Simple Toddler Gift Guide

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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A few months ago, I did a long winded post about how our family tries to live more simply in regards to our rhythm and schedule. When I wrote all of those thoughts down, I had intentions of coming back here and sharing more specifics about our schedule, but I've found that as much as we would like one, we don't have much of a schedule - our life is in a crazy season and there isn't much we can do as far as cutting back, so we just have to roll with it. This is not how we want to live, so we've put on our bravest faces and we're doing something radical about it, but the process of changing your entire life is never a short or easy one. We're doing the best we can with the time we have together, preparing the best we can for the changes to come, and waiting for the next season of life. I say all this to clumsily lead into a post about how we're planning to bring simplicity into Christmas in our home. In my mind these two thoughts were linked together, but in writing, I realize they're not. Just go with it. I'm a rambler.

I'm in disbelief that Christmas is already only eight weeks away. I've started to plan, but it is an overwhelming process for me. In this age of excess, I'm wary of giving Ev too much, so I try to think through each purchase intently. She is still young enough that she won't understand the full meaning and layers of Christmas. At the same time, she is old enough to notice when new things are presented to her and Alex and I are adamant about not setting the bar too high in regards to holidays. I think it's especially hard at her age because she already doesn't have a lot. We haven't had years to accumulate toys. Staying at home with her presents a lot of challenges in keeping her occupied and sometimes I feel like having more toys would help, but I know it wouldn't. By no means did we 'go all out' for Christmas last year, but she received quite a lot when you combined the things we bought her with the things grandparents and her aunt bought. While she played with them for awhile, she has grown bored with most of them. I'm going to try to put them all away for a while and bring them out a few at a time to see if it helps, but my point is that the novelty of new items always wears off.

I've read a phrase in several places that I've started to implement when choosing Christmas gifts this year:

'. . .something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read. . .'

(I also like to include 'something handmade' and 'something from Papa,' though it doesn't rhyme with that thrown in there.)

- something I want: Ev really isn't old enough to want anything specific yet, but I've been keeping an eye out for toys on Zulily throughout the year and have already bought her a set of finger puppets, a wooden memory block game, and wooden animal dominoes.

- something I need: Every night, I bundle her up in the warmest pajamas and I lay three blankets over her mostly because she likes the weight of them, but partly so she doesn't get cold. She's also been using a blanket inside one of our pillow cases as a pillow for a few months now, so I think a proper pillow is in order. I've looked at organic toddler pillows and they're $50 or more, so I'm going to order some organic fabric and filling and sew one myself. I'm also in the process of sewing her a quilt that I plan on lining with wool batting (to make it heavy and warm), but I'm not very far with it. If I don't finish it by Christmas, I will by her second birthday in February.

- something to wear: We're blessed to have plenty of local consignment sales and good thrift stores, so she is stocked with things to wear. I'm thinking of making her a baby doll carrier to 'wear,' but my 'things to make' list is getting long and that would be last on it.

- something to read: Evie loves books, but she also already has tons of books, so we're putting a few books about New York City on the list we'll send to family members, in honor of our trip we took in August. I've including those in the gift guide up top, but obviously not every one wants books about New York City. Both the 'This is. . .' and 'Good night. . .' series have tons of locations, so pick your home city or a place you've visited and love and reminisce about it during story time.

- something handmade: I've noticed that she is drawn to baby dolls in the play space at church, so I plan on making her a Waldorf style doll. I really didn't want to commit to this, but they're expensive (rightfully so) and a doll made by Mama will hold more value in the years to come than a purchased one would.

- something from Papa: Alex has wanted to make her a wooden rocking horse since she was born, so that's his 'something handmade' for her. We also have a big pile of apple limbs that he plans on cutting into natural wooden blocks.

Since I find it easier to make decisions if I have some examples, I went in search of some modest Christmas lists for toddlers, but was sorely disappointed. Most recommendations for gifts are plastic and would do everything for her, no imagination necessary, (Please, don't think I'm one of those snooty 'You let your kids play with plastic? *insert appalled gasp here* kind of people. I'm not. Wooden toys are a preference in the way we want to raise our kid. When she gets older and really wants that crazy plastic, whirring, blinking, beeping toy, I will probably cave and get it for her, at least once.) or in some cases people were talking about starting with budgets of $500 or $600 for each child. We don't have the funds to spend $500 total this year, much less on just Evie. She obviously won't be getting all of these things, but since it was so hard to come by, I thought I would share the list of ideas that I've come up with for anyone out there looking for some similar inspiration. I have a few more things saved on my 'gift ideas for Ev' board on Pinterest.

As for Alex and I, we did the boring grown up thing and made a pact that we could only buy things for each other that we need this year, so our list will look a lot like 'stainless steel measuring cups, a colander, new glasses, more cereal bowls, etc.' I'm not going to lie though - I get excited about checking things off to-do lists and new household items, so this is a win-win for me.

What does your Christmas list look like this year? Do you enjoy making handmade gifts? I'm still (ahem, always) looking for inspiration in this department, so share your lists and ideas! Sometimes Pinterest just doesn't cut it.

The second post in this series: Toddler Stocking Stuffer Guide.


  1. Stopping by from The Bloggers Digest link-up! Believe it or not the play kitchen and accessories is on our Christmas list this year :) What little girl wouldnt just have a blast!? Love the ideas on this too!!

  2. Stopping by from Wine'd Down Wednesday Link Up! I, too, go by your rules listed above. If I don't, our two year old ends up with all kinds of STUFF that she doesn't even play with. It's frustrating and it's a waste. Totally understand where you are coming from. Totally.


  3. Love the IKEA kitchen & vegetables. We bought the veggies recently for play and they have been a big hit.



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