10 non-toy gift ideas

As fall approaches each year, my husband and I start thinking about gifts for the kids. Three of our children have fall birthdays and, of course, Christmas follows in December.

Every year, we struggle with ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts for our kids. We want to please our children, make them feel special and loved, but one look at our house will tell you, we have way too many toys.

In addition to Mommy and Daddy, our children are also blessed with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who want to give gifts at birthdays and Christmas as well. This time of year, we have an overabundance of new things inundating our house. Just thinking about where to put all of the birthday and Christmas toys is overwhelming.

With the birth of our fourth child this summer, our playroom became the baby’s nursery and space for toys became much more limited. Without a playroom, each child’s bedroom is overflowing with toys, toys and more toys.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love toys. I have a great time building blocks, racing hotwheels and playing dolls with my children. Toys are great. We just have so many.

This year, when grandparents and others ask for gift ideas, we’re suggesting lots of non-toy options. That doesn’t mean the kids won’t get any toys…hopefully just fewer than in years past.



If your house is overrun with toys like ours, here are 10 non-toy gift ideas to consider this holiday season:

  1. 529 plan contributions. Although children may not understand or appreciate college savings now, they will appreciate this gift in the future!
  2. Memberships. An annual membership to a local museum, zoo or aquarium is a great educational and fun gift for a family. For a large family like mine, purchasing a membership is often cheaper than purchasing a day pass once or twice.
  3. Tickets to an event. Tickets to a children’s play or sports event gives kids something fun to look forward to.
  4. Gift card to a movie theater and movie snacks. An outing to the theater to see a movie of their choice can be a fun treat for kids.
  5. Take them somewhere. An outing with grandma (or grandpa, aunt, uncle, etc.) is special and fun. It could be as simple as going out for ice cream or something that takes more time such as painting pottery together.
  6. Dress-up clothes. Think beyond Disney character costumes and gather things like aprons, hats, old gowns, purses and beads to inspire imagination and creative play.
  7. Art and craft supplies. A big box of art and craft supplies can prompt many hours of creativity.
  8. A kid’s cookbook and kitchen tools. Trying new kid-friendly recipes from their own cookbook, using their own kitchen tools is lots of fun for kids and teaches a valuable life skill at the same time.
  9. Books. To inspire a love of reading in kids, you can never have too many books. Audiobooks are fun as well and can be good for long car rides or to relax at bedtime.
  10. Magazine subscriptions. Kids love getting mail. A magazine subscription gives them something to look forward to each month.

Look for my next column in two weeks for 10 more non-toy gift ideas.