15+ Gift Ideas That Aren’t Toys

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The Toy Problem

I love buying toys for my children.  I love when their eyes light up when they open a new toy and how excited they are to play with it.  

But, you know what I don’t like?  Picking up the toys.  


Then, one day I came across an article that discussed how experiences provide more lasting happiness than material gifts and decided to try something new – what if I bought gifts that weren’t toys?


The article talks about how experiences create lasting memories of joy that we can draw on in the future, extending the joy and having positive effects on our emotions.  Whereas, when we get a material gift, we are initially excited, but the excitement wears off and we need to find something new to bring us excitement.

Going off the theory that experiences provide longer lasting joy than material things, my husband and I decided to make an effort to spend more money on experiences (or items that provided repeated experiences) instead of just buying toys all the time.  We still buy toys occasionally, but mostly we try to provide new, fun experiences for the whole family to enjoy together.

In today’s post, I would like to share some ideas we have used (or received) as gifts that are not toys.  Just writing this list makes me smile thinking about the fun times we had doing these things.  I hope you find some inspiration and make some great memories!

The ‘No Toys’ List

Show Tickets – This could be a Disney show, Peppa Pig, Music Concert, whatever type of show your kids would be into depending on their age.

Children’s Museum – my oldest requested this for her 5th birthday and we had so much fun that we became members for the year!

Aquarium – This is what my 3 year old requested for her birthday and it did not disappoint.

Kids Furniture – My girls have a little table with two chairs.  They call it their “tea party table”.  So cute!  They use it for all kinds of things…eating, coloring, playing with their little figures, so much.  Definitely a must have!

Craft Kits – I can’t speak for boys, but my experience has been that girls loooove to do crafts! These are some my kids have enjoyed:


Subscription Box – There are so many options these days!  Kids love getting things in the mail and subscription boxes offer everything from toys, traveling, snacks, and more.  Kiwi Crates offer different options for different ages.  Little Passports, Citrus Lane, KidPik, Gamebox, Book Case Club, and Green Kid Crafts are also great ideas!

Clothes – always a winner!  And get two birds with one stone because you don’t have to spend money on clothes later!


Magazine subscription – Another chance for kids to get something in the mail.  Highlights, National Geographic Kids, and Click are favorites at our house.

Butterfly garden – My oldest got this for her 5th birthday and it was a huge hit, so we thoroughly recommend it!  They ship caterpillars and all the things needed to grow them into butterflies.  Super cool for a wide age range!

Amusement park tickets – This could be a water park, amusement park, or something else local.

Books – always a good habit to encourage! BookLender is a great service where you can rent books, kind of like Netflix for books.  I used it for a while before I had kids and had more time to read!

Bookroo is a subscription box of books for kids.

Lessons for a new hobby – whatever they are into.  Could be music, sports, horseback riding, whatever makes them smile.

Canopy tour – these are becoming more and more popular.  Check Google to see if there is something near you.

Games – These are a huge hit with my girls.  Here are some of our favorites:

Bedding – maybe it’s a new comforter or new sheets your child was needing anyway.  My kids got so excited to pick out their new comforters when we moved and bought new ones.

Apron– My kids each have an apron for cooking with me and they love to put them on when we bake!

A trip to the local arcade – This is a favorite memory of mine from my childhood.  And every time I’ve taken my girls, they have loved it.  And it only costs about $15 for a decent amount of time!

Once we started giving experiences instead of toys, we were hooked!  Love this idea?  Pin it for later and share it with friends!  You (and your kids) will be glad you did!



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4 thoughts on “15+ Gift Ideas That Aren’t Toys”

  1. I agree, gifting experience is so much more fulfilling than a toy. My son is 3 and something that he would love is a whole day “in character”. He would be Superman and we’d set up a mission and create a whole scenario for him. I’m sure he’d remember that day for awhile! Great inspiration ????

    1. That’s an awesome idea! My girls would be all over a princess day (my husband could be their horse!). Now if I could just get the grandparents on the “no more toys” bandwagon, we’d be all set!

    1. Thank you, Padee! I hope it gave you some good ideas. My daughter just had a birthday and got all kids of presents from friends and while a few of them have been played with a lot, most sit in her room. But, we went to paint pottery for her birthday and she loves displaying her creation! And we sat and talked as a family for about 3 hours while we painted. It was fabulous.

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