350Brooklyn Families Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids

Aligning your hopes for our climate with the pressure of buying holiday gifts for kids is tough! We’ve compiled a few ideas and hope to grow this guide, so please leave your ideas in the comments below!


Cut down on the mountains of gifts and waste by creating a rule around the number and type of gifts the kids will get and make it a tradition. Setting expectations helps with disappointment while also leaving an element of surprise. For example each kid gets “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.” If you have the means you can also introduce a “something to give” gift where the kid gets an amount of money they can donate to a cause of their choosing.


Something to read 

We’ve put together a selection of books we love, for a variety of age ranges, that foster a love for our planet and seek to empower kids. 

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom 

What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet by Jess French 

The Ballad Of Tubs Marshfield by Cara Hoffman

Wild City: A Brief History of New York City in 40 Animals by Thomas Hynes 

Tiny Perfect Things by M.H. Clark 

Packs: Strength in Numbers by Hannah Salyer


Get thrifty 

Start the tradition of gifting second hand. Scooters, bikes, dollhouses – there’s no rule to say gifts have to be brand new. In addition to local and online thrift stores, try local parenting listservs and join your neighborhood Buy Nothing group. At this time of year many people will be clearing out last years’ unwanted gifts to make space before Christmas – you can score gifts for your kids and save another kid’s stuff from landfill in the process!


Something they need

Do everything you can to avoid things that are fun for a moment but end up as useless junk. Instead give them something that they actually need and use in day to day life, something you would have had to buy them anyway. For example, a fun backpack, bedsheets with a pattern they will love, shoes, clothing, etc.

This is a good theme for stocking fillers too  – say no to snap bracelets, those plastic slinkys that tangle if you look at them. Instead try a fun new (bamboo!) toothbrush, personalized coloring pencils, soap, hairbands, a journal, underwear or socks with a fun motif, slippers, a personalized mug with hot cocoa powder, a jar of Nutella with a special spoon, etc


Cut down on stuff

Offer a gift certificate or an IOU for something instead of yet more stuff. You can make the giving experience more fun by taping it to a piece of candy, or putting it inside something they need like a new wallet or pencil case. Some ideas:

  • An IOU for a fun activity / day trip / meal 
  • An IOU for them to pick a plant of their choosing for their room
  • A gift card to a local class or activity business like Brooklyn Game Lab, the Painted Pot, The Strategist, Mark Morris Dance Center, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, etc. Many businesses have online or outdoor options for this year. 
  • A magazine subscription
  • A cash sum to donate to a charity of their choosing


Just say no to glitter

Everything looks more fun with some glitter on it and at the holidays it’s hard to avoid. It’s EVERYWHERE. But most glitter is basically microplastic. There are some eco-friendly(er) glitters out there but most products don’t use them. So just say no to glitter. It’s ok – your kids can survive without it, and once you’ve explained why they will likely even be happy to avoid it!


Help going plastic free

Some Plastic-free gift guides that have a few kid-friendly picks:

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