Orange Marmalade’s 2016 Non-Electronic Gift Guide: #Opt Outside Edition

Each year I head into the gift-giving season with a plea to steer the children in your life (and yourself!) towards non-electronic pastimes.

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Illustration by Jason Chin from Water is Water.

Make a commitment to live juicy lives! Hike in the forest. Bake bread. Play hopscotch. Collect rocks. Build forts. Grow tomatoes. Read books. Volunteer together. Let your holiday gift-giving reflect your desire to lead real — not virtual — lives!

This year I’m breaking my lists down into some new categories. Today, in support of REI’s #optoutside movement, I’ve got ideas for getting your kids and family out of the house into some fresh air! Moving from the youngest on up…


Shoot the wad with this fabulous child carrier so you can get those wee ones out in that great big beautiful world! When our kids were small, we loved having a backpack built with both the child and the beast-of-burden parent in mind.

A blast from the past -- my husband and daughter-in-a-pack out for a ski.

A blast from the past — my husband and daughter-in-a-pack out for a ski.

Take kids out in the woods enough when they’re tiny and it will feel like home šŸ™‚


Simple is best. Buy a jolly kickball.


Toy trucks are great for mucking about in the sand or mud. I love that these are eco-friendly, made partially with sawdust left over from furniture production.


And speaking of mucking about, outfit your kids for getting outdoors in all kinds of weather! Aren’t these charming?!



A box of sidewalk chalk is worth hours and hours and hours of fun even if you don’t have a big backyard.


Whack! Run! Repeat. Tire ’em out and they’ll sleep better!


Yes, you can collect bugs in jars. This little gizmo is just a little more enticement for those who might be bug-squeamish.


I looked online for a simple, plastic, play kitchen with nothing that could not withstand rain and discovered that they are making them with way too many bells and whistles and moving parts right now. Find an older version on craigslist and park it outdoors where they can cook properly with grass, petals, pine needles, seed pods, and all that good stuff.


These bike trailer rigs are pricey, but we sure wish they had been available when our kids were small instead of our jerry-rigged version! Bike outings are brilliant ways to exercise and spend time together!


Laddertoss is such a fun game to play with young and old in the backyard, at the park, on the beach… Even young kids are surprisingly adept at this. I think you can find directions online to make one yourself if you prefer.


Bike helmets are no joke. Saved my son from a traumatic brain injury. These from Nutcase are so snazzy, your child will beg to put his/hers on!


Bats are great for the environment and under grave threat just now from white nose syndrome. Why not build a shelter for them? It’s a great way to create something useful together and learn about these fascinating creatures as well.


Slacklining is a wonderfully-challenging, popular way to get outdoors, develop balance and strength, learn a cool new skill — and it’s suited to a wide age range. This is a good basic model for getting started.


Buy a year-long state park pass for your family. The one for Minnesota is available here. Explore the varied beauty of the place where life finds you now. We have a boatload of happy memories of our times camping and hiking in the fantastic parks around Minnesota.

Next Friday I’ll have round 2 of my non-electronic gift suggestions, gifts bursting with imagination-potential! You can also view ideas from previous years by using the Gifts tab at the top of the page. I imagine some links are no longer good, but a quick google search should do the trick!