Essential 2017 Christmas Gifts for Kids that will be loved forever

I recently watched the (now classic) youtube hit clip by Annie Leonard and The Story of Stuff. In this world where a huge proportion of us can’t afford Christmas and the rest of us are trying to work out how to ‘manage’ all the stuff – I thought I would put together a list of ‘stuff you need’ that can help switch busy brains to start filling stockings in a more planet friendly way.

As a kid my father couldn’t afford much, I got essential things I needed anyway and I always felt a bit grumpy that I didn’t get the exact whizz bang gizmo the other children received. I now value this way of thinking. And – crazily, I was never any less happy 1/2 a day later. It taught me I didn’t need to have what everyone else had in order to be happy. What a lesson!

So, perhaps.. you could quite successfully transition to a point where a very small amount of the stocking is junk – it can be a fine line restructuring this Christmas season – but have a go anyway. The point is – opening presents is always awesome. Your kid will be happy when that essential tshirt that they needed is bought with their vibe in mind. Just because you knew you would have bought it anyway because they have doubled in size doesn’t lessen the experience.

These suggestions are aimed to be middle of the road – there will always be people way more extreme than this – it is aimed to help shifting cultures in families not preach to the converted!

Oh, and mindfulness – in those months leading up to Christmas, if you know your kid needs something you would have bought them anyway.. step back from the credit card. Put it off. Don’t buy the shoes if you can get by on one pair. Let them feel they really need something. Some kids are used to this (too many) – but some kids aren’t. Perhaps visit the opportunity or second hand shop if it is truly urgent – start them thinking that new is precious. If mindfulness sounds a bit weird and you find it hard to think about changing but want you kids to grow up strong and happy and resourceful – look up ‘idiot compassion’

What makes it harder for you: kids watching loads of TV so kids get fed stuff they must have; loads of magazines which mean ditto; loads of trips to the mall when you are bored so ditto; loads of junk in your mailbox… it’s a bit like weaning yourself off sugar.

The trick is you are turning them into a quality not quantity kid – and hopefully some of these ideas are so out of the box, that the child will be happy with what they received anyway. It does happen! The other kindness you are granting them is that they can then save their money and buy stuff on sale – which is slower for them to achieve and helps them learn the value of money. So maybe it might be valued more and last longer.

For growing kids and teens:

Pjyamas – winter or summer
Undies & Socks

Water bottle – this is a biggie – really important. The science now tells us that the other BPs – not just BPA – can be endocrine disrupting, hormone hacking excess oestrogen making (not good for boys or girls) – please stay away from all plastic and buy steel water bottles. BUT – check inside because they are frequently LINED WITH PLASTIC. Remember all the hot days those water bottles lie around – yuck.
Organic lollies/sweets/candy – because the sugar is not sprayed with Roundup, your kids are less likely to be allergic to them. I keep daily sugar low but, for heavens sake, kids need a bit of a treat – so choose a sweet that has less externalities, less pesticides, less gmos – and watch them utterly adore their out of the box treats. (Oh yes -because organics cost more, you buy way less – so you spend the same money you would have previously on quality not quantity).
A kindle – the ultimate screen as it benefits their imagination, their education, they seem to not need updating as much as all the other stuff, they mean less waste and you can take them anywhere – also you can buy second hand ones – they look as good wrapped in christmas paper! Put a label on it or etch it brand new with the childs name and voila it is personalised and special
A snuggly blanket that is made of wool or cotton in kids favourite colours – kids always love their own blanket – no plastic ingredients means no offgassing
A voucher to the coolest second hand shop you know – tweens and teens absolutely love a visit to a second hand store if they associate it with a cool vibe. We give these to mates for birthday presents and they are always loved!
A sleeping bag
A top quality sleeping pillow with no chemicals. Eg. Wool, natural latex. Note bamboo pillows may sound great but if it is memory foam it will likely contain polyurethane etc, that might offgas for years – and then they are treated with antimicrobials or fungicides for example patented name may contain likely carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. This is why a pillow like this could be considered a super special Christmas gift. It will last for years and is safe.
Groovy sun hat or cosy winter beanie
Cute sandles / jandals / thongs / shoes / slippers they need – with as little plastic involved as possible
A good quality plastic frisbee that will never break.
Funky bath towels
Playing cards or UNO the game because my family have been playing with the same pack of UNO cards for 30 years. 🙂
A present via a charity that helps someone else – eg. a goat, mosquito net, seeds and tools
Gardening equipment so they can start growing plants that you have to buy off them (start with parsley!)
A pocket knife for over 8s – and free sticks to whittle. Yep. You can.
Lego – this product has stood the test of time and it rarely gets chucked in the bin.

Older teens:

A high quality cooking knife with their name engraved on it
A cast iron frypan with lessons on oiling (teflon and its cousins have the same problem as BPA – new chemicals used instead of the old chemicals remain untested and frequently end up being similarly toxic)
Camping tent which can be used in future
Organic/low chemical moisturiser / makeup to help them not impulsively buy untrustworthy crappy chemical cosmetic junk
Essential oils – and almond oil, maybe coconut oil and get them to google making your own shampoo, moisturiser etc – it’s expensive to start doing this but you can provide a kit to get them going. It’s particularly great for teens with allergies, fatigue etc.
Expensive good quality multivitamins that they would never buy themselves. Young adults push it to the max and don’t nourish themselves – their brains are still developing. We also have massive anxiety in these guys and micronutrients have been demonstrated to reduce anxiety. It’s kind of like modern malnutrition because our food is grown so differently. Because of this and this and this
A present via a charity that helps someone else – eg. a goat, mosquito net, seeds and tools
A very cool, beautiful and snazzy cookbook that is low on sugar and white carbohydrates.
Luxurious good quality bath towels they will take with them and use forever.

And love them big time.
Because money can buy you comfort when life is tough and hard – but it cannot buy you happiness.

Present for people you love with sick children If you are trying to make changes to help children or teenagers recover from some of the complex chronic illnesses they are being hit with – skin problems, allergies, irritable bowel, constipation, neurodevelopmental challenges – the book, What’s Making Our Children Sick by practicing paediatrician Michelle Perro and USC academic Vincanne Adams (with case studies to make you realise it isn’t just your family), is riveting and detailed.

Interest statement: No money is made from recommending anything.

About Jodie

It is only by questioning and discussing and attempting to view the world our childrens children will live in, that we start to understand that life isn't a linear process - it is a room of dominoes falling. Our world has a lot of special interests and stakeholders that by default, keep science undone, and economics hooked in the 1920's - resulting in governments that don't address the complexity that is challenging our world. From pollution to mental health (and the cost of food) to the health of our freshwater - it's complex and dynamic. What equilibrium do we want to reach - a healthy vital one or a suffering one?
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