The Joy of Giving and Receiving

Welcome to the December 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Greatest Gifts

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have suggested go-to gifts and gifting experiences for the holiday season for all your loved ones.


photo 1 (91)We have been in the Christmas spirit at our house! Lucien has been making Christmas ornaments to hang on the tree and wrapping presents for Daddy and all his grandparents. We have made paleo Christmas cookies together, and Lucien had been running around the house declaring himself to be Santa Claus while passing out said cookies.

And Lucien also received one fantastically engaging early Christmas present, that I would highly recommend for other preschool-aged kiddos.

When Grandpa was here visiting from Wisconsin a few weeks ago he brought along several gift cards for us to enjoy, including one to Barnes and Noble. This store is one of Lucien’s favorites; we can go there and spend literally hours exploring and reading books.

We are not always able to buy something when we visit, but this time Lucien was able to pick out a new toy; he was so excited to find this Melissa and Doug wooden cutting food set, complete with knife and cutting board. He enthusiastically carried the (rather large and heavy) wooden box to the check out, and he was so excited that he insisted we open it right away.

photo 1 (90)We sat down at the Starbucks tables with some coffee (I thank you for that, Grandpa!) and Lucien tore into that box. He told me that he was the barista and chef. He sliced the bread, he chopped the fruit, he mixed the pieces in cups to make smoothies for us.

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photo 3 (78)Then he “restocked the shelves” by lining up all of the pieces on the floor. Then he reassembled, chopped, and mixed some more.



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His creative play expanded when we returned home. He put his baby dolls into a “high chair” and chopped their food for them – because, you know, little kids need their food chopped into little pieces. He set up a display case at his pretend grocery store and sold the food. He got out pots, pot holders, and utensils from the kitchen to cook the food. Then he requested plates so that he could serve the food.

This one box from Barnes and Noble has inspired more independent and creative play for Lucien than any other one toy we have in the house. I could not more wholeheartedly endorse this product! I am also thrilled because I am more sure than ever that his Christmas morning surprise (which I researched extensively and ordered several weeks ago) will be an enduring source of enjoyment and inspiration for creative play.



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Want to Buy All of the ThingsThe Economama discusses whether there’s a way to buy all of the baby stuff she desperately wants for her daughter without spoiling her.
  • The “Collectors” and the “Concentrators”: How Children React to Lots of Presents — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., at Parental Intelligence discusses two types of children who receive gifts: the “Collectors” who rip open the wrappings on their their presents and love to count them and the “Concentrators” who spend endless time on each gift ignoring the array of presents around them.
  • The Joy of Giving and Receiving — Ellen at Life With Lucien shares her three-year-old son’s new favorite toy for imaginative play.
  • Books: Best Present Ever! — Holly at Leaves of Lavender discusses some of the many reasons why books are the ideal gifts for little ones.
  • 10 DIY Gifts You Still Have Time To Make — A roundup of 10 DIY gifts that don’t take much time to make from Doña at Nurtured Mama.
  • Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaves – A Delicious Holiday Gift — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares one of her favorite recipes to make and give during the holidays. This Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf is much anticipated by her friends and loved ones. Learn how to create this delicious gift from the heart!
  • Christmas gifts for dreamers — Tat at Mum in search shares her favourite books and resources that have helped her get inspired and move forward towards her dreams this year.
  • Natural parent’s baby shower registry — Since she had everything already for baby #3, Lauren at Hobo Mama is amusing herself by building a list of essentials and a few fun fripperies for a natural-parenting nursery.
  • Gifts of love — Charlie at PeelingClementines recalls her favourite Christmas gift of all time and thinks about how to add this magic to her little one’s first Christmas.
  • The Gift of Letting Go — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has discovered that when you’re a perfectionist, sometimes the best gift is simply releasing yourself from self-imposed expectations.
  • Montessori Inspired Gifts for Babies and Toddlers — Rachel at Bread and Roses shares gift ideas that were a hit with her son last year and what’s on her wishlist for this year.
  • Giftmas Ideas for KidsMomma Jorje offers an original gift idea that hasn’t been overdone and is good for the kids!
  • Favorite CDs for Babies and Toddlers {Gift Guide} — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s favorite CDs for babies and toddlers, some of which were favorites of her children and are now favorites of her granddaughter.
  • The Birthday Turned Christmas Wish ListThat Mama Gretchen forgot to share her birthday wish list this fall, but she’s still wishin’ and hopin’ a present or two will arrive for Christmas!
  • 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby — Is your family asking for hints for presents to give baby? Moorea, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, offers this list of ideas that won’t overwhelm your little one with toys.

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12 Responses to The Joy of Giving and Receiving

  1. That is excellent! I love it when toys inspire such creative play. I’ll have to look into that one for my littles.

  2. codenamemama says:

    We’ve had that set – and it is a big hit! The littles have always loved cutting apart all of the foods. It’s a great way to introduce knives, if you haven’t already.

    • elliemaeh says:

      I have actually introduced knifes – under very close supervision, of course. Lucien also loves using his egg slicer and chopping with his wavy chopper.

  3. Holly S says:

    My son loves trying to help me prepare real food; I can only imagine how much fun he would have with a toy food set like this! I really want to get him a nice wooden toy oven one of these days, with plenty of cooking utensils and play food to keep him busy. Love the pictures of your little one practicing his chef skills!

  4. Economama says:

    That set looks so cute! Most of the Melissa and Doug toys seem pretty awesome

  5. rachelwilsey says:

    What a great story. have you tried having him help prepare real food. I’d suggest the “kids in the kitchen cookbook” its for 18 months to 9 years all recipes the kids can make themselves (illustrated with photos for pre-readers) once you’ve shown them a few skills.

    • elliemaeh says:

      Lucien helps me in the kitchen almost daily (and I have described our different concoctions in several other posts). Great fun, and lots of math, nutrition, and science skills to be gained! The toy food is great, though, too, because he can be imaginative and work more independently, with less supervision and less mess!

  6. donabumgarner says:

    What a sweet story! We got a similar set when my daughter was just a little younger than Lucien and she still plays with it a couple of years later. She actually found it in the kitchen cabinet last night and said, “I was wondering where these were!” I kept them in the kitchen because she would often be content to “play food” while I was cooking. I cook with her, too, but sometimes I just need to get the meal on the table, you know? She graduated to her own little wooden kitchen last winter and that is great, too.

  7. Pingback: 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby | Natural Parents Network

  8. Pingback: Christmas gifts for dreamers

  9. Pingback: Favorite CDs for Babies and Toddlers {Gift Guide} |

  10. Pingback: 8 Brilliant Non-Toy Gifts for Baby | Savvy Parenting Support – The Blog Articles

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