Orange Marmalade’s Annual Non-Electronic Holiday Gift Ideas

Snow from vintagewinter dot comIt’s time to think again about giving gifts that enrich rather than deplete children’s minds, hearts, and bodies.

Here at Orange Marmalade, that means coming up with non-electronic ideas. This year, I’ve got ten suggestions that span a wide age range of children.

Check for more ideas at these links to previous years’ posts:

2012 — Happy Non-Electronic Holidays to You — Gifts for Birth to Age 12

2011 — Holiday Gift Ideas — Birth to Two

2011 — Holiday Gift Ideas — Three to Six

2011 — Holiday Gift Ideas — Six to Nine

2010 — Happy Non-Electronic Holidays to You


Here are my 2013 suggestions:

1. Books — of course! Buy them from an Independent Bookseller if you can. Here in the Twin Cities we have two sterling shops:

The Wild Rumpus

The Red Balloon Bookshop

So if you don’t have a local independent children’s bookshop, you might order online from one of them.

2. More books! I have been collecting out-of-print children’s books for each of the-adventures-of-paddy-pork-covermy children for years. One book each year. The charming, wordless books of John Goodall; Eve Rice and Jan Ormerod treasures; an obscure novel by a favorite author. Search for them on Alibris, Abebooks, or Amazon, and see how inexpensively you can find these gems!

3. A family membership to a local museum, zoo, botanical garden, nature centerIt’s so much easier to see just the amount a child can really take in if you know you can come back again and again.

sophieknapsack illustration catherine stock4. A tent. Take your family camping this summer and start an annual family non-electronic tradition. Camping together is a phenomenal way to spend time outdoors, soak in simple pleasures, and build good memories. Don’t know how? Ask the good folks at REI or your local recreational store for help.

5. Rock climbing pass. Take your kids to the local climbing wall and watch them rise (this is a pun) to the challenge! Even very young children can monkey their way up these artificial rock faces, strengthen their bodies and feel supremely satisfied with their accomplishments. Vertical Endeavors is a popular place for starters.

6. Art lessons. From painting to pottery, knitting to woodworking, there’s an art form for your dpt-classroom-1child. Many art lessons can be found at local community art centers, but you may have a talented friend who’s willing to give a few lessons for pay. Here in Minnesota we have the lovely North House Folk School up in Grand Marais where extra-cool old school crafts from canoe-paddle-making to woodblock printing are taught by masters, and a few classes are open to young students or children with a parent/grandparent. 

7. Fischertechnik. This building toy coming out of Germany was one of my son’s favorite-ever gifts. Unlike Legos (also one of the best presents ever) Fischertechnik parts are much less standardized, so you build more precise, working models. With the motor kit, you can make model sewing machines, ferris wheels, and a whole lot more, that move. Much more intricate building for kids who love mechanics.

8. Mid-winter PartyFor very little cost, you can give your child and some of mini pizza from waddleeahchaa dot comhis/her friends a party-for-no-reason. Take advantage of the season and go sledding or skating (or if you live in Australia, I guess you go to the beach), come home for make-your-own individual pizzas and board games or charades. Show those kids some great, non-electronic fun!

9. Subcribe to a magazinea splash of delight delivered to your mailbox every month. This makes a great gift for a grandparent to give, if they’re looking for ideas. Highlights suits a wide age range, and the Cricket group puts out a nice selection of magazines for toddlers through teens, and there’s always Ranger Rick.

save_the_children_large from ikea dot com10. Want to give your child a habit of giving? Sponsor a child through a reputable organization that uses your donations to provide school fees, food, clothing, and more. Save the Children and Compassion are two to start with.

Even if you don’t see anything at all on these idea lists, I hope it helps you start thinking non-electronically as you consider gift-giving during the holidays, and throughout 2014.