Christmas can be a wonderful time at any age, but it is probably never as magical as in the eyes of young children. The Rabbit and the Bear are now, respectively,
3 and 5 (4 and 6, time has passed!) and their enthusiasm about the imminent Christmas period is contagious: they sing songs, draw Christmas cards, plan their Christmas eve party and of course they compile their wish list for presents, in the form of a letter to Santa.
Even if not exactly in the same form, I have been busy compiling a wish list myself.
This might come as a surprise to people who know me: I am a minimalist at heart and very much live by the mantra ‘collect moments, not things’. I am known for having a slight obsession with space and I periodically go around my house getting rid of ‘clutter’, my definition of clutter being quite broad – apart from the fridge, most things have been labelled as clutter at some stage and yes, this include toys, clothes and the occasional piece of furniture!
I know I am a bit OCD about this but I am not alone: most families I know have a (first world)-problem with clutter, so I figured that if I compiled a list of things that are actually useful, I could make choosing a present for clutter oppressed families a little bit easier.
I have written this list thinking of stuff that I would like to receive or that I have received in the past and worked well. So here we go (if you click on the pictures, you will be redirected to the Amazon website for additional info, prices and delivery options. Please note: the following are affiliate links and purchases made through them may result in a small commission for me, at not extra cost to you. I only included product I personally use and love.
Useful travel gifts for parents:
The ultimate space saving gift! Travel is an expensive passion, especially if you have children: people don’t always realise this, but from age 2 children pay full fares on most airlines and are often charged in hotels.
The best vouchers I can think of are: airline vouchers, travel agency vouchers, booking.com vouchers and of course activity vouchers. If you know that someone is about to go on a trip, why not offer them an activity to do on site?
If you are not sure about activities they may like, you could also give them the memories of a lifetime with a voucher for a session with a flytographer. Flytographer has professional photographers in very many cities around the world and they can be booked for a private photo shoot in your friend’s holiday location. It is a super fun way to spend an afternoon and will leave thmemoriesemeories of time spent together and with beautiful family holiday pictures, something so few of us can honestly say the have!
Packing Cubes and quick-dry towels
Families with very young children tend to travel with a lot of stuff so why not give them a present that will help them organise their belongings while travelling? I am particularly fond of two products: packing cubes and quick-drying towels, perfect as two separate presents or as a ‘travel light’ kit.
Packing cubes are a great thing. They are useful when you travel but they are also great for storing things at home. A clutter-phobic best friend and a great one for parents who are, more than many, juggling several sets of clothes at every given time
Quick dry towels are, for me, the ultimate travel accessory. I have one of these towels and I love it: it travelled with me to central America, China and Japan, it’s my towel for the gym and I often used it with children. It’s so compact, absorbent and lightweight I used to keep it in the buggy for emergencies or in hot weather, as an extra layer between baby and stroller.
The ergo baby carrier is a product most parents lust over: I believe it is one of the best carriers on the market and I have used it extensively both at home and when travelling. I highly recommend it so if you know a friend is looking at carriers, I believe this would be a great choice. You can adjust the straps to suit all sizes and the wide range of colours means both mums and dads can use it.
Click on the picture to browse the many colours available (you will be redirected to the Amazon website)
Carry-On Travel backpacks
This is my favourite travel piece of all: a backpack that opens as a suitcase (so you don’t have to root everything out every time you need something) and that travel as carry on. We have two of them and they are the best purchase we ever made: my favourite brand is Osprey which I find comfortable and stylish. The Osprey packs come in several colours and sizes: depending on the type of travellers you are buying for, you may want to choose a smaller or bigger one – click on the image for full specs and options.
Best Travel Gifts for kids
Trunki: The Original Ride-On Suitcase
You may have seen this around airports: Trunki rolling suitcase is one of the most popular kids’ suitcases no the market and with good reason. As well as being super cute, this is kids’ rolling luggage with a difference: instead of just pulling it around, the kids can ride on it, meaning daddy’s shoulder can occasionally have a bit of a rest.
While its plastic case may seem the opposite of a space saving, no-clutter object trunki is great for minimalist families as it doubles up as a good toy storage box. My kids have two of them and they are, to date, among Santa’s most successful deliveries. Click here to see the full range of colours. If you are interested in getting a kid’s suitcase but you are not sure which one to choose, you may have a look at our post about the best luggage for children to get ideas on pro and con of the various options.
There are many colours and animals to choose from, including bees, tigers, bears and little Ms E’s favourite: a ladybird.
Kikki Deuter Backpack
My kids are in love with the Kikki backpack and have used them almost every day since the day we bought them: during the year, they are excellent school bags (they are suitable for pre-schoolers and young kids) and we have used them as backpacks for hikes and holidays too. The are very cute and very comfortable and they have a super handy chest strap that allows them so sit properly on the kids’ backs without falling off.
Click on Amazon US to see the latest prices and the full selection of available colours.
A Scratch Map of the World
The scratch map does exactly what its name suggests: it’s a map and every time you go to a new country you can ‘scratch it off’, making it a keepsake with your personal travel adventures. I think it’s a fun, non-bulky object and a great way to teach geography to children and take a moment to recall places seen together. We have one on the wall in the children’s wall as we scratch open one countries every time we travel. It is a fun activity, it teaches geography and it makes a lovely wall decoration. Maps are available for the whole globe or for specific countries, so they are perfect also for local explorers.
Kids’ Travel Journal
Another fun way to keep memories is a travel journal: if you are crafty, you can make one yourself or you can buy one built with children in mind. Amazon has a large selection of journals, from the simplest to the most elaborate with stickers and pockets for memorabilia. A very good one is by Lonely Planet, which also has a wonderful series of ‘not for parents’ books that children of reading age are sure to enjoy.
Self-explanatory and a great way to get little hands away from your precious DSLR (well, they will probably want your DSLR anyway, but maybe not as often!). Kids cameras come in all shape and sizes and they are not built in such a way that they can get decent quality photos and resist the somehow rough handling from little hands. The one in the photo is among the best sellers on Amazon, but if you click on the photo you’ll be directed to the full list of cameras available, where you ca pick colours and specs.
Kids sleeping bags
One more multi-purpose object: sleeping bags! They are useful when we travel (on planes, trains or in case we have emergency sleeping arrangements) and they can, of course, be used camping or at home. These are the characters my children are obsessed with at the moment.
Click on the picture to go to the amazon store for prices, payment and delivery options
Kids headphones are a very handy travel accessory and one that we also often use at home. I have a full article on why we love them and some of the best on the market are for sale on Amazon
But the best Christmas present idea for families who hate clutter is this:
If you are buying for someone who really cherishes moments over anything else, why not give to a charity in their name? Many families who love to travel have encountered, on the way, charities or causes that stole their hearts: so what could be more special to them than to feel that you listen to their travel stories and decided to help? That would make for a wonderful, clutter free and truly meaningful Christmas present!
These are my choices, what are yours?