Environmentally Conscious Toddler Gift Guide!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I think we can all agree that things are becoming very materialistic and people are becoming overly greedy. Presents are being bought in excess and the ‘meaning of the season’ has become new toys, electronics and clothes. Supporting huge corporations and adding ever more to the piles of waste. On top of that, most children’s toys these days break within a week and are made by children the same age or younger then the children we are gifting them too, in foreign countries, getting paid .07 cents a day.

And just for you gals and guys, I thought I’d compile a small gift guide of some of my favorite gift ideas for toddlers the holidays this year!!

The best option would be to make things yourselves. However, I know not everyone is artistically inclined or is able to sew/knit/crochet. If you knit or crochet, check out Raverly for tons of free patterns for anything you can think of! Great knit/crochet ideas for toddlers/older babies would be blocks, balls, stuffed animals, mittens, hats or slippers. If you sew check out Pinterest or All Free Sewing for patterns and ideas! I think I’ll be sewing some little stuffed veggies this year for Delilah, and putting them in a little garden basket. I may even make a little garden bed cushion she can ‘plant’ the veggies in and pick them into her basket!

Now, for those of you that can’t, don’t have the time or aren’t able to make all homemade gifts, I’ve found a few super awesome gifts to buy!

Batsiranai Sharing Doll
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Delilah is actually getting one of these from her grandma this year. It’s handmade in Zimbabwe and certified fair trade (meaning it was made by adults who were all fairly compensated!). Besides the fact that it’s adorable and is baby wearing a little baby in a sling (!) whenever you purchase one, they give the same doll to a child in a heavily HIV/AIDS infected infected area! So really, you’re buying your child a doll, then buying one for a less fortunate child who may not even have a toy!

Handmade, personalized blocks

I came across these the other day, and fell in love! You can get any amount of letters you want and you can pick which letters! The whole alphabet, numbers, pictures, your child’s name, blank blocks, shapes. It’s really cool! The awesome thing, is the family who makes them, also uses organic oils and beeswax to coat them using materials they grow themselves on their farm! How cool is that?? They are completely safe an non-toxic so children who are teething can enjoy them as well as older children! PLUS they donate to the Peace Corps with every purchase!

A basket of fresh, farmer’s market veggies

Farmers Market Basket of Veggies

I love this play food! Make a play ‘farmer’s market’ in the house and buy veggies in your basket! You can pick whatever veggies you like for in the basket! Totally homemade by ‘Locally Sewn Produce‘ (see what she did there!!) based out of Iowa. Plus, she has a ton of other options in her shop if you want to add some other veggies.

Wooden TrucksWooden Toy Trucks and Wooden Toy Cars Wooden Toys Organic Walnut Set of 6

These awesome trucks and cars are hand crafted from quality wood and finished with beeswax! This particular link is for a whole collection of trucks, but they can all be purchased individually for those on a budget! I think they are so pretty and we might be getting Delilah one of these from me and her dad this season!

Felted Number Eggs
Needle Felted Eggs with numbers, Made to order

Learns numbers and learn where eggs come from! Put these little guys under a toy chicken and have them count the eggs as they collect them. Perhaps put them with the farmer’s market veggies I mentioned earlier! Or have them pretend with you while you prepare eggs for breakfast. Plus, there is a little bell in each egg! So they can make noise while they play, what’s better then noise??

Do you have a favorite gift idea? Do you make gifts yourself? Do you make gifts and sell them? Feel free to link them in the comments!

I definitely urge you to go at least partially handmade for the holidays this year!

Til next time,

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Celebrating Winter Solstice

This year we have decided to give up Christmas. We have many different reasons for this. I don’t want to delve to deep into  our reasoning, simply because its not incredibly important to this post, but I will give a brief explanation.  I have recently started my journey as a Buddhist, and my husband is an atheist. We found it silly that we were celebrating the birth of a god we don’t believe in or worship. Secondly, it is far too commercial. Starting in October every store you walk into begins throwing Christmas EVERYTHING in your face, and all people care about is money, savings, sales, buying. It’s no longer about love, compassion and giving. So we have decided not to raise our children celebrating Christmas.

So for our winter-time ‘holiday’ we have decided to start celebrating winter solstice. It has been something that has appealed to me in the past so I decided to look further into it.

In short, the winter solstice is a celebration of light, nature, the sun and new beginnings. Solstice occurs on the shortest day of the year, or when the least amount of sunlight reaches the earth (December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere). The sun seems to stand still. From this day forward in the year, the days will be longer and more full of light.

For more history on the solstice click here, here or here. (I will share more history with latter posts and ideas!)

Since its creeping up on us, I’d like to share with you our plans, some ideas, recipes and activities between now and then.

For those of you that think quitting Christmas and celebrating solstice is totally crazy, let me tell you our plan for the day-

Sleep in. Cook a nice breakfast. Exchange some gifts (not tons, and mostly homemade). Make bird feeders (as Delilah gets older, we will add more nature friendly activities). Start dinner. Then in the afternoon, about an hour before the sun sets, take a walk and hang our bird feeders in the woods for birds to nibble all winter. Then we will watch the sun set over the river. When we get back, we’ll light candles all over the house and drink wassail, have sun cake and some herbed cookies and enjoy a nice, hearty, dinner!

How could you not want to do that?? Even if you celebrate Christmas, solstice might be something to add into the festivities!!

For this post I’ll detail 3 things we’ll be doing!

Solstice Tree

In similar fashion to Christmas, we plan to have a small evergreen tree in the living room throughout December. But we plan to decorate it with homemade ornaments! Dehydrated orange slices with ground cinnamon and cloves, hung with ribbons and beads. Homemade ginger bread sun, bird and animal ornaments. A homemade tree topper in the shape of a sun. Twinkling lights (I would do traditional candles, but I don’t think our landlord will be OK with the fire hazard!)  Some red winter berries from a local farm and maybe some cranberries!

Very natural and beautiful.

Wassail

Wassail is a traditional cider/drink for solstice/yule. It can be alcoholic, but there are plenty of alcohol free recipes!! Wassailing was an ancient tradition where everyone would enjoy some drink in sing songs. We plan to use this recipe.

Gifts

We plan to give a few simple gifts. I’m making my daughter a teddy bear, we’ll give out homemade cookies to our neighbors, and family will get some knitted items, homemade bath items and foods. We will wrap them either in fabric, or recycled newspapers to help keep waste down and to add to the nature friendly aspect of the holiday.

I hope to add a few more posts throughout December highlighting a few other traditions of solstice and a few more ideas. If your celebrating leave a comment and let us know what your favorite aspect of solstice is!

If your looking for more inspiration for your own solstice celebration, you can follow my Pinterest board for solstice ideas!

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