Are you gifting right?
Do you find yourself in a last minute scramble when it comes to gifting for children you know? Do you just end up buying whatever you spot first on Amazon? Do you buy something just because it was on sale! If your answer is a yes for one or more of the above questions, then you really must read on! This is definitely your one-stop guide to conscious gifting.
It hurts to see how major toy brands are influencing customer choices when it comes to gifting. Big discount sales by e-commerce giants are traps that lure us into mindless buying. Celebrity endorsements and paid promotions by social media influencers maybe biased and misleading. Choosing the right gift for a child needs a lot of thoughtfulness. I’ve tried to put together some personal anecdotes and honest opinions that may help you make the right pick next time around.
Why Do You Gift?
Before moving on with what to gift, always pause for a moment and think about why you want to buy something for the child. Most likely it’s because it is someone near and dear like your own niece or nephew. Or perhaps a social obligation to take something along when a friend, relative, colleague or neighbour has invited you over for their child’s naming ceremony or birthday celebration. Whatever maybe the case you will be spending money on making the purchase. Make this spend worthwhile by making a conscious choice.
What is Conscious Gifting?
Gifting for the sake of it will always be an incomplete experience. Putting your heart and mind into the decision will help you think more creatively. Considering the child’s age and needs before buying something will help add more value to whatever you pick. It may also be worthwhile checking with the parents on what they would prefer. Children have large hearts, they will accept anything you give them – gift wrapped or not! But parents may have their own preferences for their child – for instance, we have given away all (ok, ok, nearly all!!) plastic toys. I am notorious among the family and close friends circle for making gifting a laborious 2-step approval process for them 😀 . There have been birthdays where I end up having to buy my daughter her gifts on behalf of the grandparents, nieces, uncles and aunts. I then write unique, cute, personalized notes on their behalf and then have multiple video calls with the family reminding each one what ‘they’ gifted 😀 . This last step is super important as my little one will reference gifts over calls only to find my mum or sister with a blank ‘Oh! That’s what I gifted?’ look!!!
How to decide consciously?
First things first! – Decide on a budget
Gifts are meant to speak your heart, not your wallet. Decide on a budget before you start looking at options. It is always the thought that matters, so even if you’re looking at low-budget options you will find plenty of thoughtful options to choose from. If you are buying at a store take help from the store staff. If you are buying online, websites usually have a filter/ sort by price option, which will help you narrow down your search. There are many thoughtful gifting choices even when you are on a tight budget. So there is no need to really compromise.
Consider the child’s needs
Spend some time thinking through the child’s age and look to gift something that may complement the milestones the child is close to. For example, new mothers and infants can be introduced to eco-conscious product ranges like handmade soaps and creams, cloth diapers or baby carriers. If the child is around 6 months old, the parents will be weaning the child into solids, some meal time accessories like plates, cutlery, furniture, bibs and crumb catchers may help. On the other hand if the baby is around a year old and just about taking his or her first steps, a pull along toy or soft soles may help. The trick is to place yourselves in the parents shoes and pick something that they will most likely need at that stage. Also, like I said earlier, if you do not know, it should be perfectly OK to check in with the parents before making a choice. They may have a wish list already which they can share.
Books are excellent gifts to pick for children across all ages. Indian publications like Tulika, Pratham or Tota have some amazing titles that touch upon various nuances of childhood. The Indianness of the stories makes them very relatable and enriches day to day experiences for the child. Board books from these publications are suited for infants too. If you are looking for books for older children, books by eminent writers like Sudha Murthy, Devadutt Pattanaik and Ruskin Bond are excellent choices.
With more and more parents yearning to raise their children mindfully, you can help them in their journey of conscious parenting by choosing toys made out of natural material. Wooden toys are a great sustainable choice. Wooden blocks, wavy boards, wooden pull-along toys, wooden animals and wooden peg dolls are some of the options that are stocked by My Little Bookshop. In addition, cloth dolls and knitted finger puppets are also an adorable option that children can play with for years. The best part about sustainable toys is its rustic earthy feel and also the fact that they do not really wear out. They can be passed down generations or handed down to siblings/ cousins/ friends or can even be resold on various preloved groups online.
Handwork in the early years has a significantly positive impact in the adult years. Choosing to give some handwork accessories will benefit the child in ways you cannot imagine. Good quality paints, crayons, yarns can never be too much. Children can find the most creative ways of putting these to good use. Along with these, My Little Bookshop also offers weaving looms and knitting forks to encourage early handwork through numerous yarn projects.
Is help available?
There are a whole range of local small businesses in India that are investing their energy and expertise in creating good quality and meaningful products for children. I strongly stand by the #vocalforlocal initiative. There are so many amazing #MakeInIndia choices to choose from that one can easily give those branded stores in the mall a miss. Watch this space for a curated list of our favourite brands.
My Little Bookshop curates books, toys and handwork material keeping in mind the child’s real needs and what is best to offer to the child. Look up the product range using the age or material filters to help you make conscious choices in a matter of minutes.
There are parent communities like the MLB Circle of Parents group, that has like minded parents on their mindful and natural parenting journeys. Join a forum like this to ask for suggestions if you are confused. You will definitely get some tried and tested responses that will help you make a choice.
Do let us know if this post was helpful. Let us know what has helped you gift consciously in the comments below. Also, feel free to reach out to us for personalized gifting suggestions. We will be happy to help you curate a conscious gift bundle keeping your requirement and budget in mind.