Minimalist Kids: 11 Alternatives to Toys on Christmas

After 2 years of actively getting rid of “stuff,” only to have two kids within those 2 years is every minimalists worst nightmare.

Christmas in the West is like a celebration of capitalism: even when you think you have enough of something, there’s someone telling you that you could have more; I mean, just imagine what it would be like to have a kids bedroom full of toys PLUS a playroom full of toys. Great, right?

The fact is, there have been hundreds of studies done on the connection between an excess of “stuff” and depression, anxiety, and attention disorders (not just in kids, but their parents, too!). Learning imaginative play and not being stimulated by blinking, talking toys and hours of television is critical to raising kids and young adults who have the patience to focus on one thing at a time for long periods of time, and who can think actively, abstractly and logically.

Here are a list of 11 alternative Christmas presents (instead of toys, tablets or television subscriptions):

1. Movie Tickets

Movie tickets… Because what kid doesn’t want to go to the movies? This could also be a great gift for family members to get your kids with a date set to take them off your hands for a few hours (everyone wins!).

2. Theatre / Zoo / Aquarium / Carnival / Petting Zoo tickets

These are great to save for the rainy, indoor days to come.

3. Subscription Box

These days there are so many amazing subscription boxes you can order for monthly, bi-monthly, or even quarterly subscriptions. Some educational and fun subscription boxes include ones like Little Passports, Owl Post Books, MEL Kids Science Projects, and We Craft Box.

4. Baking Ingredient Box

Find a yummy recipe that includes all of your little ones’ favorite things and create a little basket of all the ingredients for a fun night of baking (and eating).

5. Lessons (Swimming, Karate, Music, Dance, Cooking etc.)

The gift that keeps on giving! Chances are your bath-time-lover would appreciate some swimming lessons, or your craft-lover would love a weekly art class. Contact your local YMCA or Community Center, or search on Google for lessons in your area.

6. Temporary Tattoos

They’re cheap and mess-free! Amazon has some great options like Disney’s Little Mermaid temporary tattoos or Pixar’s Cars temporary tattoos.

7. Gardening Kit

Plan ahead for the Spring equinox by gifting your kids a little gardening kit. Once it starts to warm up, you can spend the afternoon planting flowers, herbs or veggies in an outside garden box.

8. Books, books, books!

The best gift you can give your children is the love of learning. There are kids books on just about every topic, subject and in every genre. Spend some time learning what your kids seem most interested in and find books on those subjects.

If you have an avid reader, a book subscription box like Marmalade Books or Amazon’s Amazon Book Box might interest you, sending along hand-picked books based on your kids ages and interests every 1, 2, or 3 months.

9. “Adopt” a wild animal

Adopt a wild animal! But not actually.

A lot of zoos and wildlife preservationists have “Adopt a Wild Animal” programs where you can donate and your kids are sent educational information on the animal they chose to support, and how your money is helping feed, protect and care for the animal.

Looking at websites like Toronto’s Wildlife Conservatory and WWF’s Wildlife Adoption Program are some great places to start. With WWF, your donation goes towards their conservation program and even sends a little plush version of the animal you helped support in their “Adoption Kit.” Purchasing adoption kits as a gift to someone else are available at the online purchase desk.

10. A plant / fish to care for

Learning how to care for something other than yourself is a big step as a kid. Start with a plant or an easy animal, such as a fish.

(If you do go with a fish, please make sure that tank size is appropriate for the health of the fish and proper care instructions are relayed to you by a knowledgeable person).

11. Piggy Bank

Teaching your kids the value of money is crucial. Learning how to spend and save money at a young age sets your kids up for success (and gives them more respect for you as they learn the true value of money)

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