The cutest no plastic gift ideas for children

Need some ideas for no plastic gifts for children? I’m with you. Birthday parties, Christmas presents, gifts brought by visiting relatives, children get a lot of stuff. And if you have young children like me, this stuff amounts to a lot over the months and years. Boxes full of toy cars, action figures and dolls and a whole lot of plastic you’d rather not have in your house. It’s messy and half of it the kids don’t even play with. I bet most parents would agree. Still, a child’s birthday or Christmas requires a gift as you don’t want to see sad faces. How about not adding to the heap of expensive commercial plastic toys, but bringing something imaginative instead? Here are some suggestions I love.


A Craft & bead box for creative little hands


Got a cute vintage tin or a wooden box with a lid? Or how about pimping up an old shoe box? A lot of children around the age of 5-8 or older love to make things like bracelets or necklaces, so create a beautiful treasure box for them! Fill a box with old beads, ribbons, buttons, scrap fabric and string and let their imagination do the rest. I know I would have loved to receive a box full of things like that.

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Image: Aunt Peaches

A wooden tree compatible with Lego


I love it when companies make their stuff compatible with other brands. Smallable, which has a fantastic range of wooden toys for children, sells this plywood tree for a very reasonable £16 that is compatible with Lego bricks. There is also a castle and a space ship in the same series. Check out their other beautiful wooden toys here.

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Board games and other family fun


I must admit, I’ve never really been one for games, but being a parent I kind of had to get into it. Snakes and ladders, Ludo, Memory, Uno, you name it, my kids love it. I don’t know whether it’s the game itself or the fact that you are playing it with them and they can beat you, but I sure score some brownie points when I get on the floor or around the table for a board game. We were given a great wooden Snakes and Ladders/Ludo combo board a few years back and it gets used every week. Definitely not something that will end up in the forgotten toys corner any time soon. Charity and second-hand shops usually have games in stock, so worth checking. If you rather invest in something high quality and new as a gift for the family to enjoy together for years to come, then John Lewis is a good bet.

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DIY Frame lacers for fine motor skills


Frame Lacers are a colorful DIY toy that doubles up as a great fine motor skills activity for kids. Got a tiny child in your life? Make them one of these!

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Image: Babbledabbledo

An invention box or ‘robot box’ for explorers


Do you have a child in your life who loves taking things apart or figure out how stuff fits together? Gift them an ‘invention box’ or ‘robot box’! Create a robot box for the toddler in your life using outdated technology. Find old CDs, floppy disks, cables & cords to create a fun bin for toddlers to imagine with. For the older child, fill a large box with more fiddly things they can put together. Nothing better for their creativity than open ended learning and discovery. Check out Research Parent for ideas on what to include in the box.

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Image: Research Parent



 

How to create cool kids rooms (without the clutter)

Today I am going to give you some great kids room ideas. You want to throw all the toys out of the window you say? Momma, I hear you. I remember the days, before having kids, when my husband and I would look at each other in horror after visiting a bomb site at a friend’s house. “I can’t believe the state of their house. Honestly, the amount of plastic toys…surely they could tidy up, right? If we ever have a family, I will never have so much junk.” *laughs hysterically*

Storage solutions for messy rooms

Yeah. I have a three-year old and a five-year old now. Boys. They have a a lot of stuff: toys, clothes, sticks. Pants and socks everywhere. And I ain’t got a lot of time. Or energy. You get the picture. Things get messy sometimes. Oh sure, I do try. I buy nice storage boxes (which subsequently get turned into mini bath tubs for toy cars – or used as helmets in superhero dress-up games) and then it stays tidy for a while. A day maybe. One day, when I am old and the boys have flown the nest, my house shall be clutter-free. Until then, I shall give them a warm, loving home while I browse Pinterest and Instagram and dream of stylish, tidy rooms.

Here are some examples of kids rooms that just look great and probably are more stylish than your own bedroom. (I also bet no kid was allowed in them before the photo shoot was over and done with. I would love to see what they look like on a daily basis – ha!).


Do you have kids rooms at home that you’d love to show off? How do you handle the clutter? Do let me know!

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A gorgeous room in blue, mustard and natural wood via The Boo and the Boy
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I want a swing in my room. How lovely is this? Via Style me Pretty
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Sweet. It even has a little plant on the bedside table. I love the midcentury modern lamp too. Great eclectic room for older girls. Via The Boo and the Boy
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Lots of cuteness here in this vintage style bedroom. The Boo and the Boy
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Gorgeous wallpaper used in this room. Oh, how I wish to be a kid again! Via Fawn & Forest
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Simple, but stylish and a bed on a budget. Buk & Nola
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Who says kids rooms have to be in pastel colours? Add some ‘oomph’ with black and mustard yellow. And bears, you need bears. Via The Boo and the Boy
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Add some serious wow factor with a mural like that! My Domaine

Project: from kids room to teenage boys hangout

Recently I had the pleasure to redesign a boys bedroom in a beautiful house in Stirling. The boy is turning twelve soon, a teenager, so it was time to change his room into something a little more grown up. Thankfully some things were already pretty good to work with, including a black cast iron bed and a lovely grey-green colour on the wall. The denim blinds and striped curtains were also to stay. I decided to go for a rustic / vintage / industrial look: iron gas pipe and wood shelving, lots of (upcycled) accessories that tie in with the boy’s love for sports and – as requested – a highly practical modern wardrobe. Then there was also the storage for books and trophies to include, a chill-out corner for reading and playing games and a functional (vintage) desk.

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I was immediately drawn to metal lockers, black anglepoise lights, as well a NUD wrap around bulb and cable, and denim accessories to add in some blue accents to match the colours of existing curtains and bedding. A graffiti pattern drum lampshade would make a nice statement piece in the room.

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For all images see the project Pinterest board

Interestingly, this whole project was done via skype and email, which went surprisingly well considering I wasn’t on site to take measurements etc. It worked however with my client giving me a tour around the house via skype on her iPad so I got a good feel for the style of the rest of the house and the room I needed to redesign. I set up a collaborative Pinterest board with my client to which we both added images we felt matched the look we were trying to create. Then I produced mood boards of the different corners/walls of the room to get a more realistic impression of what the new space will look like. A plan design shows the client where each item of furniture should go. In this case I also produced a shopping list for the room, including all items that needed to be bought. This is what I came up with:
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A lot of the more quirky, upcycled and vintage pieces came from Etsy. The wardrobe is a PAX unit from Ikea, the gas pipe shelving unit is from a company called Breuer in England, who make custom-made shelves and other furniture with rustic wood and pipework. For a similar bed, just do a search online for ‘black metal beds’ and you should be able to find one to suit your taste and budget.

I think it is safe to say that the room has grown up a bit and is ready for its teenage resident to hang out in for years to come.