Looking for some non-toy gifts for your kid this year? Makes sense. All of us who have children have too many toys scattered throughout the house. No matter how diligent we are at keeping them at bay, it seems to be a constant fight. It’s especially hard when special days come and we want to give gifts to our children, or — and this can be a wildcard — when the grandparents want to shower them with gifts. (*Shudder.*)
Don’t get us wrong; gifts are good things! But too much of anything isn’t good. A great way to combat too many toys (aside from a really good toy storage system) is to shift all the gifts to non-toy items. So, here they are: From event tickets, to family board games, to dress-up clothes that emulate their favorite Disney characters, we’ve rounded up the best gift ideas for kids who don’t need yet another stuffie.
Events. Movie tickets, tickets to a play, concert, or sports event are really exciting! Having an event to look forward to makes the rest of life more enjoyable.
Coupons. An envelope of coupons that they can “spend” at any time: “One chore — no questions asked — for movie and popcorn night. You pick the movie!” “1:1 game of cards or basketball” (whatever the child’s interest is). “Sit and read a book with me.” “Stay up a half-hour past bedtime.”
Restaurant Gift Card. Dinner, ice cream, coffee, cupcake — whatever suits their fancy! Give them the freedom of inviting whomever they wish: It may be Mom or Dad. It may be a grandparent, aunt, or even teacher that they would like to spend more time with.
Something for their room. Do they need a lamp (like this awesome moon lamp), a comforting night light, a loud alarm clock, sleep training clock (ideal for tots), or a shelf? Perhaps they’ll appreciate an organizing system for their art or hobby supplies or a jewelry box to stash their treasured baubles. Many older kids enjoy displaying their LEGO creations on a shelf where younger siblings can’t reach.
Getting your kid on a strict sleep schedule can be tough and a require a lot of hands on effort from you. This kid’s alarm clock from DOSTYLE can be your helping hand with training your child to know when it’s time to wake up, have a nap, get ready for bed, and even have some quiet playtime on their own. You can also pair your smartphone with it to control each of the alarm settings. The clock can be set to seven different colors, so your kid can associate a color with whether it’s time for a nap or time to play.
Tired of tripping on your kid’s toys that are always scattered around the house? It’s never too early to teach your child to pick up after themselves, and this canvas toy storage basket helps keep everything in one spot! Unlike most baskets that eventually collapse at the sides due to weight, this basket is reinforced with a metal rod frame so it will always keep its shape.
This is a huge help for children and parents alike. Great for Legos or sets of small toys that the kids like to play with, the swoop bag makes cleanup and storage so simple.
Many children like to know what is going on, what day it is, how many days until __. Give them their own calendar so they can plan everything out.
Little ones love looking at pictures of family members and themselves doing things or at special places. Costco and digital photo sites let you create a photo book of all the special people and special things your child has encountered, or you can buy awesome ones online, too.
Displaying our children’s artwork is important and also very fun. But the fridge tends to get filled up, and parents at times feel guilty for throwing anything away. A storage frame hangs on the wall and allows you to change pictures out when a new masterpiece is created while storing old favorites.. up to 50 pieces!
Having a place to store jewelry without losing earrings and getting necklaces tangled is a true gift, but also getting them into the habit of putting jewelry away will help them their entire life.
Savings Account or Stocks. Setting money aside each birthday or holiday may not be very exciting for these little people right now, but when they turn 18 and realize the amazing start they have in life, it will be a huge blessing. You can give a small token gift that they can open and enjoy on their special day, but put the majority of the gift into a savings program. Also, a cute piggy bank can encourage them to stash their allowance and give them their first valuable lessons in budgeting.
A wallet is such a grown-up thing, which makes it extra-exciting. For the young ones, it’s best if it has some zipper pockets as well as areas for bills.
Your kiddo can keep their money organized in this bank, which is accessible for kids as young as 4 years old but sleek enough for teens (and beyond). This modern-looking unit has compartments with magnetic-latch lids to categorize the money they’ll spend, save, and — very importantly — give. Sure there are banking apps, but actually seeing their money in the Benjamin Talks bank (Benjamin = money, and money talks — get it?!) is a powerful learning tool. Time to start saving for college, kids!
Donations. Children understand more than we think they do, generally they are caring and thoughtful of others. If you explain to them that some people don’t have food to eat, or a nice place to sleep and the children have to have jobs, they can sympathize with that. There are many places that take charitable donations, help those in need, and send a card or a plush animal to someone you love. We personally like World Vision and Compassion International.
This may take some supervision, but all the little people I know absolutely love putting coins into their piggy banks!
Recipes and ingredients. Kids love cooking with their parents. Baking something special or cooking dinner is an ideal time to spend together and learn life skills. Print out a recipe, purchase all the ingredients, and set a date for cooking together. Treat them to a baking set, complete with kid-friendly kitchen gear. Why not get them their own apron, too?
Since we are all cooking dinner at home more often these days why not get your kids involved in the process? Cooking a meal together not only teaching little ones valuable skills, it’s also a wonderful bonding activity. To help keep the mess to a minimum, let your kiddo suit up with an adorable apron.
If your kid is a hardcore chef-in-training, this cooking apron by Hedley & Bennett is the real deal. Made with durable materials, your little baker will look ridiculously cute, plus their clothes will stay protected — heck, you may want to grab an adult-sized apron for yourself, too.
Snacks. If your child is a foodie, they will love this! Some homemade granola or cookies made just for them is a special treat!
Ever find yourself running out of new activities to keep your kids occupied during the day? Staying inside more these days has proven to be especially challenging to keep everyone from losing their minds from boredom. This book is filled with 101 activities to do with kids that are cheap and don’t involve a screen. #bless
What craft project is complete without rainbow Popsicle sticks and glitter glue? This all-in-one arts and crafts supplies capsule is filled with hours of fun and limitless creativity. Set a timer and make it a challenge for who creates the wackiest project in the allotted time!
The same LEGOS we all remember playing with as children are still just as popular with our kids. Nothing sparks creativity and imagination quite like LEGOS. This 900+ piece building kit is ideal for kiddos age 4 and older, and features three levels of building complexity.
Clothes. When kids only have a certain amount of clothes, they often enjoy getting clothes. Make it a point to get something that fits their style and can be worn many ways. Amazon has a lot to choose from.
Dress-Up Clothes. Some of the most fun my kids have had have been with two old wigs and play silks that they used to create dresses or capes. There are also plenty of princess, superhero and villain costumes to choose from for those who like to dress as the people they see on screen.
This Disney Princess dress up trunk features four dresses from Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. Each dress comes with a few accessories to complete the princess look and can all be stored away in an adorable pink trunk.
Whether your kid is into Marvel or DC superheros, this eight-piece superhero dress up kit features capes, face masks, and wrist bands of their favorite superheroes such as Iron Man and Batman.
If Disney Princesses aren’t your kid’s jam when it comes to dress up, then this Maleficent costume is the perfect solution for those you love Disney Villains. The costume features the iconic black dress with spiky shoulder pads and black horns.
Play or real beauty basics. Tweens will probably appreciate the real deal as they’re at that experimental stage with their appearance. Little ones will add the play makeup (whether non-toxic or mess-free props) and kid-safe, water-based nail polish to their dress-up collection. Regardless of whether your kid qualifies for the play or the real version, this gift will stop them from rooting through your makeup bag and smudging up your favorite lipstick.
Kids are always fascinated by what we do, so when they see up putting on our own makeup their curious and want to try it for themselves. This pretend makeup kit is the perfect starter for any curious kids who love makeup.
This nail polish kit includes polish with no chemicals, and is completely free of formaldehyde, benzophenone, and other heavy metals. The water-based formula makes the polish nearly odorless and safe for kids.
A Watch. The average child these days doesn’t know how to read analog, or finds it takes too long to think about it, so they search for a digital watch. Getting them a cool watch makes them want to be able to tell time on it. Youngsters, tweens, and even teenagers can be excited about this.
It’s your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! This isn’t your average kid’s watch. The watch features a selfie-cam, voice recorder, three games, a pedometer, alarm settings, a stopwatch, and a calculator. Be careful though, because the watch is not water resistant.
If they’re major Spidey fans, check out more our gift guide for more Spiderman toys.
Books. Books are always excellent options and typically aren’t considered toys, but they stimulate the imagination just as much. Early readers also tend to become lifelong learners and get better grades than their peers. If your giftee is already a big reader, think about getting an organizing system for the books they already have (a kids bookcase or bookshelf, for example.)
Do you remember real tea parties? I loved sitting for tea with my grandmother, eating little sandwich triangles and dainty cookies. Schedule a date and have them wear something nice. If they are young, maybe give a coupon with the Fancy Nancy Tea Parties book.
Audiobooks. Audiobooks are great for all ages. They’re good for downtime for kids.
When traveling with kids, you have to mindful of how much to pack to keep them entertained for the long journey. Instead of weighing down a backpack with bulky books, try this Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon. You can choose between 8 or 32GB of storage depending on how much big of book worms your family is. And a bonus: it’s waterproof!
Games. Games teach a lot, too! Monopoly (get the Elf edition for the holidays!) and PayDay have been popular and help cement math skills. Memory games are great for younger children. Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride are great for older kids. Board games are also a great way to spend some family time. The right one will get the family sitting down together, the competition flowing and the laughs never-ending.
The popular Christmas movie Elf has now been made into a Monopoly game. The whole family can get together to relive all of the iconic moments from the film as you buy, trade, and sell your way to Christmas Cheer. In this version you can choose as playing as either Santa’s Sleigh, Polar Bear Cub, Jack-in-the-Box, Mailroom Coffee Mug, Santa’s Bag, or the Maple Syrup game pieces.
It’s never too early to learn about handling finances, right? Gather the family together to earn cash, find the best deals, and sell items without going broke before reaching Pay Day at the end of the month!
Build and watch over your own civilization in the incredibly popular, award winning board game: CATAN (also known as Settles of Catan). This game is ideal for groups of 3-4, for anyone over the age of 10, and can take about 60 minutes to play a single session.
All aboard, train lovers! If you love strategy games and learning U.S. geography, then you need to add Ticket to Ride to your gaming cabinet. Each player builds routes based on the cards they choose and need to get their trains from point A to point B, but watch out for other players who may block your path! This game can be played with 2 to 5 players and can take about 60 minutes to complete a single session.
Do you have some cat lovers in the family? This 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle features adorable illustrations, including 23 different cat breeds. It’s the perfect activity to get the whole family involved in, and you might learn about some new cat breeds along the way!
Activities. Mini golf, bowling, skating rink. These are so much fun! And a big part of the fun is going together. Children love spending time with the adults in their lives. They want to see you enjoying your time as well as enjoying them.
This introductory set of skis and poles are ideal for little ones age 4 or younger. The design includes flexible bindings so little snow boots can easily fit and stay secure. There’s also no metal edges on the skis and instead feature round plastic edges.
What kid doesn’t dream of having a trampoline in their backyard? This 12-foot trampoline from Skywalker features a no-gap safety enclosure and a basketball hoop so kids can slam dunk all day.
If you are an outdoor family, you know high-quality supplies are easier to use and work better than any of the character/cutesy supplies they market to kids. It’s much more fun to take children into the outdoors when the adults don’t have to fight the equipment. If you get a telescoping rod, it means the kids can transport their own to the fishing spot and not worry about damaging it.
There’s no better family activity than camping under the stars (or even in the backyard). This sundome tent from Coleman can fit 2-6 people depending on which size you choose. This tent has great ventilation and can withstand winds up to 35 mph.
Having their own sleeping bag can make little ones pretty excited about sleepovers, trips, or camping-out family nights.
Having a bird feeder outside a window to watch is very entertaining for kids and helps pique their interest in wildlife. You can also encourage them to recognize bird species and develop a lifelong interest!
Again with the real — but real is good! Having their own set is special and makes working easier for them. Add everything to a pot with some dirt and seeds, and they can grow something fun right away.
Real Tools. Yes, they have play ones, but isn’t it more fun if you can use the real thing? Go ahead and give them a box of nails, a hammer, and some scrap wood. Be sure to supervise, but it won’t take long before they pick up this important skill.
Got some home restoration projects planned? You’ll need to pick up this 148-piece tool set from Cartman to get the job done.
With traditional hammers, it’s always tricky to make sure you don’t accidentally smash your finger when hammering in a nail. This hammer has a unique design to save your fingers! The head of the hammer features a slot that magnetically fits nails to help get you started without needing to hold the nail down.
Classes. Music, dance, riding, drawing. Classes are a great way to encourage children in their interests and let them know that you pay attention to them and what they enjoy. Check out Skillshare, a platform with various neat online courses (for adults, too!)
Memberships. Zoo, science museum, children’s museum, YMCA membership, etc. These are particularly great for family gifts! Many young families want to enjoy day outings, but affording them can be a challenge, so give them the gift of a yearly membership.
Classic nightlights are boring and your kid might think they’re too old (or too cool) for them. If you have a kiddo that’s still afraid of the dark this beautiful Moon Lamp is the perfect solution. Because who wouldn’t want to be able to hold the moon in their hands?
Winter is just around the corner and you want to make sure little feet stay warm while playing in the snow. These winter boots from Northside on Amazon range in sizes from toddlers, little kids, to big kids sizes.
Another option for kids snow boots are these anti-skid rubber sole boots from GUBARUN.
There’s nothing worse than walking in the rain with normal shoes and accidentally stepping in a big puddle. Wet socks will ruin just about anyone’s day! Don’t let your kid get caught in the rain without a pair of these Western Chief waterproof rain boots. Their sizes range from toddlers, little kids, to big kid sizes.
There’s nothing more exciting than getting your own pair of cowboy boots. These round toe boots from Smoky Mountain are offered in a variety of different styles and range in sizes for toddlers, little kids, and big kids.
My kids beg to be in the rain with an umbrella, and it’s a wonderful way to show that you are paying attention to their interests with a themed umbrella (we love this Minnie Mouse-themed one).
Kids will totally end up playing with these animal counters. We keep ours in a small bucket and bring them out when everything else is put away. We stack colors together, make patterns, practice adding and subtracting. We have a lot of fun with these.