My mother-in-law gifted Strong with this play mat for Christmas last year along with a bag of small cars and trucks. He was a bit too young at the time to fully appreciate the gift, but now that he’s nearing three, we have this mat laid out in his room almost every day. He loves to drive his cars over the roads, build towers where the buildings should be, and drive his animals to and from various parts of the town. Not to mention, it often doubles as a stage for our daily band practices. This playmat is a favorite!!
Foam Blocks. I can’t begin to count the number of times we have built towers with these bad boys. They’re easy to stack and even easier to knock over (win/win for active boys), plus they’re easy to store! We’ve built barns for Strong’s animals, learned shapes while stacking, and I’ve kept them in his room from time to time as an easy distraction when it’s just too early for this mama. You can find them here.
Costumes. These are by far one my favorite ways to allow my kids to explore and be creative in the world. There’s something about a costume that brings their imagination alive, whether its mimicking things they’ve seen or creating elaborate stories about their imaginary character. My favorite place to look for costumes is thrift stores, but I’ve also linked some “best bang for your buck” ideas below along with my favorite costume hanger for easy display.
LEGOs. Is there anything boys love more than LEGOs? I don’t think so. My mid-thirties husband still asks for LEGOs for Christmas, so I think it’s safe to say this would be a timeless gift. If you have any from your childhood, these would suit the “meaningful gift” category perfectly. Or maybe you need to start a new collection for your littles! Either way, this is the perfect starter kit for kids who love to use their imaginations in building.
(PS If you’re going to go the LEGO route, can I just say that this storage bag is THE way to go? If you’re like me, you hate finding all those teeny tiny LEGO pieces all over the floor, but this bag wins all the prizes for its easy clean-up and storage solution! Check it out here.)
Play-Doh. What kid doesn’t love play-doh? Throw in a rolling pin and some cookie cutters and you’ll be pretend-eating it for hours (or minutes if you have an active boy like me). I love the creativity that play-doh brings as we’ve talked about colors and shapes in fun ways. Not to mention, its a great way to include sensory play in your daily activities. You can get a beginners pack here!!
Musical Instruments. Our family lives on music videos and dancing, and you better believe we break out enough instruments for an entire band every. single. day. We love the things our kids learn through music, whether it’s developing their vocabulary or learning to sing on pitch (not to mention music is a great way to distract a large group of toddlers at once). This kit from Melissa and Doug is a good starter kit, but if your kids are older, consider buying them music lessons or a bigger drum set to help them develop rhythm!!
Puzzles. I love these chunky puzzles from Melissa and Doug for toddlers. They’re easy to handle and they make learning fun. They also have puzzles with sounds which are a blast to explore! (Hint: puzzles are always a great “quiet time” activity.)
Lincoln Logs. These are a blast from my past because I grew up playing with Lincoln Logs that were passed down from my dad. This is the perfect gift to fall into the “meaningful” category if you still have them from your childhood, not to mention an incredibly creative gift as it allows your kids to build for hours on end. You can get them here if you don’t already have some!!
Play Farm. My kids were each gifted a play farm and house for their first birthdays. We have spent countless mornings playing with the animals, driving them around the barn, learning animal sounds, discovering fun facts like where we get our milk and eggs, the list could go on! This is such a fun learning toy, plus it allows for kids to use their imaginations with pretend play. You can get one here!!
(Ours are Fisher-Price but they are a bit more expensive. Here is a more cost-friendly version of the farm.)
Look & Find Books. These have been such a fun way to explore during reading! These Look & Find books are filled with ways to encourage learning, whether its spotting things in a picture, learning various colors, shapes, or counting. These are a great way to incorporate something meaningful in your giving, as they have themed books tailored to lots of toddler interests. Here are a few of my favorites!
Shapes Sorter. This is the perfect gift for a one-year-old if you’re wanting something educational and inexpensive. I love this shape sorter because there are two of every shape, there’s multiple colors, and the lid comes off, which allows the teenies to simply put shapes into the bucket when they’re too young to use the spaces in the lid. You can get one here!!
I hope these gift suggestions spark some ideas in your mama brain as we’re nearing the holiday season. What are some of your favorite gift ideas for kids that fit the creativity category?
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated via the affiliate links in this post. All products mentioned are ones that I’ve used and come with my personal recommendation. I am an independent blogger and all opinions expressed here are my own.