Updated: Nov 25, 2020
It’s going to be a very different Christmas in 2020, that much is certain. Whilst it’s important to continue the last few years’ efforts to reduce the environmental impact on Christmas, this year more than ever we may feel the need to spoil our kids. After all, they’ve struggled with school closures and reduced social contact. Considering all this it is clear to me that this Christmas should be about quality, not quantity. About gifts which serve our children’s imaginations and spark their interest in learning and exploring the world. Especially in a time when this has been somewhat hampered for them. Therefore, I’ve put together a list of some of the most unique Christmas gifts for girls and boys I’ve found on the market. I've strived to find Christmas gift ideas that are eco-friendly, progressive and inspiring. I'd love to see your suggestions in the comments also!
So, I thought I may as well begin with a controversial gift, but we’ll circle back to that debate in a minute. Firstly let me tell you that this is a camera and a video camera designed for children to be able to use. It comes with an inbuilt editor and a green screen which enables you to use the camera to add visuals in the background. You can also add music and effects. It’s pretty cool, I have to admit. Now, what this product risks implying is that these videos will be uploaded to YouTube or Tik-Tok or whatever platform is on-trend right now. However, it is NOT possible to upload anything directly from the camera. For me personally, there’s no way I’d allow my child to do so. Without judging anyone who does, I believe it could be damaging and risky to allow children to appear on such online video channels. However, I remember spending much of my childhood speaking to an invisible audience and cooking with my sister, pretending we were presenting a TV show. It was great fun and fuelled our imaginations and confidence. I would have loved to be able to film these games and edit them into a video.
This product teaches skills that may be important for the modern world and it should be a great confidence builder, as long as its use is monitored and rules are laid out in order to keep the experience purely fun. Find out more
I am both blessed and cursed with a proper chatterbox for a kid. Perhaps it’s because I’m a single mum that the poor girl has had to become such good company for me, but I can honestly say she’s both daughter and friend. About once a month the two off us go out for dinner and we talk about all our likes and dislikes and dreams and fears and we know each other as we know ourselves. Yet, we’re in a unique situation, being that it’s just the two of us. In busier households with far more moving parts perhaps it’s more challenging. I wouldn’t know. Sometimes I worry that she’ll stop being interested in talking to me though. That’s why I love the concept of Our Moments Conversation Cards. The best gifts bring families together, and this is one of those.
Each card is a question to ask another person. Such as, ‘what is your favourite memory’ or ‘what are you most looking forward to this year’. They are thought-provoking and reflective and the sorts of questions which spark conversations and explore both memories and dreams. Perfect for around the dinner table, on long car journeys and days at the beach. Something beautiful about these cards is that they span the generations. They can help to tease your tired 5-year old into chatting after a tiring school day. Or can be used to keep up with teenagers as their interests, ideas and opinions change and develop. You can also get grandparents and other family friends and relations involved. And of course, I’m a lover of any gift that doesn’t take up much space! Find Our Moments Conversation Cards
This is one of those experiences every child should have. It teaches not only lifecycles but also how to care for creatures and then return them to where they belong - in nature.
As an animal lover, I hate to see animals caged, but the butterfly garden isn’t like that. Your child protects the caterpillars in the butterfly net. You’ll love watching them as they build their chrysalis and wait in anticipation as the transform. Magical is really the only way to describe the feeling as you watch each butterfly emerge and slowly spread their wings. Even more special is setting them free. This is an important part of the journey for children to go through. The care and then the letting go. The whole experience is one which teaches children the beauty and wonder of nature, but also the fragility of it. When I did this with my daughter, one of our six butterflies (we called him Ian), didn’t make it. His wings never stretched out for some reason. In the end, the only thing we could do was set him free anyway because the advice was that being out in the world might instinctively fight to flush out his wings. Yet, it didn’t taint her experience. It taught her how difficult it is for wild things to survive and therefore how we must respect and protect them. A lot of schools buy these and your child may well have this experience through their education. Still, it’s great to be a there to see them enjoy it. That’s why I highly recommend ordering a butterfly growing garden.
This is everything I love. It’s a STEM-focused learning gift and it’s sustainable. Made from cardboard, this kit slots together so that children may build their own microscope. It comes with lenses but nothing else - so it’s up to the kids to find things to magnify and study. It’s two gifts and two activities in one. Plus there’s no need for glue and hence, no mess! One of the other benefits of being made from cardboard is that it’s light and therefore easily transportable. Ok, so it’s probably not the most high-end microscope on the market but it’s perfect for zooming in on an early interest in both science and engineering. Find out more
As soon as my baby came into the world as a girl I made it a priority to make a list of ‘no’s’. No plastic babies, no dolls, no make-up. Nothing that could risk making her feel as if she were in a box. Born into a role of care and quest for beautification because she was female. Still, as she grew up I worried that my want to protect her from this was stifling her because she wanted to play with Barbies and she was fascinated by fashion. So, how do you protect your kids from damaging gender stereotypes whilst allowing them to explore creativity and identity? I’ve recently discovered Creatable World Dolls and I think they’ve found a way. Their range of dolls is gender-neutral. The shape of the dolls is representative of children’s bodies instead of the oversized heads, eyes and breasts paired with tiny necks and bodies you see in other children’s dolls. Instead, the Creative World Dolls are realistic and diverse. They are kids for kids to play with. They come with cool clothes and the option to have long or short hair, neither of which necessarily points to whether your doll is male or female, that’s up to your kid. Everything is. These are the dolls that will fuel children’s imaginations and help them explore ideas of identity, void of the crushing stereotypes and impossible standards of perfection that many similar products carry. I’ll be getting my daughter one of these this Christmas and I hope that she creates in them a character worthy of wanting to be like. I’m a massive advocator for products like this so please see them for yourself.
This is a tried and tested one for us. Although it was accidental. It was supposed to be an adult game, except my daughter watched and asked to play. She’s only seven so we said no at first. She’s on basic math so we assumed she wouldn’t be able to play along. Yet, she watched us and nagged and nagged until we relented and let her join our game. Wow, was I impressed. Make math a game and suddenly the effort is effortless! I’ll venture that this game helped her more during lockdown with her math than all the worksheets she worked her way through. So this game is won by achieving the lowest score in your card grid. Each turn gives you the opportunity to choose to replace or turn over a card. It’s fast, it’s fun and as an adult, you forget that it’s actually about arithmetic and probability until you have to teach it to a child. Surprisingly though, because it’s a game all the math seems to come more naturally. It’s every parent’s quest to find a game they like playing that their child also likes. Well, here’s a great one. Moreover, it can be a quick 10-minute play or an hour-long tournament so is very flexible. It’s not marketed to kids, but it should be. I’d recommend this for kids over seven to play with their family. A really fun way to sharpen up their math and problem-solving skills.
When I was young and I was too embarrassed or afraid to tell my mum something, I would write her a letter and leave it on her pillow. I suppose that’s why I think Just Between Us is such a good idea. This is a journal to be filled in by both mother and daughter. Some pages are reserved for letter writing and there are also pages which urge you to share stories and secrets. Asking questions such as ‘what did you want to be when you grew up’ and ‘how did you feel when I was born’. The idea is to pass the book back and forth, sharing all your thoughts and curiosities. What an absolute treasure it will be when your daughter is all grown up! See Just Between Us
This is very similar to the above but is for mother and son. This version is written by someone else so the layout and questions are different but its another great prompt book. Particularly important, I also think, for boys because boys aren’t always encouraged to open up about their feelings. Or to be sentimental. But this journal emboldens them to share stories, secrets and reflections.
See Mum and Me
So there are two major downsides to this kit. Firstly, it’s made mostly of plastic which means it’s not the most eco-friendly toy. However, it is built to last and kits like this never really go out of style because basic electronics will always be taught the way this set teaches. Secondly, at £39.99 it doesn’t come in cheap. Although smaller sets are available.
What’s great about this STEM set though is that it gets children involved, learning the basics of electronics through building their own projects. There are also multiple ways of setting it up over 100 circuits. There’s also no soldering or tools needed. Kids will learn how to construct circuits which explore sensors, kinetics, light and sound.
This is one of those presents which should come with a 'keep away from parents' warning. It's one of those which will see the dads in the corner debating strategy and swatting away the kid whose present the kit was. Still, that's what will put this kit up there with the likes of lego and Scalextric as a gift no-one ever grows out of. Gravitrax takes marble run to the next level. Discover the power of gravity and magnetics as you construct courses making is a simple or intricate as you wish. This is the gift for the future engineers. Yet, as with snap circuits, it's not cheap and is made with a fair amount of plastic. Find out more about Gravitrax
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