Our kids have so many toys. So many. Too many. We have baby toys, toddler toys, trains, cars, golf clubs, hockey sticks, crayons, dump trucks, legos, baby dolls, and on and on. And multiples of most of them. We are very fortunate and have way more than we need. It’s something I feel convicted about often and am trying to work out in our lives and our home. Not everyone has all of these toys or a room or a bed or clothes, and the more toys (and stuff!) we have the harder it is for us to understand that.
I look forward to teaching my son about giving. About how other kids need these toys more than he does. About how toys don’t bring us happiness or fill any voids in our lives. About how there is a child in our city who would absolutely treasure a teddy bear — one of the many that lay untouched in our house. I want my son to know these things deeply. I want him to see these things with his own eyes. And I don’t think it’s too early to start now.
In light of this I have a one in, one out policy in our house. When we get a new toy, an old toy goes. We don’t need to continue collecting toys just for the sake of having more toys. It’s fun to get something new, but I don’t want my son to be so accustomed to having many toys that he doesn’t appreciate the ones he has. So I am encouraging those in our lives to give gifts that aren’t toys. Here is a list I’ve compiled of some great gifts for kids that aren’t toys. Feel free to pass on to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and anyone else who is gifting to your precious child!
25 Non-Toy Gifts for Kids
1. Zoo Membership
The gift that keeps on giving! We got to the zoo for an hour and a half some days and leave. Because we have a zoo pass and can go whenever we want, it allows for the little chunks of time there to be OK.
2. Dollywood Season Passes
Give the gift of memories and fun. Creating memories with our littles is priceless. So is taking them for something FUN. This helps us moms and dads do that without breaking the bank.
3. Chick-fil-A Gift Cards
Fun, delicious lunch for kids and a good time without the money out of mom and dad’s pocket.
4. Contribute to a College Fund
Kids are going to grow up and get smart. Help a parent out by contributing to their college fund. My Mamaw gave us a gift for a birthday and gave my parents a check to go straight into our college accounts. It wasn’t the main account my parents used — just a special one set up for Mamaw birthday money. By the time I was ready for school it had close to $4,000 in it. Nothing huge, but nothing little. Every little bit helps!
5. New Clothes
Kids grow so fast. Pick out something special just for them. Maybe even something fun their parents wouldn’t always pick for them (like that glow-in-the dark princess nightgown or Cars shirt).
6. A Special Occasion Date
Kids love spending time with their loved ones more than money or a toy. Take them somewhere special. Take them on a lunch date and then to play at the park. Or go ice skating, mini golfing, to ride go karts. Do something special that shows them you care and want to spend time just with them. Even if it seems mundane to us, it will make their day!
7. Show Them How to Serve
There are few greater gifts than showing someone how to serve. Take a birthday or Christmas as an opportunity to show the child in your life how to serve. It’s one of the most precious things to get to spend time together while setting the example of actively serving somewhere.
8. Take a Day Trip
The aquarium, Cades Cove, See Rock City, Pigeon Forge, the Lost Sea, or Chattanooga. Take a day trip to one of these places or somewhere else. Spend time together, enjoying each other’s company and making memories. A child may not remember what toy you gave them on their 10th birthday, but they will remember you taking them on a special trip.
9. Check Out Nature
Go to the mountains, the lake, an open field…anywhere where you feel nature is amazing. Take your little one and teach them why it’s so great and special. We don’t have enough nature in our lives.
10. A Carseat
Carseats are expensive and you could give the gift of a carseat. My parents bought one of my son’s carseats, so almost every time we get in the car now he talks about the carseat his Nan and Pops got him. It’s special to him to ride in something from his grandparents.
11. Give a Library Card and Show them How to Use It
Living in the technology world that we do, our kids don’t know as much about libraries and checking out books. A lot of them know how to use iPhones but don’t know how to check out a book. Help them learn how a library works and how to pick out books and bring them home.
12. Lifetime Wildlife Hunting and Fishing License
Here in Tennessee, you can purchase this for your child while they are young and give them the gift of a lifetime license. My husband did this for our son for his 3rd birthday. Our son won’t have to buy a new license each year when he’s older (like my husband does). Plus he got a really cool certificate with his name on it and a special message from his Daddy. It’s framed and up in his room.
13. A Prized Possession of Yours
Do you have something you treasure that your little one loves? Jack LOVES my Grandfather’s dominoes. He plays with them every time we go over. He loves hearing Grandfather tell him about how to play and then playing with him. Something like this makes a precious gift for a little one in your life.
Each year for Christmas my husband and I give our son a book. On the inside of the cover I write a sweet note to him, the date, and sign it with love from us. We read those books frequently throughout the year, and I know I will treasure looking back at those when he’s older — and I hope he will, too!
15. Gift Cards
2 words. To anywhere. iTunes, Amazon, Visa gift card, restaurants, clothing stores. You can buy them a gift card to anywhere, and it’s sure to be liked by both child and parent!
16. Art Supplies
Have a little one who is creative? Paint, paper, crayons, stamps, stickers tend to be well-loved by kids. Buy them a good stock of art supplies to help foster their creativity throughout the year.
17. A Play Gym
The fun keeps on going! Although it’s much more expensive upfront, this allows my kid to play for years on end and have fun outside. It doesn’t clutter up my house, and it’s something that will last them for a very long time.
18. Go To a Game
Baseball, basketball, football, hockey. Whatever it is you love, take them along! Not a sports lover? How about the ballet, the symphony, a play? Take them to a special event that you could enjoy together. Creating memories is such a sweet gift.
Monthly fun that they can look forward to! Whether it’s a magazine or a subscription box, this is a great way to give a gift that really does continue to give.
20. Their Own Plant
Give them a little responsibility and something that is uniquely theirs. They can learn to take care of something and watch it grow and change. While this one may require some parental help, it can be really fun for kids to take ownership over something.
21. Make Something Together
Take a little girl to a local jewelry making place. You can make a necklace, bracelet, or earrings together. Such a special gift! For a little boy, go to a local wood workshop (Home Depot kids mornings or try Woodcraft here in Knoxville) and build something together. This makes for a fun bonding time and something they will treasure.
22. Netflix or Amazon Prime Subscription
This could be a great gift for the whole family! There are shows for the whole family, movies for everyone to enjoy, and this is where my little guy can watch his favorites whether at home on the TV, the computer, or on the go on the iPad or my phone. It would be a great gift to him and us [hint, hint mom and dad** :)] !
Kids love pictures! Especially pictures of themselves with their family and friends. Giving a picture in a nice frame for the child to keep in their room is such a sweet gift that will mean a lot to them!
24. Frame Their Artwork
Nothing shows you value a kid’s work more than framing it and giving it to them. Maybe they have something they worked really hard on or that is very special to them that would be extra special framed somewhere in your home where they can see it often.
25. A Thoughtful Love Book
This can be anything from a photo book, to a book of handwritten notes from you, to your voice reading a book to them. My son loves looking through our yearly Instagram books of our favorite pictures and for us to read the descriptions to him. He would be thrilled to have his very own special books with pictures and thoughts just for him!