12 GIFTS FOR KIDS THAT AREN’T ‘STUFF’ – Sustainable(ish)


Did you know...? 
  • 81 million unwanted presents are received each year - that's about 3 per household
  • Only 1% of consumer goods are still in use 6 months later
  • When kids have so many presents they actually stop enjoying playing with them

Whether it's Christmas or birthdays, kids LOVE presents (I think most grown ups love presents too...) - it seems to have become our way as a society of showing our love, or in some cases, just being polite (who would ever turn up at a birthday party empty handed?!). 
But OMG - the stuff they have. 
I look around our house and it is stuffed to the gills. Despite my best efforts and semi-regular enforced clear outs of the kids rooms. They have so much Lego they often can't find the bits they want to make a model.
And still they want more. Clearly I am a huge failure as an eco-conscious parent...

In my defence however, lots of it has come from other people. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends at birthday parties... When relatives ask me what the kids want for an upcoming celebration, I look despairingly around my house, and scream silently "NOTHING!!!". Actually, I'm sure there's LOTS of stuff they want, but anything they need? Not so much. 
So if you're like me, and trying to fend off relations with ideas for the kids that won't end up in the charity shop (best case) and landfill (worst case), here are some ideas for gifts that aren't 'stuff'...


The gift that keeps on giving... These work really well as whole family gifts from grandparents etc.

  • The National Trust - see what properties you've got locally, and near your favourite holiday spots - I pretty much guarantee you there will be loads, and if you take a picnic, you've got yourself a free day out!
  • English Heritage - as above. Plus castles. And jousting. 
  • Annual membership to you nearest attraction - we live near Longleat and the annual passes are eye-wateringly expensive, so when the kids were younger we would often ask grandparents to buy them an annual pass for their birthdays. Same goes for Legoland, or Peppa Pig World, or wherever you live near that the kids are constantly pestering you to take them!

Am I allowed to say 'making memories' without making you want to vomit?
Most of our kids have enough stuff. What they are sometimes lacking in is 'quality time' (cue more vomiting sounds...!).
1:1 time can be rare for lots of our kids (and another thing to add to the list of 'things I feel guilty about as a parent).
Ask grandparents/aunts/uncles etc if they would think about gifting them a day out with them, instead of yet another Lego set/unicorn/Peppa pig toy. 

  • Cinema trip (complete with the pick 'n' mix and fizzy drink that you never let them have...
  • Trip to one of the aforementioned local torture chambers  tourist attractions 
  • We treated the kids last year to a sleepover at the Natural History Museum - it was AMAZING!
  • Even just a trip to the park and a hot chocolate in the local coffee shop without having to fight for attention with siblings can be perfect!

Another gift that keeps on giving! Some of them also have the added bonus of something exciting to unwrap/play with on Christmas Day/birthday. 

  • Magazine subscription - some of the ones we've had for the kids:
    - Whizz Pop Bang - "award-winning science magazine that brings science to life for girls and boys aged six to twelve"
    - The Beano - my boys ADORE this!
    - National Geographic Kids - "teaches kids about the environment, animals, science, history and culture"
  •  Whirli - the "ever changing toy box" - pay a monthly subscription and 'new' toys arrive on your doorstep, and can be returned when they fall out of favour! SUCH a great idea - check out my interview with the founder on the podcast.
  • Rainy Day Box - "Activity boxes bursting with good old fashioned fun to captivate kids, whatever the weather."
  • Build Ur Bricks - can you tell we have Lego obsessed boys...?! This subscription gives them all the fun of making and playing with a  model without adding to the mountain of disassembled kits already causing me pain each time I walk into their rooms.
  • Mud and Bloom - each box includes everything you need for four seasonal activitiesgardening and nature crafts - along with instructions, nature news and a quiz aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall. For kids aged 3-8.
How is your toy box/your toy room looking?
How do you feel about the amount of 'stuff' in your house and celebrations?!
And what have I missed out?
Let me know in the comments!



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