by Cadence McManimon
Christmas is just around the corner! We often look forward to the holidays with heaps of joy … and maybe a little trepidation. There can be so many presents involved, particularly given the numerous people and parties. It can be a lot for anyone to deal with.
But presents can’t just be ignored: Children love gifts, and they find so much joy in the simple act of opening sparkly, wrapped boxes. Plus, presents are a great opportunity to share traditional values with children. But instead of opting for the “more is more” mentality of mainstream culture, let’s embrace the mantra “fewer but better.” Let’s explore alternative gift ideas that not only support traditionalist values but also won’t overwhelm children, parents, or our wallets.
With that in mind, what can we give children this Christmas season that will be both delightful and useful?
Traditionalist Gifts for Girls
1. Paper dolls. Honestly, this is how I learned history growing up. Between my twin sister and I, we could accurately guess the country and decade of any Western painted portrait within the last millennium! Tom Tierney (well known for his Dover Publications cover illustrations) has paper doll sets still available today!
3. Indoor gardening kit. Where I live, it can be snowy for six months out of the year. Indoor plants offer young gardeners the chance to keep up their hobby all year round. Herbs, flowers, or even hydroponic kitchen gardens are available these days.
Traditionalist Gifts for Boys
4. Multitool or jackknife. Every boy loves knives. Let’s help him learn to use such tools well and safely. Buy a jackknife as a gift, or step it up a notch and gift all the uses of a pocket multitool.
5. Paracord. I have a teenage brother who makes amazing things out of paracord: lanyards, bracelets, leashes, whips, dog collars, rappelling harnesses, survival shelters … the list goes on. Pick up a good how-to book to get your gift recipient started.
6. LEGOs. Every boy I have ever known loves building LEGOs. These classic toys help boys develop their creativity, spatial awareness, ability to follow complex instructions, and problem-solving skills. The LEGO homepage is a good place to search for a set that matches each boy’s unique interest—there are countless themes and sets out there to choose from.
Traditionalist Gifts for Groups
7. Picnic set. A ready-to-go basket of picnic supplies makes outdoor adventures so much easier. This is an especially thoughtful gift for kids who, while they can’t yet drive, have a burgeoning independence to venture outside on their own for a whole afternoon.
9. Camping tent. I fondly recall the childhood delight of setting up a tent in the cattle pasture, starting a campfire, and roasting marshmallows at sunset. Let’s gift that to the kids around us! A small tent and roasting sticks can make an entire summer full of delightful memories.
10. Cloaks or capes. What children don’t like giant cloaks? They work for boys and girls, medieval dress-up, winter caroling, stage costumes, Halloween parties, and pretty much any imagined adventure. Plus, costume play supports children’s great imaginations.
Traditionalist Gifts for Infants
11. Handmade items. Traditionalist parents are perfect recipients of a handmade baby gift. Whatever creative skill you have, create something with your own two hands for a baby. Handmade items like blankets, clothes, cradles, or toys can be treasured for a lifetime and passed down through generations.
12. Books. Books are something I always recommend for every age range. Be sure to read my list of top 25 traditionalist books to get for younger kids specifically.
13. Practical consumables. By this I mean the things babies constantly need and use! Diapers, baby food, soap, bottles, teethers, socks, onesies … any of us who have babies can probably think of a dozen more things. Shop for something both pretty and practical, and it’ll work great for a baby gift.
When in doubt of my gift-giving abilities, I find myself returning to the classic saying “something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.” This is a great guideline when shopping for presents because it reminds us that simplicity is often the best course of action. Presents need not be numerous, fancy, or of epic proportions to be meaningful. Classic presents support our traditional values while offering children that wondrous joy of wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree.
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Cadence McManimon is a published author, former special education teacher, and now a wife and mother. She has too many houseplants, plenty of artsy projects, and not enough pens that work! (Doesn’t everyone?) Her novels Name Unspoken and The Lily Girl are available at her website cadencemcmanimon.com. Her favorite things include crayons, sarcasm, Sherlock Holmes, and hearing from readers!