We all love to give gifts. Thankfully, our culture is starting to recognize the harm that unrestrained materialism is having. So many of us are striving to be better stewards of what we have, yet we still love to bless others with thoughtful gifts that will bring them joy and show that we care. As I learn more about how toxins affect us, I know I want my gifts to be toxin free and healthy. Yet I still want them to be used by even the most un-crunchy of friend, so they need to be user friendly and something not so foreign that it will sit up on a shelf before being donated to the local thrift store.
This list of toxin free holiday gifts is made with the goal of helping you chose healthy sustainable clutter free gifts that will being joy to both the recipient and the giver.
What my kids are getting this year from me:
A craftsman tool box for my 6-year old, other family members will add in tools.
An 18-inch doll with a princess outfit for my 8-year-old. After being a tomboy for years, I’m tickled that she loves everything ‘princess’ right now and I’m indulging in the joy of having a little girl this Christmas.
A simple wooden car for my 10-month-old. We’ll be honest, gift giving for babies is mostly for the parents. He loves his older brother’s cars, though, and he’ll enjoy playing along. This is nontoxic and well made to stand up for years of play.
Their favorite gifts from last year
A nice wallet (A $2 bill and a family picture or 2 makes this even more personal)
I know most men are pretty hard to buy for. They have specific tastes, and tend to go out and buy what they need right when they need it. They don’t get excited about clothing, nor do they use more than one wallet. We want them to use and enjoy what we give them, and that is what this list is about!
Grassfed Smoked Sausage and Cheese Sampler: Grassfed animal products are not only sustainable, but they are full of the often lacking omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin K2 which is important for healthy teeth. And they taste fantastic!
Something Wool: Do you knit at all? A simple beanie is loved by nearly every man I know. Made in superwash wool, it’s super warm, breathable, flame resistant, and washable! Beanies are the simplest thing to knit, and the circular knitting is easily portable, perfect for traveling.
A sweater is more of a project to tackle, but if you’re up for it and your guy isn’t a sweater-wearing kind of guy, check out the Hacky Sack Hoodie in Son of a Stitch and… That’s what I’m making; it’s essentially a hand made wool sweatshirt- something that non-sweater-wearing-men will rarely refuse.
Homemade Hot Sauce: This hot sauce is simple to make, healthy, and hot sauce is such a macho thing that guys will love it!
Natural Soaps for Men: Men might not be excited about natural soaps at first, but when they use them they’ll be hooked! Guys like skin that’s comfortable and healthy too- it’s not ‘manly’ to itch from your personal care products!
Hobbies- Quality over Quantity: Think of your man’s hobby, does it involve a fly pole? A set of wrenches? A gift that lasts a lifetime will be not only a pleasure to use, but also will… last a lifetime, eliminating waste and the need to repurchase. So upgrade a tool or two to Snap On brand, or buy a top-of-the-line piece of fly tying equipment. Whatever it is, visit a specialty store, and even something small can make hobbies so much more fun when it’s top quality.
This travel mug is an instant favorite. It keeps hot liquids hot, even in cold Montana weather. We got ours at Cabelas, where the associate went on and on about how much he loved his. It really is much better than any other travel mug we’ve tried. Right now Amazon has these with a 4-for-3 promotion, get four for the price of three, with Amazon’s free shipping and already low prices.
Something wool: Most women love good quality accessories. A scarf in a soft baby alpaca or cotton-wool blend is a quick knit and fun to give. What color does she like to accessorize with? You might get a chance to knit with a new color of yarn- purple, chartreuse, bright orange, or ruby red!
Cosmetics: Give the loving gift of healthy skin care and cosmetics to someone you love. Did you know that our skin absorbs what’s on it? Make sure it’s something that you could eat.
Natural Soaps for Women: Luxury (and healthy) bar soaps are a treat to use, and they get used up- 100% clutter free!
Essential Oils: Essential Oils can be used for so many things, and even ‘non granola’ people love the scents and antibacterial properties.
Safe Stuffed Toys: For the child who adores their stuffed toys, sleeps with them, and carries them everywhere, it’s important to try and find ones that aren’t stuffed with off-gassing polyester fiberfill but instead uses natural materials such as bamboo, wool, or even soy fibers.
Cut Rounds of Logs or building lumbar: An unconventional gift for children with a back yard, but sure to be loved by all young children! For balancing, jumping off of, stacking as large blocks, rolling, and rearranging- if you’ve got a chain saw and access to logs, this could be an inexpensive delight!
Play Silks: Silkies are fantastic open ended natural toys. They are perfect for building forts, wrapping dolls, becoming super hero capes, and butterfly wings. For the creative baby, toddler, or preschooler, these are sure to be the favorite gift. You can also make play silks easily at home, a fun project for an older sibling to do for a younger one especially.
Recycled High Quality Toys: Dump trucks from Green Toys are what my children are getting this year. Green Toys has an assortment of recycled plastic toys. I know that plastic isn’t inherently sustainable, but for little ones metal can be too sharp for ‘accidentally’ bumping into siblings or walls. This made in the USA option isn’t the same junky plastic that will break in a couple months.
A Tripp Trapp Chair: Pricey, and honestly a little more modern than my usual style. But these chairs are perfectly proportioned to children. We have one for my 4-year-old with autism and associated poor balance; it’s easy for her to climb in and out of and it makes meals so much more pleasant because she’s comfortable. My son loves it too, and I think nearly every child that comes and visits has to check out ‘the red chair’.
Some more of ‘my picks’ from Amazon: Plan Toys are good quality; not made in China, the paint doesn’t chip, and the toys are classic and last through multiple children.
- Fruit and Vegetable play set, with a knife that can cut through the velcro attached fruit and veggies. My kids love these, we’ve had them for over two years now and they’re still a favorite.
- Doll House Family. My children just got a doll house hand made by Grandpa, which they love! They are going to get a few dolls to go in it finally; so far it has held mostly animals and tractors.
- Stacking ring is great for new sitters (5ish months) and up. They love the heft of wood, and the bright colors.
- Lacing Beads are great for developing hand-eye coordination. My daughter loves these, since it’s similar to sewing and knitting, which she sees me do. Age 2-5.
- Green Toys Firetruck: Fun, classic, no batteries, no noise. We got this toy for my son for his birthday earlier this month (and another for an un-birthday present for my daughter) and they love them! The fire trucks have been out in the snow, through the kitchen, and have rescued people and animals from the dollhouse. Made in the USA out of recycled plastic.
For Older Children, Tweens, and Teens:
My kids are getting more grown up, and with that is the fun possibility of getting them items that they will keep for the long term.
A craft cart contains all those fun scrapbook pages, coloring books, shape punchers, and markers. This is a fun theme gift, with people who want to give her a gift she’ll love all giving craft supplies. Some suggestions to add: Shaped punches, scrapbook paper, high quality colored pencils, high quality crayons, more grown-up coloring books, activity workbooks.
A nice tool chest and tool box is a great gift for boys and girls- everyone will need tools when they’re out on their own, and when you start now, you can slowly add high quality tools. I suggest starting with a tool box, and presenting a nice chest for a major birthday (maybe 10 or 16). Some starting tools: Hammer, screwdriver set, cordless tool set.
Babies don’t need much, but they’re oh-so-fun to buy for, aren’t they? I like these gifts:
Haba car rattle/clutching toy (made with nontoxic finish)
Board books: Brown bear, You are my I Love You,
Sophie teething toy (this is like crack for babies- they love it, and the rubber is all natural)
A homemade crib-sized quilt is the best nap companion. Wool or organic cotton is natural, warm, and so gentle for baby.
Simple blocks – ABC or plain wood
Clothes in a few sizes up. Little babies often have an over abundance of clothes, and then as they turn to toddlers, they wear them out like crazy. Purchase an outfit to save for later. I love Zulily for neat children’s clothes at great prices.
Classic games: Checkers, Chess, Chinese Checkers are all non-electronic family fun. A nicer quality board makes playing so much more enjoyable, and it’s likely to be left out because it looks so nice too!
Fireplace Starters: For the family with a wood stove or fireplace, there’s nothing nicer than being able to easily light it! Wax and pine cone fire starters are decorative and amazingly functional. When we had a wood stove as our only source of heat I made some of these- it was nice not to have to fiddle with the fire on cold winter mornings or after returning from running errands all day.
Beeswax Candles: Tapered candles for the dinner table, or a pillar to light above the hearth, beeswax candles are a beautiful healthy alternative to conventional candles.
Photographs: Are you a photographer? When they’re all together and dressed up during a holiday party early in the season, take a friend’s family picture, print, and frame in a simple wood frame, preferably one from a garage or thrift store. Personal, inexpensive, and impossible not to like!
Snowman Kits:For the family with snow, this kit could inspire tons of outside play! Not 100% clutter free, but the kit could be made from thrifted materials and placed in a decorative container to store from year to year, this could still be tons of fun!
Just a Little Something:
For those times when you want to give something, like to teachers, coaches, or business acquaintances, but you don’t know their tastes, you’re on a very limited budget, or you just need a few gifts on hand for unexpected visits.
Hard Lotion in Family size or Pocket Size: I’m ordering some of these for gifts- amazingly useful especially in the dry winter months! I love that the tin can easily be tucked into my purse, it keeps it handy and I always know where it is.
Homemade Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract is as simple as putting vanilla beans in alcohol, I use bourbon. After the alcohol is throughly infused with vanilla, bottle in cute little glass bottles and give as gifts with a recipe featuring vanilla attached.
A festive bundle of pine boughs tied with a ribbon: Inexpensive, but thoughtful decor that can be composted or used as a fire starter after the season is over.
Beeswax tea lights: Beeswax candles burn cleanly, have a soft honey scent, and give off a beautiful warm long lasting flame. A healthy alternative to petroleum candles (paraffin) scented with chemical scents.
For the Fellow Real Foodie:
Chances are you aren’t going to have any trouble getting started with gifts for a like-minded friend, but here are a few just in case!
A nice knife: I’ve gotten nearly a whole set of top-quality knives piece by piece as gifts. I love them! A paring knife, bread knife, and butcher knife are the most often used in my kitchen.
Herbal Remedy Starter Book and some herbs: So many of us natural-minded people love the *idea* of herbs, but never actually get a chance to look into them enough to use. Herbal Nurturing is a great beginner’s guide to using herbal medicine, and a few herbs could also be given to get started.
And of course Books! Nourishing Traditions, Wild Fermentation, Real Food, Real Food for Mother and Baby- find your favorites here. And find the GAPS book here (I know many people who would LOVE the GAPS book as a gift!).