What does it mean to you to give eco-friendly gifts for kids for holidays and birthdays? People give gifts in so many different ways and with so many varied objectives. Here’s what we’re getting our 9-year-old and 7-year-old boys for Christmas this year.
This post is part of our Gift Wrapped series in which contributors and friends of Honestly Modern who live lifestyles guided by sustainable living principles share what they actually buy for and give to their loved ones for holidays and special occasions.
This post contains affiliate links.
I love a good gift guide. And I don’t love most of the boring gift guides that abound on the internet, which is why I created this series of questions to help you find the perfect gifts for the people in your life.
But you know what else I really like? When real people share what they’re actually getting their families for the holidays. It feels more realistic, more genuine, and more personal to me.
There are some awesome gift guides to be found with really unique ideas that fulfill my quests to find the right things for our boys each holiday season, but most gift guides are pretty blah. That’s why I started sharing what we’re actually getting our boys for the holidays. Here is what we gifted them two years ago.
I guess I didn’t do it last year? If I recall, we got them a couple of books, a Play Station 4 to share, and one PS4 game for each of them.
This year, we are spending quite a bit more money on them than we have in the past. But the two largest gifts for each of them are things we would have purchased for them anyway (don’t tell them that). In our house, Christmas gifts (for the sake of gifting alone) aren’t a big production. But we do tie in bigger purchases around the holidays and label them as Christmas gifts because… well, I guess because it’s easier and lots of things are on sale this time of year.
Buying Gifts From Small vs. Large Retailers
It’s no secret I try to avoid purchasing from Amazon. We canceled our Prime membership about a year ago. Although I do buy something a couple of times a year from Amazon when I can’t find it anywhere else or the price is woefully less than other alternatives that I can’t justify paying the difference.
For the gifts below, I’ve included links to Amazon and direct to the retailer or a smaller business that sells the product, where applicable. If you can avoid Amazon, support smaller businesses and purchase from retailers directly to maximize their profits. Having a diverse network of large and small retailers is good for the economy and makes it more resilient. Supporting local businesses is good for the environment too.
But use the option that is available to you. We all have different reasons for purchasing from different channels. As we head into the busiest shopping time of the year, do your best to support the little guys and the independent companies, but balance that with the need to make the holidays work for your family.
Here’s what we’re buying for our boys this holiday season. For a little extra fun, I also included the gifts we’re getting for my nieces and nephew with whom we spend Christmas each year.
The boys often ask to use my computer to write stories or create Excel spreadsheets for things like sports brackets. Yes, we’re turning them in Microsoft Office nerds early, and we’re embracing every ounce of it.
We researched a few computers for the boys and landed on these laptops as the best ones that fit our needs. I love that they are small so the boys can bring them to hockey practice and write while the other one plays.
Our boys don’t use tablets or laptops for games or streaming videos on YouTube, for the most part, so we didn’t focus on finding a laptop that required a lot of horsepower for streaming. And if it is slow for streaming, I’ll consider that a bonus (because we don’t want that to be an easy and enjoyable experience anyway – haha).
My older son has been asking for this LEGO set for well over a year. I’m pretty sure he asked for it last Christmas, and it didn’t make the cut.
LEGO’s site says it’s soon to retire, so I’m not sure how many they have left. But I know he’ll be pumped when he gets this, and it will keep him more than busy for several days over the holiday break.
With two hockey players who both play on travel hockey teams, we buy a lot of hockey gear. Hockey sticks wear down over time and the boys outgrow them, so they need replacing periodically.
If we’re going to buy them anyway, calling them a Christmas gift isn’t terrible. Unless you have a hockey player in your family, this gift is probably of little interest to you.
I’m a big fan of GameWright, a company that makes so many amazing games. They have a sister company, BrainWright, that makes logic and puzzle games. This logic game requires critical thinking to use clues to figure out where the king is hiding in the castle. It’s for our older son, and I think he’s going to love it.
Another option from GameWright, this cooperative game has all players work together to capture four hidden treasures from the ruins of a paradise island. While players collectively try to save the treasures, the island sinks over time and creates a race against the clock to win the game together.
Both the boys are reading Harry Potter right now (and so am I). My younger son enjoys puzzles. This has quite a few pieces so I will likely be helping him do this. I figured it would be a fun thing for us to do together over the holiday break from school.
A few weeks ago, I finally sent out the boys’ art that I had been saving for the last couple of years. Artkive turns kids’ art creations into memory books and framed mosaics.
I purchased a memory book for each of the boys. It’s definitely not the crazy, snazzy toy that usually ends up under the tree, but I think they’ll really like it.
Both boys spend a lot of time drawing, and our older son is really into drawing and designing cars lately. I plan to get him a new sketch pad for all his car designs so he has another notebook ready when his current notebook (that I got in our Buy Nothing group) fills up.
The boys were into Pokemon a couple of years ago, and then their interest waned, so I gifted the Pokemon cards in our Buy Nothing group. In the last month, trading Pokemon cards on the school bus got popular again. They’ve been asking for lots of new Pokemon cards and will love having more to add to their growing collection.
I definitely passed my affinity for chocolate to the boys. I purchased a bag of each of their favorite chocolates for them and will include it under the tree.
While they prefer something more traditional, I’m a fan of Alter Eco chocolates. I like the Mint Blackout option that’s super dark and has enough mint to be delicious. Bet let’s be real, I’ll eat most chocolate you pass my way.
The boys could almost always use new boxers and socks. My mom always buys socks for us (it’s kind of her thing at this point – and we love it), so I’ll leave the socks to her. To keep things simple, I always buy the boys’ boxers from Primary because they have great products, good prices, and fairly sustainable production practices.
Gifts for Our Nieces & Nephew
Each Christmas, we get together with my family. Typically, we are all flying in from various locations where we live. We don’t get tons of gifts for the nieces and nephews because 1) they don’t really need much and 2) we have to bring everything home on airplanes.
This year, I chose to get each of them a small game that we already have and my boys love. If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of playing good, strategic games with my kids. If you’re looking for great games for young kids, these two are slam dunk wins.
In this card game, you must use the cards in your hand to acquire (and wake up) the sleeping queens. The winner is the first to get a certain number of points from the queen cards.
I love that this game works for young kids through adults. I’ve played with my seven-year-old son and I’ve played with only adults, and both were great. As you add more players and include older players, the game requires more strategy so it really transcends ages.
This is a really fun game and a great way to learn United States geography. Each player has five cards with different states on each card and must match their state cards to the descriptive card drawn from the deck. This works especially well for elementary school-aged children, though you can definitely adapt it to work for a wider range of ages. The game does require reading state names, capital, and nicknames.
Apparently, my two-year-old niece loves chapstick. I mean, who doesn’t, right? I love chapstick too (and never seem to have it with me when I need it). I think she’ll have fun with this little pack of flavored chapstick from a company that prioritizes good-quality products.
Buying Gifts Within Eco-Friendly Living Principles
If you spend a lot of time around here, you know I prioritize eco-friendly living principles. Just about zero of these gifts fit into any sort of “sustainable” box. What the heck is that all about?
When I first started focusing on my sustainable living habits several years ago, I searched high and low for “eco-friendly” gifts my boys would like. Most of the things I found looked gorgeous and were definitely more environmentally friendly, but they were things my boys wouldn’t actually use with regularity. Many of the gifts were great for other kids but didn’t suit my boys well.
Buying something because it’s beautiful that they won’t use often feels more wasteful than buying cheap crap they love. These days, when we purchase gifts, we primarily focus on gifting experiences or choosing high-quality things they will absolutely adore and use over and over again.
If we can find gifts from local shops, smaller businesses, or secondhand, that’s a huge bonus. And if not, we’re doing our best to find balance, purchase wisely, and reduce our consumption overall (because that’s the best way to live in an eco-friendly manner). No amount of consumption of the “right” goods will clean up our landfills or reduce pollution or save our planet or protect our communities.
About The Author
Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.
You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.