Orange Marmalade 2018 Non-Electronic Gift Guide: #optoutside edition

It’s time once again for Orange Marmalade’s annual non-electronic gift guides!

packages tied up with string

Non-electronic pastimes enrich kids’ bodies, minds, and souls.
Here’s to holiday gift-giving that encourages outdoor play, creative messes, imagination, ingenuity, exploration, family time, in the juicy, real world.

emily hughes treehouse

Once again this year I’m steering you to a few sites you’ll want to explore,
as well as including Amazon links for many items.  If you click on any of these links before ordering whatever-in-the-world you want from Amazon, I get a little dab from them.  I appreciate those of you who make the effort to do that for me during the holiday season!

Today I’m dovetailing with REI’s great movement to #optoutside.
Here are gifts for puttering, playing, and immersion in the great outdoors.

Ages 0-3

Don’t over-purchase for this age group. Sticks, rocks, dirt, water, snow…these are never-ending sources of joy.
Need ideas for how to help make this happen for your crew?
Gift yourself with one of the fabulous idea-books such as The Stick Book

the stick book interior by Schofield and Danks

…or others, reviewed in my post the elixir of outdoor play .

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 7.41.41 AM

Outdoor clothes that stand up to the elements and exuberant play make great Christmas gifts. Rain boots and snow boots; fleeces and snowsuits. The folks at Skida make these darling alpine hats to keep little ones cozy, as well as cool gear for older kids.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 7.40.56 AM

The First Years Stack Up Cups
Multi-purpose toys are the way to fly. These cups make great dirt scoopers, water pourers, sand shapers, snow packers, bowls for seeds and nature’s bits and bobs for an outdoor play kitchen.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 7.38.11 AM

Terry the Fox Soccer Ball
This darling fox is just one of many personalities available, enlivening this soft soccer ball for little shavers.


Green Toys Dump Truck
I love Green Toys, makers of great toys from recycled milk jugs.  They’ve got lots of sturdy, smart, cheerful, earth-friendly, choices like this dump truck.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 7.37.24 AM

Baby Nutty Bike Helmet
Bike helmets make excellent Christmas gifts, oh ye grandparents out there. And here is my annual PSA: Do NOT neglect helmets for your kids. I speak as a mom whose son avoided a Traumatic Brain Injury due to his bike helmet.
Try one of the jolly choices from Nutcase for the youngest riders.


And how about a bike of their own? Even preschoolers can cruise on a balance bike. The Tadpole by Frog Bikes gets great ratings.

Ages 3-6

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.00.12 AM

Radio Flyer Kid’s Wheelbarrow
This swell wheelbarrow will come in handy for so much trundling of mud, snow, stuffed animals, gravel, or what have you. About 3 feet long, a foot high, 16 inches wide.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.01.35 AM

Plasma cars apparently are a zooming good time for kids…as long as they can pry them out of the hands of their parents.  (They’re good for up to 220 pounds.) My research says to buy the extra set of polyurethane replacement wheels for a smooth, fast ride.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.22.19 AM

Snow Kick Scooter
If you’re lucky enough to live in snow land, check out these snow-scooters. Hills not required. Take it out on the cross country trail for an easier trek than skis for small fry.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.22.36 AM

SNO-Buddy Penguin
Populate your yard with penguins.  Build an obstacle course. Line the driveway. Surprise someone with a penguin on their doorstep…

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.35.04 AM

T-ball Glove
This first mitt will whisper of spring long before the snow melts.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.03.21 AM

Swing N’ Spin
All the kids and their friends can enjoy a giant ride with this web swing.  Holds up to #600 so pile on!

Ages 6-12

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 10.11.41 AM

SnowStoppers Mittens
Mittens for a long day of outdoor play: long cuffs to keep wrists free from crusty ice, grippy palms, waterproof outers, thinsulate for warmth, in a range of colors.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 10.10.58 AM

A good pair of hiking boots opens up the world. Keen makes comfy, tough, practical boots for all ages.


We love our Hydroflasks for all sorts of expeditions! Keep hot liquids piping hot and cold liquids refreshingly cold, and kiss those disposable styrofoam cups and plastic bottles goodbye. These guys are truly leakproof. I prefer the wide mouth for easier cleaning. The optional flip top lid is what I use most of the time, and it’s leakproof as well. And they come in a delicious array of colors! Way more than what’s shown here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 10.11.23 AM

Slackline Kit
Slacklining is great for long hours of solitary or group challenge. Build balance and strength. This one comes with extra training lines.


Surf the air with the Swurfer Swingboard. Designed and crafted by a surfer, the shape of this thing enables you to ride it in motions and moves more akin to surfing.


Gift your kids with good camping gear, a little at a time, and by their teenage years they’ll be ready to hit the wilderness on their own. Go little or go big. My son likes this small, flexible-leg flashlight that clips to packs, tent ceilings, zippers. Older kids can certainly learn how to use the pocket rocket to whip up hot drinks on the trail.

Family Gifts


National Parks of the USA
Buy a state park or national parks pass and give yourself incentive to go exploring this year as a family! Wrap it up with this fantastic new book that’ll whet your appetites for these national treasures.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 10.18.13 AM

Annual camping trips make up some of our family’s dearest memories. Invest in a tent big enough for the crew. This one at Cabela’s looks dandy, though I would definitely skip the “hanging entertainment system” — egads! — and break out a book to read aloud together.

That’s it for this week.  For lots more outdoor gift ideas, see previous years’ lists via the tab at the top of the page.
I’ll have more lists of creative, non-electronic gifts next week.
Share them with grandparents, family members, friends, looking to encourage juicy lives for our kids!