Multiethnic Christmas Gift Ideas For Kids
So there came the day, the year that I realized my kids are getting way more toys for Christmas than my minimalist aspiring heart can hold. Therefore I decided that “from now on I will only purchase really beautiful and really meaningful toys!” No more going crazy on Black Friday getting last minute cheap plastic, throw-me-away-three-weeks-later gadgets from me. Only meaningful gifts that build my children’s character, fostered their unique talents and sharpened their cultural compenetency! And so started my journey of only buying absolutely beautiful diverse gifts such as those listed bellow.
You know I always felt that having too much “stuff” is not helping but more so harming a child. Psychology Today confirmed that when I recently read that “a high level of materialism during childhood may even decrease life satisfaction in adulthood (Opree et al, 2013). Indeed, studies of adults have associated increased materialism with decreased life satisfaction, happiness, vitality, social cooperation and environmentally sustainable behaviors, as well as increased depression, anxiety, racism and antisocial behavior (Twenge and Kasser, 2013).”
woah... piling unnecessary stuff on my offspring I may actually contribute to raising antisocial, anxious little racists? Ok, so what’s the solution? Since I also believe it’s important to show love by giving some sort of gift (since we all know about love languages since Gary Chapman:), here’s the solution:
I decided for Christmas the children will only get toys from us that will positively impact their minds, hearts and souls AND also shape them socially and culturally. Pretty deep? No, I just wanted my gifts to be meaningful enough to help them grow into intelligent and compassionate human beings AND spend my money on items that help them embrace their cultural and individual idenity... and yes foster a healthy self image.
So the one kind of the gifts I buy every Christmas are... yes you guessed right: books. (: Specifically, multiethnic children’s books. For one because of the many reasons I listed on the the cover of this blog. One is that scientific research now backs up what bookworm knew all along: Kids who read books have higher compassion than kids who don’t read. I gift books secondly because I actually want to support authors of color and authors who are making the effort to invest their time and talent into writing within such a small market niche. (And you will find all my favorite books in my blog posts under the multiethnic children’s books category.)
But yes out kids don’t ONLY receive books (: I also use Christmas to gift them some pretty clothes, such as from this fair trade company TEA (yes, tea-loving me loves all about that!). TEA sells globally inspired and super cute, very affordable styles for children. Check it out, they always have sale and I think in fashion and budget this company beats Old Navy and the likes beautifully.
But also other toys that are very intentional about honoring and celebrating diverse cultures of this world.
We like the American Doll series and concept of having a doll that is made to resemble its little owner. Apart from all marketing strategies and it almost being a peer pressure to have an American girl, I actually like that little girls are encouraged to play with dolls that look like them. I think it's super fun to be able to go to a store with your doll that has the same hair texture and skin complexion and get all dressed up and hair done. My girls have two precious American dolls that they love.
And since can't nobody afford to buy 10 American doll girls, there are also a few less expensive options of beautifully diverse dolls that my girls own and absolutely love: One of them is Rachel, the world vision doll that was inspired by a real girl in Ethiopia and has gorgeous coils that even my 2-year-old son loves.
So, Christmas is the only time of the year I really splurge on my kids and gift them (for my coins rather expensive) dolls, like this super cute baby doll, which my daughter was thrilled to receive when she was 3. They still play with this doll pretty much every day. When it comes to dolls I really love gifting them with one of the Hearts for Hearts dolls on Christmas. Similar to the popular American Girls, these are beautifully modeled after real girls but set in different countries such as Mexico, Laos, Belarus, U.S.A. and India. So far my girls have only "Rahel" from Ethiopia which is absolutely gorgeous in person with her tightly curled hair and traditional skirt and earrings. They come with little booklets that explain where they are from and what they are like (: My girls absolutely love them. Plus a proceed of the sells goes to World Vision Organization that makes a difference in the world!). So who knows, maybe there will be another one under the tree this year (:
Another great gift idea are dress up costumes from different cultures. I encourage dress up by having two dress up chests that the kids can play help themselves with anytime. Research has shown that playing dress up has huge benefits on children's behavioral development. When using beautiful multiethnic dresses the benefits double and triple in my eyes because your kids learn in the multiethnic and global setting important skills such as: team building, emotional development, character development, decision making, and it improves imagination and communication. Using various multiethnic costumes also brings about a sense of ease, appreciation and fosters a comfort level and sense of feeling at home' in different cultures, which will be beneficial as your kids visit other countries later on. I also threw some of my own clothes in there since I have a few beautiful shawls that I bought in India long time B.C. (before children) and that I never use. I figure instead of saving them for a special event I may as well let the girls enjoy playing Indian princess with them (: And of course they use a bunch of wonderful durable African cloths to bind their baby dolls on their backs. All that helps wonderfully in allowing children to imagine themselves in the cultures and (literally) shoes of other cultures!
For my oldest kids I bought some fun educational games such as this game Where In the World?? and Explore the World (ages 7+). Both of them are very fun and excellent ways to teach about different countries and learn interesting facts! I love how they help not just the kids but us adults to brush up on our geography skills and create a fun family game night where we all learn something new.
Lastly, I also gifted them with toys that I believe are just amazingly beautiful (such as the dolls bellow!) and will bring them joy to look at. All these gifts aid in shaping children into the culturally competent and self and others loving people I pray they will become one day.
Check out the dolls and multiethnic gifts I absolutely love and that we are enjoying this year in the links bellow! There are a few more on my blog post on “playing with the colors of the earth”.
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Happy Thanksgiving-shopping, and merry early Christmas! ?
California based Ghanaian-German educator, writer, bookworm and mama of three. A lover of all things nature, diversity & healthy.
"Education is nothing else than discovery.
And discovery full of diversity is beautiful."
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About the author
My name is Nancy. I'm a teacher, home educator, wife, mother, writer and accidental German-Ghanaian transplant to the U.S., in love with California and all things diversity.