A guide to inexpensive, practical gifts that you can buy online this Christmas.
My star sign is Libra, the sign of the scales: Diplomatic, romantic, easy-going and idealistic but also indecisive. I think… One of the things I have never been able to make my mind up about is Christmas presents.
I believe and enjoy giving gifts as an expression of thanks and kindness but I just can’t get my head around the expense of today’s gift culture which has become more apparent now I have children.
I like practical and meaningful gifts; that little something you really would like or need. However, this concept falls at the first hurdle with children under 5. What does a baby and toddler really need? And, in reality, how often will it actually get played with?
My husband’s family are BIG present givers. They are incredible generous. To make this point I will quote some dialogue between my two year old and I:
Gabriella: (Pointing at some random block of flats). “That’s where Grandma and Grandad live.”
Me: “No, Grandma and Grandad live in England.”
Gabriella: “No Mummy, Grandma and Grandad live in Presentland.”
Christmas present giving has been made even more expensive with our move to Australia nearly two years ago. The cost of a remote control Thomas the Tank Engine doubles when you add postage from the UK.
I don’t think any of my relatives actually read my articles but here’s my advice for Christmas presents this year. Let’s do practical, inexpensive and online. Even British stalwarts Marks & Spencers now deliver to Australia for FREE as do another favourite Next. I know there will be no fancy wrapping for Jasper to eat but I can wrap. I’m actually quite good at it. And, just buy for our kids. We don’t need anything. Or make a charity donation (see below).
So, to help my family and others like you out there, here is my round up of inexpensive, practical gifts that you can buy (us) online this Christmas.
Now, having just said, only buy for the kids, I make an exception to this special offer from Babysitters and More (BaM). With all our family overseas then a night out over the Christmas period would be a much appreciated gift. BaM is running a special Christmas offer where you can buy one BaM Gift Certificate and receive another one free. BaM Gift Certificates start from $49.95. Act quickly – this offer is only available until December 20, 2012.
I will be putting the baby in with his sister in the New Year so I’m looking for something to personalise each side of the room. The team from Supertrooperstudio have created some cool prints of Australian towns and animals. Simple designs in blue, red, black and white they are sure to become the classic pieces of our time. The range of Animal Friends Posters including whale, octopus and seal are available for $30.
I also love the beautiful, handcrafted canvas prints for babies and toddlers bedrooms from Apples for Tea. There are even bespoke pieces available with the child’s name. Apples for Tea is also offering free downloadable bedtime stories which are designed for the iPad and are available on the Apples for Tea website.
Should you give your toddler an ipad was the topic of one of our recent blog posts. We have, so the Laugh & Learn Apptivity iPad Case from Fisher Price would be a great gift as I still haven’t got round to buying a case. It allows babies to interact with free Fisher-Price apps while protecting it. As well as the ability to be locked securely, the case features clacker beads, a handle and has an easel and rocker base – perfect for tummy time.
The Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case is compatible for both iPad® and iPad® for $54.99 from Target, Kmart, Big W, Toys R Us, Myer, t and Toy World.
If Gabriella’s reaction to Grandad’s recent departure is anything to go by then we are going to need one of these comforting Nesting Hearts from Kimochis for $24.95. Kimochis (which means ‘feelings’in Japanese) have produced an award-winning range of interactive and fun toys with a purpose. The Nesting Heart is a soft, smiling heart nestled inside another ‘holding’ heart. Kimochis claims it helps children feel connected to their loved ones at times of separation. Kimochis even offer some activities you can play like Heart and Seek Hide where you hide each other’s hearts in fun places as a reminder that “I love you!” Grandad could have one heart in England and Gabriella could have a heart in Australia and then they connect the hearts over Skype and visits. www.kimochis.com.au
Another tool to teach children about their family comes in the form of a beautiful personalised family tree from Uniquely Grown. The family trees are fun wall prints that showcase your family’s story and celebrate new additions. There is no need to research your family tree for hours, as Uniquely Grown does the hard work. Designed by young mum Katrina Naish, she can also custom design a tree to suit your family or décor from $39.95.
I’ve tried to avoid toy companies but I love baby and childrens gift site children’s dept which specialises in beautiful things for little people that big people love. I am a sucker for Scandinavian design so the range of characters by Swedish artist Infgela Arrhenius for OMM Design which you build yourself are fun at affordable at $15.95 for a box of 12 personalities.
Little Boo-Teek’s Bobangles Car Case is a cool storage solution for those little cars you are forever treading on. A nod to retro luggage styles used in the 20’s & 30’s this fun and colourful product is eco-friendly, practical and with the pulley string and moveable wheels it double as a fun pull along toy. For $39.95 it won’t break the bank.
The other toy which requires a mention as Gabriellas has asked for a ballerina doll for Christmas is the new Lottie Doll. An alternative to Barbie and Bratz, the British company Arklu behind the doll has used research and the backing of two academics, Professor David McCarthy and Dr Margaret Ashwell, to give Lottie the dimensions of a real nine-year-old girl. The Lottie website says you can buy these dolls from Amazon UK and Amazon USA but they are not able to deliver them to Australia. The only place to buy them in Australia at the moment is: Women’s Forum Australia. However, the good news is the doll will be available in major stores over here some time next year.
Now there is a certain Aunty won’t be able to resist sending something girly for a stocking filler, so Dina check out Itty Bitty and Pretty. They have come up with a gorgeous collection of accessories made from the softest Jersey Cotton with floral attachments. From Barefoot Booties to Headbands, Flower Hats and Baby Bibs (RRP $9.95- $14.95) they are cheap and fun. www.IttyBittyandPretty.com.au
And there is a certain Grandma who loves clothes shopping so Fair Trade Fashion Company Eternal Creation is worth a mention. A pretty floral dress is around $60 but if you buy from them, you are supporting much more than a business. Run by Australian mum Frances Carrington, the company supports 85 people, one third of which are Tibetan refugees living in exile while the rest are Indians, most from underprivileged backgrounds. The company has a no waste policy so even the tiniest cuttings are donated to nearby village women who provide their livelihoods by making and selling rag rugs. www.eternalcreation.com and http://gamruragrugs.blogspot.com/
The My Arkadia baby and childrenswear label which specialises in nostalgic and nature inspired printed tshirts and onesies are fab. Prices start at $24.95. They sell through their own online store myarkadia.com.au and through From Down that Little Lane which I also love for their niche range of clothes, gifts and interiors like these photo cushions from Hampsons Homewares for $70.
www.myarkadia.com.au and www.downthatlittlelane.com.au
Bold and colourful printed UVA swim suits by Rikke Bukh, a Danish architect turned children’s fashion buyer tick the durable and wearable box. The MALA range of swimsuits is available from $58.75 from onlythebeginning.com.au or Rikke runs a morning tea at her Paddington studios where you can view the collection. www.onlythebeginning.com.au
Everyone who knows my trials and tribulations with Gabriella’s behaviour will know my love of reward charts. Melbourne mum and entrepreneur Kylie Appel has designed the Elfie Love’s ‘Goal and Reward Charts’ to make setting and achieving goals fun and interactive for children of all ages, and to involve the whole family in recognising a child’s success. All for $19.95 www.elfielove.com
The Precious Prints Smilefile Kit does away with footprints on the floor and handprints on the wall. It takes an inkless colour impression of your child’s hand and foot print using non-toxic, inkless wipes and special coated paper. Great for a rented home for only $19.95! www.smilefile.co.uk
Conceived and designed by Monique Smart (mother and owner of messpots), I’ve Got an Ow! is a highly practical aide-mémoire for parents to record their child’s health conditions, symptoms, illnesses, treatments, current medications, significant health events and more. I’ve Got an Ow! is priced at $24.95 and is available from messpots.com.au
We are trying to stop our toddler having milk in a bottle at bedtime. These non spill cups with a built in night light look great – almost Christmasy so I think the fairies could bring one of these this Christmas. Various colours available for $18.
And finally, Pix2Print were asked by the children’s charity Variety to create this beautiful ABC book. They used Gillian van Niekerk from Vann photography to take the photos. A large portion of the sale of each Alphabet Book is donated to Variety. So not only will my kids love it you will also have helped a child in need! It can be bought online in various formats (cheapest $29 plus shipping).
Happy Christmas to my family. Wish we could be there to celebrate with you x
Not all prices quote include postage and packaging so please do check individual sites for details