Non-Toy Alternatives For kids’ Christmas Gifts & Birthdays

I think most parents get to a point where the season of giving becomes so daunting.

For me, it is very overwhelming thinking about how all 3 of my boys’ birthdays along with Christmas are all within 3 months of each other.

Needless to say, with three little boys close in age, our house is bursting at the seams with toys, ENDLESS TOYS!!!

It definitely becomes A LOT. Even though I do multiple “toy purges” before and set up a toy rotation. It is still so overwhelming.

So my solution this year will be to encourage our family to give gifts that keep on giving all year.

However, I don’t feel like saying no toys is fair. I have another blog post coming that explains how my approach to buying toys has changed, especially since starting homeschooling.

Since my kids will end up with a big influx of toys for a small bit of the year and then nothing for the rest of the year, I have found that it leaves them in February thinking “what do we do now”. So finding ways to entertain and still make their childhood fun, exciting and memorable all year is something very important to me.

These gift ideas are the gifts that keep on giving all year long.

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1. Special Calendar with “Dates” Just for You Both

Take them for some one-on-one time with you. 

Take them to play at the park and to lunch. Or take them to pick out something special and go get ice cream. 

The main point to these ideas is to build a memory and a relationship with the child.

A fun way to plan a few of these throughout the year would be to give the child a special calendar and write down and decorate days that you plan on taking them out. A huge majority of the ideas in this post could be added to the calendar as a “date”.

However, DO NOT FORGET to add them to your own calendar. Because I know my boys look forward to special days so much and are very upset when things don’t happen. I know life happens but definitely make it a point to talk to the child to explain on their level what is going on and RESCHEDULE!!! 

2. Zoo/Aquarium Membership

My boys love going to the zoo and aquarium.

We live fairly close to both a zoo and aquarium. So this makes a great option for our family. 

This is definitely a gift that keeps on giving because with a membership you can go anytime, which is so valuable, especially if your kids love it. It creates a fun easy way to get out of the house a few times a month to do something fun. 

3. Membership to a Children’s Museum or Play Place

We live close to many different places that offer memberships or even a daily pass to take your kids to play.

Typically we will meet some friends there and my boys love it. I love it because I get to talk to my mom friends and my kids get a much needed energy release.

It also makes for a fun thing to do to get out of the house. This is definitely a gift that any kid will love.

4. Tickets to an “On Ice” Show or “Live” Show

This would make such a fun memory to take a child to.

I still have memories of my parents taking me to the circus and Disney On Ice as a child. My mom even took my sister and I to the Cheetah Girls concert with my aunt and cousin and we had a blast. 

Some of my favorite childhood memories were tickets to shows.

This is a gift that makes an amazing memory. You can even make gifting it memorable by putting the tickets in a big fancy box or one of the endless ideas you can find on Pinterest. 

5. Amusement Park Tickets

We live fairly close to an amusement park so this would make a great weekend activity for our family.

My boys love riding rides and the park we live close to does special things all year round to go to. 

Depending on what you are willing to spend you could buy the whole family tickets, a family season pass, or just the child a ticket and take them yourself (plan with the parent ahead of time) or get a gift card/ticket so the family can plan a trip for whenever works for them and know the child’s ticket is already covered. 

Also, if the family has a big trip planned to Disney, or somewhere else you could also give them a gift card or money to spend on their trip to get a special souvenir.

6. Subscription to a Monthly or Annual Box

Love Every, KiwiCo, Little Passports, & MixBox are just a few of the many options out there depending on what your child is interested in.

These are great options. Especially as a homeschooling mom, I would appreciate these because there are so many that provide learning opportunities, STEM activities, or books.

Love Every is a learning box geared toward younger children, ages 0-4 years old, that provides age-appropriate toys to help your child hit developmentally appropriate miles stones.

Kiwi Co is a subscription box that sends age-appropriate, ages 0- 14 years old, STEM activities for your child to make. These are amazing learning opportunities for kids that love subjects related to engineering.

MixBox sends you all the ingredients to make a recipe each month, which I know I would have loved as a kid. I was always baking something growing up! This would make a great subscription box to make with your kids of really any age.

7. Movie Tickets

If the child you are buying for has the temperament to sit through a movie this is a great gift option. 

My boys absolutely love going to the movies. They ask every time we pass a theater if that’s where we are going. 

This is another gift idea that you could add to a special calendar with “dates” for special one-on-one time. And take them to grab lunch or dinner as well. Even something as simple as a happy meal is something my kids love to go get.

8. Bedroom Decorations

Both of my boys love to decorate their rooms the way that they like. 

Honestly, I do not mind them making the space their own. However, with three boys the “decorations” quickly start to add up.

So even something small like a themed piggy bank, peel and stick decals, or special projector night light make great gifts for kids to put in their rooms. My boys have received both of those items and could not wait to get home to put them up in their room.

9. A Fun New Outfit


My oldest(5) definitely has developed his own fashion sense. He loves wearing jeans, cowboots, ties, flannels, button-up shirts, costumes, hats, glasses, etc. 

And my middle son(2) definitely is starting to follow his lead.

My idea for their upcoming birthdays is to do a joint “cowboy” themed party. And my husband and I will give them some new cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and a cowboy belt AKA “Cowboy Outfit” as their gift. 

With something like this you could definitely go more practical or do a costume of a favorite character that they have.

I do not mind my kids wearing cowboy clothes out, they actually blend in here in Tennessee but even if we lived in New York City I wouldn’t mind them expressing themselves, within reason, with their clothing choices. 

10. Pay for an Activity/Sport

This is an amazing gift especially for families with multiple kids because extracurricular activities, I believe, are so important for kids, and can get expensive. 

You could purchase a few piano lessons, karate classes, art class, rec. baseball season, extra gymnastics classes, club volleyball season, cooking class, one on one coaching, etc. 

The possibilities are endless for this honestly. I would definitely take planning with the parent (especially because sports and activities are a big commitment) and make sure it is something the child would be interested in.  

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