Now before I hear the boos from the grandparents and shouts of “Grinch!” from the crowd, hang with me here. You know we love a good toy at our house. I actually have gift guides here, here, and here for perusing at your leisure. I just thought maybe there might be one or two other people left on the internet not wanting another must-have toy gift guide clogging their inbox after this weekend. So after that lengthy disclaimer, onward with the toy-free gifts.
2| Classes. I know every grandparent ever is probably going to groan at this suggestion as a gift card for ballet classes doesn’t have the same wow factor as unwrapping a shiny new toy. I can promise you mom (and the child!) will be so thrilled with the gift though (obviously worth mentioning here, the child should be interested in the music/sport/activity) when they get started. If you really need that big unwrapping moment, I’d suggest wrapping up a equipment that might be necessary for the class (leotard, song book, cleats).
3| Art supplies. I know technically this could fall under a toy or a thing but we just invested in some really nice (read:$$) art supplies for our kiddos. They are lovelier to use, the kids seem to sense that they’re being trusted with quality items and act accordingly (the 2 year old is not participating yet). So, I’d venture to say, you can’t go wrong with watercolor paper, paints, and a beautiful paint jar holder. Plus, if they turn out to be the next Picasso, imagine your name being mentioned whenever they talk about getting their start. 😉
4| Handi-crafts. My kids love to make things out of trash (Amazon box pile, I’m looking at you). I ran across this cool weaving loom (large one here) when researching projects for our semi-homeschool year (read more about that here). I like that they can make something on it, and it doesn’t involve 6000 or so plastic rings ala the rainbow loom (there is not enough wine in Napa to make me let that in my house). I’d guess best for five and up. This flower press is pretty charming too, easy for almost any age to use with grown up help.
5| Museum, garden, or zoo pass. We would love to have any of these under our tree. We love the Natural History Museum and spend every Friday at the Huntington Gardens (I bet almost every large city has a botanical gardens!). Think locally, if you’re in SoCal like us, are Disneyland passes in your budget? I can tell you, you’ll be the belle of the Christmas Ball with that kind of gift! Indoor play spaces are also great for the under two crowd, we have a this one, this one, and this one in our town.
6| Magazines subscription. Last year we subscribe to Dot magazine for our kids and rave about it to anyone who will listen. It is the most charming and fun, quarterly magazine. Dot is aimed at the 3-5 crowd and their sister mag, Anorak is for the 6+ crew.
7| Events! Look at your local event calendar ahead for the year. Is there a touring Legoland coming to town? Awesome! Disney on Ice? A cool show or ballet coming to your theater (even high school or local troupes!)? I can promise you that even the smallest of kids will love a special night out with you.
8| Movie night. Maybe you don’t have large events in your city (or the budget!), an old-fashioned movie night will be a treat too. Plan a day at the theater, they’ll be happy as clams with a bucket of popcorn and you by their side. You can also make this an at-home version: wrap up a bowl full of theater candy, microwave popcorn and their favorite new movie.
9| Charity donation for a farm animal. My mother in law buys the kids various animals (chicks/goat/pigs) through ELCA good gifts every year and they send us these little ornaments with a sweet thank you. Our kids love farming so this one gets a lot of mileage. Tread carefully here as you don’t want to disappoint anyone but maybe they already have a favorite charity (local or nationally) that they’d like to have a donation sent to. We also love Compassion International and Samaritan’s Purse.
10| Cookie day with you. Pair this adorable set of aprons, a dozen cookie cutters (the dinos can’t be beat!) and a date circled on the calendar to make cookies (and more importantly, spend time with you!)
11| Cultivate a hobby (and a garden!). As I mentioned, our city kids are enamored with all things farm. We planted a little veggie and herb garden this spring (raised bed here) and it was a hit all year long. Wrap up a raised bed or a window sill container if space is an issue. These garden tools are still all the rage at our house.
Bonus, I just can’t not get them a special toy, gifts. Basically, non-toy, toys. These are ones my kids always come back to.
- Magna-tiles. Even if they have the mega-set, there are always cool new shape extension packs to add to.
- Bikes/scooters/outdoor stuff. I’d recommend getting pre-approval from mom and dad, but my kids ride their bikes every day (to school + park). They love tooling around the backyard too. Our bikes here (similar). We also have loved these spin-y little chair things. Water tables and bubble machines might also be a good fit based on age.
- Dress up gear. All of my kids love dressing up. Our favorites are these tutus (round up here), astronaut helmets and this set of emergency responders looks fun (firefighters are our fav!). This cape and mask set is amazing.
- Fort building kit. I made the kids play silks awhile ago (still going strong!), so it would be fun to pair those with these fort clips. For bonus points, wrap the silks un-dyed and do the project together!
- Puzzles. Always a hit, no matter how old you are. This is one of our favorite brands, these are great for the under five set.
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