giving: things to play with.

November 30, 2020

Here’s some inspiration for gift giving for the smaller set: things to play with, things to make with, things to add a bit of wonder and a bit of magic to a long winter ahead of us.

These gifts have been handpicked by me from small shops and businesses offering thoughtful goods made with care. If you have recommendations for other indie folks making similar wares, feel free to add them in the comments! The more the merrier.


A colorful set of mushrooms, like this one from Acorn Toy Shop. Just because.

A dollhouse, like the one from Maquette Kids. Because it packs flat and goes up (and down) in just four quick steps.

A doll pillow and blanket, like these beauties made from Willaby fabric scraps.

A rainbow broom, like this one from Salter House. For gentle encouragement in the domestic arts.

A floor puzzle, like this giant dragon from Acorn Toy Shop. Because when it comes to puzzles, the bigger the better.

A little book to encourage observation, like the Always Looking Book from Tiny Bones. Because sometimes it’s just a question of perspective.

An itty bitty baby like these from Weird Birds Shop. Because everything’s better in miniature.

Ocean bingo like this beauty from Acorn Toy Shop. For when the stars align and everyone sits still long enough to play a game.

A set of colored pencils like these from Acorn Toy Shop. For home, for school, for school when it’s at home.

A globe, like this softie from Haptic Lab. Because who wouldn’t want to cozy up with the whole world?

An art kit, or, even better, a monthly subscription, like the ones from Rainershine. For something special to look forward to.

A scooter, like our family favorites from Micro Kickboard, now with an option made from discarded fishing nets.

A set of ultra washable markers, like these from Norman & Jules. Because sometimes you’re six and positively nothing but markers will do.



If you’re hoping to expand your gift giving this year to kids in your community who might not be a part of your immediate family, consider making a donation to a local non-profit or mutual aid organizationlike the Children’s Aid NYC.

Children’s Aid NYC is on a mission to help children in poverty to succeed and thrive by providing comprehensive supports to children, youth, and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods.

For more ideas of places to direct money and energy, my friend Anja has compiled a full and growing list of mutual aid efforts happening locally and across the country on her site Never Sleeps.

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  • Reply Lauren November 30, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    The RainerShine art subscription is just wonderful! After you posted the link on your Friday roundup, I quickly forwarded to my mother-in-law as a last minute birthday idea for our newly 5-year-old. She just received her first set of projects. High quality materials, easy instructions, and she’s in love with her “masterpieces.” Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  • Reply Jenna November 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Such great suggestions! 🙂
    Jenna ♥

  • Reply christie November 30, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    We have “Bird Bingo” (which is from the same makers as Ocean Bingo). We’ve had it for around 3 or 4 years and my kids LOVE it, and they have learned so much about birds from it. I highly recommend those Bingo sets.

  • Reply Eloise December 1, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    These are great suggestions. Just signed up to be notified when the quilted globe comes back in stock — for me.

  • Reply jaime December 1, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Hi! Question re: RainerShine … how is it as far as waste? We’ve done other subscription boxes for STEAM and have issue with the amount of plastic /packaging that was too wasteful. Thank you!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 1, 2020 at 5:48 pm

      We’ve received two boxes and I’d say the supplies are very thoughtfully presented and sourced! They’re not plastic- or waste-free, in that there are art supplies—small tubes of paint, paper stickers, acrylic palettes, etc. But it all feels very purposeful and reusable. We’ve loved them!


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