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Less Toys, More Memories: 20 Non-Toy Gift Ideas

toys on floor

If your house is anything like mine, then it is probably overflowing with too many toys that seem to never get played with or are missing pieces. As birthdays and holidays come around each year, the toy box continues to grow, sometimes out of our control. With my son’s birthday in July, this had me thinking about gift ideas for him that are more practical, that have a longer life span, or that provide a day of making memories together!

I’ve complied a list of 20 fun, non-toy gift ideas that are sure to be a hit at your child’s next birthday party or holiday! Keep this list handy, and share it with your family and friends.

1. New Books

Books are wonderful gifts for children at any age! There are endless options in store or you could purchase personalized books online that include the child’s name. You could even purchase books that record your voice reading the child a story. How fun! I love purchasing a book and attaching a gift card to the bookstore with ribbon and a special note!

2. Classes

Has your child been asking to take a dance class or to enroll in golf lessons? Maybe they want to learn how to play the guitar or are in need of swim lessons? The gift of classes is a wonderful idea and a great way to encourage your child to learn a new skill!

3. Memberships

One of the best gifts we have received is a membership to a local museum for our son. We are able to have lots of family fun days while my son has a blast exploring the museum. Memberships to local zoos or museums are an excellent gift that the whole family gets to enjoy for the entire year!

4. Luggage

Whether it’s a weekend at grandma’s house or a long family vacation, children love having their own special bag for their adventures! A nice rolling suitcase, personalized luggage tags, a small duffel bag, or a new backpack with a favorite character are all practical gifts that children can use for years to come.

5. Movies

DVDs make great gifts for the whole family to enjoy at home on the couch or during long road trips. You can make this gift even more fun by bundling it with the child’s favorite movie theater candy and popcorn. You could also attach a movie theater gift card with a fun ribbon and a special note.

6. Personalized Labels

With a new school year just around the corner, personalized name labels make a great gift for kids of any age. Personalized name labels can be used on school supplies, inside of shoes and coats, on water bottles and on toys. Name labels help keep track of personal belongings. Plus, labels are fun and great to have for daycare up through high school.

7. Baking Gift Box

This is a fun idea for children who love to bake at home. This gift box could include all of your baking needs such as cupcake liners, a child-size apron, colorful spatulas and mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, recipe cards, and lots and lots of sprinkles!

8. Nature Gift Box

For the little explorers in your life, this gift box could include a jar for catching bugs, a butterfly net, a magnifying glass, a flashlight and binoculars, and even a bug identifier book.

9. Activity Gift Card

This gift could be anything from a live kid-friendly show, to putt-putt, the local public pool, or laser tag! Activity gift cards are guaranteed to bring a fun-filled day of memories for your kiddo!

10. Favorite Restaurant or Ice Cream Shop Gift Cards

Going out to eat can be expensive, and typically the adults get to decide where to eat! Give your child the opportunity to choose their favorite restaurant and to use a gift card that’s just for them.

11. Large Outdoor Gift

This should be a gift that’s larger and something that the whole family can enjoy together, outside. Examples include a swing set, a playhouse, a trampoline, a basketball goal, or even a sandbox.

12. Summer in a Bag

This gift could include a special beach bag that’s personalized with the child’s name or favorite character. Fill the bag with all the summer essentials like water balloons, sand toys, sunscreen, bubbles, bug spray, sunglasses, swim fins or googles, and a new beach towel!

13. Science Experiment in a Bag

This gift could include all of the tools, ingredients, and detailed instructions for a fun experiment, such as making homemade slime! You could also fill the bag with fun science kits that can be found at your local craft and hobby store.

14. Tickets to a Local Sporting Event

What’s more fun than cheering on your favorite local team while enjoying a hotdog and popcorn? Pick up tickets to a local baseball game and include spending money for the concession stand and souvenirs.

15. Tickets to an Amusement Park

If your child is a thrill seeker who loves rides and slides then this is the gift for him! Don’t forget to include some spending money for a special treat, like ice cream, or a fun souvenir to take home.

16. Craft Supplies

Kids love to create, and they love to get new craft supplies! Fill a storage container or a craft cart with crayons, markers, paper, glue, scissors, colored paper, paintbrushes, stencils, etc. You can even find craft kits that include a variety of materials for crafting. This is a wonderful gift for little artists at any age!

17. Bedroom Items

This gift is both practical and very helpful for parents! Bedding, room decorations, sleeping bags, and even furniture make wonderful gift ideas that will be used for years to come.

18. Subscription Service

There are so many companies that offer monthly magazine subscriptions for kids. There are also monthly subscription boxes that are shipped right to your front door. The options are endless and range from clothing and socks to toys and books that fit your child’s interests.

19. Education Savings Account

While your kids are little, commit to setting aside any money they receive in birthday cards for their education. Once they are old enough to want to spend the money, teach the the importance of saving, spending, and giving by dividing the money they receive between those goals.

20. Coupon Book

This can be a homemade gift that’s extra special from a parent or grandparent. The coupons could include mornings at the splash pad, an afternoon making homemade popsicles, an ice cream date, or trips to the park. Kids love “cashing in” their coupons for special memories they can make together with the ones they love.

I hope you have found this list helpful and consider it when your child’s next birthday or holiday come around!

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36 Responses to Less Toys, More Memories: 20 Non-Toy Gift Ideas

  1. Rebecca September 27, 2017 at 5:40 am #

    I have young toddlers that may not find “gift cards” such a great idea. Do you have any suggestions for kids under the age of 7/8? If so, would gladly appreciate it.

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. September 27, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi Rebecca! Thank you for your comment. This list has several ideas that would be great for toddler gifts and there are many ideas listed that are not a giftcard option. Does your child enjoy exploring outside? See ideas under #8. How about bubbles, chalk or craft supplies? What about a crayon box with their name on it? How about tickets to a live show featuring their favorite characters? What about a day out to the movies or a fun day spent at the apple orchard? You could attach a “coupon” to the apple orchard and tie it to a caramel apple with a fun bow! You could also gift the ingredients to make homemade slime or homemade bubbles as well. It’s a great opportunity to spend time together, learning together and making a mess which toddlers love to do!

    • Robin Morse November 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

      Hey Rebecca,
      You can also get the ingredients to make playdough, silly putty, and just cornstarch and water play. You can get storage containers from your local dollar tree, as well as other materials to play with such as scoops, and measuring cups, and bowls. Its great for learning and measuring and lots of fun to play after.

    • E. Blair November 13, 2017 at 8:24 am #

      I printed out about 30 photos of my granddaughter’s life from birth to the present, and put them in a real photo album. In this digital age, people rarely make prints of their photos. I gave the album to my granddaughter on her third birthday and she loved it. Pictures of her newborn self, learning to walk, first time at the beach, etc. fascinated her.

      • Keira Lintz-Edwards November 13, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

        This is a fantastic idea! I’m going to do something similar to this – print out pictures of my (almost ) 6 year old daughter’s life from birth to present – but I’m also going to buy her a scrapbooking kit and have her create her own scrapbook with these pictures.

  2. Brenda September 29, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Hello!
    This is a really great informative article. Love all the ideas for reducing all the “stuff” we have and don’t need, and building memories with our kiddos and loved ones.

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:18 pm #

      Thank you Brenda!

  3. Summer Hoff October 5, 2017 at 9:38 am #

    Love this! We had grandparents give kids music lessons one year and it was awesome. Last year we opted out of presents and the entire family went on a vacation to Mexico together, making memories is much more valuable.

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:19 pm #

      I completely agree, Summer! I love the idea of a family vacation together instead of traditional gifts! How fun!

      • Nichole November 10, 2017 at 2:53 am #

        This is what we did for Thanksgiving(we have three of our four kids born in November) trip to Euro Disney. For Christmas we are going to Prague in the Czech Republic. All of our families gifted us money towards these! I may add we live in Europe so it’s not as expensive as you would think.

        • Brittany L.
          Brittany L. November 13, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

          That is amazing Nichole!

  4. Amy Smith October 19, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

    The best Christmas gift we ever got for our 3 kids was a trampoline! It has been a constant source of fun, and 10 years later is still being used constantly (even though the net around the outside was torn down and there’s a small rip). OK, so my 17-year-old son doesn’t use it much anymore, but I still like it!

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:20 pm #

      That’s awesome Amy!

  5. Sandy October 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm #

    These are great ideas..thank you..

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:20 pm #

      Thank you, Sandy!

  6. Tessa October 27, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    I asked my grandparents to get my children each their very own engraved bibles with a handwritten note in the cover. My grandparents (my kids’ great grandparents) were so excited by this idea that they did it for all of their great grandchildren!

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:21 pm #

      What a beautiful gift and keepsake Tessa! Great idea!

  7. Janet November 6, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    I’m hoping to make or buy cute pillowslips for my nieces. You have to give small things for air travelers. I liked your apron idea too. I’ve made those before. Thanks for some great ideas.

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:22 pm #

      Thank you Janet! What a cute idea with the pillowslips! I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions 🙂

    • Marie Southcombe November 13, 2017 at 9:17 am #

      Check out “tube or sausage” pillow cases on line. I made Christmas pillow cases for all my Grandchildren last year. Very easy and a lot of fun. Fun to make and fun to put interesting coloured fabric together with Christmas-themed broad cloth. They opened their gift on Christmas Eve so they could sleep on them.

  8. Alicia R November 7, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    My daughter loved this (very cheap) gift when she was little: I wrapped up a library DVD (of a new release American Girl movie) with a pack of microwave popcorn and told her we’d have a movie night together to watch the movie. She was thrilled! It works great for movies that you only want to see once. (just request the movie in advance on the library’s web site to get on the wait list)

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:24 pm #

      Alicia- what a beautiful memory you can always cherish together! Thank you for sharing! We love movie and popcorn nights at my house too!

  9. Kristin November 7, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

    Love these ideas! I’m in my 30s and my grandma still gets me a magazine subscription of my choice. I just ordered a subscription for Kazoo magazine for my niece and she LOVES it.

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 7, 2017 at 11:23 pm #

      Thank you Kristin! I think a magazine subscription is a wonderful idea! Something to look forward to every month!

  10. Kristin November 8, 2017 at 7:43 am #

    I love these ideas! I asked family to get my kids gift certificates to do things. I gave them ideas like ia yearlong pass at two local parks, horseback riding lessons and a pottery class.

  11. Bea Thompson November 8, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    I have used several of these ideas for my Grandkids! Last Christmas I gave the craft items in a large container with a snap on lid to my 4 and 7 year old grandkids. They love it! They spend hours creating!

  12. Brittany November 9, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    A years subscription to an age appropriate item- book subscriptions, quarter collections with the maps. Kind of like Burch boxes but for toddlers and kids

  13. Diedra November 9, 2017 at 11:01 pm #

    Tools and tool bags! Also, at other times of the year my husband tells the kids he will pay half of any tool they want to buy. And build stuff with them using their tools.

  14. Maria C. DiCampli November 10, 2017 at 9:03 am #

    Excellent suggestions especially for a great grandmom. I also did not participate in sleep-overs. I needed to see each child (7) in their own bed every night.

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

      Thank you Maria!

  15. PATTI CRANDALL November 10, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you, Brittany. I babysit my 6 yr old grandson, Brody. Some of these, I already do, but the rest are very hepful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Brittany L.
      Brittany L. November 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

      Thank you for reading, Patti!

  16. Morgan November 15, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

    I really like the idea of getting them each a lesson of some sort- like karate or something. But worried about giving the parents an extra activity to have to manage? The kids already do sports and such, I don’t want it to seem like a burden. I also don’t want to necessarily ruin the surprise for the parents either.

  17. Lisa November 15, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    Don’t forget about tickets to concerts and theater performances; there’s more to like than sporting events 😉

  18. Auburn Nana November 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

    For Christmas, our children requested “no toys” for our grandsons ages 3-7 so this Nana is thankful to see this post! I love the “Movie” idea and I found a cute popcorn bucket at the Dollar Tree that I am filling with a couple of DVDs, a box of microwave popcorn and a box of M&M’s. On Groupon, I found a gift certificate to our local trampoline park that I printed and inserted in a coin bank. Our older 2 grandsons love Lego but I am so put out with the price of Lego sets now days! $40 for a set that makes 1 particular item and comes with step-by-step instructions. What happened to the big buckets of Lego blocks that a kid had to be “creative” and use their own imagination? I did find a “Classic” bucket of Lego blocks on a Black Friday ad so I will be rubbing elbows with all the other shoppers to score a couple buckets of Lego blocks….wish me luck! 🙂 I love the coupon book idea, too! We did this for our moms several years ago and they LOVED redeeming the coupons all year long! Merry Christmas everyone!

  19. Laura November 19, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    A membership to a local salt room for kids is healthy and so fun! The salt room we have locally is covered in fine pink Himalayan salt with tons of toys, so it’s like taking them to the beach. The monthly kids membership is $80 and my kids have never felt better…and sleep like rocks! They have family memberships too so my husband and I can utilize the adult’s salt room. It’s technology free too. We love it!