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This time of year, we’re all thinking of things to get each other that show we care. Holiday shopping is a billion dollar industry with every brand vying for your attention, but in this era of consumerism we have to be careful, smart shoppers. It’s easy to get swept up in the spirit of giving, and that’s a good thing. But when you’re buying gifts for the little ones in your life, stop and consider a few things before swiping (or inserting) that credit card. Here are some ideas of gifts that moms of small children want you to give their kids and ways you can shift your thinking during holiday shopping.

The spirit of gift giving

Joy, love, and peace are in the air. Many of us have warm memories from our childhoods of sitting around a brightly lit tree and opening presents together as a family. But the spirit of giving is not rooted in the gift. Truly, it is the thought that counts. When you’re shopping for a child, consider the individual. Try to distance yourself from your own memories and think about what the child really wants and needs.

What does this child need?

The answer to this question may be “nothing” or it may be “everything”. Balancing the wants and needs of the individual child can turn an otherwise ordinary and uninteresting gift into the best thing ever. For Genny’s second Christmas, she was gifted a clock, and that was quite easily her favorite gift that year because she was obsessed with clocks at the time. In turn, as parents, we appreciated that gift because it was both useful and meaningful without instantly becoming clutter on my living room floor.

What parents don’t want

Parents spend probably 75-85% of their lives cleaning up after their kids in some way or another. There comes a point in a kid’s life (and sooner than you would think) when more toys is not a beneficial thing. In fact, it can become a big problem if they’re not carefully selected and monitored. What moms don’t want is a truck load of new toys every holiday and birthday to slowly fill her house like water in a tub.

There is a way to toy shop that can keep the gift from instantly becoming clutter!

How to choose a toy

Okay, there’s really nothing wrong with toys. In fact, toys are invaluable tools for kids to use in learning about the world around them. But the volume and the quality of the toys matters a great deal. Choosing toys that are novel, heirloom quality will undoubtedly cost you more initially, but these toys are usually better quality and rare finds. These are the toys that people may save for future children or grandchildren.

Some of my favorite heirloom quality brands are Bla Bla Kids, Bannor Toys, Mountain Misfits, and Finn and Emma.

Quantity doesn’t mean quality

This statement really speaks for itself. You don’t have to fill up a gift bag to make a present meaningful to a child. They really won’t even notice if there is one gift rather than ten if it’s something that is really valuable to them. In this way, when you spend more for less, you are actually making greater impact on the child’s development by fostering patience and gratitude while not providing ammunition for a toy explosion in the bedroom.

It doesn’t have to be a toy

Clothes, bedding, wall art, and kitchenware can be perfect gifts moms of small children want, it just depends on their children’s individual personalities. I love it when people give Genny novel clothing: from small shops or brands that I wouldn’t normally splurge on. Genny loves her bed more than a normal person should love a bed, so giving her bedding is a great gift. I also appreciate these gifts because sheets, pillows, and blankets are expensive. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

How to shop for kids

When shopping for my kids, I consider these things:

  • Is it educational? It doesn’t have to be a Sesame Street video or a talking drawing pad; there is more to educational toys than simply direct instruction. Educational toys are those that can be used in play to discover something new about the world. This could be a stuffed animal, a puzzle, blocks, art supplies, etc. The key is to make sure the gift doesn’t compound with what my kids already have so that it devalues the gift. For instance, if I gave Genny a stuffed horse on top of her army of other stuffed animals, the value of this gift instantly decreases. However, if I got her large building blocks, which she does not already have, this would become an interesting, new tool for her to explore.
  • Does it leave room for creativity? Pretend play, role play, and independent play are vital for a child’s development. Anything that gets their imaginations going. This may be relative, as some kids prefer certain types of toys over others.
  • Will it last? As a person who hates waste, I cringe at cheap plastic toys that break after a week and end up in a landfill for all eternity. I would much rather my kids receive smaller, simpler toys made of solid materials that will last at least through the year. Even better than that, I prefer toys that will survive more than one child and can then be passed on to younger siblings, friends, or the thrift store. Giving toys more than one life is a great way to help the environment, save money, and do a little something for the toy. If you don’t believe me, just watch Toy Story 3.
  • Will it cause unnecessary clutter? Going into Genny’s room when there are toys all over the floor, I feel the impulse to load up a trash bag and head straight to Goodwill. This kind of environment can also make it difficult to foster creativity as it can be overwhelming to the child. When this happens, they can act uninterested with their toys or unappreciative of new toys. Those signs point to an over-abundance!
  • Can it grown with them? I love things that are timeless! There are toys and games from my childhood that I would still love to play with now with my own kids. I also love materials that can be used in different ways, like Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Legos, and art supplies. These can grow with the child, and they are excellent resources for creativity!
  • Is it responsible? This means more than just being good for the environment. Responsibility in shopping includes purchasing items created using sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing practices for employees, but it can also mean they can be used again by someone else or be used in another way. Think “Second Life”.  After the item is used, it has to go somewhere, so thinking about the future of each product we buy can seriously impact (and evolve) our shopping. Considering the businesses you support is also a step many shoppers forget, but it is so important to ensure we are supporting small businesses when we can!

Gifts Moms of Small Children Want You to Get for Their Kids

Okay, so what kinds of things are we talking here? Here’s a list of gifts moms of small children want you to get for their kids. As a mom of small children myself, I can personally vouch for each and every one of these!

    1. Small shop items – I’m a huge proponent of supporting small businesses because (hello!) I am one! People often choose against shopping small because they are usually more expensive than Target or Amazon, but when you buy from a small shop, you are getting something unique as well as supporting the economy. These small shops are often run by stay-at-home moms or families who have been able to quit their jobs and focus on their hobbies full time. That’s the dream, right? Some of my favorite shops are Bla Bla Kids, Finn and Emma, Simply Willow Designs, Pip and J Papery, and Cuddle and Kind.
    2. Clothes – Some people are pickier than others about what their kids wear, but it’s usually safe to gift clothes that are versatile and high-quality. Personally, I like buying ethically made, sustainably sourced kids’ clothing from small shops or larger, responsible brands like Pact. See my Instagram for Genny and Nora’s styles from our favorite small shops!
    3. Gift Cards – Moms love love love gift cards, even if they’re for the kids! Fast food, favorite restaurants, play gyms, museums, the zoo… there are endless possibilities in the gift card department! This time of year, there are lots of great deals on gift cards as well, so keep an eye out for those ways to save.
    4. Subscriptions – From Kiwi Co to Amazon Video Channels, there is a customizable experience for kids of any age. Subscription boxes can be a fun treat to look forward to monthly, bi-monthly, or annually with little-to-no risk of turning into clutter. Sites like ABCmouse or Reading A-Z are fantastic educational resources that parents of kids 5+ will appreciate. Join Prime Video Channels Free Trial
    5. Experiences – This year, we asked my parents to give Genny ballet lessons for her birthday rather than toys or games. This has been a wonderful experience for Genny! Instructional experiences can be a great way for kids to try something new, even for a short time. Swimming lessons, music lessons, horseback riding lessons… again, the list is endless! You don’t have to drop a year’s worth of tuition either. Even just a single lesson or class can make a great gift!
    6. Memberships – Play gyms, the zoo, museums, rock climbing gyms, and kids’ science labs are only a few ideas of the opportunities you can give. These gifts are not only great for the child, but they can also be shared with the rest of the family, too!

Stay tuned for Black Friday Sale codes from some of our favorite shops!

This topic is hard for moms to talk about. Nobody wants to say, “Can you please not give my kid this for Christmas?” And moms also don’t want to have to sneak their kids’ new toys away and regift them or drop them off at the nearest toy drive. Gifts moms of small children want don’t have to break the bank or require you to go all out. Think simple and practical.

Hopefully I didn’t rain on your parade but rather offered some practical tips for you to make the most of this season of giving! This can be a wonderful opportunity to shake it up and try something different this year.

It's a hard thing for moms to talk about! We don't want to sound greedy or ungrateful...but this is how we really feel about what our kids get as gifts!
Best Toddler Brands of 2018

What is your favorite gift for your child to get? Share with me by commenting below!

Love, Emily XOXO is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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