My house is over-run with toys. It is a 24/7 job to attempt to contain all of the kid-stuff strewn about by two toddlers. I’ve secretly removed a number of toys (and even some books!) from the kids’ play area – neither of them even noticed they were gone!
Aside from my desire to keep clutter at a minimum (well, as minimum as clutter can be when you live with two toddlers), it is hard for my kids to play and/or focus when there are too many toys. With one still mastering walking and the other bouncing off of walls, too many toys are a tripping hazard (to say the least).
That said, my kids both have birthdays coming up (not to mention other toy-giving holidays) and family members always ask for ideas on what to get the kids. We’ve learned in our, relatively, short tenure as parents that kids don’t care so much about what they get as they do the feelings they associate with the gifts. My older daughter, for example, often picks up random object and proclaims, “My _____ my grandma made me! I love it!” (we’re still letting her think that grandma’s hand-sew all clothing and manufacture all toys lol). My point is that a few small gifts are ok, but when you already have everything your children could ever want, it is nice to have other options.
Possibly the best gift my older daughter has ever received was a family zoo membership my mom got her (us) for Christmas a few years ago. Being able to go to the zoo whenever we can (and to not feel like we have to spend all day there when we do make it down) is awesome! Gifts like this allow us to experience things as a family.
Because I enjoy interactive gifts so much (and I know I completely blank when put on the spot to come up with suggested gifts for my kids), I’ve put together a list of 10 non-toy gift suggestions. The list is aimed at toddlers/preschoolers, but most of the items are really fun for all ages.
- Zoo Membership
- Carousel Tickets – Our local mall has a carousel that my older daughter LOVES. She asks to go to the mall all the time just to ride this.
- Special Date – My daughter and I go on “mom dates” about once a week. Generally this time includes going to the library, riding the carousel at the mall, getting a soft pretzel, and spending time at the playground. Other times it is just the two of us going to Target and drinking Starbucks drinks (she’s all about water from the ‘bucks). Kids are really receptive to one-on-one time.
- Art Supplies
- Materials and instructions to complete a science experiment – Baking soda and vinegar can keep my kids entertained for hours.
- Movie Tickets/Materials for a Movie Night
- Classes – Look around in your area for what kid-friendly classes are being taught – don’t tell my older daughter, but it is pretty likely she’ll be taking Tae-Kwon-Do lessons soon! Whatever your child is in to, there are likely lessons to match their interests.
- Bubbles/Bubble Bath
- Books – Maybe this shouldn’t be on the list (at least for me) because our girls have several full bookcases. That said, my husband and I generally agree that you can’t have too many books.
- Magazine Subscriptions – I love getting mail (aside from the junk that goes directly into the recycle bin) – I’m sure my kids will love getting mail too!
What other non-toy gifts have been a success with the children in your life?