Whatever you celebrate this season, give the children in your life gifts that grow their love of their world! These global gifts are sure to please the kids in your life, as well as their parents. The list is organized in five groups by age, which are rough suggestions. Many kids will enjoy gifts from the other age groups.
The Global Kids Gift Guide draws from items my family has loved, some finds similar to items we once had and loved, and those recommended by friends & fellow bloggers. I tried to capture a range of prices and include options that are sure to appeal to boys, girls, builders, artists, readers, athletes – everyone! Where possible, gifts are eco-friendly and/or fair trade.
I included a lot of links to Amazon for folks outside the US who would like to order these items. But if you live in the US and prefer to shop with smaller businesses, please do a quick search. The product descriptions, including prices, are not guarantees. The summaries are often mine, but quotes represent product descriptions or words of others, as noted.
This is a completely voluntary list, with no paid sponsors, unless you include our business: Tender Sapling. Hope you find some great gifts here!
For All Ages
World Map by Famille Summerbelle
This two-tone blue and white print of a handcrafted paper-cut design by the brilliant Famille Summerbelle is a whimsical world view, with people, animals, and sites. You and your child will have fun playing eye spy with it. Sure to add cheerful global perspective to any room and its inhabitants. Printed in France. $56
Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World by Homa Sabet Tavangar
What a fun book full of ideas to help you raise your kids to be globally oriented by an amazing mama (and friend)! “Whether you’re mastering a greeting in ten different languages, throwing an internationally themed birthday party, or celebrating a newfound holiday, Growing Up Global provides parents and children with a rich, exciting background for exploring and connecting with far-flung nations they may have only heard about on television. Inside you’ll discover fun activities, games, and suggestions for movies, music, books, magazines, service activities, and websites for expanding your family’s worldview, and so much more!” $12
World Playground CD
Our family loves this collection of world music for kids that takes children and their families on an inspiring musical and cultural journey around the world. “This anthology of children-related tracks originates from the globally conscious Putamayo Records catalog. Artists from Africa (Senegal’s Touré Kunda, Congo’s Ricardo Lemvo), Europe (France’s Manu Chao), the Caribbean (Jamaica’s Cedella Marley Booker), North America (Buckwheat Zydeco and Eric Bibb from the U.S.; Canada’s Teresa Doyle), South America (Brazil’s Nazaré Pereira), and Australia (Trevor Adamson) offer tracks, and while the styles and moods vary, the album gels excellently.” $12
Love all the World Tees & Bodysuits, Tattoos, Stickers, & Stationary by Tender Sapling
We created these products so you can share your love of the world with your own little world citizen! These tees & bodysuits (sizes 0-12) are made of 100% organic cotton and come with suggested activities you can do with your child inspired by our exclusive design. Kids love applying temporary tattoos to celebrate their love of the world anytime – whether they want to match their top or not! Sticker-lovers will love decorating with these bold stickers. Mamas can enjoy the stationery and canvas bags (currently sold out, but let us know you’re interested so we email you when they’re back in stock)! How fun to get matching tops for all the kids! $1-22
Little Citizens of the World Pajamas
After a full day of your kids romping around in the above Love All the World tops, come home and snuggle in these adorable cotton world citizen pajamas (sizes 12 mos – 12 yrs) by Tea Collection. A portion of each purchase benefits the Global Fund for Children. $39
Hot Chocolate Sampler Set by Lake Champlain Chocolates
What better way to celebrate the world than enjoying a product of a crop grown on five continents and enjoyed around the world – cocoa! This sampler set of gourmet, kosher hot chocolates, made in Vermont with purest ingredients sourced from around the world and combined at home with milk (even rice or soy), is sure to warm the whole family’s bellies with these global tastes: Traditional, Mocha, and Aztec (Spicy). Available online and at Whole Foods. $28
Embrace Peace Puzzle
While cuddling in matching pajamas, sipping hot chocolate, hold a peace summit and see if you can solve the puzzle of peace! “Hand-carved wooden puzzle box formed from the word “Peace” in interlocking letters. Made by artisans in Saharanpur, in the foothills of northern India.” Ten Thousand Villages. $24
Global Compassion Map
We love maps and hope you agree that a home cannot have too many of them! This is a beautiful, unhurried map with soothing tones depicts animals across the continents. “For a limited time, you can purchase a signed, limited edition Compassion for the earth poster and 100% of proceeds will be donated to Future Fortified. Each print gives a month’s worth of nutrients to 20 children in Kenya.” Also see Children Inspire Design’s compassion maps in different world languages. $40
Wool Felt Birdhouse
These delightful hand-felted wool birdhouses are created by fair trade craftsmen in Nepal. We received one as a gift and can testify to its beauty. It can be enjoyed indoors or out, where it can welcome birds to make it their nest or use the wool fibers to create their own. It accommodate chickadees, titmice, and bluebirds, or the opening can be enlarged for larger species. Research with your children the migratory paths of the birds that visit, counting how many countries they cross. $25
For Babies (& Their Parents)
Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing Songs CD by Putamyao Kids
We received this as a gift when our first baby was due and have loved it ever since. It’s the top request from our kids when driving home late at night and they are ready to drift off into their own dreamlands. These thirteen relaxing lullabies & soothing songs hail from Africa, Europe, North & South America & Asia. These calming, gorgeous melodies can be used beyond bedtime to tame the wild beasts during daytime rituals, such as snack time, or during yoga, meditation & massage sessions. Artists include Angelique Kidjo, Carlos Santana, Zulya, Beatriz Pichi Malen, Claudia Martinez, Fortuna & more. $13
Children of the World Finger Puppet Set
“With this adorable finger puppet set you and your little one can travel the globe meeting our children from around the world. This five-piece set includes a Hula girl, an African-American boy, a Dutch girl, an Indian boy, and an Asian girl.” Handmade by WeeKnit. $12
Dandelion Believe Organic Plush Toy
This adorable baby elephant is perfect for the littlest ones’ hands and mouths: it’s soft, squishy, made from organic terrycloth and canvas, with natural corn fiber filling. This sweet toy “was created to inspire families to think about their impact on the planet & precious animals around us.” Complete the pair with the mama-sized large organic elephant. $20
Global Babies Board Book
Our baby loved this colorful, engaging board book, a thoughtful gift from global friends! By the author of To Be a Kid, this book is based on the fact thatbabies like to look at faces, especially other babies’ faces. It features simple text and images that highlight the universal traits of all babies. Each page shows an adorable, richly adorned baby from one of these countries: Guatemala, Thailand, Greenland, Mali, the U.S., India, South Africa, Fiji, Peru, Afghanistan, Malawi, Spain, Iraq, Rwanda, and Bhutan. A portion of the proceeds help support the Global Fund For Children. $7
Love All the World Organic Cotton Baby Bodysuit by Tender Sapling
We designed the Love All the World organic bodysuit so we could share our love of the world our own little world citizen and so that you could do the same! This ultra-soft bodysuit comes with suggested activities that you can do with your child inspired by the design. We made it good for baby and the earth too: it’s 100% certified organic and printed locally with low-impact water-based ink. $22
What a fun gift for baby’s first birthday or holiday! “YoBlocks are eco-friendly photo blocks that are handmade with the utmost of care in Brooklyn, New York. With images based on your child’s unique interests and experiences, YoBlocks keep learning fun and exciting. They are produced with the environment in mind, using sustainably-sourced wood, organic paint, and a water-based sealant. Whether to inspire your child with images that speak to a specific cultural heritage or to expose them to international scenes to encourage global awareness, YoBlocks are a gift like no other.” $80 for set of 10 blocks with 40 personalized or preset images. See Becky’s post at Kid World Citizen about these blocks (made by her very own sister), and check out her other wonderful ideas for toys with an international twist.
It’s a Big World CD by Renee & Jeremy
As Scott mentioned in his introduction to Renee & Jeremy, we struck gold when we discovered them some years back and are still loving their velvety sweet harmonies. “If you purchase or receive as a gift one of our Love All the World bodysuits, tees, or bags you will notice in the Activity Tag that we recommend R&J’s song “It’s a Big World” as a song that helps children celebrate embracing the world. After we went to print with that we reflected that the song “We Are One” from the same album is even more directly about embracing the world and seeing us all as one. But you can’t go wrong – both are beautiful.” We’ve since gotten to know R&J via email and are delighted that the warmth that permeates all their tunes is beautifully genuine. They shine in every way! $10
Middle Eastern Architectural Block Set by Haba
Kids and adults will love to build with these high quality wood blocks from award-winning Haba! This set with thirteen uniquely Middle Eastern shapes will inspire the creative inside you and your little ones. Build villages and more with this 50-piece set. Collect all their global block sets! $27
Wooden Sushi Playset by Melissa & Doug
We received this as a gift five or more years ago and it’s still going strong, with lasting appeal. “Three types of sushi rolls come with shrimp; tuna; salmon roe and egg toppings; and a few more condiment extras. Includes chopsticks and cleaver.” $20
What a fun gift our kids got one year in their stockings from grandma! (thanks!) These rightly claim to be “the easiest chop sticks you’ll ever use.” The kids love the animals on top and these have held up well over the years. “Sticks come in eight fun animal shapes with bright colors.” $2.50 each
Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho, Holly Meade (Illustrator)
This book is so lovely, you and your kids will enjoy reading it again and again just as we have! “Rhyming text and collage art invite participation in this cultural twist on a familiar childhood game.” “A father and daughter engage in a playful game of jut-ay (Thai hide-and-seek). Illustrator Holly Meade received a Caldecott Honor for Hush!: A Thai Lullaby, and Meade’s illustrations in Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek are equally impressive — colorful and textured, with unusual perspectives.”$9 This is reviewed on Amy’s lovely list at Delightful Children’s Books.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
My kids loved this virtual whirl around the world on a journey to make an apple pie! “An apple pie is easy to make…if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients. First hop a steamboat to Italy for the finest semolina wheat. Then hitch a ride to England and hijack a cow for the freshest possible milk. And, oh yes! Don’t forget to go apple picking in Vermont! A simple recipe for apple pie is included.” $7
Little Gorilla Storybook and Plush by Innovative Kids
My two-year-old declared today, “This is one of my best toys!” The petite size of this plush gorilla is just perfect for little hands. And the miniature 22-page book helps little ones learn about life as a gorilla living in Africa. Green packaging and book; stuffed toy is made from 100% organic cotton with 100% polyester fiber filling created from recycled water bottles. $10
Batsiranai Sharing Doll
What a sweet doll with its own little baby from Ten Thousand Villages: “Share the love: when you purchase this doll, its ‘twin’ will be given to a child in Zimbabwe. The dolls are a unique project of Batsiranai, a women’s handicraft project that supports mothers with disabled children in Harare, Zimbabwe. The sale of each doll provides an identical doll for a child in a family affected by HIV/AIDS, most of whom have no other toys. Doll includes information on how this sharing program works.” $34
The Traveler: Dress Up Set
If your kids love imaginary play and dress up, this set by Little Travelers will take them on countless expeditions and adventures across timezones and eras. “Open-ended, gorgeous fabric dress-up sets will provide hours of incredible fun! Never the same set twice. Each set comes with 13 pieces. The Traveler set comes with six pieces of rich 100% silk shantung in vibrant, playful colors. It also has a piece of kente print in cotton and a Chinese printed floral in a polyester blend. The wrist bands are made from velour and have an Indian print on them.” $39
Endangered Species Playset by FAO Schwarz
What a fun way to learn about and care for endangered animals! “This set features seven animals and a global storage pouch, which has holes to place the animals on their home continents.” $30
Children of the World Lacing Cards by eeBoo
Cultivate fine motor skills while expanding global awareness with this colorful set of five lacing cards which beautifully depict children in traditional costumes. $16
For Elementary Age Kids
Hello World CD by Red Grammer
We. Love. This. CD! “Celebrate the miracle of life with the spirited On the Day You Were Born; rock to winners like Buono Appetito and We’re Rich. Tour the human body with the jazzy We’re All In This Together and discover that a lot can happen when the body of humanity works together as one. USA Today Kid Pick 1996 Parents Gold Award.” $14
Around the World in 80 Tales by Saviour Pirotta, Richard Hohnson (Illustrator)
The kids stop whatever they are doing whenever I pull this book out for read aloud time, they adore it so! And I find the stories uplifting, unlike some global story collections. “This richly illustrated book takes readers on a journey across six continents, with entertaining folktales from eighty different storytelling traditions… From a dragon princess in China to a clever peddler in Morocco, children will meet wonderful characters as they travel story-by-story around the globe. An ideal gift, this deluxe volume is a joyous celebration of the world’s wonderful diversity.” $13
The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook by Deanna Cook and Michael Kline
“In this hands-on introduction to foods from around the world, children ages seven to fourteen will learn about other cultures through recipes for more than 75 ethnic dishes. They will also get an introduction to many diverse cultures by learning games, traditions and customs of children from around the world. All recipes include clear step-by-step instructions and no-fuss ingredients found in most grocery stores. The book is fully illustrated and also includes photos of children the author met on her travels while collecting these delicious recipes.” Thanks to Amy at Delightful Children’s Books for this recommendation! $11
Goat Toe Nail Rattle (Chapchas)
This instrument from Daria’s Little Village Store is being added to our wish list: “Beautiful little rattles made from the toe-nails of goats and sheep. From Bolivia and certified Fair trade! Yeah! The price of $11.99 includes free shipping to anywhere in the USA!” $12
Buddha Board Zen Painting Board (Mini)
My kids enter a whole ‘nother realm of calm when they “paint” on these boards. “These innovative and unique boards provide you with a Zen-like painting experience unlike any other! Buddha Boards feature a revolutionary surface that allows you to paint on it with just water, leaving fluid, expressive dark strokes that fade away slowly, leaving you with a clean blank slate once again. Great for practicing brush strokes, testing paintbrushes, and creating spontaneous temporary artworks, Buddha Boards encourage you to focus on the present and the enjoyment of creation.” $12
Children’s World Map Puzzleball by Ravensburger
We have something similar and love it! “Discover a new dimension in puzzles with Children’s puzzleball from Ravensburger. Extra large plastic pieces support 3D comprehension and fine motor skills. Each puzzle piece is numbered on the back so you can puzzle by the image or by number – your pick. 108 curved plastic pieces fit together to form a perfectly smooth surface. No glue required.” If you love maps, check out Becky at Kid World Citizen’s post with this and other excellent recommendations. $15
We discovered this at the Green Festival in DC and have been enjoying it ever since! This indoor-friendly knit throwing disc is perfect for tossing back and forth. These are fair trade products made by Mayan women who are indigenous weavers in the highlands of Guatemala, Mexico and the Mexican Yucatan. $10
Origami on the Go: 40 Paper-Folding Projects for Kids Who Love to Travel by Margaret Van Sicklen
“Once kids get their hands on the travel-inspired projects in Origami On-The-Go, hours will fly by…. The folds are geared to children as young as eight, and range from the playful, Pig Finger Puppet, to the practical, Souvenir Wallet, to the beautiful, a Peacock—the kind a traveler might find strutting on the grounds of the Taj Mahal. Paper for the projects is included in the back of the book: 100 sheets of colorful, custom-designed origami pages, each tied in to the projects, plus two pages of stickers. Along the way kids learn much about the world: how to convert dollars to euros and the names of original currency; the Seven Natural Wonders; essential words in different languages; latitude and longitude; all about the chatty, intelligent crows of Russia and Australia’s fuzzy koala bears—inspiration to make one of your own.” $10
Fund a Goat for a Family in Need through Save the Children
Our kids have loved giving animals to help the lives of other children! “Goats improve the future for families in need. Goats provide the two-fold benefit of generating income and supplying protein-rich food and dairy. The combination of two goats can quickly produce a small herd.” $50
Russian Matryoshka Nesting Dolls
My sons love these treasures! “This 7-pc. nesting doll is handmade by a Russian artisan in the traditional style of Semenov village. A bright bouquet of flowers usually decorates these stacking dolls… The largest babushka doll ( a.k.a babooshka ) has 6 smaller dolls inside. Carefully open each one of them in the middle to reveal the entire family of Russian matryoshka.” $40 A fun book to accompany this set is The Littlest Matryoshka.
Melissa & Doug Children of the World Floor 48-Piece Floor Puzzle
“This wonderfully illustrated 48-piece circular cardboard floor puzzle features twelve children from around the world dressed in traditional ethnic clothing. It introduces children to various cultures, and helps them notice differences and similarities.” $11
Earth Henna Body Painting Kit
This Henna Kit is perfect for parties or individual exploration of the artform known as mehndi. The deep, dark, rich color of this henna kit lasts 1-3 weeks! This easy-to-use kit offering safe, natural, superior quality henna from the fields of Morocco, along with all the tools and supplies used by professionals. $19
The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change
“The Teen Guide to Global Action, by Barbara A. Lewis, tells the story of teen activists like Zach Hunter, who started Loose Change to end modern slavery; Janine Licare, who is helping to stop the destruction of rain forests; and Zhura Bahman, who started a foundation in her native Afghanistan to help girls with education.” —Teaching Tolerance $10
The Earth Puzzleball
Builders will love this challenging globe puzzle, similar to one we own and adore! This detailed puzzle by Ravensburger is made of 540 pieces of curved, sturdy plastic that “fit together snugly to form a perfectly smooth surface. No glue required. Underside of each piece is conveniently numbered. Comes with plastic stand. (ages 10-12)” $31
Theo Eastern Congo Initiative Fair Trade Chocolate Bar
Theo Chocolate has partnered with Ben Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) to work with Congolese cocoa farmers to create two new delicious chocolate bars: Pili Pili Chili & Vanilla Nib. A portion of proceeds will be donated to ECI, with the potential to positively impact more than 20,000 people living in Eastern Congo. Theo ECI bars are rolling out at Whole Foods stores nationwide and are currently available in the Theo online shop. $3-5
Sydney Opera House by Lego Architecture Series
My kids love the Lego architecture series! “Build a famous destination from the land down under with a 260-piece recreation of the Sydney Opera House made entirely of LEGO® bricks! Sydney Opera House™ is a masterpiece of late modern architecture and an iconic building of the 20th century. It is admired internationally and proudly treasured by the people of Australia. It was created by a young Danish architect, Jørn Utzon (1918-2008), who understood the potential provided by the site against the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour.” $40
Chinese Drawing and Painting Set
“A complete set of drawing and painting materials. Perfect for Oriental drawing painting and writing. This beautiful quilted box contains five bamboo handles brushes two black Sumi ink sticks one China brush rest one China water bowl one mini mixing spoon a mixing/grinding stone a beautifully hand painted marble paper weight and an accordian style rice paper book. Both the book and the set box are covered in beautiful silky cloth.” Enhance the set by also getting the customer recommended pad of paper and instructions book. $50
“Superbly crafted, high quality hand carved djembe drum from Accra, Ghana. Dimensions : 9.5″ goatskin raised playing area x 20″ cedar wood shell. This drum produces a superb resonant bass sound with great sharp slap and tone. I have tuned it myself with Mali weaving and there is extra rope for further adjustments if need be. Djembe drum is finished with stained base criss cross carving. Sourced using Fair Trade practices. Size 9.5″ raised playing area x 20″ height.” $96
Puzzles hold universal appeal and are found in many different cultures. This is a perfect puzzler from Ten Thousand Villages. “Test your skill moving three balls to the center of this concentric maze, handcrafted from fast-growing, sustainable shesham wood. Made in India.” $16
Antique Sari Bag
“Dazzling and shimmery, this little number exudes vintage style! Handmade by a women’s cooperative in New Delhi, India, that creates purses from antique saris that would otherwise be burned to recover their gold or silver content. By putting old saris to use the original craftsmanship is preserved, each bag becomes a new work of art, and the women of the cooperative earn much-needed income to care for their children and households. Expect each bag to vary and be a bit unique — just like the women who once wore the original saris.” $26
“Crafted with traditional Ugandan waxcloth, each 100% organic cotton yoga bag is a unique work of art. And because each is handmade by women artisans in Uganda, your purchase helps them improve their lives as well as those of their families and community.” $36
December 6, 2012 at 6:36 am
AWESOME, awesome list! I will be sharing this link with everyone I know:).
December 6, 2012 at 8:51 am
So glad you like it, Becky! Thanks again for your great leads! Much gratitude for spreading the word. 🙂
December 6, 2012 at 8:59 am
Beautiful choices, and thank you for including links to Delightful Children’s Books.
December 6, 2012 at 9:09 am
Thanks for your lovely book recommendations, Amy! I’m excited to check out your 2012 highlights, including If You Lived Here: Houses of the World.
December 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm
I love your list – that Global Babies book has been a favorite of our daughters and this is the first I’ve heard of the Little Travelers dress up set but it sounds like it would be perfect for my girls. Thanks for sharing this list!
December 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm
Thanks! So glad you found something new to try! 🙂
December 7, 2012 at 3:18 am
What a wonderful list! Love it!
December 7, 2012 at 6:47 am
Xie xie! Thanks for pinning it too! Love your site, by the way. I have new items from it on my personal wish list now. 🙂
December 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm
I’ve been wanting to get the Melissa & Doug sushi set and a couple of the books on this list, but I never saw the Traveler Dress Up Set before! I love it…adding it to our wish list!
December 9, 2012 at 10:06 am
Wonderful gift ideas! Thanks so much. My kids have the world children circular puzzle and love putting it together. I’ll definitely keep this list handy throughout the year!
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December 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm
These are amazing! thank you for sharing! I remember seeing those sari bags and sari wraparound skirts in India. I actually had 2 sari wraparound skirts for MANY years. Chinese set would make a great gift to friends abroad!