An ingenious solution for sustainable children's birthday or Christening gifts

Hammer, screwdriver, King Dick Spanners, baby trainers and a penknife - ideas for Christening gifts and birthday gifts that will last and are eco friendly

Money boxes are, perhaps, becoming one of the most outdated Christening or naming day gifts you could buy. Thanks to technology and expedited by Covid, the use of coins has begun to dwindle away. Our 14-yr-old son has a number of money boxes from kind-hearted naming-day attendees that are quietly gathering dust on a shelf whilst he uses his phone to pay for things. We won’t get rid of them or sell them (unlike many of the parents on an enlightening Mumsnet thread about ‘what to do with unwanted Christening gifts’), but perhaps we are lucky enough to have space to put them in the loft until he can make the choice years down the line.

Regardless of how children’s usage of physical money has changed in recent years, how many teenagers or adults do you know who use a moneybox? One that is, perhaps, silver and shaped like either Noah’s Ark or an animal? None – so a gift of this nature is always going to be of fleeting use.

For our son’s naming day we bought him a Ben Orford penknife. We (obviously) didn’t give it to him at the time, but it's been used (supervised) now he's grown up. Without intention we’ve seemingly invested in a knife that has increased in value and desirability, as Craft Lab have become well respected whilst our son has been (too quickly) growing up. We’ve bought other knives for our God children and we hope that when they come of age, they will appreciate them, use them and keep them for many years to come. They (hopefully) won’t gather dust or be disposed of to eBay, the charity shop or landfill – unlike, it seems according to Mumsnet, other Christening gifts .

But what if you can’t (or don’t want to) invest a considerable sum on a quality penknife? Well, one of our customers has come up with an ingenious solution for a Christening gift. Last year she bought a Toolbox from us. And inside she put one made in England King Dick spanner. She was beginning a gift that, over many years, would grow and become ‘complete’ when the child was older. An absolutely belting idea – one we wish we had been clever to think of many years ago. She returned for another spanner this year for their birthday. And she intends to do the same every year until the box is full of useful tools that will last a lifetime. Spending little and often. With a LOT of thought and care. With a guarantee that they will be used when they are needed in the future.  Now that’s what we call a clever Christening, naming day or ongoing birthday gift.

If you want to take this idea and use for yourself to solve the problem of what to buy children that is eco-friendly and sustainable rather than wasteful, that will last and is good value for money – here’s what we suggest…

  • A toolbox – depending on the parents’ space – you may want to start or end with this purchase. It’s nice if you can do it from the beginning, but the tools will take up less space over the years, if you need to be conscious of this. We recommend a simple Japanese barntop tool box – it will last for years and gain great patina with age (when they finally start using it). They can easily take it with them to their first flat or house.
  • A set of metric spanners from King Dick Tools. Begin with an 8mm spanner, then add the 10mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm, 17mm, and the 19mm spanner. This will cover what they need for DIY and mechanics – as they are the most useful spanner sizes that fit standard bolt heads (you can get away without the 14mm – this is slightly unusual and can be dropped off the list if you want to buy fewer). Meaning you have seven year’s worth of birthday gifts if you buy one per year.
  • A couple of great screwdrivers – the Elementary screwdrivers are perfect (a standard size and a stubby) – and they’ll last a lifetime.
  • A hammer (or two) – ideally they will need both a claw head and a ball pein hammer. Getting them one of our painted hammers means they’ll look like great gifts and add some design flair to the toolbox too.
  • A set of Allen Keys – so they can build their first sets of flat pack furniture.
  • Then think about a knife - a utility knife (think Stanley knife – but this is a brand name, like Hoover/vacuum) or a DIY penknife (the Opinel one is great) will definitely be of use.
  • Finally – as a finale (we reckon you’re now up to age 16 – but you could add a couple more things in so they get this on their 18th birthday) – you could add in a Leatherman – the Bond is a UK legal carry and a good all-round multi tool.

We think we may be past being asked to be God parents, or having babies introduced to our family (until grand children perhaps - gulp!) but we also reckon you could start this at any time.  Those tricky teenage years when they don't really want anything other than a gift voucher - you could reduce the value a bit and start this too perhaps?

Hopefully, as well as being practical and eco conscious, this type of gift buying may also have two other positive outcomes. Firstly, you'll be firmly setting a path - from their formative years - that says repair and reuse are something they have the tools to do. Secondly, it'll also open the door for future conversations.  When, in years to come they'll say, "I used your toolbox the other day". That's never going to happen with a money box is it? 

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