12 Amazing Non-Toy Gift Ideas

by Joelle Wisler
Originally Published:

I just love it when I spend hours of my life trying to figure out the exact toy that will make my children’s hearts burst with excitement. And then when I finally figure it out, I wrap it with love in playful yet Christmasy wrapping paper and place it beneath the tree. My kids wake up on Christmas morning, thrilled.

Then they play with the much-thought about and anticipated toy for approximately ten seconds.

Six months later I get to argue with them over donating this toy that they never play with to charity. These are my favorite things to do.


I’ve decided that, in order to keep being a nice mom who does nice things for her children, I will only buy stuff that my kids will actually use and appreciate. Weirdly, most of the time these things are NOT toys.

So, here you go, a handy dandy list to keep you and your children both happy this holiday season. Gifts that are not toys.

1. Cool Slime Kit

Do you have a budding nerd on your hands like me? If so, there are approximately 9 billion science kits you can find that will keep them busy using those huge brains of theirs. They can thank you when they win the Nobel Prize by taking you on a nice trip or buying you some diamonds or something.

2. Warriors Manga Box Set

Do you have a child that can read their way through an entire library in a matter of days? Mine reads so much, he actually gets into trouble at school for missing out on other important stuff like learning and going to lunch. So, this boxed set just might last him an afternoon on our holiday vacation, but it’ll be a quiet afternoon.

3. Pinkalicious Boxed Set

Oh man, the phenomenon of Pinkalicious, and Goldilicious, and all the other Color-alicious’ is real. I have the bookshelf and six-year-old fan to prove it. And we all know that you can read these over and over and over to your little person and they won’t ever get sick of it. Ever.

4. Puzzles

Alright, I know, doing puzzles with kids can be torturous. But maybe we could all try to see it as an exercise into becoming better people? And once they get to the age where they can actually figure out how puzzles work, it can be a pretty fun activity to do as a family, especially over those loooong vacation days.

5. Art stuff

Even better than regular art stuff is regular art stuff that you can take places. Then people will think you are an uber responsible and fun parent, at least that’s what I tell myself when I accidentally forget the iPad at home and bring art stuff instead.

6. Learning to code stuff

This is kind of expensive, but your kids can totally pay you back when they become the next Mark Zuckerberg. And it looks like a lot of fun, so maybe I could learn to code too.

7. Fujifilm Instamax

Spoiler alert, I bought one of these for one of my kids last year and don’t ever do this. If you have two children, you need two, otherwise there will be a lot of arguments to settle. There will be another one of these bad boys showing up this year because settling arguments is my least favorite part of parenting. We also got a little photo album where she can put all her masterpieces and this was actually a super fun gift.

8. Dress up clothes

Kids love to pretend and then they use their imaginations and then you can feel like a great parent. Just beware that if they want you to pretend too, you will have to do whatever they say or else they get mad. At least that’s how it goes down at my house.

9. Suitcases

How cool is this suitcase? The grown-up boys in your life will be totally jealous of your little one’s fancy suitcase and they will also be the coolest kid at the airport.

10. Piggy bank

I mean it’s a pig. And a princess. This is adorable. And then your kids can pretend to save all of their money and you’ll know exactly where to look when you need a twenty. (I totally pay them back and I know you do this too.)

11. Stuff for their room

I remember the year I got a desk for Christmas. I was so excited. I don’t know what it is about getting stuff for your room as a kid, it’s like it makes everyone feel more grown up or something. My 6 year old actually sat on Santa’s lap and asked him for a desk this year. I’m not sure I’m going to let him get the credit for this awesome gift, however.

12. Something that plays music

My kids have been super into listening to music at bedtime, so it would be nice not to have to rig up the whole complicated iPad/speaker situation every night. And bonus points if this thing has an alarm clock so that they can pull their own little butts out of bed in the morning.

Good luck out there, magic-makers. It’s the final count down. We can do this.

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