Our Holiday Green Gift Guide: Eco-Friendly Gifts for Kids

When it comes to eco-friendly gifts for kids, most preschoolers and young children are pretty easy to please. They haven’t been as influenced by friends and the media as older kids, so creative toys like building blocks, dolls, plushies, art supplies, or games will be a big hit.

But trying to find non-toxic or sustainably made versions of these standby toys can be a challenge. After 12 years of working on our annual green gift guides, we’ve developed zero tolerance for cheap plastic toys… especially when reliable brands are making better and safer toys.

green gifts for kids

Once you shift your mindset from quantity to quality (besides – too many toys can squelch a child’s creativity), you’ll fall in love with the idea of raising your child with fewer toys. Natural toys bring calm to your home. And they’re much less startling than a toy bin that plays music at odd hours of the day and night because it’s filled with overstimulated plastic toys with no “off” buttons.

If you’re buying for tiny ones, check out this list of green and safe holiday gifts for babies. Or see the best natural gifts for toddlers. For older kids, jump to the section of gifts for big kids. Or find our tween and teen holiday gift guide.

Eco-Friendly Gifts for Little Kids

Here’s our selection of gifts that fall into one or more of the following categories: eco-friendly, non-toxic, wooden toys, ethically made, or high quality and long lasting so they won’t break and end up in a landfill anytime soon.

House of Miniature Maileg Dollhouse

dollhouse gift for kids

This charming dollhouse is the perfect place for your mice and bunnies to call home. Dollhouses are an instant catalyst for imaginative play that can help children develop language, communication, and social skills.

Through play, little ones can explore concepts like family, home, and relationships that will encourage their bonding and nurturing instincts. Plus a dollhouse is just fun!

Curious Kingdom Catapult Playset

playper play set gift

A build-it-yourself play set that isn’t plastic! Your child can enjoy hours of fun with Playper’s castle, dragon trainer, or this catapult launch. The characters are cute and engaging. They’re fun to use in their story setting (the characters have their own rich back stories) or for imaginative free play.

Similar to working a puzzle, your child simply pops out the pieces and builds the set. Only in this case, they also get to play for hours on end!

Playper sets are made from a high-quality, durable and thick cardboard-based material used. It’s recyclable and holds up great to extensive play.

FSC Solid Wood Rocker – Balance Board

rocker balance toy

Small children gain big benefits from climbing toys. And this versatile toy encourages imaginative play, creativity, teamwork, and balance.  

Safe in every regard, Wiwiurka uses FSC Birch plywood coated with non-toxic stains and sealants. Available in 14 colors, your child can climb, rock, read, build a fort, put on a puppet show and so much more.

Curated Play Kits by Age

lovevery toy kits gift

Lovevery offers an amazing curated toy kit subscription. They basically do all the research for you when it comes to choosing age appropriate toys.

These sets help you support your child’s learning (kits available for babies – children age 5) during important developmental windows with play essentials that are tailored to their exact stage.

All their toys are made from sustainable and nontoxic materials, recycled materials, soy based inks, and safe silicones.

Montessori Inspired Wooden Play Kitchen

kitchen play

There are lots of benefits of setting up a Montessori kitchen at home. You can DIY it or buy one like the newly redesigned wooden kitchen from Lalo.

With doors that open and knobs that mimic real-life functions, Lalo’s kitchen promotes child-led play and open-ended fun. Made with sustainably sourced birch plywood and solid beech wood, with non-toxic clear lacquer finish.

And with a no-tool assembly design, your child can be making pretend holiday pancakes within 5 minutes on Christmas morning.

Montessori Busy Board

green gifts for kids

Want to keep a little one engaged and safely occupied? This busy board has it all.

Specially designed to entertain small children and help develop motor skills, this educational board also helps encourage logic, memory, finger grip, and attention. A child learns new subjects, forms, and colors. This sensory busy board improves coordination of movements and self-service skills.

If this one is TOO busy for your little busybody, there are plenty of simpler boards to choose from as well.

Car Display Shelf Wall Art

car toy project

Handmade and eco-friendly, it’s a toy organizer and adorable wall art in one! The wheel size is 24″ diameter, slats are 1.5 inches wide – it can hold up to 64 cars.

The outer frame the shelf featured above is made from a refurbished used tire, keeping more tires out of landfills. This Etsy store sells out quickly and some of the similar items use a new tire. A shelf with a new tire might need a few weeks to off-gas the rubber and plasticizers before you install it in your child’s room.

Woodland Friends Dolls and Animals

sweet animal forest friends

Choose from lovable favorites like Reginald Fox, Lewis Toad, or Juliette Rabbit and customize their outfits. Hazel Village organic dolls and animals are ethically made by women in Peru, Nepal, and Cambodia. Just so you know… Once your child falls in love with one of these sweet critters, they’ll want to add more to their collection of forest friends!

Sensory Swing

sensory swing gift for kids

This sensory swing works both indoors and outdoors. It’s a great way to support proper vestibular system development in kids. The swinging motion helps to neutralize disruptions and helps calm and regulate the nervous system. It also helps improve body awareness, muscle tone, balance, and coordination.

Some parents swear it helps calm a meltdown. Others say their child stays in it for long periods of time, either actively swinging or just lounging belly-first.

Travel Explorer Kit

exploring gifts for kids

Encourage your child’s curiosity with this miniature suitcase complete with pocket compass, binoculars, travel book, and treasure box. Impeccably illustrated and crafted from the finest French materials, this set may become a family keepsake.

Moulin Roty combines gentleness with fantasy and tenderness with an irreproachable quality standard. This worker-owned cooperative, focuses on emotions when inventing appealing characters, games, toys and gifts. Their wish is to create memories, secretly hoping that they will be passed down from one generation to the next.

Jetaire Camper Playhouse

kids play tent gift

This adorably detailed playhouse allows children endless imaginative play with pretend road trips and camping.

Handmade and hand stitched, this camper playhouse features seven windows, embroidered license plate, and patchwork tires

Kaleidoscope Play Camera

kaleidoscope camera toy

Help your little one see the world in a different way with one of our favorite eco-friendly gifts for kids. Detachable straps make this pretend camera easy to bring along on all of your outdoor adventures.

Made from natural beech wood, this play camera allows little ones to imagine they’re capturing every brilliantly unique scene around them. Turn the removable lens for a kaleidoscope surprise.

Unicorn and Narwal Horns Sidewalk Chalk Set

sidewalk chalk unicorn

Unicorn and Narwhal horns for creating magical drawings! Set includes three Unicorn sidewalk chalk horns and three Narwhal sidewalk chalk horns.

Made by a woman-owned company, these eco-friendly, childhood classics are handmade and perfectly designed for little hands, helping to increase grip strength and fine motor skills while encouraging creative play and imaginative making.

Freestanding Wooden Fresh Mart Grocery Store

grocery store toy

Melissa and Doug’s sturdy wooden grocery store setup allows children to browse and shop or ring up items.

With a hand cranked conveyor belt, a bagging area, card swipe machine, a realistic beeping scanner, and cash drawer, children will enjoy hours of imaginative play.

Eco-Friendly Gifts for Big Kids

Eco-friendly items are a little harder to find when you’re shopping for big kids. The good news is – older kids don’t typically put toys in their mouths. So there’s less immediate worry about toxins in plastic. But we still believe safety and sustainability matter for humans of all ages.

Look for items that will last a long time, rather than the latest cheaply-made trend that breaks or won’t catch your child’s interest in a few months. And don’t overlook classic toys from eBay or shops that specialize in collectors items.

Our editor’s sons love getting classic Star Wars toys and Harry Potter LEGO sets. Yes, they are plastic, but secondhand means you’re not generating new waste. LEGO is working toward sustainability with plant-based bricks and more paper bags.

And, of course, anything that encourages your child’s love of learning, reading, or stimulates their curiosity is a great gift.

Outdoor Ring Toss Game

outdoor ring toss game

Encourage outdoor time and a little healthy competition with a huge ring toss game.

Handmade and the parts separate for easy storage. The scoring numbers are wood-burnt, so they won’t fade in the sun or over time. It also comes with a draw string bag which makes it easy to take with your family to the park, beach, camping, or anywhere.

Wooden Bracelet Making Kit

bracelet making gift

Oak & Ever offers tons of open-ended play items. Containing enough beads to make 10 bracelets, a selection of wildflower beads await. A selection of brightly colored spacer beads complement the showpiece beads for the ultimate in flowery accessories. 

Paddle Volley Ball Game

wooden game for big kids

Want a great eco friendly gift for big kids that keeps them off a screen and guarantees social interaction? Find something that involves two players like this wooden volley shot game.

It’s borderline addicting and so much fun. Also encourages hand-eye coordination, patience, and concentration.

Handbook of Forgotten Skills

If you want to teach your child practical life skills but need a little help, this book is for you. Detailed illustrations show how to do things like tie a proper knot, use a compass, write a thank-you note, sew buttons, build a campfire, and more.

Life skills aren’t taught in many schools, so a book like this can serve as your own Self Sufficiency course at home. Add in some basic survival skills training and who knows? You might inspire more independence and confidence in your child.

3D Wooden Puzzles

3d puzzle for kids

These puzzle sets are made from safe, eco-friendly plywood. Your child can make six dinosaurs including T-Rex, Brontosaurus, Spinosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and Parasaurolophus.

The edges of the plywood are grooved, so they’re safe for kids. Pieces fit right in, so no tools or glue are required to build.

Each puzzle comes with wooden punch out sheets and easy to follow assembly instructions.

Henry’s Tech Free Trip Book

tech free book for kids

Help teach kids the importance of keeping screen time and harmful EMFs in check with this charming story. Henry is on a long weekend trip to enjoy nature, but he can’t stop thinking about his favorite game on his tablet.

This book not only engages young readers with its amusing plot but also equips parents with essential tools to navigate the challenges of today’s tech-filled world. Through Henry’s journey, readers are reminded of all the fun a real life adventure can bring.

Eco-Friendly DIY Bug Hotel

eco bug hotel gift

Attract bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and other insects to your garden. They’ll be nice and welcome in their own little hotel made from eco-friendly materials.

This DIY project is great for your young nature lover. The local pollinators (plus your plants) will thank you!

Wooden Labyrinth Game

wooden labyrinth gift

The classic labyrinth game has challenged players of all ages since it was introduced in 1946. The natural wood and challenging aspects of the labyrinth game tops our list of eco-friendly gifts for kids.

The labyrinth game develops motor skills, concentration, perception, reasoning and – most of all – patience!

Giant Dance Piano Mat

The Green Child team kids love instruments and musical toys. The FAO Schwarz Giant Dance-On Piano Mat is a great gift for big kids. And it’s more affordable than you might think. This version from Target is only $39.

Gravitrax STEM Marble Run

STEM gift ideas

A great STEM gift idea for kids. They can experiment with gravity, magnetism, and simple physics to get their marble to the finish line, all through hands-on building.

Works with or without screen integration via their app.

Refractor Telescope from Celestron

stem gift ideas

Every curious kid needs access to a telescope and a wide open space to view the night sky. Celestron’s 21061 AstroMaster is a great option for beginners.

Check out some of the amazing photos users have taken with just their camera phones through the telescope lens in the review section at Amazon.

Mini Acoustic Guitar for Children and Beginners

This 3-string guitar is real wood, and is a real guitar. This award winning design is approved by educators, and the guitar is shipped assembled and ready to play. Children can use the included flashcards, or the iOS/Android app to learn to play.

Handcrafted Boomerang

At a super affordable price, this makes the list of active eco-friendly gifts for kids. It also inspires time spent in nature!

This handmade wooden boomerang actually comes back to you. Big kids and even adults will love it.

Great Eco-Friendly Toy Shops

If you need more options, some of the brands above have full shops where you can dig a little deeper for the perfect items. And here are some great green shops that offer safe toys for kids. Plus you’ll feel good about supporting a small business.

  • Bella Luna Toys is a beautiful place to purchase quality, natural-material gifts for the children on your list.  The toys are inspired by Waldorf education, and invite open-ended play that nurtures a child’s imagination. Bella Luna is “committed to offering unique natural toys and products for children and families that are safe, healthy and  encourage imaginative play. You will find no battery-operated or plastic toys here, the kind that will be played with for a short time before  ending up in a landfill.”
  • Oak and Ever offers loads of creative, mostly wooden, open ended play toys. We always find something fun for the kids (and creative for ourselves) at their shop. And if you need inspiration on what you can create, check out their Instagram.
  • Green Kid Crafts encourages STEAM and other curiosity-developing qualities with their nature-based subscription boxes. You can choose by age or by interest and get an engaging box of crafts for your child. Mother and environmental scientist Penny Bauder created Green Kid Crafts in 2010 to help children exercise creativity, develop a love of discovery, and learn about the world around them.
  • Lalo makes sustainable baby and child gear. They have added streamlined, adorable, and affordable toys to their shop over the last few years.
  • A Toy Garden is another lovely source of natural children’s toys.
  • Family Pastimes designs and manufactures cooperative games (all made in Canada).

If you need some help choosing what types of eco-friendly toys are suitable, check out this article on how to choose age-appropriate toys.

And learn more about why battery-free toys are better for young children.

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  1. I love this list of eco-friendly gifts for kids! I’m always looking for ideas for gifts for my own kids, and this list has some great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have to challenge your selection of the 3Doodler pen as a “green” option. It creates things by extruding PLASTIC, which I think we should all strive to avoid.

    1. Amity Hook-Sopko says:

      That’s a very good point, Sara. Sometimes we relax our plastic standards a bit when it comes to STEM because it’s educational, but I think you’re right about this one. It’s not necessarily a waste problem, but potentially a health problem. Thank you for commenting!

  3. My mommy group looks forward to your gift guide every year! Thanks for the ideas – especially the telescope! My kids are the perfect ages for it now <3