Follow Respaced Portland on FacebookRespaced on Twitter

Don’t want to add to the toy clutter? 27 gifts for kids that are not toys

by respaced on November 12, 2013

When it comes to picking out gifts for little kid birthday parties or for the holidays, I always find myself in a quandary. I do not, DO NOT want to contribute to the toy clutter that so many parents have to deal with. I don’t ever want to give a gift that burdens somebody. But what can you give a little kid that is still useful, fun and appreciated? Here is an ever-growing list of 27 gifts to give kids that are not toys.

1. Flashlight

2. Booklight

3. Nightlight

4. Slippers

5. Bubble bath

6. Reusable lunch sack or lunch box with water bottle

7. Alarm clock (Nathan loves his Darth Vader alarm clock!)

8. Notepads and fun pencils

9. Sketchpad and pens, markers or colored pencils

10. DVD, CD

11. Books!

12. Calendar

13. Fun toothbrush (Nathan has his eye on an electronic Darth Vader toothbrush. Do you see a theme here?)

14. Backpack

15. Cozy blanket

16. Chocolates

17. Gift certificates for ice cream or frozen yogurt (This is my go-to gift for summertime birthday parties.)

18. Crazy socks, sunglasses or fun hat

19. Hair accessories (yeah, only works for a girl)

20. Movie tickets (That’s a big winner in our family!)

21. Subscription to a children’s magazine like Highlights or Cricket

22. Gift cards to go somewhere like the zoo, Children’s Museum, a concert, a play, ice skating, roller skating, etc.

23. Bath soap crayons

24. Washable paints, brushes and smock

25.  Mani/pedi day

26. Walkie-talkies (this was one of Nathan’s FAVORITE gifts, and it’s a huge hit when his friends come over.)

27. New sheets/pillowcases for their beds with their favorite characters on them

What other fun, useful NON-TOY gifts can you come up with for a little kid? Post them in the comments below!

Image courtesy of pasukaru76 at Flickr.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Deena J. Hahn January 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

1. Subscription to a children’s magazine
2. Gift card/certificate for a trip to the zoo/children’s museum, etc.


respaced January 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Oh yes, those are great ideas, Deena! I esp like the magazine subscription idea. Kids LOVE to receive mail, and this would ensure that they get something fun just for them once a month or so. Plus, it encourages them to read. Win-win all around!


Deena J. Hahn January 10, 2013 at 2:30 am

Another couple of ideas that I have are:

1. Kids washable paint & brush(es) including brushes for adults to use with the child
2. Finger paints and fingerpaint paper with smock (smock or oversized adult t-shirt absolutely essential!!)
3. Tickets to CHILDREN”S theater productions – such as NW Children’s Theatre (I think that’s what it’s called, but not sure)
4. Bath soap crayons


respaced January 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Art supplies are always a good bet because they get used up, unlike some collectable or another stuffed animal that just sits around. And the theater tickets would be quite welcome in our family, as I am sure they would be in most. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Tania B January 10, 2013 at 7:46 am

My daughter has been open the past couple of years to not receiving more “stuff” for her birthday. One year we did a food drive and asked her guests to bring something for a food bank, instead of a toy. We collected 6 bags of groceries! This past year we asked for “experiences” and she has now tried ice skating, roller skating, had a zoo day, a membership to Portland Children’s Museum, and has a mani/pedi day still to schedule with her BFF.
Instead of having more toys to sort through, I have lots of pictures to help us remember her birthday experiences!!


respaced January 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Wow, Tania, that’s so amazing that your daughter is willing to forgo gifts for donations to a food bank instead. You must be one awesome mama to have taught her such deep compassion at such an early age! And research shows that people remember gifts of experiences more than gifts of things, so chances are your daughter will remember those gift certifs to places more than another child would remember the toys he or she received. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Karen November 6, 2013 at 4:46 am

We are asking grandparents for a zoo membership.


respaced November 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Memberships are SO appreciated in our household, seeing as how we get so stir-crazy during our rainy winters. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Nina November 6, 2013 at 8:13 am

walkie talkies


respaced November 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Such a great idea! My son received walkie-talkies one year for his birthday and he has gotten so much use out of them. They are the perfect prop for playing spies when his friends come over. 🙂


Greta November 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

New sheets and/or pillow cases for their beds…special character themes are always a hit 🙂


respaced November 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Ah, yes. My mother-in-law sewed my son sheets and pillowcases one year for Christmas, and it remains one of his favorite presents. Great addition to the list!


Lynda November 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

my kids will be 7 next year and every year we have asked for food to be donated to a homeless shelter in the area… we started a trend.. this year we have gotten invitations to parties that have asked for books or toys to donate to a family shelter, dog and cat items to the human society and food pantry donations.. I am so PROUD of my twins and their friends for celebrating the birthday as a way of giving to others..


respaced November 8, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Lynda, what a neat trend your family started! And how great that your idea has spread within your community! Makes me want to try that for my son’s 8th birthday this year … Thanks for reading and commenting.


Julia November 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

Their own tape. Scotch, masking, electrical (in several colors) and duct.

For older kids, a glue gun, tools, soldering kit.

A small box of their very own Godiva chocolates, or their own pint of Haagen Dazs.

Temporary hair dye or hair chalk.


respaced November 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Ha! Their own tape is so brilliant! Kids seem absolutely CAPTIVATED by tape and use so much of it! I know my son esp loves the double-sided tape (and we all know how expensive that stuff is.) Tape would be an awesome stocking stuffer. Good idea on the glue gun and soldering tools too. How did we ever survive before the glue gun??? Thanks for reading and commenting!


Jo November 14, 2013 at 4:16 am

Fancy band-aids are a winner for my nieces and nephew.


respaced November 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Wow, I never thought of that, Jo. Where do you find your fancy band-aids? Someplace more awesome than my local Fred Meyer, I’m assuming? They would be great stocking-stuffers. Thanks for adding to the list!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: