My kids LOVE gifts.  They talk about what they want for Christmas all the time.  To keep things orderly throughout the year we have an ongoing mental “Christmas” or “birthday” gift list running.  This way I avoid meltdowns in the aisles of Target when my son spies a toy he just can’t live without.  “Put it on your birthday or Christmas list,” I say and that’s usually the end of it.


Over the last several years, I’ve noticed two trends as it relates to the gift giving around the holidays.

#1: My kids get way too many toys.

#2: A week after Christmas my kids stop playing with all those toys.

Let’s back up to #1.  Christmas morning rolls around and my kids are up before dawn, jumping for joy!!!  Then 2 presents in my kids quickly find themselves over saturated and delusional.  Half of the presents under the tree get put away for another day. It’s just…too much.

 And #2.  A week after Christmas, my kids STOP PLAYING WITH THEIR TOYS.  Actually in general my kids hardly ever play with their toys.  Instead they prefer doing craft projects with me.  They love going to the park with me.  They love dressing up and putting on shows.  Occasionally they play with blocks or legos but other than that our toys sit alone in the playroom.  We have become the house of TOY NEGLECT! It’s like my kids love the idea of toys more than the actual toys.

 Not to mention we really don’t need more stuff.  We have STUFF coming out our ears no matter how much I try to keep a minimalist house.

 Now don’t get me wrong, gifts are really nice to give.  It’s a way to show friends and family that you care.  And I love, love, love giving gifts to others.  But in an attempt to avoid any more TOY NEGLECT in our home (those poor, poor toys) we are considering alternatives to the traditional toy overload on Christmas morning.  Today I’ve put together a list of 10 non-toy gifts you may consider for a child who already has it all.

  1. Classes.  My kids want to do every sport or activity out there and classes can get really pricey.  Try giving a gift certificate to the local YCMA or local dance or art studio to a family with children who love classes.
  2. Dinner dates.  I don’t know about your kids, but my kids live for eating out.  It’s all lemonade and bread bowls on restaurant nights, hence the reason we don’t do it often!  Giving a child a cute invitation to dinner (restaurant of their choice) is so fun.  And an added bonus– if YOU take them on the dinner date.  That’s a great gift to the parents too.
  3. Educational gifts.  My son’s favorite birthday gift last year was a science kit.  He asks me every. single. day. to do experiments with him.  Gifts that help a child learn are a great idea.  Science kit, word games, activity books, terrarium, butterfly garden, insect catchers, gardening tools….it’s all good stuff.
  4. Adventure gifts.  How about some outdoor gear and an invite to go camping?  A date to go horseback riding?  Surf camp? An invitation to a hike and scavenger hunt?  Kids love exploring and love the idea of going on an adventure.
  5. Books.  I will never stop giving books to others, it’s one of my favorite gifts to give.  My kids also love getting favorite books from others.  We learn about so many great children’s books this way!
  6. Imaginary play.  Dress up clothes and props for imaginary play are fabulous gifts for growing minds.  Our dress up clothing bin is probably the most used “toy” in our house.
  7. Magazine subscriptions.  My son received a few magazine subscriptions to National Geographic Kids and Highlights magazine several years ago and to this day he still reads them.  He loved the surprise of having a magazine sent to him in the mail, too.  When one of his magazines arrived in the mailbox it was always a special day.
  8. Local memberships.  There are so many great museums, zoos, activity centers that require a membership. As parents on a budget, we can’t do it ALL.  A membership to a great museum in the area would provide so much value to the whole family!
  9. Arts and crafts.  My kids LOVE crafting.  Their mom isn’t such a great crafter though.  I always appreciate any and all art supplies (non-toxic are preferred for this green mama).  I also love craft ideas from my crafty mom friends.  Do you have a craft you do with your kids?  Put together the supplies and instructions in a care package and give it to a craft-challenged mom you love.
  10. Cooking supplies.  You know what else my kids love to do?  Cook with me.  They literally fight over who gets to measure ingredients.  How about gifting a soup recipe with ingredients, ladle and bowls?  Or a cookie gift with cookie cutters, aprons and the ingredients to make a favorite recipe?  Get creative and offer to do the cooking or baking project with the child, time spent together is special.

And the key to almost all of these gifts?  Giving the gift of your time with a child.  Time is short for many of us, our lives get busy with school and activities.  If you have a special child in your life, giving the gift of time is one of the best gifts out there.

What are your favorite non-toy gifts for kids?  Tell me in the comments below!

10 non toy gifts for kids from



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