10th annual Orange Marmalade Non-Electronic Holiday Gifts

This year marks ten years of my Orange Marmalade tradition, extolling the joys of juicy gift-giving.


Once again as the holidays roll around, I want to encourage you to take a deep breath, muffle the noise of incessant holiday marketing
and the inner voices that goad you towards more-more-more,
and consider what you’re bringing into children’s lives with their holiday gifts.

Let’s say yes to gifts that help get kids out of doors where they can learn to love the natural world, move their bodies, and relish unstructured playtime.
Yes to gifts that foster creativity and imagination, that cultivate family togetherness.
Yes to playthings that are well-crafted and invite improvisation.
Yes to opportunities to show compassion to others.

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As I settled in to make lists this year, I thought about what a cacophonous year it has been.
Are you feeling weary? I am.
I’ve decided to simplify my lists this year in an effort to not overwhelm.

Today, I’ve got a few categories to consider with some favorite ideas from years past.
I’ve also tried to steer you towards some of my favorite sites for finding creative gift ideas.
Friday I’ll have juicy book recommendations for babies through adults.
I wish you peace and joy in these busy days!

Gifts that get kids out of doors

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…as simple as sidewalk chalk

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…as important as a bike helmet

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…as retro as stilts

Quality outerwear makes a great holiday gift.

I looked for certified B-corporations as part of my passion to do a better job caring for the earth. Four great places to shop for outerwear are:


Patagonia’s wonderful worn-wear shop. I purchased a winter jacket this way and am so very happy with it!




Also consider gifts of outdoor experiences: ski/snowboard passes, skating lessons, memberships to zoos, arboretums, nature centers, climbing walls, skating ovals…

Gifts that encourage imagination and creativity

Don’t let electronic gadgets do the heavy lifting of imagining and creating for your child.
Give them quality items that spark their own ingenuity and playfulness.
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Plan toys are sustainably made and leave plenty of room for kids’ creativity, like this doll house.

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Earth Hero carries Eco-kids art supplies and Natural Earth has eco-friendly paints.


The Wooden Wagon has lots of gorgeous wooden block, puzzles, and toys.

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Green Toys makes awesome trucks, boats, play dishes, and more from recycled plastic.

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Magic Cabin and Hearth Song always have many inspiring, juicy gifts for children, like these beeswax candle-making supplies…

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…and this lap harp (we have loved ours!)

Always, always, Legos.


Consider music lessons, classes in arts and crafts of all sorts, dance, drama, robotics, creative writing, cooking, coding, circus arts; or tickets to concerts, plays, and other performances.

Gifts for the whole family

 Gifts to share that foster family fun…

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…like a tent or other gear for family camping, hiking, biking, or canoeing trips.

Board games and puzzles fall in this category, too. These can be shared gifts:


eeboo always has such beautiful puzzles

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as does the New York Puzzle Company

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And Haba makes beautiful games for the whole family. I drool over their catalog every year!

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Also, I just have to add for you Harry Potter ultra-nerds: we bought this game last year and have had a grand time playing it. It’s a cooperative game for ages about 11 and up. Takes some dedication to get the hang of it.


Special dates make great holiday gifts either for kids or for children to give to their grandparents — an outing in the city…a horseback riding adventure…high tea …a secret midnight picnic…a popcorn and Uno party…

Donations to good causes

There are wonderful organizations that can help your family make a meaningful contribution to something important to you…


…like these Baby Kits through International Rescue Committee
And there are more and more children engaged in activism who would be deeply glad for a donation made in their name to a cause that’s dear to their hearts.



All my gift lists from past years are still available via the tab at the top of the blog.

 Come back Friday for recommendations of my favorite gifts of all — books!