Joy’s Christmas List – Buying Minimal For Your Child

A Minimalist Christmas

This year for Christmas, we picked out only a few simple gifts for Joy. We’re big believers in gifting only a few presents for celebrations, and since our little family is in the very beginning stages of setting traditions & expectations, we want to start being intentional about this minimalist practice now.

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One of the biggest reasons we built a Tiny House was to pare down on our items and have less of an attachment to physical things. We wanted to value experiences above things you can hold, wear, and show off- and even though we don’t live in a Tiny House anymore, those same values are still close to me. We want to raise Joy in a way that that upholds contentment over a consumerism attitude, memories over objects, and giving above receiving.

At the same time, we want what we choose for her to be quality, not just something that she’ll loose interest in a few months or (worse) break before then. There’s this awesome mantra you’ve probably heard, but I’ll repeat because it’s that good-

Something they want,
Something they need;
Something to wear,
Something to read.

I love this little jingle and thing it’s so great to get inspiration from, but I think it’s important that every family creates their own gift list that fits their family and their child best. Take this list as inspiration for what it means to pare down, and then personalize it from there.

For example, obviously, Joy doesn’t really have real ‘wants’ yet – at least, not that she can communicate to us. We also are fortunate to be in a good place where we don’t need to buy her any clothes – which is a relief because I hate giving & receiving clothes as gifts, anyway.

So, without further ado, I wanted to share with you what shopping small (and minimally)  looks like for us this year.

decemberdays-13 Wooden Animal Puzzles

Joy doesn’t have any puzzles yet, and lately she’s been so into animals. Like, so. into. animals. She could spend a whole 30 minutes just reading a book with animals in it and be content. In the past few weeks, she’s learned to say ‘dog’ and tries to imitate its bark.

So to me, getting her something animal-themed that also encouraged her motor skills was a must-have. I’m sure these are going to be a big hit (at least, I do hope so!). Hape is one of my favorites as far as wooden toys go, well made and non-toxic finishes, so adding that with these adorable puzzles was a win/win.

See these on Amazon: Zoo Puzzle & Pet Puzzle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

I do try to hold a minimalist approach to how many different toys Joy has, but books is where I slack a little bit. I wouldn’t mind if she grew up a bookworm, and honestly she’s well on her way. Remember how I said she could stare at a animal book for 30 minutes? She could also listen to you read the exact same book for another 30 minutes. Out of all of her toys, the books get the most wear and tear. So, I figured since this one has incredible reviews about increasing language skills and, simply, is a classic, it couldn’t hurt to add it to the library.

See this on Amazon: Brown Bear, Brown Bear.



Elise- a Haba Doll

Okay, I can’t lie- this is my personal favorite this year! Jeff had the brilliant idea to get her a big-girl dolly that would grow with her. So, the search began for a well made, baby and toddler friendly doll that would (ideally) entertain her for years to come. We searched through all different kinds of dolls -so many cute ones! – but loved the tomboyish attire of Elise and the fact that she shares Joy’s middle name. And oh my gosh, she is so adorable! I am so excited to see how Joy reacts to Elise and half-hoping she’ll hug her really tight!

See this on Amazon: HABA Elise Doll

And yes – I took all these photos while Joy was awake with me and in the room. She didn’t see any of them, and just babbled and walked around. Here she is, completely clueless, making some cute mix of a shout and a ‘hi’.


That’s the entirety of what Joy’s getting for Christmas this year (well, that plus a Bernstein Bear book especially from Daddy). When we first received the package with all of her brand new toys in it, it seemed like so little – definitely not what I was used to growing up! But I’m excited that I truly am happy with the money we spent, and that I know each of these things will be good either for her development or just a little bit of extra fun that will last beyond a few months.

What’s your favorite gift you are giving this year?

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  1. Veronica, Joy looks like YOU in that picture. Usually, she takes on a daddy’s girl look with the flavor addition of mom but today she clearly looks like you. They change along the way several times & could favor Jeff next time.
    I agree with you about too many gifts. Besides, she is very young & she won’t be counting them yet. We chose to get age perfect gifts & with family needs in mind but individual tastes thoughts. My son & wife & kids kids age 4 & 6 are missing the only Kindle tablet that the mom broke by accident & included thoughts of her need for a computer in mind. So, I found a great deal for 4 bundled Kindles for them. They are used to using my Kindle & the rules for using them properly here. I know they will appreciate that gift. Our other kid gifts for these two were a big pack of dinos, nail fix up kit age correct, and a treasure game together. My 3 year old in Austin Texas got games to go with her toddler tablet she got last year & twozies that she loves & a rag doll & monkey. We have a tradition for the rag doll & monkey. Everyone gets that in their toddler years because of my grandmother. I still have my doll from a baby & my kids all grew up wanting monkeys. My 2 other grandsons (her brothers) are 10 & 8 year olds & they are into games & Star Wars so I bought a game for them for Xbox one & a small trampoline for them since their yard slants down slope right into the Travis river & their yard to play on is actually a extremely large deck. The trampoline helps them to jump for exercise. I think we may have over shopped but next year we plan this. Each kid gets a gift but gets to choose a gift for someone who is poor. My kids rarely got a gift while I was raising them because I became a single parent & food & a place to live was our priority. That’s why I spoil my grandkids I guess. I have a really good step-grandpa for the grands now too. Never spend too much or buy too many gifts. Puzzles like you got are really good & Ziploc packaging helps keep them contained when not in use. And, it’s not too soon to strat her into ART with washable paints & crayons & plain paper!!!! It’s great here. You just have to set the rules & take away if they don’t follow the rules. This teaches them & prepares them to follow instructions for school. You won’t be sorry. Projects with paint & crayons make them tire up for a nap. It wears them out with creative juices. Go cheap & safe with toys. There is no need to spend a lot to make them happy. Teach her that it’s a great big birthday party for Christ’s birthday. She will thrive with that. Hugs!!!! I think tiny house was good for you but a family needs some space to enjoy toys & running around. I am glad y’all moved into bigger spaces. Take care & merry Christmas!!!!

    1. I love your kindle idea- so thoughtful! Those are the best kind of gifts. It sounds like you put a lot of thought into the grandbaby’s gifts as well – I am sure they will enjoy them so much!

      And I LOVE the idea of picking out a gift for someone less fortunate. What a great practice to show generosity and kindness.

      Yes, for her first birthday we bought her some musical instruments and crayons! She enjoys eating the crayons still but I’m confident she’ll be drawing in no time!

      Thank you so much for all your kindness and following our family! We are loving our home in Asheville. Miss the Tiny House, but I know we’re in the best spot for our family. Merry Christmas!!

  2. We’re all about simplifying! A few years back we stopped exchanging gifts with the adults (well, some of them still get gifts for us even though we’ve insisted they don’t). The only gifts we buy are for the cousins who live in town and our kiddos.

    We do sometimes give small gifts to grandparents and family members – homemade goodies, things the kids have made, etc. This year we had baby #4 and my sister got married, so there were a slew of family photos to weed through. I ended up making photo keychains ( and will give them to some of the family members. I may make extra goodies, too – we’ll see!

    I’ve heard that gift-giving saying and have wanted to do that with our family, but it doesn’t always work out! “Something they want” – sometimes they want more toys that are unnecessary or something that’s just too expensive; “Something they need” – oftentimes these items are bought as-needed and when Christmas rolls around I can’t think of anything; “Something to wear” – this is probably the most practical because they are always growing!; “Something to read” – we have so many books already and tend to utilize the library so we can return the book when we’re done. We LOVE books, though, and every now and then we buy them for our collection.

    Anyhoo, around the same time we stopped buying gifts for everyone we knew, we got more proactive putting together Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes each year (one for each kiddo and I do one myself). We try to focus on at least three small items (because of the gifts from the wise men) for the kiddos’ stockings. I almost always end up with more for my oldest daughter, 9 years old, because she’s so easy for which to shop. And sometimes we have a gift for all of the kiddos.

    This year I made mermaid tail blankets for my kids (well, my 7-year-old son is getting a shark variation). I will give them on Christmas Eve and they can use them while we watch a movie. 🙂 These blankets are in addition to their stocking gifts. My husband needed a new belt buckle and I got him one with a cross on it – I hope he likes it! My newest one is only 3 months so I haven’t bothered with a stocking or specific gifts. I’ve gotten/made him a few new things since he was born so I don’t feel the need to spend more money when he’s none the wiser. 🙂

    Oh, and experience gifts are also nice. My husband’s grandmother often gives us a membership to a nearby aquarium. We use this throughout the year and it’s wonderful; it’s not something we would spend money on otherwise because it gets to be too expensive.

    1. Always love your comments! In recent years we’ve been doing a ‘secret santa’ on my husbands side for the many siblings – 5 brothers, 3 wives!- and buying small presents for the nieces & nephews and parents. I can’t imagine the upkeep of having so many nieces and nephews- fun, but expensive haha!

      Yes, exactly- each family is so different. The saying is really great for motivation but doesn’t always work out.

      My goodness, I love the Wise-Man Stocking Idea! What a great way to incorporate the Christmas story every year. I also thing the mermaid/shark tails are going to be a big hit!!

      Love experience gifts as well – that’s so thoughtful! I know the more children you add the more expensive it gets – Fortunately Joy is free for most things but once she hits 3 (and we add more children) the math goes crazy.

      Merry Christmas, friend!

  3. PS The cousins for whom we buy gifts? It’s a family of 7 boys. The oldest has moved out so the list is somewhat smaller, but still! I always ask my sister-in-law what they could use because I don’t want her to have a lot of extra, unnecessary stuff. This year she asked for consumables, which are always great. I got a big selection of snacks, art supplies, office supplies, and soap/body wash.