• Sophie Smith

Local and Eco-friendly Christmas Wishlist

I usually only get around to decorating the Christmas tree and getting in the mood about a week before Christmas. Partly because life is just busy and partly because I don’t think I could handle more than a week of convincing my kids not to play with the tree.

But this year I’m prepping for Christmas early because I am hoping to make things myself and shop local and eco-friendly for things that align with our values as well as use. This can often mean ordering early to make sure it gets to you on time. If you are feeling really creative or are on tight budget I’ve also written a post with a few ideas for making your own gifts for your kids.

The 4 Gift Principle

When buying presents, I avoid plastic and I aim for toys that will last a long time. I also use the 4 gift principle: “Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read”. So here are the things I have my eye on or have bought for my kids and loved.


My kids don’t really watch TV or know about many of the mainstream toys or Disney characters which is great for me, because they don’t ask for those things. In this category we are usually looking to buy a fun toy that they will love and enjoy playing with and which will last a long time. We try and stick to wooden toys, and locally made where possible. Here are a few things I love:

  • Basically all of the Thornewood Treasures toys please! But we specifically love the Thornewood rocker, Thornewood rainbow stacker, the post boxes and their wooden cars.

  • Liv Bespoke gem stacking blocks

  • A Totem Teepee

  • Stumped Wooden Toys - we love the bird feeder kit and the Knock-a-block toy but there are lots of other lovely options.

  • Crocheted veggies from Lizanne at @Wildflowersandwildfires are really affordable and great for imaginative play

  • Beautiful dolls by Imibongo_kamakhulu or Charlieloves or Bella Poppelina

  • A gorgeous Olli Ella basket for collecting treasures or taking on a picnic from Cloud+Co

  • HoutKappers do the most lovely wooden toys - from baby toys to tools and aeroplanes to wooden veggies and you may even find some gifts for other friends and family on their site.

  • Honest Toys has a lovely selection of wooden toys

  • My Montessori Home has a beautiful selection of educational puzzles and toys for babies through to preschoolers.


These are things that your kids need, but it’s a nice opportunity to get something a little more special and wrap it up and make it exciting. Some of these things may also fall in the “something to wear” category, but are generally more on the practical side rather than pretty.

  • A new backpack - there are some lovely local companies - three I've found are Hansel and Gretel Bags, Tiny Tribe Kids (who also do a lunch bag), and the gorgeous Jan Pierewiet Toddler backpack.

  • A Lunchbox - In our effort to cut down on plastic, plastic wrap and single use packaging, I've been looking at great lunchbox options. I have my eye on the stainless steel U-Konserve ones available from Yuppiechef or Faithful-to-Nature. Here's another great article from Just a Mama about these lunch boxes.

  • Water bottle - Pura stainless steel bottles are amazing, 100% plastic free and have they an interchangeable top which you change as your baby grows older. Definitely an investment worth making.

  • Sunsuit - We love our Me & the Sea sunsuit and the new one for kids is coming soon. We spend a lot of time on the beach and so coverage is really important. When I asked on Instagram, I got some other lovely brand recommendations too - Surf Sense, Monkeybums, Eendtjie, The Jake and Isla Collection, and Just Jump Swimwear.

  • Swim nappy - if your little one is still in nappies, a swim nappy is a great and eco-friendly option. You can order from Monkeybums or Biddykins.

  • Rain Gear - Great rain gear makes for lots of fun outdoors even when the weather isn't great. We use Muddiebuddies but MooMoo Kids look great too.

  • Sunhat - Totem Teepee make the most beautiful sun hats that offer great coverage.


We are so lucky to have SO many beautiful, locally made clothing brands here in South Africa. First prize for us is to use second hand clothes and hand me downs, but there is always a time for something special and new. Just a Mamma has compiled a list of all the wonderful brands available and you can see it here, but here are some I love:

  • Rosiebee - beautiful soft colours and comfy fabrics for boys and girls with a nature inspired feel.

  • Annapatat Kids - bold florals and whimsy dresses for special days

  • Nana’s Babywear - hands down the loveliest winter wear I've found - beautiful chunky knits & dreamy summer capsule wardrobe created by South African grannies.

  • Heart Thoughts - a lovely little range of dusty coloured vintage inspired pieces by Jess who has also released an adult range and the most beautiful children's books.

  • Mika & Cebo - these clothes make me want to melt into a puddle they are so gorgeous - classical vintage style in muted tones and gorgeous prints.

  • Sticky Fudge - this brand is back witha range of neutral but pretty every day basics

  • Shooshoos - we don't wear shoes more than we need to, but if we do for outdoor adventures, we love these because of the flexible soles and wide design.

  • PittaPatta - these moccasins are so sweet for smaller toddlers and babies

If you have to do some last minute clothes shopping at a mainstream clothing store, please check out the ethics and practises behind the company. I love Cotton On Kids because the clothes are cute, quite affordable and their environmental and ethical policy is transparent and pretty good.


I get so excited about Christmas and birthdays because new books for the kids also mean new books for us as parents who read them every night. I absolutely love children’s books and think that they are the best present you could ever get. They are eco-friendly, don’t clutter up your house, are amazing for your child’s development on so many levels, and can last for generations. Some of Lexi’s favourite books were mine when I was younger (Thanks Mum!)

There are some lovely local authors, who I always love to support, and then some wonderful other books that we have enjoyed this year. You can also get some lovely non-fiction books which will be used for many years, like bird books or nature books. I'm not going to put links in because you can get most of them of Loot or Takealot or your local book store.

South African Books

  • Happy to be me by Jessica Smith and the rest of her series is now out, which I want to get Lexi. These are available on her site.

  • How Many Ways Can You Say Hello? by Refiloe Moahloli

  • Yes Yanga! - From 3 Tins to Cricket Champion by Refiloe Moahloli

  • The Lemon Tree by Katherine Graham

  • Any books by Niki Daly

  • Faansies Bird Book for Kids by Faansie Peacock, a long term investment available here

  • Skin We Are In - A Celebration Of The Evolution Of Skin Colour by Sindiwe Magona and Nina G. Jablonski

  • Nicko: The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm by Penny Haw is a lovely true story for slightly older children.

Other books

  • The Flying Bath, The Go Away Bird and The Detective Dog are three new books from Julia Donaldson that we love

  • The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Anne Power

  • In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek

  • Priddy books (English & Afrikaans)

Eco-Friendly Wrapping

I will write more about this soon, but did you know that we generally create 25% more waste at Christmas? We worry so much about creating a special season that we forget to think about the future of our planet. Wrapping paper, sellotape and gift bags are not recyclable. Here are a few ideas to keep the packaging eco-friendly;

  • Home made gift cards

  • Paper tape

  • Brown paper with a ribbon & some greenery

  • Brown paper packages tied up with string (to quote The Sound of Music)

  • News roll paper with simple prints (we used a cookie cutter to make stars)

  • Wrap with something you can use - a dish towel or lovey tote bag

At the end of the day, we can buy our families and our children all the Christmas presents we want, but the best gifts that we could ever give them are our love, our time and a beautiful world to inherit. Let's spread the love this season without spreading excess waste.

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© 2019 Sophie Smith