Gift Ideas for Kids – that aren’t Toys!


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non toy gift ideas for kids



A friend recently asked me what a good gift would be for a 3 year old boy. Her daughter had been invited to a birthday party, and she had no idea what to get him. And since I have 2 little guys, she wanted to pick my brain.


My first thought was to tell her not give him a toy. I had just gotten done decluttering our toys, sorting and cleaning out the toys my boys don’t play with anymore. I didn’t want to recommend a toy to her because really, kids don’t need a lot of toys.


I have found that my boys usually play with their favorites over and over, and everything else on the toy shelf is forgotten.


Toys aren’t a bad thing, but when our kids have too many toys, they can get overwhelmed by the options. When that happens, they end up getting everything out, make a huge mess, and come out of their room 5 minutes later because they ‘can’t find anything to do’ and they’re bored.


Our favorite toys around here are a few open-ended toys – things like wooden blocks, train tracks, Mega Bloks, and Magformers – toys they can use to build, take apart and build something different, over and over.


Open-ended toys let kids’ imaginations take over and create new things all the time.


So now when my boys get invited to a birthday party, I have a go-to list of fun gift ideas that they can pick out for their friend so we’re not giving them a toy they don’t need and probably won’t play with that much anyway. All of these things make a fun present to give for a birthday or at Christmas without contributing to clutter in its new home.


All of these non-toy gift ideas made the cut for one of these reasons:


  • it encourages outdoor play
  • it encourages creativity
  • it can be used up (bubbles, paint, coloring books, etc)
  • it’s affordable (aka, cheap)



non toy gift ideas for kids



My Top 7 Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Kids:


1). Coloring books –  We LOVE coloring on these over-sized coloring sheets by Crayola. They are a fun spin on a traditional coloring book and twice the size. They come in so many options, from Disney Princesses, to Mickey Mouse, Frozen, Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. A book of coloring sheets and a pack of markers make a great gift and are so much fun!


2). PlayDoh – PlayDoh is a favorite at our house! (We even take it with us to restaurants so the boys have something fun to play with while we wait for our meals!) Sparkle PlayDoh is a fun sparkly option, and PlayDoh Plus is a softer version of the original stuff, and a great choice for a toddler or preschooler.


3). Magnetic Sand – This stuff can be sort of messy, but it’s so much fun to play with! You can use it to build masterpieces, squish it, or just let it run through your fingers over and over. It comes in a bunch of different colors, and is actually pretty easy to clean up. It’s also a great STEM activity for kids.


4). Bubbles – Bubbles are probably the cheapest and most fun gift a kid can get. This no-spill container is perfect for little kids who want to do it on their own. These bubble wands also make a fun party favor so everyone can get in on the action. Glove-A-Bubbles make it easy for little kids to make lots of bubbles by themselves. And Bubble Wand for BIG bubbles for the bigger kids who still love their bubbles.


5). Sidewalk ChalkSidewalk chalk makes such a fun gift! And it even comes in glitter, neon, and tie-dye, and washable sidewalk paint for older kids.


6). Stickers books – Stickers are another great birthday gift idea for kids. These Melissa and Doug reusable sticker pads make them last a little longer and they come with fun pages with different scenes to put the stickers on.


7). Bubble Bath – My boys have always loved having a lot of bubbles in their bath, and it’s a fun little gift they get each other for their birthdays. These water color changing tabs and bath time crayons are super fun too, and make a great birthday or Christmas gift.


The best part of these non-toy gift ideas is that they have a sort of ‘shelf life’. Once they’re used up, you’re done. No toy left on the floor to trip over, or forgotten in the bottom of a toy box. It serves its purpose, is fun for the child, and once it’s gone (or dried up) it isn’t left laying around creating clutter.


It’s a win-win, and makes gift giving (and receiving!) even more fun!