18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

All of us that 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 grandparents want to give gifts.

Gifts are good things!

But, too much of anything isn’t good.

A great way to combat too many toys is to shift all the gifts to non-toy items.

18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Subscriptions. Kids enjoy getting things int he mail. Why not encourage their reading by getting them a magazine subscription for something they are interested in!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Recipe 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.
  7. Crafting/Coloring Date. Our daughter loves making crafts. I do too, I really do enjoy the creative aspect. But I rarely take time out to do it with her. These crafting dates mean the world to our creative little girl. Keep a basket of craft supplies and get out a book for inspiration. We like this book. If you enjoy coloring books, how about sitting down with your child and color together? Show them how to use their imagination and create their own patterns with a basic foundation piece, like these simple animals. Working on projects together is a perfect time to enjoy conversation.
  8. Arts and Craft supplies. If your craft box is running low, stock up a little on things you need. Add in something fun the kids haven’t used before. A gift of art and craft supplies often brings on the imagination and kids can’t wait to get to work!
  9. Coupons. An envelope of coupons that they can “spend” at any time: I’ll do one chore- no questions asked, movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie!, 1:1 game of cards or basketball (whatever the child’s interest is in), sit and read a book with me, Stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime
  10. Restaurant Gift Card. Dinner, ice cream, coffee, cupcake- whatever suits their fancy! Give them the freedom of inviting whoever 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.
  11. Dress Up Clothes. These do need to be limited, but  2 dresses and couple play silks can get hours and hours of play!
  12. Books. We get a lot of books from the library, but there are some that I just can’t find there, or it takes us longer to read through. We have read through the entire Little House series, Narnia and are working our way through Shel Silverstein’s books. Be sure to pass the books on when you are done, so they don’t clutter up your home.
  13. 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. That may mean western clothes, super-hero, fancy dresses, etc.
  14. Snacks. If your child is a foodie, they will love this! Some homemade granola or cookies made just for them is a special treat!
  15. Outdoor Supplies. If you are an outdoorsy family, giving kids their own fishing tackle or gardening equipment can be a big deal. It’s also something that gets left on the shelf in the garage, so you always know right where to find it.
  16. Telling Time. 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. Boys, girls, and even teenagers can be excited about this.
  17. Games and Puzzles. Games and puzzles are great activities for when kids have to be indoors. It’s a good practice to have individual quiet times during the day, and having a puzzle to sit and work on by themselves helps brain development and problem-solving skills. Games teach a lot too! My kids talk about how they passed geography, just because we played Risk when they were little. Monopoly and PayDay have been popular and help cement math skills. Memory games are great for younger children.
  18. Calendar. Many children like to know what is going on, what day it is, how many days until ____. These kids are the ones that want to know what the plan is for the day, in what order things will happen, what time friends are expected over, etc. They struggle with spur-of-the-moment and can be frustrating if you are a spontaneous parent. But celebrate it! These children have many strengths and make our world run smoother. 🙂 Embrace their inner schedule and get them their own calendar. They can write down their own classes, appointments, play dates, etc. And if they ask you, send them to their calendar so they can get used to being in control of their own schedule. You can even schedule “spontaneous days”, so they know that something different will happen that day. Trust me, it will help them enjoy the spontaneous outings!


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18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

© Depositphotos.com/windujedi

About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.


  1. Kate Schwarz on 07/16/2014 at 7:43 PM

    Fantastic ideas and a lovely sentiment! Kids love all of these sorts of gifts in my experience. I often give kids a handmade apron (that way I can personalise it for them but it doesn’t need to be handmade) and a jar of cake mix with instructions on how they can mix and bake it. You can make it a little festive at Christmas time by making biscuit mix and decorating the jar with a cookie cutter.


    • Rachel on 07/16/2014 at 9:31 PM

      Thanks Kate! 🙂

  2. Colleen Biegger on 07/20/2014 at 3:32 PM

    I love these ideas, they are great and I will be using them for sure!

    Just an FYI and perhaps material for a future blog post: I work for a company that sells fair trade product made by women all over the world, lifting them out of poverty by providing sustainable income and the dignity that comes with earning it for their family. One thing that I have learned is that companies that give away things actually can cause more damage than good by putting the local shoe cobbler, egg producer, peanut farmer etc. out of business and creating an element of dependency by providing the free stuff. One step better is for companies to go in and teach a trade and support local business efforts AND pay living wages (vs Sweatshop wages) to those that American companies employ in manufacturing facilities all over the world. Teach a man to fish and pay him appropriately for that fish. Teaching a child about the concept of fair trade provides the next generation with valuable insight on how poverty is actually eliminated vs. aided. AND there are fun fair trade gifts to give as well! You just need to know where to look!

    • Rachel on 07/20/2014 at 4:19 PM

      Thanks for commenting Colleen! Please share your company’s website with us. This is definitely an issue that is close to my heart!

      • Laura on 08/06/2014 at 10:58 AM

        Great suggestions. I also think that our families are too overscheduled, so we give ourselves the gift of several entirely unscheduled days a month with plenty of hang around time to sit on the floor playing, to lie on the couch reading, to take a picnic dinner outdoors, and so on. It’s a bigger present than we ever imagined.

        I was inspired to do this after connecting with a woman who decided before her son was born that she would give him no commercial toys. Nothing. Now that he’s seven it’s amazing the impact this has on his life. Here’s their story if you’d like to read it Rachel. http://lauragraceweldon.com/2012/02/20/the-boy-with-no-toys/

    • Emily on 07/27/2014 at 2:04 PM

      Colleen – Thank you for pointing this out! I can get behind many of these ideas, but that was troubling to me.
      One great organization that is out there teaching skills and paying a fair wage for goods is Eternal Threads. They also work with girls rescued from sex trafficking. http://eternalthreads.org/

  3. Lyn on 07/22/2014 at 10:59 PM

    Love this list! One to add…books on tape! There are so many great audio/dramatized books out there that are awesome for bedtime or road trips. 🙂

    • Rachel on 07/22/2014 at 11:32 PM

      Great idea Lyn! Thanks!

  4. Cathy S exauer on 07/23/2014 at 8:20 AM

    Some good ideas. I would add a plant of some type to the list. I gave my 7 yr old granddaughter a cherry tomato plant for her May birthday. She has cared for it well, and now is reaping the harvest!

    • Rachel on 07/23/2014 at 11:21 AM

      Oh, that’s a great idea Cathy! Thanks!

  5. Brooke on 07/23/2014 at 3:05 PM

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I am sharing this post with EVERYONE that gives my children gifts. Thank you for this.

    • Rachel on 07/23/2014 at 5:30 PM

      Awesome- thanks!

  6. Kevin on 07/23/2014 at 3:22 PM

    Your introduction sentence states “All of us that have children, have too many toys.”. Are you suggesting that the parents have too many toys?

    • Rachel on 07/23/2014 at 5:31 PM

      Ha ha, maybe so Kevin!

    • Kelly on 07/27/2014 at 12:43 PM

      If your children are small enough, and you end up being the one to clean them up and organize them all day, they certainly do feel more like your toys than your kids’! lol

  7. Jessica @ConveyAwareness on 07/24/2014 at 12:55 AM

    I personally like #6 and can’t wait for someone to take me up on this as I’ve offered before… but my son would like #20 because he loves to count down to special events or even just regular play dates! =) Pinned. And shared!! =)

    • Rachel on 07/24/2014 at 1:13 AM

      Awesome! I like #6 too! 🙂

  8. Sandy on 07/24/2014 at 2:22 PM

    For Christmas last year, I gave my 8 year old grandson a tool kit (real tools, supposed to last a lifetime.) I also gave him the materials needed to make a washer toss game. I had the boards pre-cut at the hardware store. Together, we used the screwdriver, the hammer, the caulk gun, and the paint. It was fun and a good learning experience for both of us. He seemed to have a good time doing it.

    • Rachel on 07/24/2014 at 3:03 PM

      That is an awesome gift Sandy!

  9. Stephanie on 07/25/2014 at 12:20 AM

    I love this! To help with the birthday parties, we decided to ask for no gifts, but instead bring a toy or canned goods for the local food pantry. It definitely helped cut down on what we brought home!

    • Rachel on 07/25/2014 at 12:49 AM

      Oh great idea! I love it!

  10. Marielle on 07/25/2014 at 4:42 PM

    I love the ideas, but these are all for older children. How about making a list of things non-toy related for toddlers, infants or baby showers? I have a friend with a daughter turning one in two weeks and am furiously searching for a meaningful gift that won’t be thrown away in a year as her brain progresses. (I despise waste as much as clutter) Any suggestions?

    • Rachel on 07/25/2014 at 5:13 PM

      I will definitely have to think through that Marielle- thanks for the idea! When I go to baby showers, I try to give a gift specifically for the mother, something to pamper her- gift card to a book store, clothing store, spa type gifts. Infants, I like to give quality diapers, many moms are cloth diapering these days, but it’s quite an investment to start out. I’ll think through what we normally do and let you know.

    • Katy on 07/25/2014 at 7:42 PM

      Hey Marielle, when my son was born I didn’t get a hot cup of tea for a couple of months, until my mum gave me a thermos cup with a lid. It’s my go-to baby shower gift now. Another really useful thing is sleeping bags for the transition from wrapping at 3 months. Sleeping bags sell out really fast (where I live at least) so for new parents the shift from wrapping to bags can be stressful, if they haven’t thought ahead (which you don’t, first time around). You could also go for a baby book, card books with bold black and white pictures are great for newborn babies, since they like the strong contrast, and my son still looks through the couple he got, and plays with the matching toy, about once a week. Hope you come up with something good for your daughter 🙂

      • Rachel on 07/26/2014 at 10:42 PM

        That’s a great idea Katy. I may have to gift a thermos cup next baby shower! I remember that too, but it never even crossed my mind to buy one to actually keep my drink hot.

    • Beth on 07/26/2014 at 12:51 PM

      Books are always a great gift.

      • Rachel on 07/26/2014 at 1:12 PM

        I totally agree! 🙂

    • Shellie on 07/26/2014 at 8:07 PM

      Books are a timeless gift for anybody of any age. They can be read to children that don’t know how to read yet. 47 years later I still have one of the first books that was given to me before I could read. I read out loud to my children when they were still in the womb. All 4 of them are voracious readers to this day and they are between 16-25 years old.

      So books, books, books!

    • Rachel on 07/26/2014 at 10:43 PM
    • Louisa on 10/27/2014 at 6:52 PM

      how about a special tree / shrub to plant to celebrate her 1st birthday. my parents planted a tree when I and each of my siblings were born and it made us feel special knowing that that particular tree was “ours”. 🙂

      • Rachel on 10/27/2014 at 10:31 PM

        That’s really nice!

    • Kayla on 10/28/2014 at 12:07 AM


      This is a great question. I wondered what to get my daughter for the longest to welcome her into this world. Then, her Nana asked me if she could get her coming home gift for her. I told her yes, sure you can so she goes out and buys this fuzzy hot pink with red hearts blanket that is about the size of a toddler mattress. I am telling you this was almost three years ago and to this day, that is the ONLY blanket my daughter will sleep with at night. She loves it and it is the nest gift anyone could have gotten her. Now, granted I have probably washed this blanket a million times over, but my baby girl loves it. She doesn’t sleep at all if I put her to bed without it. That’s just a thought, buy a nice fuzzy good size blanket. Or, if you are the crafty type, like I have recently become, crochet, knit, or sew one for her. It would be something she could hang onto for the rest of her life.

  11. Helen on 07/25/2014 at 7:39 PM

    Those are some really great ideas! My parents are in their late 60s and I know they had a hard time buying gifts for my son and my nephews on their first Christmas’ (I don’t blame them one bit, they’ve been out of the toy-buying phase for a while with my siblings and I ranging in age from 26 to 46). So on the first Chirstmas all 3 grandchildren were alive for, my parents started a 529 college savings plan for each grandchild and put $50 a month into each account. The grandchildren don’t understand it yet, but I know they will appreciate the help when its time to go to college

    • Rachel on 07/25/2014 at 9:59 PM

      What an awesome gift! They will definitely appreciate it in the long run!

  12. Verity on 07/25/2014 at 8:01 PM

    These are great ideas! (And I just found your website and love it!)

    This Christmas, my parents are helping my husband and I redecorate the kids’ room. The room redecorating will be the kids’ main Christmas present from all of us. I know they will love it though it originally included no new toys in the plans.

    Our son loves knights and dragons and our girls all love princesses so it will be a castle theme!

    • Rachel on 07/25/2014 at 9:58 PM

      That is so great! My kids would love the castle theme too!

  13. Laura on 07/25/2014 at 8:49 PM

    These are great ideas! I’m always trying to think of these kinds of gifts for my own 4 kids. Just a note, though. You mentioned Toms…while they are great because of their buy shoes/give shoes practice, they are TERRIBLE for your feet. Flat bottoms with no kind of support anywhere. They are a foot specialist’s worst nightmare. but they are really cute. Lol. Also, any shoes that are only slip-on, like Toms, are not a lot of fun for a preschool teacher who has half a class of kids with cute little shoes that keep flying off their feet while running in the gym! Other than that…great ideas!

    • Rachel on 07/25/2014 at 9:57 PM

      Good to know! Thanks Laura!

  14. Heather on 07/25/2014 at 11:34 PM

    For our daughter’s 5th birthday party we asked the kids (15+ attended) to bring sprinkles or frosting or whatever to be used as sugar cookie decorations in lieu of gifts. Then one of the party activities was to decorate their own cookies to eat or take home. The toppings that didn’t get opened were donated to her preschool.

    • Rachel on 07/25/2014 at 11:38 PM

      I love it! That’s a great idea!

  15. Jo on 07/26/2014 at 11:39 PM

    Like it all except the TOM’s shoes. Argh! Kids in developing countries don’t need shoes that thwart the development of their own shoe making industry.Kids need education and their parents need micro-loans to develop their livelihoods. http://thepublicqueue.com/2012/the-tragedy-of-toms-shoes/

    • Rachel on 07/27/2014 at 6:14 PM

      Thanks Jo, I removed the suggestion for Tom’s shoes. I agree that our focus needs to be helping the countries develop and help themselves.

      • Erin on 11/05/2014 at 3:43 PM

        The more support, the worse it is for developing strong foot muscles. Oh what you must think of my sockwas which have soft soles! As a former knee arthritis sufferer, I can tell you that switching to zero drop shoes with less “support” is one of the best decisions I ever made. Also, little baby shoes should have no “support” for the same reason: developing healthy muscles.

  16. Chelsea @ Tiptoe & Co on 07/27/2014 at 9:59 AM

    So many great ideas – and lots that use their imagination too!

  17. Julie on 07/27/2014 at 11:43 AM

    I love this list …. however …. there is nothing more lovely than book clutter! We have shelves and shelves of our favorite books in our home. There’s nothing better than seeing my kids rereading their favorite books. Much better than sitting and watching movies over and over again!

    • Dorota C-W on 07/29/2014 at 12:11 AM

      That’s exactly what I wanted to write. Books DO NOT create clutter. Few of our walls are filled with books, in three languages. My kids still read MY old books, the books are the last thing I give away/throw away.
      So if you want to give my kids a present, bring a book or two.
      Other ideas + the ones in the comments are all great!
      No more toys for us! 🙂

      • Sarah K. on 08/09/2014 at 6:38 PM

        Exactly. I have a ton of books (and, yes, I may need to part with some), that I go back and reread rather frequently. I still have books from when I was a kid that, were they not boxed up, I would probably reread on occasion. Books are the great exception.

    • Sue H-P on 12/01/2014 at 11:26 PM

      I’m with you, Sarah. Books are not clutter. I am so glad that my mother saved my childhood books and that I was able to share them with my children who are now over 20. They would be furious with me if I gave away their treasured childhood books.

  18. Joy on 07/28/2014 at 12:40 AM

    Has anyone mentioned things like torches, magnifying glasses, real (not toy) telescopes and microscopes, butterfly nets, fishing gear, crab pots, bicycle repair kits, electronic kits, and of course furniture making, billy cart making, candle making, soap making, felting etc would fall under crafts/real work …?

    • Rachel on 07/28/2014 at 1:17 AM

      Wow, that’s a lot of ideas, thanks Joy for adding to the list!

  19. Joy on 07/28/2014 at 12:45 AM

    We do fundraising instead of birthday gifts! We find that most people will give a small food gift to a kid, together with a donation to our favourite orphan work overseas! Our favourite food gift received has been drinking straws that changes the flavour of the milk you drink, as you drink! (Colour free etc. too!) A box of straws is a great gift to share with siblings too!

    • Rachel on 07/28/2014 at 1:19 AM

      I love the fundraising gift idea- that is wonderful!

  20. Samantha on 07/28/2014 at 12:46 AM

    I love the dress up idea. My niece is turning 2 in September and she has A TON of toys. I know kids are supposed to have tons of toys, but this kid is literally overflowing with them because we (her aunts/uncles/grandparents) can’t help but spoil her so when we see something cute we buy it. She also has tons of clothes for the same reason. But up until about four months ago she hasn’t been as interactive with her playtime. Now she likes to help clean up and pretend to cook with her kitchen and play tea party, so dress up will be perfect.

    Her birthday and Christmas are right around the corner, so I’m so excited I stumbled upon this since I was stumped for what to get her! Thanks!

  21. Jen on 07/28/2014 at 12:30 PM

    Great ideas.

  22. Pamela on 07/28/2014 at 5:50 PM

    I am a photographer and I give cheap digital or disposable cameras. Even young kids can take pictures, from their own unique perspective. I also had foster kids for a while and kept them supplied so they would have a documentary to take with them of their time with me.

    • Rachel on 07/28/2014 at 6:25 PM

      That’s great Pamela!

  23. Jackie on 07/28/2014 at 6:42 PM

    As Grama to FIVE granddaughters, I got the most mileage from six different ‘fancy’ dresses from GoodWill. Cost, neglible. They NEVER lost interest in playing dress up. My second thing is to give a $10. gift certificate to the Dollar Store. This has been huge. The kiddos get to pick out 10 items of their choice. It also teaches them that they have enough money to buy a gift for somebody else. Good teachable moments on how far their money will go. Loved all of the great ideas.

    • Donna Amis Davis on 08/02/2014 at 8:07 PM

      Love this list! Our grandkiddos are 3 and 4 – such fun ages. We’re already doing many of these things, but you’ve added some great new ideas!

  24. Bianca on 07/29/2014 at 7:13 AM

    My daughter will be 9 next Monday. This year she received a baby miniature goat (we got him before her birthday) We have a farm with pigs, chickens, ducks and a goat so adding another isnt an issue. All my children are having fun feeding and playing with the new addition and it also keeps them all occupied outside for hours.

  25. Tiffany on 07/29/2014 at 11:10 AM

    This is a fabulous list! Every holiday and birthday I’m always asked what my son needs, and I can never think of anything other than clothes. We end up getting money and putting it in his savings account for school. But these are great ideas of things that we’re going to buy for him anyway, which allows our family to give him something other than money, and ultimately saves us money so that we can save up for school or maybe even his first car.

  26. Anna on 08/01/2014 at 9:01 PM

    One of my favorite gifts at Christmas time is Kiva gift certificates. Selecting a recipient ends up being one of the best parts, and I’ve seen my children, as well as my sister’s family, make it a group project by pooling their certificates and choosing one recipient together.
    The very best part? When they are “paid” back and get to choose another recipient!

    • Rachel on 08/01/2014 at 9:56 PM

      That is great Anna!

  27. Michelle on 08/04/2014 at 2:20 PM

    I cannot begin to describe how much I love, Love, LOVE this!

    • Rachel on 08/05/2014 at 12:04 AM

      Thanks!! 🙂

  28. Tealgreenblogger on 08/05/2014 at 5:24 PM

    For those who have reluctant readers, a subscription to audible.com or oyster is also a great gift. My daughter isn’t enthusiastic about reading, but still loves a good story. She spends hours listening to books and can doodle, or tidy her room, or just lie on her bed looking out the window while listening.

  29. Kacie on 08/09/2014 at 4:39 PM

    LOVE these! I would also add bath stuff — bubble bath, those tub crayons, etc.

  30. Kristi on 08/11/2014 at 9:50 PM

    Last Christmas I gave my twin nieces wooden jewelry boxes from Michaels. They each got their own jewelry box and then shared the paints and stencils and paint brushes that were used to decorate them. The girls loved the boxes and had the paint supplies to use on other projects. Michaels has tons of of simple crafts for kid. Thanks for the post I am always encouraging my family members to get my kids anything but toys!

  31. Michelle on 08/15/2014 at 7:22 PM

    Love these ideas.

  32. RCMom on 08/15/2014 at 10:02 PM

    I love how you broke up the categories! Great ideas!
    Great minds think alike! 😉

  33. AzMomOf5 on 08/16/2014 at 1:20 AM

    Our kids are 16, 14, 12, 10 and 23 months. Ever since our oldest was 2 we have done a 4 gift concept. One from each of these 4 categories – Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. We live on a fairly tight budget so this has really helped set expectations for our kids, kept Christmas reasonable, and kept the toys and stuff clutter manageable. We don’t do Santa for religious reasons but do give a family gift that is always something to help us spend time together. We have gotten camping equipment, memberships to places around town, movie or resaurant gift cards, hotel gift cards for vacations. Both sets of the kids grandparents are really good about either giving a complementary family gift or bookstore gift cards (one of my kids favorite things) and an ornament for each kid. We keep them in a box for the kids so when they are out on their own they will have ornaments to decorate their first Christmas Trees.

  34. Reena on 08/18/2014 at 3:22 PM

    Great Ideas!!!

  35. Angela on 08/31/2014 at 12:49 AM

    Ok, so this is BRILLIANT. Thank you! I can’t wait to refer back to this when it’s Christmas time and family wants to know what the kids need. We need experiences, not STUFF!

  36. Vali Heist on 09/05/2014 at 8:58 PM

    I came across your blog from a CCFC email. Fantastic ideas! I am a certified professional organizer and the author of “Organize This! Practical Tips, Green Ideas, and Ruminations about your CRAP”. CRAP stands for Clutter Robs Anyone of Pleasure! I even have a chapter called Clutter-free gift-giving made easy! You inspire me to continue my passion for ridding the world of CRAP! Keep up the good work! Vali G. Heist

    • Rachel on 09/06/2014 at 12:28 AM

      Very cool! Thanks for coming by Vali!

  37. Alana on 10/15/2014 at 12:34 AM

    This could not come at a better time! The toys despite my best efforts just keep creeping up. I have spoken to many parents, asking how to resolve the issue of birthdays. I want it to be celebratory for my kids, but I don’t want endless clutter. All of proposed solutions haven’t resonated with me. This post is FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much for your insight!

  38. Michelle on 10/22/2014 at 1:09 AM

    Really appreciate this list! I shared it on facebook as well.

  39. Trevor on 10/22/2014 at 4:21 PM

    My sister-in-law started doing non-gift presents a couple years ago because she didn’t want to get something that would be forgotten quickly. She lets each niece or nephew pick 3 activities to do during the year (my daughter’s Christmas gift included horseback riding in the summer.)
    My one issue with this list is “Games and Puzzles”. We have games and puzzles in our house, and they can clutter a house just as bad as any other toy. I love table top games (board, card, party, etc) because of the interaction between people and the skills they can build, but I have stepped on game pieces, found missing puzzle pieces like any other toy, and after you get past a few family favourite games, the boxes start to clutter shelves.

  40. Lynn on 10/26/2014 at 1:33 PM

    Savings bonds and savings accounts too! 🙂

  41. D2Nav on 11/03/2014 at 11:30 PM

    My 2 year old is getting a (real) child-sized broom and an apron for Christmas. She loves to cook (she cracks the eggs and mixes them for me when I make breakfast) and always wants to help around the house. We might also get a set of plastic dishes and put it on a low shelf so she can set the table by herself.

    • Rachel on 11/04/2014 at 1:02 AM

      That’s a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  42. Melanie on 11/08/2014 at 7:41 PM

    I only disagree with the part about passing books on when you’re done so they don’t “clutter” up your home. I wholeheartedly believe in hanging onto the classics and your personal favorites to pass on to the next generation. Our kids have loved many of the same books we did and passing on your own battered and loved copy makes it that much more meaningful

  43. Michelle on 12/03/2014 at 9:21 AM

    My thoughts exactly! Too much “stuff” in the house. Love this list! Thanks!

  44. MG on 12/03/2014 at 1:43 PM

    This is a spectacular list, and we gift a lot of non-toys. Cameras, window bird feeders, baking sets, and tool kits are perpetual favorites, and every child we shop for gets at least one book.
    However, I would also advocate that every young child – say, 10 or 12 and under – needs something that they can PLAY with on Christmas morning. “Shifting to all non-toys” can have the unintended side effect of a child with a stack of opened presents, none of which can be enjoyed right away.
    “Can we go to the zoo, mom?” – No, not today. Another day.
    “May I use my new tie-dye/woodburning/chemistry kit?” No, not today. Another time.
    “Can we bake cookies? Can we camp in the bag yard? Can we go get ice cream?” Not now.
    Unless the parent of the giftee plans to jump in with the special activities, this can be a let down for the child. My recommendation is that every young child should receive one, special play gift on Christmas and birthday: a wooden dollhouse with family and furnishings, a handmade silk superhero cape and mask, a set of wooden unit blocks, a basket of carved wooden animals. Other gifts can be non-toys: art supplies, outings, magazine subscriptions, lessons, and such. That way, there is the delight of something to play with right away, along with the joy of sharing time together in days to come.

    • R on 03/14/2015 at 1:59 AM

      How about a sewing kit? Whether the child is male or female, sewing is a useful skill to learn especially as they get older and clothes need to be mended/repaired. They can utilize it to make things they like.

  45. Dianne Keahbone on 09/17/2015 at 6:06 AM

    Books, audible books, musical instruments. Aside from a banjo, and a didgeridoo, which I bought online new, we have a concertina, ukulele, guitar, bongo drums and a few other oddball instruments that we found in resale or pawn shops. None of us are musically gifted. We just have fun. I also used to buy assorted shark’s teeth, pieces of copralite (fossilized dinosaur poop) and arrowheads. I found these at the Rock Barrel in Dallas. Unfortunately, I don’t think they sell online. I have found some on Amazon.
    My mom had surgery and I stayed with her until almost Easter. I made the drive home facing a time crunch. Nothing was prepared, but I did have plastic eggs. My son was about 6. He didn’t care much for candy. I filled the eggs with arrowheads, scratch off tickets, a few dollar bills, a couple pieces of candy, and oddball little items that I collected on my drive home. 22 years later, that’s still his favorite Easter.

  46. Sarah on 10/22/2015 at 11:14 PM

    Great list, thanks for the christmas inspiration! I think I am going to arrange for our Miss 9 to have some kids cooking classes at a local cookery school – she LOVEs all things baking and I reckon it would be a great confidence boost for her too 🙂

  47. Megan on 10/31/2015 at 3:57 AM

    This post is ridiculous and depressing. “Give kids experiences not just things” says more about adult culture than it does about children. Of COURSE you should give children experiences. Buy newsflash – it won’t kill them or make them horrible people if you also give them some cool toys.

    • Lely on 11/24/2015 at 9:04 PM

      Love most of these ideas, except granola bars? Seriously, I am trying to imagine my kid’s reactions if they got a box (tupper?) of homemade granola bars. Grinchy!

  48. katie on 11/06/2016 at 3:45 PM

    I wanted to read more articles on this blog, but every time I clicked on anything I had to cancel that I didn’t want to subscribe. How about decluttering your website? Totally turned me off.

  49. Donna B on 11/22/2016 at 2:19 AM

    i am refurbishing my 40 year old wedding dress into 2 bride dress up costumes for my young granddaughters. I am Looking forward to their smiling faces and it will bring me great joy to see my dress enjoyed again.

    • Rachel on 11/22/2016 at 5:28 PM

      How nice Donna!

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