family lifestyle blog: Beginning an Art Collection for Kids

I may sound like an oddball here, but I really don’t believe in buying kids ‘stuff’ just because it’s expected for birthdays, major holidays or any other special occasion! Of course, if they specifically want something and it makes sense for them to have it, we go for it. But a lot of the time, even the girls don’t sound too convinced about what they want. My younger one has a January birthday (almost exactly a month after Christmas!) and generally most of her wishes - and then some! - have already been met by then. I mean how many pretend play dresses, coloring supplies or Lego Sets does she really need?

I also firmly believe in buying kids experiences -- hiking, visiting a museum, taking a cooking workshop together or playing at the beach -- as a special birthday treat! I feel like memories made doing activities together are much more powerful and long lasting than the excitement of a shiny new toy. Critics may disagree, but after more than six years of parenting, this approach to gift giving is something I firmly believe in.

I’ve also been thinking of other gifts that will make a lasting impression and buying a special piece of art on each of their birthdays came to mind. When I say buying art, I absolutely don’t mean this in a stereotypical or highfalutin manner. Most artwork I’ve bought for the girls’ room has been less than $40 per print. My idea is to buy something special that they can keep with them for a very long time. Perhaps the prints will even find a new home in the girls’ very first apartment or dorm room.  

How do you choose what art to buy for your children? Sometimes, a memorable piece of art can even be as simple as their own artwork framed and nicely displayed. There are tons of age appropriate options to choose from; however, buying artwork now for when they will be young adults might be a little challenging. It’s certainly doable though - by introducing them to art early on and taking their input in the buying process, visiting vintage stores and flea markets or browsing online together.

I am working on a separate blog post to give some ideas on how this can be accomplished - stay tuned! But even I am wondering at what age should we start? Art is so personal. Your kiddos may grow up and not appreciate some, or all of it, so there is a risk associated. Should I limit myself to milestone birthdays and graduations? Taking it slow and carefully choosing abstracts or classic watercolor paintings might be a good starting point.

My younger daughter Ona just turned 5, and she had already asked for some coloring supplies as her birthday present. While I don’t have any piece of art in mind at this time, I will certainly keep my eyes open and plan on making a ‘small investment’ when the right opportunity arrives. With genuine interest, an art collection can be started even with a very small budget.

Like I said, I am still figuring out the best way to do so but I truly do love the idea of gifting each of my girls a unique piece of art to signify their special days over the years. And as they grow older, their appreciation for art will hopefully grow, too, so they can cherish these pieces for years to come!

What are your thoughts on gifting experiences and long lasting artwork as opposed to the new “must have” toy? What are your go-to gifts for your kids?

Be sure to read my post on top 10 wall art ideas for kids room.


  1. I wandered over after our convo on Cup of Jo! You had me at the black apple/Emily Winfield Martin print! I always give friends art for their kids rather than paying attention to their baby shower registries (but then again, when you are an artist it's somewhat expected and encouraged! ramblingsketcher.com). When I was little I was gifted some "grown-up" jewelry that I could grow into, and I still treasure that. Definitely more appreciated than a toy I probably wouldn't even remember! A friend who recently had a child and I were also just discussing excellent books as a good gift option. :)

    1. Hi Katie, we love that Emily Winfield Martin print! And glad you mention jewerly, growing up in India, jewelry gifting was a big tradition in my household too but I'd rather buy art for my girls : ) And also agree that books make the best gifts. We recently started gifting books and now that's what most of my daughters' friends get for their birthdays : )

  2. I am completely with you. I like to gift our daughter experiences or if i buy 'stuff' it's something she really wants or needs. She has a December birthday, very close to Xmas so it's present-tastic in December. This year for her birthday we went to see Roald Dahl's Matilda as a family. It was brilliant. She is very keen on the theatre so I often buy a trip to the theatre. I had never thought of gifting a piece of art but I love the idea. I think I would go for their own artwork framed beautifully - that will be meaningful for years to come. Perhaps with a note on the back from you and her dad - a note that will mean a lot to her when she is older, even if she doesn't fully appreciate it now. Or if you can have a piece commissioned especially for her from her favourite author's book - nothing crazy expensive but it's just another idea. But yes, no 'stuff' for the sake of stuff here. Even with advent calendars that I make each year, I used to give little gifts but have stopped that years ago - it's only fun activities now. Will be emailing you tomorrow re: de-cluttering! x

    1. Love the theatre idea, Nomita! And of course framing their own artwork with a note at the back. Kids' scribbles and abstract art can look so good framed nicely. I have a ton saved from the past two years just ready to be framed but I am just procrastinating. Also part of my decluttering project ; ) After moving multiple times in the past few years, I very strongly believe in 'less is more' and 'buy less, choose well' Looking forward to your email!

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