Non-Toy Christmas Gift Ideas {And Why I Like Them Better!}


For years, I did Christmas wrong.

I put so much hope into toys occupying my kids. Have you ever seen a child on a Fisher-Price package who wasn’t making his mom’s dreams come true by happily playing by himself? I literally bought into it for almost a decade. But most of those toys ended up in the black hole that is the toy room all too early. Then my kids played this super fun game where they threw their new toys from the toy box onto the floor while looking for a different toy. I would send them in to clean it up, and the cycle continued. Lather, rinse, repeat!deck-the-halls-with-toys-and-boxes

Finally, I found a better way.

I’ve discovered one or two toys carefully selected toys are more loved and played with than a big pile. I’ve also discovered a lot of non-toy gifts to be a big hit! If you’re looking to go as minimal as possible, I’ve seen a cute four-gift idea where you buy each person:

  • Something They Want
  • Something They Need
  • Something to Wear
  • and Something to Read.

Here’s a long list of non-toy gift ideas to help minimize toy clutter!

Nicer (as in, more expensive) Versions of Sports Equipment I Buy Anyway


My sports lovers always seem to need new cleats, balls, and sports socks. Getting cool-looking ones for Christmas has never disappointed! A few examples:

The greatest part? I usually find great deals, so they don’t end up being too expensive after all!

Cool Sheets, Blankets, Pillows, and Towels


This is another example of something we buy anyway, but that I will splurge for special versions of at Christmastime. My kids have loved getting fun character sheet sets, blankets with their name embroidered on them, hoodie towels, and Pillow Pets as gifts (be sure to check Hollar for Pillow Pets – when they are in stock they are as low as $2). On weekends or during school breaks, we like to have movie parties in the family room and their special pillows and blankets come in super handy! No fighting over who gets the best ones, because they all have their own!

Book Order Booksmouse-a-brownie

I love books. I want my kids to love books. But I don’t love the long wish lists they spend the entire ride home from school making. I usually opt for the free way to read – by checking books out at the library. But occasionally I let them Book Order, if they pay for their own. These make great Christmas presents, because it’s something I usually say no to (pssst. . .a lot of times they’re cheaper on Amazon.) Have your kids circle their favorites, then do a quick price check!

Some they want this year:

If You Give a Mouse a Brownie $11.24 (book order price $15)
LEGO Nexo Knights with Minifigure $12.18 (book order price $20)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11: Double Down $7.92 (book order price $8.50)
Pokemon Deluxe Essential Handbook $7.19 (book order price $10)



Summer Camp
Depending on their age, my kids pay for up to half of what it costs to send them to summer camp. Gifting summer camp always brings a smile. Not only do they get to go, they don’t have to help foot the bill!

Concert tickets
Not sure what to get your teenager? How about an awesome night out! You could also include a note that says, “Dinner’s on me!” and go out to eat before the show!

Tickets to Sporting Events
This has been a great gift. Not only for my kids, but also for my husband! I once bought tickets for when his favorite team came into town to play the locals. They were a huge hit! This could also include dinner out.

Family Vacations
Gifting a family vacation can feel more like simply announcing a family vacation on Christmas Day. Here are some more creative, and tangible, ways to help it feel more like a gift!

  1. Give duffel bags or suitcases with a note attached. For example, “Use this when we go to SanDiego over Spring Break!” (Just make sure everyone opens them at the same time!)
  2. If you’re headed to Hawaii, gift Hawaiian shirts or leis.
  3. Hiking boots or sunglasses if you’ll be visiting National Parks.
  4. See my Disneyland Vacation Gift Idea for more ideas!

Board Games


While board games aren’t technically toys, they do have pieces that can end up strewn about. My kids love to play games thought, and they do take decent care of them. Plus, games promote family together time, which is a gift for me!

Games for Younger Children:
Boggle Junior
A Snail’s Pace Race
Pancake Pile-Up!

Games for Older Children:
Bang! The Dice Game (There is also a card version, but my family likes the dice one!)
Ticket to Ride

Games for the Whole Fam:
Don’t Make Me Laugh
Pie Face!

Rec Center Passes


The gift that gets you moving! We’ve purchased a family rec center pass in the past, which was truly a gift that kept on giving. From the climbing wall to the basketball and racquetball courts to the swimming pools, indoor track, and workout machines, this was a healthy alternative to going to eat when we needed to get out of the house!


Why would I buy movies when we can stream them on Netflix or Amazon Prime? All that streaming has caused my cable company to send me a warning that if we go over our allotment one more time, we’ll be forced to upgrade our plan to one that costs almost double! In this case, buying a DVD of something my kids repeatedly watch on Netflix ends up being cheaper! Here are a few favorites, starting at just $4.99!

Little Einsteins
LeapFrog: Letter Factory (this also comes in a double feature set including LeapFrog: Math Adventure to the Moon)
Paw Patrol
Sofia the First
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Odd Squad

We’ve got a whole other post with 100+ Gifts Ideas that Aren’t Toys here!

What Are Your Favorite Non-Toy Gifts to Give?

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