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Desperately Seeking Presents That Won’t Be Recalled in 6 Months… and Some Holiday Spirit

Anyone else sick of sorting through the bin and taking toys away from their children because of safety concerns? My favorite was the Aqua Dots fiasco, where the little pellets were filled with the date rape drug GHB. How does a DATE RAPE drug get into our toys? I mean, a Stoli martini maybe… but little plastic balls that you glue together with water?

I admit I find myself at a bit of loss this holiday season.

I took the Buy Handmade Pledge, and have been doing some searching on Etsy, but I have a general malaise I can’t shake. Why do I have to run around franticly from the day after Thanksgiving until December 24th, buying stuff, stuff, STUFF? And trust me, it’s not so much the consumerism that bugs me, it’s the consumerism crammed into 30 days, where I am supposed to find the perfect gift for the perfect price for the perfect person and wrap it perfectly and then in my case, ship it cross country because my whole family lives on the east coast, so then I really only have 3 weeks to get all this done counting shipping time and why am I bothering because they all have everything they need ANYWAY.


I know it’s an age-old lament, but when did Christmas turn into being about STUFF?

Then add in lead paint and GHB… I throw in the towel.

So here is where you come in. Let’s compile a list of links for stores that sell quality, not-made-in-China presents for kids and adults alike. Add anything and everything you have found that has things you would be proud to give, or even just made you smile.

We’ll call it the Feel Good Gift Giving Guide.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get this Grinch off my back yet.

Author: Aimee

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  1. This post is just BEGGING for me to do a little promotion of my own blog. One of my favorite places to buy toys for my kids is online at A Toy Garden. They have lots of made in the USA, free trade, and even some handmade toys. I have a discount code on my blog for 10% of purchases of $50 or more, but it is only good until the 30th so you’ll have to hurry! Here’s the link.

  2. I hear you. But two issues here. The first is unsafe toys, the second is handmade toys and other items. They are not connected. Perfectly safe toys can be made by machine. Unsafe toys can be made by hand. I, too, am tired of all the “must have” toy lists that propel us into this season. Our kids don’t know what a “must have” toy is (they are 6 and 3), and are better off for it. I’m tired of feeling manipulated by consumerism.

  3. Good point Ottis, I guess I didn’t make myself clear enough in my plea. That’s why I asked for links to places that carried things you would be proud to give. It doesn’t necessarily have to be all hand-made. I just figured we could all use some help searching. 🙂

  4. Read Christmas toy gift guide blog on She gives great ideas for “green” toy buying, such as buying used toys, stores to find high-quality wooden toys,and how to make your own.

  5. Jenn – we are actually republishing that on MHM next week!

  6. I’ve touched on this subject on my blog. Mothering has done a wonderful job relating junky toys to junk food. If you try to raise your children eating healthy, then we should in turn give them healthy and creative outlets of play. It’s more about the whole picture.

    I believe this holiday season for me, is about supporting small businesses, that want to promote healthy creativity in my daughters. Not just the companies that have the biggest “in your face” advertising budget.

  7. Have you checked out Global Girlfriend –

    It’s not for kids necessarily, but it’s cute stuff for sisters, moms, friends, etc., and it was started by Denver’s own Stacey Edgar.

    Here’s a snippet of the company’s mission statement:

    Founded in the spring of 2003 Global Girlfriend was created to help women worldwide gain economic security while providing you unique products and a simple way to help women in need. Our fair trade boutique offers a line of trend-setting, women-made, fair trade products including stylish apparel, accessories and gifts with one purpose ~ helping women in need help themselves.

  8. This requires work and imagination on my part, but I’m planning on putting together a homemade “theater” in the basement for the kids as part of their Christmas gift. I’m going to hunt for a couple of wooden pallets for the stage (hopefully cheap from a hardware store like Home Depot) and hang some cheap drapes from Goodwill for the theater curtain. There will be a trunk with dress-up clothes/accessories and I’ll have to figure out the lights. My 3-year-old daughter (especially) and 2-year-old son are really into dress-up and pretend, and we’ve got a largely empty, unfinished basement. You could say my daughter is quite the drama queen, so I think it will be a hit. Take that, Fisher-Price!

  9. I have found some cool things here:


    Not really for kids, but good for adults.

  10. I like the montessori catalog,

    also and

    i agree, i am at a loss of what to get my kids as well, i am refusing to buy anything that you have to cut plastic or twist ties to get out of the package!!

  11. How about the gift of pottery? Kids love to get dirty, and they love to make stuff. A certificate for a day, lesson, or group of lessons would be a blast for kids and parents. (I know some that enjoy it) There are paint your own pottery places that you just paint something and they fire it. Or you can pick up a block of clay from a craft store. Since we are talking about fun, how about a bunch of cardboard boxes? Different sizes would be fun. I always had more fun with the boxes than the toys. A box of craft foam balls would be fun too. Not as good for the very little ones, though. I always love the look on my son’s face when he gets some new toy, but I also love the hours he spends making things up with his imagination, some markers, a box, paper, and a bottle of glue or roll of tape. Speaking of tape, maybe a big roll of low tack painters tape. 3000 popcicle sticks would be good too. Hmmm… And finally, There is tons of stuff for all ages.

  12. Oh, and for my 5 yr old son, his big present from Daddy and Mama, is some sort of martial arts lesson – karate or tae kwon do. Something like that.

  13. How about a zoo membership, indoor rock climbing, swimming time, or movie passes?

    This year, my sister is getting us a family membership to the zoo. Every time they go, they’ll know it’s from her and it’s something we can use for the whole year.

    Gretchen –

  14. Anyone for books? Toot and Puddle as well as Olivia have new ones out. I’m also huge fan of anything by Peter H. Reynolds (Ish, The Dot).

    How about music CDs? You can put your own mix together (and put your kids’ pictures or artwork on the cover or CD itself) or check out Putamayo. I just love their different collections.

    I’ve ranted about all of these recalls (specifically about a bracelet for a local charity) on my blog –

    Good luck shopping.

  15. I don’t have anything to contribute in the way of a link, but just wanted to say this was an AWESOME idea for a post, Aimee. Thank you!!

  16. I heard about this last year but didn’t get booked in time but this year I’m already booked,
    This company is in Colorado, very talented studio in Ft. Collins I heard about them and checked out their site, they offer this gift idea, what a great experiance, Santa calls your home to talk to your kids, it’s live phone call, they record it as well so you can keep the file forever. You can’t get that off a shelf.
    Their sister studio offers this personalize gift, this is something that would be great for a parent or grandparent. A professionally produced autobiography. Great way to capture one’s life story, and it will last for generations to come.

  17. I just made a donation to Heifer International, for a teacher’s gift for Emerson’s teachers. I figure they probably get a lot of STUFF that they just don’t really want or need, and this might be a good alternative….

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