Orange Marmalade 2018 Non-Electronic Gift Guide: artistry all around!

Today’s list celebrates artistic endeavors…
the joy of creating in wide-ranging forms, from blacksmithing to bread-baking, bell ringing to tap dancing.
Let these gift ideas inspire others that are particularly suited to your child…or yourself!


I’ve provided links to cool websites where you’ll magically lose hours of time browsing because they’re so beautiful and inspiring!
And Amazon links which, if you click through on any of them and purchase whatever you desire, I get a small dab back.
Thanks to those of you who use this feature at the holiday season!

Ages 0-6

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.37.31 AM

Making music is something even very young children do instinctively.  This gorgeous glockenspiel, made in Germany, is pricey but will make a much sweeter sound than most toy models. A keepsake, to be sure.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.06.43 PM

And here’s a cheery wooden flute to brighten the day.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.06.56 PM

Xyloba Orchestra
I featured a wooden chiming marble run the other day, forgetting that I’d found this glory! It’s a pricey one but looks phenomenal. 16 interchangeable “sound modules” mean you can manipulate the pieces to create a pleasing composition as your marble descends the track.


Eco dough
Playing with clay is another early art possibility. Eco dough is beautiful, non-toxic, with essential oils for a pleasing aroma. The folks at Eco-kids produce other art materials so if you’re interested, check out their site.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.36.54 AM

Modeling clay
Another option — modeling clay from Germany.  Soft, vivid, never dries out. What delicious colors!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.10.57 PM

Cake Maker Dough Set
And how about some dandy tools to help imagine that dough into fantastic desserts? This excellent set from Green Toys is made from recycled milk cartons (yay!) and also comes with a supply of three tubs of dough. I think this set looks like loads of fun!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.06.04 PM

Earth Paints
Moving along to paint, these Earth Paints are handcrafted, vegan, powdered paints made with real earth that create a creamy, tempera-like paint when mixed with water. Or add more water to create watercolors! For those of you wanting to support sustainable, ethical companies, these look like a dream.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.10.27 PM

Jumbo Paint Brushes
Then get some chubby brushes.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.10.18 PM

Wooden Train and Race Car
And perhaps some wooden models to paint. Great snow day project. Melissa & Doug have lots of other choices if trains and cars aren’t your child’s cup of tea.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.05.32 PM

These gorgeous crayons are 100% beeswax, made in New Zealand, and come in a chubby size that’s easier to hold and harder to snap in two.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.38.48 AM

The Eames Coloring Toy
The iconic Eames duo created this coloring toy decades ago and it’s back for another generation. Card-stock pages with a variety of die-cut shapes entice children to color, punch out, and attach them together to create cool objects, architectural structures, and abstract or realistic figures.

Forest Animals Make-a-Mask
These darling woodland masks serve double duty: good for coloring and then for dress-up-and-pretend!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.40.13 AM

Me: A Compendium
For budding authors…young children who wish to write their own book about me will love recording their wishes, fancies, and ideas in this colorful first journal.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.07.30 PM

This tool set is one of my happiest finds.  Do some serious cardboard construction with the makedo, a clever plastic screwdriver that works with its own plastic screws. Watch forts grow to ginormous size or all manner of cardboard structures emerge. Their website has photos that’ll provide gobs of inspiration for your kids’ cardboard projects.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.47.13 AM

Rainbow Pancake Kit
How about a whimsical cooking project. These rainbow pancakes ought to brighten up the gloomiest of days. Foodstirs has lots more kits for kitchen wizardry as well.

Ages 6-9

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.11.07 PM

Baking Club
In fact, they have a subscription box option that invites month by month creative teamwork — the Baking Club from Foodstirs. Order the number of months you like — you don’t have to do a whole year — and get razzamatazz baking kits to brighten the day and satisfy your sweet tooth!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.06.25 PM

Young Woodworkers Club
The Young Woodworkers Club provides monthly build-it-yourself kits for ages 7-12 with pre-cut wood and pre-drilled nail holes so kids really can make these independently.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.27.51 AM

Woodworking Projects
Don’t want a whole club subscription? This set of woodworking projects has pre-cut wood but perhaps needs a knowledgeable helper.  Some reviewers had to adjust the nail size, for example, to make these come together properly.  But they look like very satisfying projects!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.37.16 AM

Kitpas Art Set
Here’s an art kit that gets kids exploring stencils, window art, handprint art, and water coloring.  What’s more, the jute bag is handmade by craftswomen in Bangladesh, purchased through a Japanese NGO, with all revenue going to the Bangladeshi women.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.04.02 PM

Suncatcher Kit
Simple suncatchers are a project children can enjoy making and hanging in their own house or perhaps giving to a grandparent.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.04.15 PM

Printmaking Kit
A bit more involved, here’s a printmaking kit that sounds like a treat.  Pigment-infused sheets of paper and die-cut shapes are used to create collages that can be printed when pressed onto wet paper.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.05.18 PM

Sharpie Electro Pop Permanent Markers
If your child is already busy drawing, cartooning, making posters, or engaged in other  self-directed projects, you know that a juicy set of drawing supplies is always welcome.  These vibrant fine-line markers would be a happy gift, for example.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.04.53 PM

Stockmar Bees Wax Sheets
Beeswax is a unique modeling material, satisfying to work with to create tiny 3D figures or it can be cut into shapes and pressed onto pillar candles as a lovely decoration.  Those candles make awesome gifts for others when they’re finished, by the way!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.36.42 AM

Wool Felt Kit
Another way of sculpting is with wool felt.  This kit enables children to make their own, sweet finger puppets.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.27.43 AM

Wooden Peg Doll Bodies
If kids want to populate dollhouses, block cities, Lego or Playmobile structures, nativity sets…why not get a whole tub of peg people and go to town with paints, stains, markers, fabric trim…so many possibilities!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.37.59 AM

Peoplefolk Blocks
These charming blocks invite children (and who are we kidding, their parents!!) to create jolly figures. A lovely pastime for encouraging quiet, creative, imaginative play, to while away a sick day, or take along for a visit to Grandma.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.26.17 AM

Mosaic Art Kit
My daughter is an artist and has done some enormous mosaic projects in the past couple of years which means I have come to better appreciate this ancient, gorgeous art form.  This kit provides a way for children to try their hands at a 7″ square, tiled mosaic without needing mortar.  It looks lovely! Other animal subjects are also available.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.04.44 PM

The loop-de-loom gets rave reviews as a beginner loom that’s easier to set up and weave than some of the models I’ve had on previous years’ guides. Check out the description to find out more.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 7.24.17 PM

Nighttime Shadow Puppets
And what about some puppetry!  I love these shadow puppets, perfect for late night flashlight parties, and am betting your kids will be inspired to create their own figures to add to the mix.

Ages 9-12

Okay, this age group is ready for some significant challenges.  Here are a few ideas to explore:

The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids
American Girl Baking
Baking Class
Complete Children’s Cookbook
There are dozens of great cookbooks out there. Here are a few suggestions.
From left to right:
a plant-based option because I love vegetarian food and it’s good for our planet!!
a fabulous book of sweets from Williams Sonoma;
another basic baking book that’s not so girly;
and finally a good, all-around selection for beginning cooks.

Harry Potter cookie cutters
Star Wars cookie cutters
I can’t resist putting in these Harry Potter and Star Wars cookie cutters because they just need to be in lots of your kitchens!!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.54.14 PM

Squier by Fender Bullet Stratocaster
Wirecutter magazine did a series of awesome reviews to find the best, basic model of a number of things.  Here’s their pick for a first electric guitar. I’m linking to the Amazon page, but to read their lengthy review/reasoning behind this choice, click here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.54.43 PM

Fender Acoustic
And here is their pick for an acoustic guitar.  The Wirecutter review is here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.56.31 PM

Janome MOD-19
And here is their pick for a first sewing machine.  This is not a “kiddy” machine.  It’s just a good choice for someone just getting started.  The review is here.

Succulent Garden
Dreaming Foxes
Prefer hand-sewing? These embroidery kits look enchanting.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.36.14 AM

Rug Hook Fish
The old art of rug-hooking is available to children through this brilliant kit.  Note that this is not the same as those yarn latch hook kits.  My sister does this type of rug hooking and oh my word, she turns out such gorgeous pieces.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.56.09 PM

Fujifilm Instax Mini
Turning to photography, these new instamatics are a dream, aren’t they? Let your kids discover the delights of the old Polaroid develop-in-front-of-your eyes pictures.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.55.57 PM

Pinhole camera kit
Or, try a pinhole camera. Make it yourself with this kit and then explore this unusual photographic technique.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.26.44 AM

Klutz Lego Make Your Own Movie Kit
Or…try your hand at stop-motion filmmaking, courtesy of the brilliant folks at Klutz.

Building wooden boat models is tremendously satisfying.  The gang at The Wooden Boat Magazine offer some sweet choices including this lug rigged sloop and tugboat.  Of course, if you want to go all out and build a full-size wooden boat, they can help you with that, too.  My husband and son were part of a boat building class when my son was about 12 or 13. The two of them learned to build a cedar strip canoe, then built a stunning beauty of their own that we use on the lake in northern Minnesota. Don’t limit these kids!

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.28.21 AM

Beginner Wood Carving Kit
Carving for Kids Book
Kids can get a start with wood carving with this great kit from Chipping Away.  I am directing you to their site for any wood carving needs/questions.  And I’m also including an Amazon link to a great guide for moving on from these first projects.

I Heart Architecture
Dabble in design and architecture with this beautiful book full of prompts based on the artistry of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 11.43.41 AM

Dragon Drawing Book
Step-by-step drawing books like this Dragon selection are great at teaching kids to see the parts of the whole, a practice that can be applied to other drawing efforts as well.  If dragons aren’t your top choice, Ralph Masiello has lots of other subjects as well.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.55.07 PM

Watercolor for the Artistically Undiscovered
Most people feel like they aren’t artists. They think they can’t draw or paint and are embarrassed to try. This brilliant book helps loosen up your creative muscles as it guides you through many fun, satisfying painting prompts using the watercolors provided.

The vintage paint-by-number craze lives on.  There are a number of kits for kids available at the site I’ve linked to.  I liked this wolf and dog 🙂

The Imaginary World Of…
Finish This Book
Wreck This Journal
For the creative writers, dreamers, artists out there, Keri Smith is the gal to know.  She has pulled together such unique books that remove walls in your thinking, blast away barriers to creativity, and usher writers and creators of all sorts into wonder, imagination, and juicy inspiration. Each one has a slightly different bent so read their descriptions and gift one to a young artist or ask for one for yourself!

For all ages:


Don’t forget that tickets to the theater, ballets, concerts, museum exhibits…
or money for lessons or classes of all sorts — pottery,  Kindermusik, poetry-writing, improv…
make fantastic gifts for kids of all ages.

There are lots more creative ideas in past years’ gift lists which you can find via the Gifts tab at the top of the blog. Links to this year’s earlier lists are there as well.

I’ll be back next week with puzzles and games…and at some point I’ll get some book and magazine ideas up here, too!