Non-Toy Gifts for Kids – Your Modern Family

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non toy gifts

Non-Toy Gifts for Kids – Your Modern Family 🎄

A golden circle with text in it.

I love Non-Toy Gifts for kids!  Of course, toys are wonderful… educational, creative, opening up a whole world of the play, but today I am sharing the best non-toy gifts.

Play is essential when it comes to a child’s development, so I would never discourage playing with toys, but I just try not to make TOYS the focus of what our kids are receiving.   Of course, there is a place for toys. 

They make great stocking stuffers for kids during the holidays, fun birthday gifts, and they are just fun to play with sometimes…  I am a play therapist, after all.   Playing with toys while working with children is literally my job (because learning through play is an amazing thing!)

Sign for 50 Non-Toy gifts.

However…  I also love to think of birthday and Christmas ideas that are not toys.  Toys are also overflowing in our house, and if you are reading this, I’m guessing it is the same in your house, too.   Every year, I take my own Declutter Course, where I take time to go through our house & donate toys, but they come back every birthday & holiday.

Too many toys? 

Just this week, I was in our playroom looking for toys to donate and I realized that our kids rarely play with any of them anymore.   Sure, they want toys.  They ask for toys.  They see them in the store or at a friend’s house and feel like they can’t live without them.

I don’t want Christmas or birthdays to be ONLY about the toys.  I want them to get past the “want” for toys and have a “want” to help others, a “want” to create memories, a “want” to see the real reason for the season.

Kids have so much stuff.  Too much stuff.   (It’s not just the kids… we have too much stuff, too.)

Toys, toys & more toys.  Trucks, cars, barbies, legos, Princesses, Stuffed Animals, Pokemon, Shopkins, Nerf Guns, Droids, trains, dinosaurs, baby dolls (times three!).  While I feel so blessed that we are able to give our kids so much, it is a conversation that we have often: when do you say enough is enough?

When do you say “No” when you know that you can say “Yes”?   There are children in our own town that are sleeping on a cold floor tonight and our kids have three of the same toy… a toy that another child would be ecstatic to receive. 

I want our children to know that there is more to giving than just toys. I know that it’s fun for kids to have new toys, but I don’t want them to stop appreciating (or remembering) what they are being given, because it has become so routine for them.  


This year, when I was thinking about kid gift ideas, I knew that I wanted to think beyond giving gifts that are just toys.

Today, I am sharing my favorite ideas for non-toy gifts for kids.  These could be Christmas gifts for kids, Easter gifts, Valentine’s Day gifts for kids or birthday gifts.  Really- these work anytime and they are so much more meaningful than any toy that you could buy them. 

Some of these were gifted to us from companies or friends, while the rest are ideas that we have tried over the years.   I also included a few affiliate links to make it easier for you to find the things in the post below.   I hope that you love these gift ideas for kids as much as I love sharing them. 🙂

Ps- If you don’t want to over-do it on the gifts, be sure to check out what we have done in the past: Our Four -Gift Christmas. 

When I find myself buying too many toys for the kids,  I have had to stop and ask myself:  Why am I buying them so much?

  • Was it because it was cute, fun or a good deal?
  • We saw a sale advertised on a commercial or on social media and thought it was a great deal?
  • Was it because I love that smile on their faces?
  • Did all of these things have more to do with ME than THEM?

Sometimes I feel like we buy just to buy.  “What does ___ want?”   It happens at Christmas, for birthdays, for graduations from certain grades.  We buy because we think that we should.

That’s when I usually stop myself and ask: In the long run, would these toys better their lives?   Maybe a few, but not as many as Santa brought as well as all of our relatives that shower our kids with toys.

With four kids, 3 boys and a girl, we have accumulated a lot of stuff… you can find most of it in the toybox or in one of the storage ottomans in the living room.   That’s kind of where it sits.  

Yes, they play with these things from time to time, but more often than not, they are playing some kind of made-up game, or hide & seek, or you’ll find them outside playing outside on the swings, making forts, or playing football in our backyard.

Non-Toy Gifts for Kids

On the other hand, our daughter loves playing with toys (dolls, etc…).   She is the perfect age for toys right now, but if you ask her to play ‘family’ or dress-up, she’d choose that any day of the week.

A fun way to declutter & donate 

I recently heard a great idea for the holiday season.  It is about a Santa Bag, but you could use this anytime (Birthday Bag, Easter Bag, Summer Bag, etc…).  Personally – I loved the idea!

Santa (or mom or dad…  or the Easter Bunny…)  brings a big bag the week before the big day.  Your family fills it with toys and leave the bag for him.  That night, Santa comes back and takes them home.  His elves fix the toys up and deliver them to children all over the world.
This could work any time of year.

50+ Non-Toy Gifts for Kids

What if we … stopped?   What if instead of buying so many toys, we invested our money in memories?  When thinking about Christmas gift ideas for kids, or birthday gifts, etc…   ask yourself this question: What if we really aimed for memory-makers as birthday gifts, or vacations or holiday gifts, and more useful Christmas gifts for kids?   

Check out the list of non-toy kid gift ideas below…


non toy gifts


Non-Toy Christmas Presents for Kids of All Ages

These are great for birthdays, gifts for the holidays (like Easter or Valentine’s Day Gifts for Kids),  or for any special occasions. 

Here are some non-toy gift ideas to get you started:

  1. Make them a photo album of memories from the year (use an album where it has room for you to write and share why you loved that moment.)  Our kids each have a “firsts” book where I have a picture of their “firsts” and I write what it was right beside it.   You could even try it in something like this.   OH- and one year we made an album of family members that the kids can “decorate”.  
  2. A blanket with a photo on it (how fun to cuddle up with this reminder every night).  Our daughter sleeps with her every night (it has pictures on squares that are sewn together to make a beautiful quilt- made by her great aunt)
  3. Subscription boxes are great because they are a gift that just KEEPS giving.  Another one that we like is our subscription to Creation Crate – this is a great little box that comes every month & introduces the kids to a world of STEM complete with robotics, experiments & more.  Our kids love it!   I give this one as a gift quite often.
    (At some point I need to make a gift guide with only subscription boxes because they make great gifts!) 
  4. Kiddoz Measuring Cups & Cookbook – have little ones who love to help out in the kitchen? They’ll love these 6 cute characters themed measuring cups, and a cookbook filled with 20 illustrated recipes that use a never before seen language of images and characters.
    Kids can easily follow the recipes being that they are extremely visual and kids don’t even have to know how to read to follow. The system teaches kids as young as 4 years old how to cook healthy meals for the whole family in a fun and easy way with little to no adult supervision needed.
  5. $5 McDonald’s gift card & a new set of pajamas…. then go out together and get ice cream in your pajamas with your kids.  Our kids LOVE this!  (We stay in the car, get our ice cream, park and eat and chat…)
  6. Photo mug – so we gave each of our kids a photo mug a few years ago.  It doesn’t sound like a super exciting gift, but our kids LOVE them.  They use them every night for ice cream instead of using a bowl (it’s usually their snack after dinner… mine, too).  The mug has pictures of the kids playing in the lake over the summer and each of them has a special picture on their mug as part of the collage.
  7. A Piggy Bank with money in it (personally I’d base the amount inside on the child’s age, with older kids getting a bit more money.  I’d also base it on what other gifts they had received)
  8. A personalized book.  This is always going to be a favorite of mine because I still have mine from when I was little.   I give these as gifts for birthdays and give them to our own children for special occasions, as a way to remember what special thing happened that year.   
  9. A Magazine Subscription.  Our kids have several of these:  Handyman, Sports Illustrated for kids, and Highlights are just a few. 
  10. Membership to a local museum (we have a kid-museum close & the kids love it!  It is a super fun place where they can explore and learn.)   I think that it makes for a great day out and if you get a membership, you can go so often and it pays for itself after just a few visits.
  11. A butterfly kit (my sister in law ordered Ethan a butterfly kit last year and our whole family loved watching them start as caterpillars and end as butterflies)
  12. Tickets to an event.   My mom took our son to the Hip-Hop Nutcracker last year and he loved it.   My parents have season tickets to the plays in Charlotte and go every other Sunday.   They have kid-tickets, too, so that would be a great way to spend a Sunday with your family.
  13. A Doodle book like this one… and a little art kit to go with it. Arts and craft gifts are always a hit because they work for anyone.
  14. A membership to Netflix.  Our in-laws gave us a year-long membership, as a Christmas gift one year, and it was a great gift!
  15. A gift certificate to get their ears pierced.   My friend did this for my other friend (after asking permission) and it was a HUGE hit.
  16. Take them somewhere.   Go hiking, on a picnic, anywhere that gives you one on one time.
  17. Classes at a local gym, art studio, dance studio, soccer clinic… whatever they are into.   I love giving lessons as a gift because they truly learn from it.
  18. Passes to an amusement park.  If you have a park close to your house, chances are the kids will use it again & again.
  19. A gift certificate for books – Order a gift card for a gift of education or order a gift-set.
  20. Clothes.   Kids like them, but parents appreciate it. 🙂
  21. Shoes – our kids go through shoes so fast! (or find some adorable shoes, clothing & accessories here)
  22. A monthly subscription to something like Kiwi Crate where they send cool STEM projects for your kids every month.  This is so much fun & every month your kids get to open a new gift!
  23. Gift cards to a movie and a few snacks to go with it.  You could even give them a themed-gift for this one.  Example: Gift cards to the movies to see the new stars wars movie & give it to them with a Star Wars activity book.
  24. A FUN umbrella.   You could even get a personalized umbrella like this one. I say this one because our kids have broken at least an umbrella each, but they love them so much that they’ve used them even when they were broken! lol!!
  25. Their own kitchen tools.  Our son asked for his own set of kid kitchen knives last year and he has spent a lot of time cooking in the kitchen since.
  26. Recipe cards and ingredients.  (Make cookies or even playdough – here’s a playdough easy recipe)
  27. A sleeping bag and or a Going to Grandma’s Tote a coupon for a sleepover at Grandma’s house (or Aunt’s house… from the person giving the gift).  Or a coupon for a night to have a cousin or friend stay at your house.   I also like to give our kids a new night light to take for the trip. 🙂
  28. Coupon books for things like “One coupon good to skip chores today.”  I know that our kids would LOVE this one.
  29. A tea party.  A few years ago, my mom & I went to a ‘tea party’ at a little tea shop and it was so much fun.  We shopped around, drank tea, ate the snacks & talked.   It was great and I can’t wait to start taking Allie.  
    This Christmas we will have our first one.
  30. Sewing kit or cake-decorating kit (perfect for kids starting a new hobby).  You can give them their first sewing machine, too! 
  31. A “five senses toy” … something to smell (soap), something to hear (tickets to a play), something to taste (favorite cookies from a bakery), something to see (a book), something to touch (new winter gloves)
  32. Sports Box Co. – The perfect gift for kids who love sports. Training aids, gear, accessories and more delivered to their door!  Get a box based on your child’s favorite sport.  These mystery boxes are awesome!   
    We have the lacrosse, baseball & basketball boxes.
  33. A new bath towel or bathrobe.   Our kids love getting their special bath towels, like sharks, princesses or even pirate cat towels.
  34. Dress up clothes- I love when kids play & use their imagination.   Give them your old prom dresses, etc…  Allie loves to use mine!
  35. Mini Golf gift certificate.   This is not my favorite thing to do, but kids LOVE it, so I try to love it.
  36. Craft supplies in a Craft Box.   Make the kids an invention box (here is ours) – it will give them hours of creativity.
  37. Snacks – what kid don’t love fun snacks?   Try a cookie jar filled with cookies – now THAT would be a fun Christmas treat… for the kids! haha!
  38. Nail polish and play make-up.
  39. Tattoos – our kids love to use temporary tattoos.    They are so much fun! (We have this kit) 
  40. Weighted blankets.   They are said to help kids sleep better (our kids have them).  We just ordered two here. 
  41. Calendar already filled out with fun things: playdates, special one on one time, birthdays, lunch-date, movie nights.
  42. Chick-Fil-A calendar (it comes with deals every month)
  43. Watch – I seriously don’t know any child that doesn’t love wearing a watch (at least for a week!)
  44. Your favorite book from when you were their age.   Re-read it with your child (or grandchild) and then talk about it.
  45. Board Games that kids will love.  We like to play this game with the kids & they love it, too!
  46. Socks– our kids LOVE to wear fun socks!
  47. Movie for the car.  If you have a TV in the car, a movie for the car is perfect!  I pick up $3 movies when I see them on sale & save them for road trips.
  48. Headphones (our son asked for these ones a few years ago and they have been the best investment!).
  49. Room decor.  I love paintings for the kids’ rooms (or personalized things to hang in their room.)
  50. “Your Day” – give your kids a day to pick whatever they want.  Call it “Your Day”.  Give them a big poster with a bunch of different ideas.
  51. An all-time favorite family gift idea would be to take a weekend family vacation.   I told my husband that I wanted to give each of the kids a little slip of paper that says “Grab your bathing suits!  We’re going to Hilton Head for the weekend!”
  52. Money … in one-dollar bills.  Give a child ten one-dollar-bills and see a huge smile on their face!
  53. Paint your own pottery trip.
  54. Painting Lessons.  We have a place nearby called Painting with a Twist and you go in, take snacks and paint on a canvas with step by step directions.
  55. Slippers.   My favorite thing is slippers- I hate to be barefoot, especially in the winter, so I wear flip-flops (that I save just for the house) or slippers.  
    ps- Here are the slippers that I have (they are such fun, aren’t they?!   They were a gift from my mom. 🙂 





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