It’s the holidaze! Somehow this season of joy and goodwill has morphed into a blur of consumerism and toxic toys. Whatever holiday your family celebrates this time of year, there is something universal and iconic about the childhood holiday gift. The wishlist. The desire. The anticipation. Whether you believe in Santa or not, the frenzied annual unwrapping of presents should not result in a dangerous item.
What’s a parent interested in tradition and seasonal spirit to do? We asked some of our kindred bloggers what they’re watching out for this year. Hannah of Wild Mint reports that children’s toxic toys can contain hazards like cobalt and ethylene glycol. Hilary at Accidentally Green warns of cheap imitations of popular items that don’t face tough safety checks. Over at Laura’s Rules, mom Laura reminds everyone that decorations can be as unsafe as toxic toys, saying to watch out for artificial trees and holiday light strands, which typically contain both phthalates and lead.
While there are certainly safer toys on the market and many ways to find them, we really like Robbie’s idea at Going Green Momma. She suggests forgetting toys altogether and giving the gift of an experience.
Experiential gifts create memories that last forever. And they can take virtually any form and fit any budget. If you’re worried about disappointed kids on Christmas morning, don’t be. There are ways to package an experiential gift, too.
- First, pick an experience coveted by your kids. It can be one they’ve dreamed of (sorry, this may mean you’re going to a local theme park!) or something you’ve dreamed up that you know they’ll love—a trip to a special museum, sports event, play, or a day trip related to their interests. It could be as simple as seeing a movie a day during the holiday break or maybe attending a teen idol concert. Skiing, snow tubing, ice skating outings—they all count. You know what your kids like.
- Wrap something tangible so your kid won’t be empty handed on the actual holiday. This could mean tickets, a souvenir, or a t-shirt from your destination. Headed to the beach? Wrap a (recycled plastic) beach toy.
- Add some mystery. What’s more fun unwrapping an envelope that leads to a clue-filled treasure hunt that leads to the gift? Arguably this works best if you have older children.
- Stash a cache of information about the experience—brochures, videos, maps, etc.—that you can share closer to the big day to stoke excitement and create build-up.
Experiential gifts don’t only make this time of year safe; they make it special. And don’t forget to let your kids know you’re more than happy for an experiential gift, too. What parent doesn’t wish for a kid-crafted IOU coupon for a Saturday sleep in? Bliss!