Father’s Day Gift Guide

TIESWhen I was a child, I remember buying my father a tie for Father’s Day – an actual tie! With the world a more casual place, many fathers have little opportunity to wear ties, making this go-to gift option of the 70s obsolete. So what to get for good old dad? Here are a few last minute options that will show you’ve put some thought in to your choice!

Organic wine
Organic wine is made from grapes which are grown under organic farming conditions, which excludes the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers. The details for organic certification vary from country to country. The chemicals used in much commercial farming contain toxins that will find their way in to the wine. Not only can these be unhealthy to ingest, they can also affect the taste of the wine and mask the unique earthy textures and flavours that each individual region can impart to its local grapes. Organic wine is generally produced in smaller batches and as such makes a unique and prized gift. Some adherents also argue that drinking organic wine will give you less of a headache. Drinking less wine will also help with that!

WINE

Organic wine is available from many local farm shops and fruit and veg box delivery schemes. Even supermarkets stock organic wine now. Organic Wine Pure, from Germany, have been doing mail order of organic wines since 1983. Sedlescombe Biodynamic Wines of England, in East Sussex offer vineyard tours and gift packages which include their own organic wines as well as organic fruit liqueurs and juices.

Bamboo Socks and Pants
Father’s day traditional gift = socks and pants. If you’re going to go this route, then why not go for the best? The growth cycle of bamboo is totally sustainable. The plants thrive with no chemical pesticides and, as anyone who has planted it in their garden can tell you – it grows and spreads like wildfire. It can grow in limited soil and on slopes and can sustain itself on rainfall alone, so there is no need for watering. It is also totally biodegradable. On top of all of this, bamboo is also soft, pliable, naturally moisture wicking, breathable, anti-bacterial and protects the skin from UV rays (just what dad needs in a pair of pants!). BAM bamboo clothing offers basics like the socks and pants we seek, as well as fitness clothes and every day essentials like t-shirts.

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Organic skincare
I’ve often wondered whether there was any difference between skin care for men and women, or whether it was just a case of packaging. For father’s day, you want dad to feel ‘manly’ – whatever that might mean for your dad, so spring for some special products made just for him. Organic Homme products fit the bill nicely, with their sleek black packaging. They use organic ingredients that are also fairly traded and they offer ten ‘power-packed- products ranging from shampoo, to deodorant, to face scrub and even anti-aging formulas. You can buy their products from the amazing Green People, which stock a billion things you might need and even on Amazon. Neal’s Yard Remedies also have a range specifically for men, including their brilliant ‘Shave Oil’, which moisturises skin and hair while shaving. It’s a really lovely product.

SHAVING

Beer
Beer & Dad? Often a safe bet. For something different, try signing dad up for a beer club. This will ensure he has loads of new and exciting beers to try out. With Beer Hawk, who are ‘Hunting Out The World’s Best Beers’, you get 15 new beers with each delivery, based on your personal preferences. You can choose one delivery for £40, or choose a few to arrive throughout the year. They have a good selection of international organic beers. There are small organic brewers all over the world, so dad might appreciate beer from his most local organic brewer.

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BBQ Time
Put together a BBQ kit for dad using more sustainable products such as BioRegional charcoal (available at Sainsburys and Homebase). This is made of British lumpwood from sustainable sources. Natural firelighters made from wood and vegetable oils, along with rolled up newspaper, can be used to light the BBQ.

CHARCOAL

For the Gadget Lover
Try this solar charger from Nigel’s Eco Store . It comes with a selection of 9 connector tips, so that you can charge any number of gadgets. Never be without a charge – even when you’re supposed to be off-grid!

charger

Membership has its Priviledges
If Dad likes going out and exploring, then consider membership to a local natural area, heritage or historic preservation organisation or wildiife or natural habitat protection agency. Many of these groups and organisations have local park areas, monuments, historic buildings, natural landscapes to explore. Now you just have to pick which one to sign him up to! This will provide great fun for the whole family and get everyone out.

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Totally Over Receiving an Avalanche of Gifts? Disclaimer: First World Problem

pplogogreyThis is going to sound like I’m the most spoiled and ungrateful person in the history of blogging – but bear with me, okay?

I love hosting birthday parties for my kids and coming up with different ways to cover all the traditional basics while also making it unique and fun for everyone – including me! One thing that I always forget about is that the birthday kid will receive presents. Don’t get me wrong – this is wonderful and certainly the part that every kid looks forward to – but what to do with the additional ‘bits’?

Let’s get down to brass tacks here: I am interested in reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ that comes in to our house that will only have short-term appeal but that will have long-term landfill repercussions. I would like to teach my kids to ‘want’ less.

And most gifts that kids receive at their birthday party goes totally against this philosophy.

I have not banned all plastic and all pink for my girls but I do feel that if it’s going to be pink and plastic, then it needs to be something that will be well loved, played with – and taken care of – for years (not weeks!).

Use Patchwork Present to fund a birthday party for your child

Use Patchwork Present to fund a birthday party for your child

There is a solution. Patchwork Present is website designed for any gift giving occasion that lets friends come together to fund one thing that’s really wanted — piece by piece. This can be anything from a big ticket gift item to an experience, to the fridge magnet you buy after completing said experience.

Founder Olivia Knight came up with the idea when she was planning her own wedding. She created a patchwork image representing the honeymoon they were planning. Friends and family could click on an individual element of the patchwork and buy it as their gift. n their case, these consisted of simple things like a night in a hotel, a couple of beers in a bar or an unromantic dinner for four. As Knight’s nan pointed out to her, “It’s not a new idea. It’s a whip-round, love” — and she’s right but it is much more organised and also individual to the gift giver and receiver.

Use Patchwork Present to fund a new wardrobe from The Fableists!

Use Patchwork Present to fund a new wardrobe from The Fableists!

Can it sort out my child birthday present quandary? Absolutely. It will just take some forward thinking, planning and a slightly awkward request to the parents of my child’s friends. I’m sure some people will find my request to club together to fund something a little rude at first. Once they’ve thought about it, they’ll realise that they are going to spend less money, avoid a rush to the shops for a gift and the quest for some sort of wrapping/presentation method. It’s better all around.

You could also introduce a charity element to your child. It might be difficult for them to understand giving a percentage of their birthday present to a charity but there might a fundraising project that means something to them, personally. A four year old might not be ready for this concept but you never know and it’s something to build on.

Use Patchwork Present to fund tickets to see your child's favourite sports team, or a West End Show, or the Cinema

Use Patchwork Present to fund tickets to see your child’s favourite sports team, or a West End Show, or the Cinema

How does it work? You can build a present using your social media accounts, so that the site can access your contacts. You can use a database of ready-made patchworks as a basis for ideas and then customise for your own individual present. Or, you can create an entirely new patchwork. Once you have built your patchwork and are ready to fund it, you simply link it to your PayPal account and publicise it.

You will give your friends a URL to access the present. They can choose which aspect of the present they would like to fund, add it to their shopping cart as proceed as with any other online shopping experience. This is free to set up and Patchwork Present will take a 3% commission from each of your friends’ contributions as payment for the use of their service.

Patchwork Present is a collective and resourceful way to raise money for a much-wanted gift. But it also offers a truly personal, creative and rewarding experience for both those giving and receiving — not only more efficient but more fun than throwing some cash in a hat.

Sign up now!

Patchwork Present can be used to fund anything. Maybe a bedroom redecorating project, piano or swimming lessons, or a night away somewhere

Patchwork Present can be used to fund anything. Maybe a bedroom redecorating project, piano or swimming lessons, or a night away somewhere.

Your More Sustainable Christmas Shopping List

nQlvmIoIt’s panic time now. You might even have to brave the crowds – and it’s not pretty out there. The shopping frenzy has gotten completely out of hand. People are getting hurt – and worse.

If you are following our blog, it’s likely that you have an interest in at one of these three things: kids, sustainability, design. If you have a child in The Fableists’ age demographic, they probably aren’t ready to completely adopt the ‘rather than presents, let’s donate to a worthy charity’ option and – let’s face it – Christmas is all about the kids.

First of all – a couple of tips:

  • Stay focussed. Don’t be distracted by all the shiny items.
  • Think about what you are buying. Remember that you have to pay for it, wrap it, hide it, get it under the tree, clean up and dispose of the packaging and wrapping, assemble it, tidy it up, store it, fix it, referee over it, fix it, tidy it and tidy it again and then find something to do with it when your kids are finished with it.
  • Think outside the box – literally. Try to avoid over-packaging.
  • Buy less but buy well. Kids will remember the one great gift for the rest of their lives. Can’t you?

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So, without sounding too earnest, here are some last minute Christmas shopping ideas.

An Experience
Give tickets or membership to something your child will love or is desperate to go to. Receiving the tickets on Christmas will be exciting, even if the event is next October. It will give everyone something to look forward to and the experience will be memorable. It could be tickets to an event like live music, sport, a play, the cinema, or you could get a membership to something that will last all year like National Trust, English Heritage, Woodland Trust or RSPB. Perhaps a one day outing like zip-lining, hiking, sea kayaking or a longer trip to some place special, or camping. Choose something you can do together.

Make, Grow or Build
Building toys are a great investment. You can build them up and tear it down over and over and they are usually made of tough stuff that lasts for generations. They are ideal for passing along as they cover a broad age range and are good for boys and girls. All kids love making stuff, cooking, gardening. They love to watch things grow and will enjoy a real sense of accomplishment. If your kids love to draw and colour, then consider taking it up a notch with a pencil set, or some thinner felt tip markers, or a pencil case, compass set, sketch book. A favourite item at our house is unlined Moleskine books. They are durable and drastically cut back on loose sheets of wasted paper.

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Something They Need
Kids will only moan about getting clothes for Christmas if you let them believe it’s a rubbish gift! Father Christmas knows when your child needs underwear, socks, tights, pyjamas, etc. What could be more magical than that? Christmas pyjamas help make the day last in to Boxing Day, too! Or maybe they need new football boots, tap shoes, guitar strings or a sleeping bag. Don’t forget, if you need any (ahem) amazing sustainable clothes, don’t forget to look us up, eh?

Games
Christmas is all about games. It’s the best way to while away the time when the food is cooking and spread out the time between presents. Put a fire on, get those Christmas PJs on and gather round for a rousing game of … what will it be at your house this year?

Books
Finding the perfect book for someone is the. best. feeling. Most kids love at least some kind of book; picture books, silly poems, factual books, trivia or question and answer books, activity books, choose your own ending, mysteries, classics, cookbooks, magical stories, ghost stories, or maybe it’s audio books for long car trips. Even quite grown up kids love to be read to. If your child is ready for more mature content, then why not get a special, more ‘grown up’ book to share with them. If you had a favourite when you were their age, they will love it all the more.

Music Making
Perhaps your child needs a new piano book? Or is interested in taking tuba lessons, or needs a bigger guitar? Or maybe they like listening to music and would use an MP3 player or vouchers to choose the songs they’d like. They could start to build their own music collection, whether its digital, vinyl, CDs or other.

Sports and Outdoor Equipment
Get that new bike you’re waiting for spring to get for Christmas. Even better – buy it second hand on ebay or a local yard sale. Be sure to get it serviced before letting them go out on it. If you’re planning to go camping this year, or on a holiday that requires bits and pieces, then buy them for Christmas! All outdoor equipment can be bought at Christmas: scooters, wagons, skateboard, skipping rope, sledges. They will keep until spring, just get a size bigger! Get a hand me down and clean it up and add some personal decorative touches and you’ll be giving the big kahuna of Christmas gifts!

When in doubt? Organic and Fairtrade chocolate is always well received!

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