Instead of buying your kid or young-at-heart loved ones a battery-operated gadget for the holidays, why not give them a kit that challenges them to make gadgets of their own?

LittleBits, a delightfully named startup, has just unveiled its 2012 holiday kit, a $50 package of wires, switches, LEDs, motors, and an instruction sheet to get makers started.

The startup’s founder, Ayah Bdeir, makes these lovely little toys not just as unique gifts, but also as a quiet protest against consumer culture.

“Often, marketing departments in large companies decide on the hot new holiday gadgets, and we engage in prescribed interactions that they design,” Bdeir said in a statement on the news.

“littleBits turns this trend on its head. The product is no longer the goal — littleBits is a platform that enables people to bring their creativity to life.”

Here’s a sneak peek at the new kit and its gorgeous gift wrapping:

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The Bits of littleBits’ kit are part Lego, part circuit board, and each one has a distinct function, such as flashing lights, sounding beeps, or sending a pulse of electrical current through a circuit. The bits feature magnetic snaps and can be combined to make larger projects.

The Bits in the holiday kit include some new hardware — the Light Wire and the Bright LED — and the kit includes instructions for building a Christmas tree ornament (sorry, Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus celebrants), a dancing ice skater, and a New Year’s Eve party hat.

The company is also challenging the tinkerers of the world to show off what they’re making for the holidays. The contest, the company says, is intended to be “a call to inventors of all ages to submit sketches of their dream littleBits projects. The littleBits design team will pick the three most imaginative ideas and the winners will receive all the Bits to turn dreams into reality!”