When you know a minimalist or you are practicing minimalism yourself, finding minimalist gifts for kids can be stressful if you don’t know where to start. Birthdays and holidays are especially difficult when you are trying to declutter your home and you have children. I still want holidays and gift giving to be fun and thoughtful, and I don’t want our desire to have less stuff to make shopping stressful for those who want to give. Therefore, here are some of the ideas I share when family members ask what they can get my kids as a gift when their parents want minimalist gift giving.
Minimalist gifts for kids can still be actual items. However, any item given should be purposeful and more timeless than say, a Hatchimal. (I did not know what a Hatchimal was until my kindergartener came home one day asking for one.) Generally speaking, I prefer to give my kids toys that don’t talk or do the playing for them. I want them to use their imaginations. Imaginations tend to disappear with age. I want my children’s imaginations to grow and be nurtured as long as possible. I also got tired of fighting toy clutter and finding more and more kid toy storage solutions, so buying minimalist gifts for kids helped prevent the constant toy clutter build-up.
Minimalist gifts for kids can be items that pass on easily to the next child or ones that can be re-gifted or donated after it has been outgrown. Minimalist gifts for kids often encourage creativity and imagination and are able to be used in a variety of ways.
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Here are my favorite ideas for minimalist gifts for kids:
1 – Books
Encourage reading early with children and they will unlock another world of adventure and imagination. A new favorite book we found is A Magical Adventure from Usborne Books & More. The child guides the story, and it has multiple ending possibilities. It is a wonderful minimalist gift for a toddler or young elementary aged child. Any book works. For those of you waiting until the last minute, Amazon has great suggestions for different age brackets.
2 – Silk play scarves
Play scarves are so fun. They can turn a child into a princess or a superhero. Get a big one, and children can make forts and other play structures within the home. My favorites are any made by Sarah’s Silks.
3 – Moluk Bilibo (AKA “spinny chairs” in our house)
The Moluk Bilibo toys are such a blast and one of my favorite minimalist gifts for kids. You can spin them on hard floors, wear them as helmets, or use them as stepping stones. Your child’s imagination will go wild with this gift.
4 – LEGOS
LEGOS are a classic toy, and there is a reason. This is one of the most timeless toys you can buy. You can buy the large chunky Mega Bloks for younger children or the LEGO Classic Large Box for older children. I’m not talking about LEGOS with the very specific character or building set LEGOS that make only one structure. Get the LEGO classic box. Kids can then build anything. They aren’t limited to just one possibility.
Some of you may question if Legos fall into the minimalist or clutter-free category. I hear you! Hear me out. Legos are timeless, imaginative toys that your child can play with for years. Don’t go buying every LEGO set they make. Buy just the classic box. But, don’t stop here! You need an organizational system for them. I highly recommend a basket or plastic container with a lid. They can be clutter if you don’t have a system! They are just too timeless to skip out on, and they encourage amazing engineering and creative skills.
5 – Magna-Tiles
My kids have played with Magna-Tiles from the time they were small toddlers to now. Their creations have grown with age, but they still have not tired of them. You can build castles, make pizzas out of them or whatever else their imaginations conjure up.
Like LEGOS, Magna-Tiles can be a cluttered gift if you buy the 150 piece set. You don’t have to go big, and you must have a system to organize them! We store all of our Magna-Tiles in the original box and then in the sliding drawer in my daughter’s Ikea bed. (Love those beds by the way!) Like the LEGOS, they encourage engineering and imaginative skills. It’s ok for your kids to have toys, just make sure you have a way to contain those toys! Playing with the small pieces and building something out of nothing is good for them!
6 – Art supplies
When buying art supplies as minimalist gifts for kids, consider generic materials rather than ones marketed after TV characters or limited to one outcome crafts. For example, gift a watercolor pad with watercolor paints and brushes. Or, buy a sketch pad with colored pencils. Modeling clay is another great idea. Kids love to create. They don’t have to be given a one-and-done art project. If you give them the materials, they will surprise you with their creations.
7 – Memberships
Local memberships to museums or the zoo are one of my favorite ideas when it comes to minimalist gifts for kids, especially if you are looking to give a “big gift”. For several years we were given a membership to the local children’s museum. We went at least 10 times in a year, and my children LOVED it! They loved not being rushed and being able to explore the museum a little bit at a time, visit by visit. You can consider memberships to a children’s museum, the zoo, a natural history museum or other local attractions.
8 – Movie tickets and a gift certificate to cover a snack purchase
We don’t go to the movies often. When we do, we certainly don’t spend the money on movie theater priced snacks. My kids love a visit to the movies and the ability to get a snack without any begging!
9 – Classes or sports
Check with the parents first! These ideas take time corralling children back and forth, but classes and sports are often great ways to give an experience, instead of adding clutter to a home. Ideas may be karate, ballet, skiing, or any other activity the kids enjoy. Groupon usually offers great deals for kid activities.
10 – Anything needed
Sometimes practical gifts make the best minimalist gifts for kids. It doesn’t have to be boring clothes. It can be a new book bag, cool new shoes, or anything else you know the child may need (and want).
11 – Experiences
I’ve shown up to a birthday party with a gift certificate to a local ice cream shop and a small book to accompany it. My kids love ice cream, and it’s always a special treat. Consider local attractions. Look on daily deal websites for specials. If you are looking to give a bigger gift, we usually offer an experience in lieu of a birthday party. One year my five-year-old opted for a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge. Cost wise, it cost nearly the same as throwing a birthday party, and we had memories to last us a lifetime and a whole lot less stuff coming into our home.
For more ideas, check out Experience Gifts for Everyone on Your List.
12 – Family games
We started to embrace minimalism so we could spend more time with each other. Family games can transform a Saturday night into a fantastic time around the dinner table. Game night encourages more memories than time around the tv. My kids are obsessed with this card pack of games, and they are good from about four years old and up. We play them weekly. It is a great idea when considering minimalist gifts for kids.
13 – Outdoor toys
One of the benefits of minimalism is kids play more outside. There are no bored afternoons in front of the tv. Consider any type of outdoor play equipment. Any type of ball works, a soccer ball, basketball, football, or anything else the child may enjoy. You can also consider a tub of sidewalk chalk or bubbles. Toys that encourage children to get outside and play is a great minimalist gift idea.
14 – Anything homemade
My grandmother often makes homemade gifts for my children, and you know what, they LOVE them. These are some of the best, and most loved gifts they receive. She has given them a nap mat, a baby doll quilt made from scraps, and pillows made from my grandfather’s old shirts. Besides being incredibly thoughtful gifts, they are also highly functional and loved. Gone are the days where we give more homemade gifts than store bought, and often times, these are the best-received gifts.
Check out my favorite homemade gifts for kids!
15 – A toy the child really, really, really wants
If there is a toy a child really wants, and they have been consistent in their requests for it for a decent amount of time, then consider giving it to them as a gift. Buying a child a gift they love is way different than a Christmas tree surrounded by a dozen toys they will play with for a week or two and then forget about. Kids need toys. They just don’t need a toy store in their home. Remember the Hatchimal my daughter mentioned? She forgot about it a week after she mentioned it. She only wanted it because all of her friends were talking about it.
Related post: How Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids
A message to minimalist parents
If you are the parent and are watching your children receive gifts that may not fit into your lifestyle, that’s ok. Let your kids enjoy their new treasures and figure out a system that works. Maybe a one in, one out rule. Or, if they quickly tire of the item, consider donating it to a child that would really enjoy having a toy. Remember, your family and your child’s friends enjoy giving gifts. If the gifts don’t fit into your concept of minimalism, it doesn’t have to be forever, but let them enjoy the moment. You can also have ongoing conversations with your children about minimalism.
Give with love and purpose for the best minimalist gifts
You can give gifts and still be a minimalist, or at least support the concept of minimalism. The gifts are more intentional, and they serve a purpose. Minimalist gifts can even bring a family together to enjoy them. So, when you are celebrating your child’s birthday or thinking about what to give for a Christmas gift, consider these options as minimalist gifts for kids. Kids don’t need more toys, especially toys that talk to them. They need time to enjoy their families and time to discover their creativity. Give with love and give with purpose. Happy gifting everyone!
What minimalist gifts for kids have you given or received? Let us know and help grow our list of ideas!
Please also check out other Gifts for Minimalists. Get something timeless and clutter-free for everyone on your list!
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