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Holiday Gift Guide Pt 2: A few ideas for the little people in your life

puro puzzle

First off, you can just feel good about buying anything at the Smithsonian Institute. Your kid will automatically be on the direct path to being a genius with anything you find there, right?

Even if not, they will have a blast building and creating with these blocks. Colorful, so they’re cheerful. Made out of cardboard, so they’re light (which means they are light weight and compact enough to take them with you on vacation… ) and with the 18 round and 48 square pieces, you can build just about anything. Puro Puzzle, $49.99.

casagami solar nightlight

While we’re on the topic of cardboard, what about this miniature house aka night light for a little something? Solar powered, so you never have to worry about your carbon footprint or getting new batteries. Casagami solar night light. $12.

georgie porgie thank you notes

Now I am all for kids learning to write. I also love how the letters look on a card or a page when the little author is just learning how to make them. I am also all about the thank you note, in it’s traditional pen-and-paper format. But sometimes getting one’s 5 year old to settle down and write a note can feel harder than negotiating peace in the middle east.

Enter the Georgie Porgie Thank You Notes For Beginners kit. Kids get to choose from a selection of stickers of words, phrases and pictures and can structure their own collage style message. Suddenly, writing Aunt Lucie becomes a game rather than a chore, and positive feelings become associated with thank you note writing, thus making the whole situation easier the next time around. Georgie Porgie Thank You Notes For Beginners Kit, $24.

crystal growing kit

The Exploratorium in San Fransisco is quite possibly the best interactive natural history/science/art/discovery museum in the world. Not that I’ve been to all of them, but after a day at this place, I don’t see how it can be beat. And their gift shop is full of all sorts of treasures for kids.

Like this crystal growing kit. There’s something for everyone… an experiment for the little scientist, mystical purple gems for the little fairy, the chance to build shapes like octahedrons and pyramids for the little mathematician, hours of occupied kids for the parents… a dream come true. Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing Kit, $35.99.

chair game

Speaking of building shapes… these chair/blocks have always captured my attention (as I have a little architect in residence) and I have never gotten them. Perhaps this is the year. Look how great they are. Just think of how many crazy structures you can build with them. And they also serve as the perfect place for the fairies/toy mice/elves to sit when they have to gather for important meetings or puppet shows. Chairs Game, $80.


I have always imagined that Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is one of the happiest people on the planet because his work is so consistently joyful. I also love him because he makes “decorative” art (aka stuff you can actually use) and this flower pillow is a perfect example. Imagine how happy your little kid (or your friend’s kid or your nephew or whatever) is going to be if their brain gets to develop in the presence of such exuberance. And then in 15 years you can always sell it to help pay for college… Flower Pillow by Takashi Murakami, $399.

DIY Instrument Kit

As a lover and maker of music myself, I admit to being a bit of a hard ass when it coes to what kind of noise makers are allowed into our house. Toys that played that cloying electronic beeping music and had flashing lights were disposed of immediately. Or their batteries were removed, at the very least. Encouraging kids to generate their own music is a different story entirely.

Enter the DIY Instrument kit, that uses light to make music. You solder together a light sensitive board and then use two intersecting beams of light to control volume and pitch. DIY Instrument kit, $23.50.

wildcraft game from learning herbs

I will go on at length in a future post about the excellence of the Learning Herbs website and all of the incredible amazing things you can learn about herbs just by paying them a visit every now and again. But this is not the time for all of that. Right now is all about holiday gifts for the kids. So just make it easy on yourselves and get them Wildcraft, a cooperative board game that teaches young people about herbs while they are having a fun adventure climbing up an imaginary mountain behind their all-knowing grandmother’s house. And unless you are an herbalist, you will most likely learn a thing or two yourselves! The drawings are lovely, the game encourages players to work together as a group, you start to learn how to identify plants without even realizing it… What’s not to love?. Wildcraft, $37.

Hazel Village Lucy Owl

Here’s the thing that’s great about stuffed animals… especially ones that are kind of like humans and as such can sub in as make-pretend babies in a pinch. They are great gifts for tiny babies. They make the nursery look cute, you’ll probably spend more $$ on them than their own parents will (because you only have to get one thing for the kid), the babies sleep with them, drool on them, drag them around, etc etc. Then, for awhile, they become more decorative than anything else. But just when you start to think that the time for stuffed animals is over, inventive play comes back into full swing, and suddenly cities are being built for them, whole narratives spring up around their particular personalities, your kid actually starts to make things like clothes and furniture for them… it’s a whole rebirth.

So the lesson here for new parents is: buy good quality stuffed animals and dolls because they are going to be around for longer than you think. And we, as friends of aforementioned new parents, have a duty to supply our sleep addled fellow parents with some quality fabric companions for their little ones. Like this super cute Lucy Owl, who by the way is wearing the lovliest little skirt and bonnet you’ve ever seen. Hazel Village Lucy Owl, $39.

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  1. Miley Han.

    Hey! I love your list! I think it’s really useful as it might be hard to choose what to give for the little ones. This Christmas I gave my daughter an Amber necklace as she sleeps not very well. She really loved it! And I’m glad the necklace helped her to sleep tight all the time..