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Picks for Peques: Children's Gifts

You may have noticed that the first few days of Holiday Gift Guide featured clothing and accessories lists that didn't include any items for the little ones in your lives. That's because we've dedicated an entire day to children's gifts: today! Most of the offerings aren't clothing because, as those with tiny humans at home can appreciate, kids have both astonishingly fast growth rates and a curiously fleeting interest in clothes! But we do share several phenomenal wearable items as we recognize that their small forms and adorable embellishments appeal just as much to adults as to whipper snappers they're intended for. Here are a few gift ideas that definitely tickle the fancies of our inner children!


Earlier we noted the difficulties of gifted clothing, but that's not to say that the young'uns on your gift list won't cherish one of these handmade Peruvian arpillera sweaters. A few years ago we were shopping at one of our favorite stores in the southwestern United States, Mercado Mexico in Guadalupe, Arizona, a tiny city "where three cultures [Pascua Yaqui Indian, Mexican, and American] flourish". The Mercado is the first place we stop when we're domestically searching for Mexican goods but on this day we discovered, at the back of the store, behind a wall of blankets and serapes, a rack of these adorable—but, admittedly, culturally out of place— zip-up cardigans and we were spellbound. Soothingly soft wool is knit into a classic hooded sweater form, complete with a pair of patch-style front pockets, sized with tiny, restless hands in mind. Accenting strips on the sleeves, hood and hemline provide a thoughtful design touch; at the waist, the stripes widen and distort to form the banded lines of a horizon and staggered silhouettes of Andean Mountain peaks. Seeded onto this artistically articulated landscape are plush overlays. Healthily plump alpacas, rabbits, turtles, and chicks are applied with an outlining stitch and enlivened by black threads that define eyes, ears, wings, and legs. Smiling sunshines with outstretched rays suggest a youthful radiance while cottony cloud float beside them and sprinkle a pyramid of cheerful, nourishing raindrops onto the tufts of flowers and pillars of cacti that denote a fertile landscape.

While we love these sweaters (and honestly, we're a bit jealous that they don't make them in our sizes!) kids love them even more. Comfy and warm, the cardigans appeal to even our most clothing-averse saplings and the textile menagerie instantly becomes the envy of their peers.


Sticking with animal appliqués, next on our list are these heart- and hand-warming gloves from Talkingloves. These unisize knits will be too large for very young children, but we find our elementary school gift recipients a) have hands that fit the spaces decently well and b) don't mind a bit of extra roominess. The fingered gloves are constructed of pewter wool and a black profile silhouette of a cat is sewn onto the palm of the left hand, while the right hand is offered a punctuating black bird right below the pad of the second finger. Imaginative children perform a myriad of tales about the pair, using their hands to puppet the narratives they improvise. A few members of the ARCANISA team grew up with grandparents who amused them the "Two Little Blackbirds" fingerplay and we can only imagine how mesmerized we would have been to have gloves we could use to animate the nursery rhyme!


If you're on the prowl for gifts for children that favor three dimensional textile props, a felted play set may check all the boxes. Handmade in The Homespun Market's pristine smoke and pet free environment in Appleton, Wisconsin (shout out to our fellow Sconnies!), felt is crafted to form a feast worthy buffet of sculpted sushi, pasta, popcorn, fish, marshmallows, cookies, and pancakes. The soft, eco-friendly materials make the pieces tactile treats for tiny hands. Beyond the physical sensation of holding each fuzzy food, there is an instantaneous rush of inspiration when one is presented with a box of these toys. Forget clanking cups at tea parties! Try tossing textile farfalle, rigatoni, and ravioli for a pretend pasta presentation or practice chopstick skills with felt maki and nigiri. Or embrace some American magic by toasting faux marshmallows over felted logs and flames to layer with soft graham crackers and chocolate bricks for addictively cute s'mores. Each food is a work of art and a portal to a world of uninhibited fantasy that appeals to kids and parents alike!


For little ones too small for sushi rolls or people is the perfect plush choice for any age. A plush knitted saucer holds a curled cat, electrified by trailing bolts of black and white stripes, and trimmed with white capped paws. The feline's dulcet smile and playful wink emote a companionship that's sure to inspire adoration from any child who holds this cat close. 100% sheep's wool burel for a natural, super-durable, and eco friendly houseware accessory that will bring life to nurseries, playrooms, living rooms, and all other spaces in your lives.

Each fox is an outstandingly successful marriage of crushingly refined aesthetic and universal functionality. Plus, its offered in a wide variety of colours—a whopping 76 if we counted correctly!—so you can be certain to find a pillow to compliment any and all interior design scapes.


The round, lambswool cat pillow from Sally Nencini is the perfect plush choice for any age. A plush knitted saucer holds a curled cat, electrified by trailing bolts of black and white strips, and trimmed with white capped paws. The feline's dulcet smile and playful wink emote a companionship that's sure to inspire adoration from any child who holds this cat close.

In case the front of the pillow's cuteness wasn't magical enough (although, we are certain it is!) the back of the feather-filled cushion features a vibrant green zipper and a small mouse motif, whimsically resting beyond the cat's sightline!


For slightly older kids, this amazing resin sheep ring from Gerschmeide unter Teck is a treasure. A handmade block of clear acrylic holds an arc of spindly green grass that drapes over the band of the ring. Perched on the grass, four remarkably minuscule sheep live their lives. One nestles in the grass, another munches on it and two sheep, one black and one white, look out through the resin sky into our world. We've found that not only do children love the grown-up feeling that arrives when they're gifted jewellery they also have a unique appreciation for miniaturization, so these diminutive, grain-sized sheep faces will captivate their attention like nothing else! But you mustn't forget to have the recipients name the residents of their new wearable vivarium! The description indicates that the sheeps are Fanni, Hanni, and Nero but we don't think they'll mind if your young ones give them new identities. **Rings may be adorable gifts for older kids but they're choking hazards for unknowing babies so please keep those with covetous edacity away from these eye-catching accessories.**


Instead, satiate curious mouths and sooth tender, tooth-targeted gums with this endearing llama rattle from Ecuadorian toy brand, Kaspi Land, and Pan American Apparel. Given that the name 'Kaspi' is inspired by the Quechua language of indigenous Ecuadorian peoples, it should come as no surprise that this Kaspi Land's natural pine wood rattle is a ligneous masterpiece. The skilled hands of craftsmen carve the durable, non-toxic pine into the rounded form of a llama, threading three smooth rings along a rod suspended within the hollow torso of the animal to create a gentle natural rattle that, while stimulating, projects the irreplicably mellow resonance of wood. With all the durability teething infants demand and a sensory trifecta of tactile, gustatory, and auditory offerings, this llama rattle is a gift your little ones will never put down.


Our last few items stimulate children's creative senses. We firmly believe it's never too early to introduce the young ones on your gift list to the world of art. The ceaselessly imaginative minds of kids inspire an overwhelming motivation to create, a desire that should be kindled in every way possible. From crayons, finger-paints, pastel sets, and easels to pom poms, pipe cleaners, feathers, and textured balls of twine, any age-appropriate art mediums are a great gift to keep the kids in your life occupied and artistically energized long after the seasonal decorations are put away.

One ARCANISA team member shared a memory of taking a course at the Rhode Island School of Design as a child, a course which included a trip to a specialized recycling center that was nothing short of a maker's empyrean. For a nominal payment, visitors were able to fill brown paper grocery bags with anything in the facility. Bins held sorted offerings ranging from industrialized cardboard, electrical crimping connectors, rubber coils and an array of unrecognizable by undeniably aesthetic bits and bobs. It was like a candy shop full of forms, materials, and inspiration and everything was accessible. While you may or may not live in a region with similar recycling facilities, there are a myriad of ways to gift that experience.

Box and wrap some art tools with a small tote bag and include a formal invitation to an art supply adventure. Then, take the eager recipient to a store with offerings that will encourage their imaginations to run wild: a dollar store, thrift store, flea market, local odds and ends shop or even industrial businesses that hold safe-for-children discards and excesses. It doesn't actually matter much what the destination is so long as it makes available a dizzying number of creativity generating trinkets. Cotton balls can become suspended clouds or boisterous wigs, binder clips become snapping crocodiles that swim beside measuring cup whales. Maybe you align the mouths of two measuring cups and allow the handles to come together like a pointed duck bill. Vintage clothing can be adopted as costume for theatrical performances or find new life as the patches of a quilt. We know of friends who contacted local hardware stores that sold large home appliances and requested that they set aside shipping boxes, then the children were allowed to venture into the back rooms of the shop and gather up a towering stack of cardboard that would ultimately become the most impressive fort we've ever seen. An experiential art project like that will do wonders to broaden the artistic horizons of the little ones in your life and will create memories that will last them a lifetime.


But there are other—less interactive—options to invigorate artistry like the introduction of unique artworks. We cannot express the depth of our love for this epic Godzilla print by German artist, Leschiwelt. Surrounded by a swath of yellow, this Great beast meets you with deadpan eye contact, zombified arm gestures and red painted toe nails, which match his single red scale along the ridge at his back and the tendrils of his firey exhale. Despite his spines, claws, and flames he's enormously cute and he'll certainly be adored by recipients of all ages.


For less monstrous imagery we highly recommend the Paperboyo Animal Magic Sets. Known for his ability to transform overlooked surroundings into awe-inspiring scenes through a simple change of perspective and some brilliantly cut paper, Paperboyo's founding artist, Rich, shares a youthful imaginatism that evokes memories of the hours of our childhoods spent sprawled out in the sun on farm pastures deciphering the imagery in the clouds. Not only are Paperboyo's photographs phenomenally aesthetic, they also serve as a reminder of and invitation to participate in an exploration of perspective and a perpetual reimagining of our environments beyond the confines of societal understandings. The staggered windows of a modern building are the spots on the back of a dalmatian, open pink beach umbrellas are the fanned bodies of balancing flamingos, roads reveal themselves to be bowling alleys and a boulder awakens to unveil a mighty bear. If this is how we feel about the works, just imagine how mesmerized and inspired little ones will be!

Later on in the Countdown we'll feature more kid-friendly gift ideas, but the gifts in the collection we've shared here all hold the power to create exemplary holidays for the young ones in your lives.

Don't forget to explore the rest of the 2021 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE!


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