5th Annual Orange Marmalade Non-Electronic Holidays

vintage christmas cardIt’s time once again to make merry and here at Orange Marmalade I’m encouraging you (as always!) to choose non-electronic gifts for the ones you love. Stir up creativity, get outside and explore, gather around a board game, fire up the imagination — life is just so sweet and juicy! 

Of course BOOKS are a favorite gift in our household. I the complete alice illustrated by helen oxenbury cover imagethink there are well over 1,000 titles listed on the blog, so take your pick 🙂 Today, though, I’ve got a menu of non-book ideas. At the end of the blog are links to previous gift-guides — I’m trying not to repeat myself, so click around to find some more great suggestions.

Ages 1-3

calico critters elephant familyCalico Critters — Teeny families of darling koalas, puppies, bunnies, hedgehogs and many other animals. Tiny enough to tuck into a satchel and take along. Make little worlds out of your own blocks and doll blankies, or buy endless accessories from treehouses to tents. Marvelous imagination fodder!

Green Toys Seaplane I love Green Toys because they’re made out of green toys seaplanerecycled milk cartons and are so well-designed. Great for tubtime, the lake, the pool — and there’s even space to put a guy in the cockpit. Hefty size. Very cool.

dress upDress-up Fabric   You don’t have to spend a fortune on costumes for make-believe. Buy fabric remnants and your kids will fashion endless costumes, forts, and more. Sparkly, tweedy, swishy, velvety, gauzy, stripey, zany, camouflaged, bubble-gum-pink…

Play Kitchen — Gobs of choices here. Think simple. If you outdoor play kitchenhave space to park this outside, kids can use real water, dirt, and leaves… making cooking even more fun.

easelEasel — My kids used the chalk board and white board on our easel more than using it as a painting surface. Drape a flannel sheet or blanket over it and play with felt figures. Years of fun in one go.

Do a Dots Eliminate spills while creating brilliantly-coloreddo a dot markers pictures. These are a hit every time my kids take them on a babysitting gig.

Ages 3-6

pipsqueak markersCrayola Pipsqueak Markers — So cute and so many colors. Get these for kids ages 4 and older who have decent motor skills.

Taro Gomi’s Play All Day — Scads of rainy day fun, plus inspiration for coming up with your own paper creations.

taro gomi play all day

easy bake ovenEasy Bake Oven — It’s been uber fun to bake treats in these since 1963. Buy the little mixes or experiment and make your own.

Flashlight — Yup. A real flashlight. Hours of fun outside at flashlightnight, on a camping trip, under the covers, after lights-out.

mini basketball hoopMini Basketball Hoop — Install one of these in a bedroom or playroom for years and years of fun.

Board Games:  I’m choosing games stamped with my daughter’s Seal of Approval since she worked at a snazzy toy shop and tested out a LOT of games. Here are three goodies for this age group:

i never forget a face eeboo

I Never Forget a Face — a matching game

sneaky snacky squirrel game

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel — it’s a race to collect these adorable acorns!

richard scarry busytown eye found it game

Richard Scarry’s Busytown  Eye Found It — work together in a race to find hidden objects!

Ages 6-9

knitting for kidsKnitting Supplies — If you know someone who can teach your child to knit, now’s a great time to start. Buy some lovely, wooden needles in about a size 10 and some wool yarn . This is a wonderful craft for both boys and girls, by the way.

Liquid Watercolor Paints — Vibrant colors and much easier to manage than blick liquid watercolorcake paints at this age.

shirley temple and ukuleleUkulele — A fine age to pick up this age-old and trendy-again instrument.

Croquet Set — For those of us in Minnesota, this would perhaps be unkind to give for Christmas! But for you who will have yards to play in before…June…this is a great family outdoor game.


deuter-little-star-full-size sleeping bagSleeping Bag — Having your very own sleeping bag for camp outs and overnights is a mighty fine feeling. Camping together has been one of the best, sweetest parts of our family life. Get your kids outfitted a bit at a time for lots of outdoor excursions.

Board Games: I played these with my niece’s children this summer and can testify that they are fun:

Postcards from America — a beautiful game; travel to destinations pictured on miniature postcards

postcards from america game

Qwirkle — scheme your way to victory in this color-matching game

qwirkle game

Sleeping Queens — dragons and queens and sleeping potions, oh my!

sleeping queens by gamewright

Ages 9-12

Best-sewing-machine-for-beginners-300x199 from shelikestosew dot comSewing Machine — A real, honest-to-goodness machine. Kids this age can learn to safely operate a real machine and start sewing everything from quilts and pillowcases to pajamas and Halloween costumes.

Shrinky Dinks and Lego Crazy Action Contraptions — klutz crazy action contraptionsklutz shrinky dinks bookThese are just two of the many Klutz book/kits that are so well-conceived. We have had both of these and both boys and girls have thoroughly enjoyed them.

smartwool socksHiking boots, Swiss army knife, day pack,  SmartWool socks — Here again, I’m advocating equipping your kids for a life in the outdoors by giving them camping and hiking gear, then making a firm plan to adventure together in 2015.

Dartboard — These come in safe varieties and Darts_in_a_dartboardthe old- fashioned, pointy kind. Figure out what you’re comfortable with and hang one up where you don’t care about the surrounding wall!

Slackline — If you’ve got a couple trees you can hitch a slackline to, you might try hooking your kids on this craze.


Games: There are seemingly endless games to choose from by the time your kids hit this age bracket. These two get rave reviews:

Ticket to Ride — build a railway across America in this gorgeous game

ticket to ride game

Suspend — sort of the opposite of Jenga — hang your wire on the growing sculpture without tipping the whole thing over

suspend game

And here are the links to guides from previous years:

Non-electronic holidays 2013
Non-electronic holidays 2012
Non-electronic holidays 2011 birth to two
Non-electronic holidays 2011 three to six
Non-electronic holidays 2011 six to nine
Non-electronic holiday 2010 — celebrations

Best wishes as you take steps away from screens and into active, creative, relational activities!