Why Are Non Toy Gifts for Kids Important?
My girls are obsessed with “
surprise eggs.” If you’re a fellow parent attempting to raise children in the Youtube-era, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The problem is that you can buy a LOT of
surprise toys before you realize the truth of the situation:
Those kinds of toys are filled with junk that will be tossed away as soon as the fun of opening them has fizzled out.
This past Christmas, our girls’ wish lists were filled with one variation of these “surprise” products after another.
While we inevitably ended up purchasing a couple of them, my husband and I couldn’t bring ourselves to spend a buttload of money on useless crap that would find its way to the trash can sooner rather than later.
We decided instead that this was the year we would take back Christmas.
Instead of spoiling them with an endless collection of toys, we chose to focus on something more important–family gift experiences for kids (and adults!).
The Importance of Family Gift Experiences
What exactly do I mean by family gift experiences, you might be wondering? Well, in our case, we chose to focus on shopping for something we can do together: camping.
Rather than buying fifty million electronic toys that will probably
delay their social development anyway, we went with alternatives like binoculars, sleeping bags, and games that could be played in nature.
Then, right after Christmas, we all went on our first family camping trip.
It was incredible sharing this time together with our little ones. Even better, they weren’t even asking for the other new toys that we had to leave behind at home!
Purchasing experience gifts for kids, or even Montessori toys for babies , fosters an environment that’s grounded in development, creativity, stronger relationships , and education.
Not only will you have fewer toys scattered throughout the house, but you can find comfort in the positive effects these alternative presents are providing your children.
Gifts for the Child Who Has Everything: The Top 10 Experience Gifts for Kids
Now that we’ve covered the “why” regarding non-toy gifts for kids, it’s time to dig into the “what”:
What types of experience gifts for kids will your child actually enjoy?
I know what you’re probably thinking. It doesn’t matter how pretty I make the packaging or exciting I make the opportunity seem; there’s no way my kid’s going to just forget about the fact that there are fewer toys for them to open.
You might be surprised how much they’ll actually like our top 10 experience gifts for kids!
research has shown that people find experience gifts to be more thoughtful than material gifts. And while your child might be too young to focus how thoughtful a gift might be, they will definitely remember the experience you had together for years to come.
1. Tickets to an Aquarium or Zoo
What kid (or adult, for that matter) doesn’t like being near live animals?
If you have a cool zoo or aquarium in your local area, why not get your little ones tickets to check it out?
What kid doesn’t love animals?
Many of these types of locations even offer annual memberships that will keep the fun coming all year long!
2. Subscription Boxes for Kids
The great thing about subscription boxes for kids is the vast collection of different options available. Whether your son or daughter is into technology, science, crafting, reading, or more, you’re sure to find the perfect box to fit their interests.
Subscription boxes are a great way to get kids engaged.
Some of the most popular options available include:
KiwiCo: Each box comes with various science, technology, art, and math (STEAM) sets for interactive learning, along with a book that’s on theme with the box.
Little Passports: From geography to science, Little Passports boxes include toys, kits, and books about different subjects and cultures from around the world.
Green Kid Crafts: Every box includes 4-6 STEAM activities involving nature.
Bitsbox: Bitsbox is perfect for little coders! These kits include a variety of technology and computer-themed and/or coding kits.
3. Movie Tickets + At-Home Movie Nights
Is there something special your child’s been wanting to see? Then why not treat them to a movie night at the local theater?
Family movie nights are fun for all!
Another option would be to put together an at-home movie night kit. It could include things like a new movie,
an at-home popcorn maker, and candy.
Who says that experience gifts for kids have to be for a single thing? Instead, why not give your little ones a whole bunch of options to choose from?
A DIY coupon book is a great way to give your child a wide range of different non-toy gifts for kids. You can even find companies that create easy-to-use
coupon book templates to help get you started.
Are you stumped for ideas about what to include in the book? Here are some of our favorites:
One Day with No
Chores for Kids Movie Night
Trip to the Library
Lunch at their favorite restaurant
Stay Up Past Their Bedtime
Favorite Meal for Dinner
Ice Cream Date
5. Magazine Subscriptions
One of the great things about magazines for kids, like
Highlights and , is the wide range of different activities they offer. National Geographic Kids
My girls receive an annual subscription to
Highlights, for example, and there are always cute activities, games, stories, and educational opportunities in every issue.
A magazine subscription as an experience gift for kids is also something a little bit different than just
handing them a book.
Magazines are a great way for kids to learn so many things! Plus, they can be used for projects.
Plus, it comes every month, so they have something to run out and check the mailbox for!
6. Science Kits
Do you have a budding scientist on your hands? Are you raising the next Albert Einstein or Marie Curie? If so, they’ll love the different experiments they can perform with a
One of the secretly great things most parents love about science kits is the fact that your child will be having tons of fun and learning at the same time. Just be sure not to tell them they’re actually doing something educational!
7. Tickets to See a Live-Action Favorite Character
Disney on Ice or Peppa Pig Live, there’s sure to be a character-based show your little ones would love to see!
There’s something so magical about taking a favorite character off of the tv screen and seeing them in person, and it’s a joy for you, mama, to see that little face light up when Peppa comes to life…
8. Skill Learning Classes
Has your child been asking about horseback riding lessons or piano classes? Do they have a special interest in learning to cook or bake?
Their birthday or Christmas could be a great chance to make those experiences happen for them!
It’s fairly easy to track down gift cards (or make your own) for these kinds of classes. Plus, taking your child to their class of choice will give you time together to bond.
Sharing in something that
they love together gives you more to talk about and more chances to engage with them on their level.
Does your kid enjoy cooking or baking? How about cooking classes as a cool gift experience?
In keeping with our quest to find non-toy gifts for kids this past Christmas, we got a bright idea–why not get them the pet that they have been begging for?
If you agree as parents that your child(ren) is mature enough and ready for a pet, and that you are on board with this commitment, then giving a pet could be a great option for your family.
While animals can be a controversial option (
Please don’t buy a pet you plan just to give away once the novelty has worn off!), they can also be the piece de resistance when it comes to experience gifts for kids.
Not only are pets cute, cuddly, and fun to play with, but they also teach our children lessons in responsibility and care.
10. Tickets to a Theme Park
Okay, all you Disney parents out there, this one’s for you! What child wouldn’t love to receive tickets to a theme park as a gift?
Many parents choose to announce this gift through material gifts such as giving a
Disney suitcase or matching t-shirts for the whole family. These material gifts can be low-cost and can get the child excited for their upcoming experience!
Added bonus: this is an ideal family gift experience that parents will love just as much as the kids.
Kids and parents alike will have a blast with this!
AKA me…I would love this gift ( wink wink ).
Experience Gifts for Toddlers
While non-toy gifts for older kids don’t seem so hard to make a reality, finding experience gifts for toddlers isn’t always as simple.
Thankfully, though, our awesome community of moms has helped us build a list of great
gifts for 2 year olds that any toddler on your list will love:
Piggy Banks: Piggy banks are a classic way to teach your kids basic money-saving techniques and responsibility with money. Plus, they’re adorable!
Plush Night Lights: Is your little one scared of the dark? This soft nightlight is a great way to help put them at ease with an experience gift for kids that they’re sure to love. Memberships to Children’s Museums: this one benefits your child AND you! Spending quality time at the science or art museum is a go-to for us in terms of family bonding. It really is the perfect gift for toddlers.
Musical Instruments: Whether it’s a toy piano or a set of natural-wood instruments, allowing your kids to make some music is always fun. Just don’t forget to add some earplugs to the shopping cart, as well!
Water Spray Sprinklers: Are you looking for a simple way to have some outdoor fun? Spray sprinklers are fun, affordable, and easily hooked up to your garden hose.
Don’t forget to let grandparents and aunts and uncles in on the fun gift experiences!
Toy-Less Presents that Parents Will Love, Too
Given the rush of our day-to-day lives, it’s not always easy to find the time to carve out special family moments with your loved ones.
Despite the everyday chaos, it’s important to find ways to spend quality time together that you and your children deserve.
In fact, did you know research shows that there are great
benefits of family time for parents and kids, such as:
Improved conflict resolution
Enhanced mental health
Instead of just focusing on experience gifts for kids, why not think about options the whole family will love?
Some of our favorite ideas for a family outing experience include vacations, cooking classes, or a
family adventure book. Whatever you end up choosing, however, just make sure it’s something that will appeal to the whole family.
Giving Memories Instead of Gifts (Because Toys Won’t Last Forever!)
It’s always fun to see the look on your kids’ faces when they open up a toy they really love. Excitement aside, are they really going to remember the surprise egg (those damn things!) they got for their 6th birthday?
It’s sad to say, but probably not.
What they will remember, though, are the first dance lessons they ever took, the family trip to Disney, and the movie nights spent curled up on the couch munching on popcorn.
And if you can’t quit the idea of material gifts (we understand!) consider purchasing
gifts that give back to help put your mind at ease about where your money is going.
But if you still you want to create memories that will last a lifetime (and we hope you do!) give experiences over gifts. While your kid might mourn the 25th baby doll she didn’t get for a few minutes, the joy they’ll feel spending time with their parent(s) will make it worth it in the end.
And the great news is that you can also recommend experience gifts for kids to grandparents and aunts and uncles! Kids love spending time with their extended family members, so why not get them in on this great idea?
If your family is anything like mine, then they are always dying to get their grandkids nieces something they really want. Suggest an experience gift they can do together over yet another gift certificate your kid won’t know what to do with.
You and your partner will get the day off, and everyone will have a good time. Win/win!
What types of experience gifts for kids have you given your little ones? Which were their favorites?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.