It’s birthday season! Here’s a freshened up version of my Non-Toy Gift Guide!
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, princesses, Barbies, Shopkins, 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 conflicted 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 want to teach my children about giving. About how other kids need these toys more than they do. 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 children to know these things deeply. I want them to see these things with their 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 kiddos to be so accustomed to having so many toys that they don’t appreciate the ones they have.
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. This is a great list to pass on to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and anyone else who is gifting to your precious child!
40 Non-Toy Gift Guide
1. Zoo Membership
The gift that keeps on giving! We go 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. Aquarium Membership
The aquarium in Gatlinburg or the Chattanooga aquarium are both a short drive away that make for a fun day! Kids love the aquarium.
3. Children’s Museum Membership
If you’re local, check out the Oak Ridge Children’s Museum or make the trek to Chattanooga for a day trip to enjoy their children’s museum. There’s lots of fun stuff for children to do, learn, and touch.
4. 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.
5. Bookstore Gift Card
Letting little ones or big ones pick out the books they want is a great gift.
6. Chick-fil-A Gift Card
Fun, delicious lunch for kids and a good time without the money out of mom and dad’s pocket.
7. 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!
8. 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).
9. Better Yet, Take Them Shopping for New Clothes
10. 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!
11. 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.
12. Take a Day Trip
The aquarium, Cades Cove, 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.
13. 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. One of the wonderful things about East Tennessee is the beautiful nature all around us.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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!
19. Gift Cards
Two 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!
20. 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.
21. A Playset
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.
22. Classes — Gymnastics, Ballet, Batting Practice, etc.
Pay for something that’s more expensive that they really want to do.
23. 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.
25. Their Own Plant or Pet
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. Obviously a pet is a much bigger deal than a plant. 🙂
26. 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 (The Home Depot kids’ workshops or try Woodcraft here in Knoxville) and build something together. This makes for a fun bonding time and something they will treasure.
27. 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!
29. 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.
30. 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!
Their favorite CD, iTunes downloads, anything you know they love.
32. A Concert or Play
Buy them concert tickets if they are older or take younger kids to a fun concert, play, or show they will love.
33. A Car Wash Booklet!
Perfect for teenagers to learn and practice taking care of their vehicle and keeping it clean.
34. Decor for Their Room
When I was a little girl, my aunt took me to pick out a painting to hang above my bed. That painting hung above my bed for 12 years before I moved out for college. And I always loved it and always thought of her.
35. Plan Something Fun for Them to do with their Friends!
This is especially great for older kids and teenagers. Make plans for them to do something fun and plan it out to include their favorite friends. They’ll love it and think you’re really cool!
One of the greatest gifts a little kid can be given.
Another childhood favorite. Good for use at all times day or night.
38. Night Light
Make it something fun or especially unique to the child you’re buying for and they will love it! Children and night lights go together like spaghetti and meatballs.
There are so many cute, decor-matching options out there right now. These make fun little hide outs for kids.
40. Gym Membership
Little kids can have the chance to play with friends at the gym and older kids can do the same. What better way to teach a healthy lifestyle to teenagers and children than to model exercise for them. Pick a gym with a pool and waterslide and they may just think you’re the best!
Happy non-toy gift giving! Let us know if you have any suggestions to add to this list by leaving a comment!
Do you have any ideas for older boys? Ages 16 and 21?
I struggle with meaningful gift giving every year. This past Christmas my husband and I gave our 10 yr old daughter a cookbook, oven mitt & an apron. Now, we spend quality time in the kitchen bonding, cooking & baking. For our 13 yr old son, we started a toolbox for him. I think this next year it will be plans to build something!
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