Holiday Gift Guide: For the WeeHugger


Photo via ImagiPlay

For grownups, the holiday season is about emotions—the joy, the love, the stress—but for kids, it is all about the loot. This year, giving the little ones in your life the games and toys that will keep them busy through the long cold days of January (or at least through the week until the New Year) doesn't have to mean stocking your tree with flimsy toys, breakable parts, toxic plastic, and soon-forgotten characters; you can put your hard-earned green to better use than that. We've rounded up ten products—from traditional gifts like trains, puzzles, and art supplies to science-inspired greenhouse kits and penguin adoptions—that will remain favorites long after the holidays are over, so you can stretch your holiday budget without wasting a dime.
Photo via Plan Toys

Plan Toys Road and Railway Station


Toy trains have always been a holiday classic, from old-school Lionel electric sets to more modern Lego tracks and cars. This year, put an energy-saving spin on the tradition with this recycled-rubberwood set, which comes with tracks, trains, passengers, and a station that folds up to become a storage box. The pieces are colored with water-based dye and held together with formaldehyde-free wood glue, and while the lack of electric parts may disappoint train set purists (we're looking at you, Grandpa), it means you'll save on batteries while encouraging imagination. (Baby Earth, $189)










Photo via Haba

Haba Orchard Game


While most board games pit players against each other, award-winning Orchard takes a different tack: encouraging two or more players (from 3-8 years old) to work together to stop a crafty raven from stealing cherries, apples, pears, and plums before they're harvested. Haba uses green production practices—including minimizing the use and waste of raw materials—and the fun of seeing all that fresh fruit just might have your little ones clamoring for a trip to the farmers' market come spring. (Little Bits, $36.95)










Photo via Amazon.com

Recycled Crafts Box

Author Laura C. Martin pulls together dozens of ideas that take advantage of paper, plastic, metal, and fabric materials you have lying around the house, from yogurt cup dolls and paper beads to braided rag coasters and cardboard castles. Background information on how the materials are produced and interviews with artists who use recycled materials share space with ideas on reducing consumption and kid-friendly games and illustrations. A book of projects that don't require a massive stash of supplies or an extra trip to the craft store? We'll take it. (Recycled Crafts Box, $8.76)










Photo via Discovery Store

Discovery Kids Recycling Studio

Recycling paper is one of the easiest ways to go green, but how can you teach your kids what happens after they throw the scraps away in the specially-marked bucket? This paper recycling studio (from Treehugger's parent company) answers all their questions: kids learn the history of paper-making while rolling and pressing used sheets into new. Once they get the hang of it, they can get creative, adding shapes and colors. You'll save on notepads and stationery, they'll develop an artistic eye, and pretty soon, the younger set will be answering all your questions about recycling. (Discovery Store, $24.95)










Photo via Stockmar

Stockmar Beeswax Modelling Sheets

Stimulate tiny would-be sculptors with non-toxic beeswax modeling sheets in 12 bright colors (made from plant dye), including deep crimson, sky blue, and pale pink. The sheets soften with the heat of your hands, and don't smudge, crumble, or bleed, so they're ideal for small fingers. Stockmar's entire line of art products—from pens to paint—is made to measure up to the health and toxicity allowances of food—not toys—so they're safer than nearly anything else on the shelves. (Living Playing, $19.99)

Next: ticklish ferns, double-duty puzzles, and a penguin of your very own

Tags: Gift Guides | Gifts | Holidays