Toys are amazing & important. They inspire children's most important work, to use their imagination, to create, and to play. However, If you’re anything like us, you have made half a gazillion trips to the Good Will to donate your children’s no longer appreciated toys and yet they still keep multiplying. In fact, most kids have so many toys, it’s hard to really fully appreciate any of them. And in two decades your children are likely not going to be reminding you of that super awesome (fill in the blank) toy they had, instead they will be asking you if you remember that one time you took them to see an amazing play or concert, that trip to Disneyland, or that time you went skiing.
In the spirit of creating more lasting memories, using less plastic, and picking up less clutter, we present you with our short list of 12 of the best non-toy gift ideas. Granted some items on the list could technically be classified as a toy, but when the educational value, is the predominant feature, we added it to the list.
A Subscription Box:
These subscription boxes pay dividends in so many ways. Your child has something to look forward to once a month/quarter instead of the gift fatigue of getting everything all at once at Christmas. It’s a god send on a rainy day. Typically, there’s an educational aspect, so you can feel good about a little enrichment. Here's several options that are work taking a look at and matching against your child's interests and age.
Explore the world one country at a time with this fun and educational geography themed subscription box for kids! Feed your child’s curiosity as they uncover exciting countries and cultures through hands-on activities, souvenirs, and books.
Seriously fun and enriching science and art projects delivered to your door and uniquely tailored to your children's age and interests.
Green Kid Crafts is empowering the next generation of environmental leaders using creative, nature-based STEAM activities. Founded by mother and environmental scientist Penny Bauder in 2010, Green Kid Crafts has sold over 1.5 million kids subscription boxes specially designed to help children exercise creativity, develop a love of discovery, and learn about the world around them.
Insect Lore really fun and engaging learning experience that takes your child through a butterfly's life journey. Take care of them as they undergo a metamorphosis over about 3 weeks and become Painted Lady Butterflies! Then enjoy releasing them into the wild.
Check out our adorable release video here:
Kids love to bake, but it's also a sneaky way to get them to practice math and reading skills by exploring cook books and measuring ingredients. Give them a themed gift set including a cook book, cookie cutters, etc. or order one that's already curated and assembled. We love this bake set from Baketivity that comes already bundled together with lots of fun stuff to excite and inspire your little chef.
You’ll probably eventually need this anyway, so here’s your chance to kill two birds with one stone and hopefully inspire their little wandering hearts to explore lands unknown. For the younger child this ride on suitcase by Trunki is amazing. Getting through the airport will feel like a ride to them and like a breeze to you.
More sleep... it's the greatest gift you can give a parent... so this is a gift list for kids, but we know who the real winners will be. :) Meet Mella, this genius sleep training alarm clock is designed to KEEP YOUR KID IN BED LONGER AND GET MORE SLEEP - MELLA uses colors and facial expressions to teach your kids when it's time for bed and time to wake up. Half an hour before it's time to wake up, MELLA will glow yellow, signaling it's almost time to start the day. When MELLA turns green, it's time to wake up! It also has 3 different sleep sounds and 5 different night light colors.
Fishing is such a worthwhile activity for kids. It teaches patience and helps to fine tune their senses by observing the water patterns, sounds, wind, shadows, etc and requires them to get outside. It also instills such a huge sense of pride when a little kid hooks their first fish. We love this light weight kids rod that comes complete with a telescopic fishing rod, spin cast reel, fishing line and fishing tackle. Everything they'll need to get out there and enjoy a few casts.
Want to see the world through their eyes? A camera is a fantastic way to spark a child’s creativity and encourage them to take notice of the beautiful moments between people, inspiring places, and interesting things. Allow them to be the director in their own childhood movie, with the lightweight video recorder which is also a favorite feature of this camera. Easily transfer pictures and movies to a more permanent location with the included memory card, allowing you to capture and archive a unique piece of your child.
Playing music is great exercise for a child’s brain, well being, and self esteem. The repetition of playing an instrument creates several benefits include increased memory skills, a sense of accomplishment, improved coordination, practice focusing, improved math skills (eg. counting beats and rhythms), improved listening and reading skills, and an outlet for self expression. The Ukulele is the perfect place to start. It’s relatively inexpensive, light weight, and a great instrument for beginners. This Kala Learn to Play Ukulele is not a toy Ukulele. It’s a real beginners instrument that is tuned and ready to play right out of the box and it comes with a carrying case, a quick start guide, and free online lessons to jump start their musical journey.
Children crave routine and items they feel are specifically & especially theirs. Many parents & kids have fallen in love with the hooded towel. It’s just the item parents need to get their little one excited about bath time and kids can’t wait to get cozied up in “their” cozy towel after their bath. The Land of the Wee Hooded Towel is truly a great choice and comes it two sizes (baby & kid) It’s made from bamboo so it’s super soft, it’s hypoallergenic, and most uniquely it comes in a waterproof carrying bag instead of throw away packing.
These loungers are fun, practical and a genius gift idea for kids. Made from soft comfy fabric, they are a great alternative to air mattresses, work well for reading or lounging, and are durable enough to handle rough and tumble kids jumping all over them. It’s important to note that the pillows must be purchased separately.
The Swurfer is a whole new kind of swing that allows kids the sensation of surfing the air. Send them outside to burn off some of that abundant kid energy on this modern & versatile standing swing. Suitable for an action packed ride for the older kids or a more mellow version for the littles. Another bonus is that all swings are made of maple and crafted in the US.
It’s the best when kids can learn while playing, not even realizing they are working on fundamental math skills :). This digital bank is a fun way to teach addition/subtraction skills and the value of currency. It’s also an awesome way to encourage goal setting by saving for something they really want.
Hopefully this list has provided some inspiration in your search for ideas on the best non-toy gifts for kids. We're sure there are lots of other ideas we haven't mentioned and we'd love to hear any other non-toy gift suggestions that have worked well for your family. If you have any knowledge bombs, please drop them in the comments.
Note: All gifts are things we love! No compensation was given in exchange for the recommendations. This post does contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission from certain purchases to help support our research and effort, bu there is no additional cost to you.