young girl at a market - the featured image for this list of Christmas Gifts for Kids That AREN'T Toys

75+ Christmas Gifts for Kids That AREN’T Toys (2021)

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The Ultimate List of Non-Toy Christmas Gifts for Kids

Trying to keep the toys to a minimum and looking for Christmas gifts for kids that aren’t toys? Look no further!

So many of us are in the same boat, which is why I put together this huge list of non-toy gifts. 

Before every gift-giving holiday and birthday, I try my best to de-clutter and clear out anything that’s broken or doesn’t get used anymore.

Still, it seems like the toys pile up faster than I can keep up. And while some of the gifts on this list could add to the clutter, it’s up to your discretion to determine whether they’re practical for your family or not.

Before we get to the Christmas gift list…why give non-toy gifts, anyway?

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Why Give Non-Toy Gifts?

With every Christmas and birthday that passes, the toys can really start to pile up, and we eventually start to feel like we’re drowning in them.

Many parents have relayed that, after the first few days, their kids lose interest in a new toy and it ends up collecting dust. 

In my experience, however, our girls actually do play with the majority of their toys, and they grow attached to Every. Single. One. Which means that they have a hard time letting most of their toys go.

Don’t get me wrong — I want them to have toys, and I love seeing their imaginations at work! But at some point, the stockpile gets to be a bit much. Which is why I love educational activities, books, and consumable gifts.

A few more reasons to give non-toy gifts:

  • Those with a smaller living space might not have the room to store them.
  • Research shows that the less toys kids have, the more they play with those they do have.
  • Buying fewer and better toys can help kids develop important life skills (source).
  • “Experience” gifts are much more memorable than “things”.
  • Having fewer toys makes the cleanup much more tolerable.

Since we’re in the process of selling our house, I recently boxed up nearly half our kids’ toys and put them into storage. Trust me when I say it’s made my life soooo much easier! 

We still have a bit of a mess to clean up each night, but I promise — it takes much less time to pick them up now.

I’m still not sure whether we’ll unpack all of the toys when we move into our new home. Perhaps, instead, I’ll work together with my daughters and we’ll put together a donation box, and then we’ll come up with some sort of rotation for the rest.

Moving right along…here’s the big list of Christmas gifts for kids that aren’t toys!

Christmas Gifts for Kids That AREN’T Toys

The following gift ideas will be broken down into the following categories: 

  • Non-toy gift ideas for babies
  • Christmas gifts for toddlers that aren’t toys
  • Practical gift ideas for older kids
  • Fun family Christmas gifts
  • Non-toy stocking stuffers

And then we’ll cover some additional ideas to limit the post-holiday clutter.

Ready?! Let’s begin.

Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Babies

Let’s be real: babies don’t need a whole lot of toys. A few good quality teethers and sensory toys should be plenty. So, what else can you give your infant this Christmas?

  1. Cloth Books

Admittedly, cloth books are basically toys. But they’re also a great way to introduce books to an infant.

Plus, they can happily munch away on a cloth book like this one without tearing the pages or swallowing bits of cardboard.

infant with a cloth book
  1. Sleepers/Pajamas

One can simply never have too many pajamas for a baby. Especially in the early days.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably wear a comfy sleeper on your baby all day every day in the beginning.

  1. Slippers

Was your baby born in the middle of winter? Or do you have an older infant who has recently discovered that they can pull their socks off?

Grab a pair of cozy slippers or pre-walker moccasins to cover up those little tootsies.

  1. First Christmas Outfit

Just think how cute your little bundle will look in his or her First Christmas outfit! Or First Christmas hat, bib, etc.

Just make sure to take plenty of pictures because they probably won’t wear it more than a couple times!

  1. Personalized Ornament

Order your baby’s first Christmas tree ornament personalized with their name, and you can hang it on the tree year after year.

I really like this wooden ornament because it’s both adorable AND super affordable.

  1. Hooded Towel

Forget the thin, flimsy towels. A nice, thick hooded towel will last well into toddlerhood (and even beyond the preschool years). 

  1. Personalized Blanket

A blanket personalized with your child’s name is sure to become a favorite for years to come.

This personalized plush minky looks so cozy, and it comes in a lot of different colors.

  1. Hat or Headband

Keep your newborn’s head warm with a cozy hat, or buy a cute headband to adorn your little girl’s hair.

  1. Bibs and Feeding Supplies

Even if your baby isn’t eating solid food yet, they will be soon! Stock up on plenty of bibs (we love these terry towel bibs), along with baby spoons, bowls, etc.

  1. Infant Carrier

(This one’s more for you than the baby.)

Free up your arms with a babywearing carrier, like a stretchy wrap or a more structured fabric carrier like the Boba X.

Christmas Gifts for Toddlers That Aren’t Toys

By toddlerhood, your little one might be starting to play independently for short stretches at a time. Some toys can be instrumental in their development at this stage, but remember: less is more!

Here are some non-toy Christmas gift ideas for toddlers:

  1. Board Books

Board books are perfect for little hands that might still be inclined to tear paper pages out of story books.

Plus, quite a few of the popular children’s stories (like Dr. Seuss, for example) have been re-created as board books.

  1. Personalized Name Puzzle

A personalized wooden name puzzle like this one is a great way to introduce puzzles to your toddler.

They’re easy enough for even a 1-year-old, and they can help your child learn to recognize their own name.

  1. Coloring Books

Promote creativity with some fun coloring books! Most toddlers love to color, and coloring helps them develop their fine motor skills. 

  1. Clothes

Kids grow quickly and often go through multiple outfits daily, so clothes are always a great option.

You could go with something nicer for dressy occasions, or some cheaper outfits that you won’t mind getting dirty.

  1. Rain Boots

Speaking from experience, toddlers and young children LOVE splashing in puddles!

Rain boots like these are a must for any toddler.

toddler wearing rain boots in the mud
  1. Toddler-Friendly Snacks

What toddler doesn’t love snacking?

Puff type snacks and teething biscuits are always a good choice, as are superfood smoothie pouches and soft cereal bars.

  1. Sensory Bins

You can either DIY a sensory activity bin at home, or you can take the easy route and grab a done-for-you sensory bin (like this one) from Amazon.

  1. Play-Doh

I don’t know about your household, but ours could never have enough play-doh. We go through play-doh like it’s going out of style…

Stock up on a variety of colors plus some play-doh tools for endless fun!

  1. Craft Subscription Boxes

If your toddler loves crafting and hands-on activities, they’re sure to delight in a monthly craft box delivery.

These five craft subscription boxes are perfect for toddlers.

toddler with a craft subscription box
  1. Swimming Lessons

It’s never too early to start swimming lessons! Sign your toddler up as a practical, non-toy Christmas gift.

  1. Personalized Storybook

Although you’ll probably get rid of most of the kids’ books when it’s time to de-clutter, a personalized story book is something that you’ll want to keep forever.

Check out Wonderbly for some fun titles, such as “A New Sibling for (your child’s name)” and “I Love (your child’s name) This Much!”.

  1. Water Table

Water play never gets old — at least, according to a toddler!

Grab a water table for endless (outdoor) water fun.

  1. Tricycle

A tricycle is the perfect beginners’ bike for kids around ages 2-4. After all, they want to be included in the bike-riding fun, even if they’re not quite big enough for a bicycle yet.

  1. Indoor Tent

Finally, the indoor tent

If you have the space for it, your toddler is sure to love it. (At least, my girls did!)

Practical Gift Ideas for Older Kids

By this point, the toys have really started piling up and, as they age, some kiddos are starting to outgrow the “playing with toys” stage.

You probably have a pretty good idea of their interests, but here are some ideas to help you come up with practical gifts for preschoolers and older kids.

  1. Books & Audiobooks

You know your kids better than anyone, so choose books based on their age and interests. And if your child doesn’t like to read?

Consider giving them an audiobook subscription instead.

  1. Clothing Gift Cards

Actual articles of clothing are great for younger kiddos, since you know what they need.

But older kids often prefer to choose their own clothing, and a gift card is a great option in that case. 

  1. Slippers or Robe

A couple years ago, we got our girls new slippers for Christmas, and last year we got them some cute unicorn robes.

girls wearing unicorn robes

This year, we’ll probably do new slippers again since they’re starting to outgrow them — we like to size up for a little longer wear.

  1. Umbrella

Surprisingly, an umbrella of their very own can be an exciting gift for kids! 

  1. 100+ Piece Puzzles

By this age, most kids have outgrown the wooden puzzles and can put together 100 pieces (sometimes with a little help).

This puzzle set comes with four different jigsaw puzzles.

  1. Monthly Subscription Box

For a non-toy gift that keeps on giving every month (until you cancel the subscription), check out Cratejoy.

They have a variety of monthly boxes to suit all different ages and interests. 

  1. Baking Kit

Look forward to new baking activities each month with a monthly Baketivity subscription, or order a one-time kit of your choice.

Either way, your junior baker will love baking with the pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions!

Plus, they can explore exciting, colorful lessons and play educational games while the treats bake.

  1. Sleeping Bag

Our daughter had been asking to go camping for a while, so we gave her a sleeping bag for her fifth birthday. She was thrilled!

A sleeping bag would make an awesome non-toy Christmas gift for your preschooler, or even an older child.

  1. Binoculars

For some reason, binoculars are great fun for kids!

Just be sure they’re kid-friendly binoculars (because you KNOW they’re gonna be dropped over and over again).

  1. Bicycle

This is another gift we’ve given our daughter for her birthday, but it would also make a great Christmas present, as well.

Since it was her first bike, we got one with training wheels, but there are a lot of different options to choose from.

  1. Art & Craft Supplies

When it comes to kids, you can never have too many crafting supplies! 

  • Watercolor paint
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Googly eyes
  • Construction paper
  • Paint sticks

For more ideas, head over to this list of essential art and craft supplies for families with toddlers and preschoolers.

older child crafting with art and craft supplies
  1. Kinetic Sand

It may be a little on the messy side, but kids looooove kinetic sand! It’s an awesome way to keep them busy with a hands-on, sensory activity.

(Just be sure to keep a broom handy!)

  1. Art Class

Art classes are the perfect “experience” gift for the art loving kiddos out there.

  1. Window Bird Feeder

A window bird feeder, along with a bag of birdseed (and perhaps a bird identification book) could be a really fun Christmas present for nature lovers.

window bird feeder filled with birdseed
  1. Legos

What kid doesn’t enjoy playing with Legos? And you’re worried about all the teeny-tiny pieces, especially with babies and toddlers around, Legos Juniors could be the perfect alternative.

  1. Piggy Bank

Piggy banks have come a looong way since I was a kid! They make ‘em in all different shapes and sizes now.

Save up your child’s birthday money in their very own piggy bank, like this adorable owl — or whatever you think they’d like best.

  1. Alarm Clock

Do they need to be up for school? Wake them up in style with a trendy alarm clock, like this sunrise alarm clock.

It will help them wake up gently with a sunrise simulation light plus seven different natural sounds.

  1. Music/Music Lessons

Music lessons are another awesome “experience” gift idea, while a digital music subscription is another awesome present that won’t bring clutter into the house.

  1. Bath & Body Products

There’s nothing like having their own personal care products to make kids feel grown up!

Consider body wash or soap, body spray, or even shampoo and conditioner.

  1. Bedroom Decor

Have they outgrown the old nursery decor?

Consider getting some new bedding and decorations with a theme or color scheme of their choice.

  1. Musical Instruments

If you don’t mind a little noise (and hopefully you don’t by this point in your parenting journey) then some musical instruments could make the perfect gift for your child.

This “band in a box” has served our daughters well in their quest to make lots of noise. Your kids are sure to love them, too!

band in a box (musical instruments)

Fun Family Christmas Gifts

Want to get something that the whole family can enjoy? Here are a few family gift ideas to get you started.

  1. Museum or Zoo Membership

If there’s a local museum or zoo that the whole family enjoys visiting, it could be worth buying a membership as a “family gift” so you can go whenever you want.

  1. Matching Pajamas

Get all cozy before bedtime on Christmas Eve in matching Christmas jammies.

Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the tree!  

  1. Karaoke Machine

Sing your hearts out with a fun, family Christmas gift — a karaoke machine

  1. Future Family Trip

In lieu of presents, save up for a family trip and start making reservations.

It doesn’t have to be halfway across the world or cost your life savings — sometimes, the best family memories are made on a few-hour road trip.

  1. Board Game or Puzzle

Puzzles and board games are a great way for the whole family to spend quality time together.

A family puzzle like this one has three different size pieces for members of all ages and skill levels.

And a “no reading required” charades game could be fun for everyone!

  1. Conversation Starter Cards

Need ideas for conversation topics at the dinner table? Check out Tabletopics for some fun conversation starters.

  1. Personalized Wall Art

This personalized canvas art would make a gorgeous addition to the bedroom, family room, or anywhere in the house, really.

Just send them your photo, and they will print it with a wood texture background on either wrap canvas or a high quality poster, complete with personalized text.

  1. Family Name Sign

This custom name sign is simple, but gorgeous. It’s lettered with your family name, and below that is the year your family was “established”.

You can get it in a number of different sizes — plus, you can choose from a variety of frame colors.

  1. Smokeless Bonfire Pit

Love bonfires, but hate the smoke?

With its unique design that maximizes airflow and the burning process for a more complete burn, the Solo Stove bonfire fire pit would make an awesome Christmas gift for the whole family. 

toddler sitting by the solo stove bonfire pit
  1. Family Subscription Box

Gift the entire family a monthly box of fun surprises! Cratejoy offers a variety of subscription boxes, from board games to escape rooms and music.

Check out all of the options here.

  1. Popcorn Popper

If you’re a family of popcorn lovers or movie buffs, you can’t go wrong with a theater-style popcorn machine

  1. Family Size Tent

For the outdoorsy family, a family size tent is the obvious choice.

This family tent can sleep nine people, and can even fit a couple queen size air mattresses!

  1. Yard Games

Get the family spending more time outside — and spending time together! — with some fun yard games, such as bocce ball, cornhole, ladderball…

Or, grab a combo set with multiple yard games for extra fun.

Non-Toy Stocking Stuffers

Lastly (but definitely not least!), we can’t forget the stocking stuffers. While kids seem to enjoy the smallest toys most of all, we most certainly don’t want them all over the floor.

But fear not… Non-toy stocking stuffers are coming to the rescue!

  1. Pacifier Clips

For the littlest ones, stuff their stockings (and keep pacis from getting lost) with some cute silicone pacifier clips like these.

(Btw, they also double as teething beads.) 

  1. Word Search Books

And for the older ones, word search books will keep their brains busy while on Christmas break!

  1. Mad Libs

Mad Libs on the Road is the perfect stocking stuffer to get everyone laughing on a road trip.

  1. Nail Polish

Little bottles of kids’ nail polish are a fun stocking stuffer, and you can order a whole set of a dozen different colors (without breaking the bank).

  1. Lip Balm

Lip balm is always a huge hit with kids — they love having a tube of their own!

  1. Travel Size Lotion

A small tube of lotion isn’t just the perfect size for stuffing stockings, but it also fits perfectly in purses and backpacks.

  1. Glow in the Dark Stars

Remember these glow in the dark stars from your childhood? Your kiddos are sure to love them, too!

  1. Event Tickets

Whether it’s a couple movie tickets or tickets to a sporting event, tickets are the perfect stocking stuffer size.

  1. Garden Seeds

Give them something to look forward to in the spring — plus, a variety pack of garden seeds is pretty affordable if you’re on a strict budget. 

  1. Water Bottles

The Camelbak Eddy comes in a number of fun designs for kids, and it’s the perfect size to slip into a stocking on Christmas Eve.

  1. Hats & Gloves

Hats and gloves are both practical (if you live in a colder climate) AND they should fit pretty easily into the stocking. 

  1. Socks

Socks aren’t exactly fun to receive, are they? That is, unless it’s a fuzzy sock with a cool design.

Then it could be something to get excited about.

  1. Hair Accessories

Headbands, hair ties, clips, and bows are always a good choice when it comes to stuffing the stockings of little princesses.

  1. Hair Brushes

If your kiddos don’t have their own hair brushes yet, then they’re gonna love this one!

Make sure to grab a different color for each child (or label them) so they know which belongs to whom.

  1. Toothbrushes & Toothpaste

Kids love a new toothbrush!

They’ll be thrilled to receive an electric toothbrush (accompanied by their own travel size toothpaste) on Christmas morning.

  1. Sunglasses

I don’t know about yours, but my kids were thrilled to get their own pair of sunglasses!

It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or not — they’ll wear them both inside and out of the house.

young girls wearing their sunglasses
  1. Swim Goggles

Do you have a kiddo who loves the water?

Then a new swim goggle is the perfect stocking stuffer for your little swimmer.

Ideas to Limit the Post-Holiday Clutter

Now that we have a ton of Christmas gift ideas for the kiddos — that are NOT toys — how do we keep ourselves from going overboard and buying all the things?

You’ve probably heard of the “Four Gift Rule” and maybe even the “Five Senses Gift Rule”, which were designed to limit the amount of *stuff* coming into the house.

This works especially well for larger families, helping to keep them within their budget, but it can work for any size family.

In case you’re unfamiliar with these two gift-giving rules, let’s run through each of them.

4-Gift Rule

The Four Gift Rule limits the number of gifts you buy your children to the following four categories: something they want, need, wear, and read.

  1. Something they want. This is usually one of the bigger gifts from their wish list that’s not necessarily something they need — just something fun that will make them happy!
  2. Something they need. This is, obviously, a more practical gift. It could even be something from the list above.
  3. Something to wear. Depending on the budget, this might be something a little bigger than a new package of socks. It could be a bathrobe, new sneakers, pajamas, etc.
  4. Something to read. In our family, new books are a given. We typically give our kids a couple books each, and are obviously based on each child’s age/interests. 

Have you followed the “Four Gift Rule” before? How did that work for you?

5 Senses Gift Rule

I have to admit, the “Five Senses Gift Rule” is new to me. The idea is to buy or make gifts that appeal to the five basic senses, which include sound, touch, taste, smell and sight.

Of course, you’ll base your gift choices on the kiddos’ ages and interests.

  1. Sound. Gift ideas include: music player, headphones, concert tickets, audiobooks, or a sound machine.
  2. Touch. Gift ideas include: mittens, massage oils or gift certificate, blanket, or a hands-on activity.
  3. Taste. Gift ideas include: snacks, restaurant gift card, cooking class, or a movie style popcorn maker.
  4. Smell. Gift ideas include: perfume or cologne, spa set, candles, bubble bath, or an essential oil diffuser.
  5. Sight. Gift ideas include: photo album, wall art, movie tickets, camera, books, or jewelry.

Have you heard of the 5 Senses rule before, or have you tried this as a way to limit the post-holiday clutter? 


What Can I Do Instead of Gifts for Christmas?

In this article, we’ve covered quite a few non-toy Christmas gift ideas. But are you looking for something non-material to give the family this year? Here are a few ideas:

  • Purchase lessons to something based on their interests.
  • Visit a local escape room or a trampoline or rock climbing park.
  • Plan a family trip together for the coming year.
  • Go to the zoo or aquarium.
  • Buy a museum or science center membership.
  • Get tickets to a sporting event.
  • Get a puzzle to work on together, then frame it.
  • Go bowling or ice skating.
  • Buy seeds and start a garden together.
  • Have a family movie night, complete with popcorn.
  • Try geocaching.
  • Volunteer together.
  • Visit a spa together.
  • Subscribe to Netflix, Disney+, etc.
  • Go snorkeling or scuba diving.

Whew! We’ve covered a LOT of gift ideas today. Which will you choose?!

More Christmas Articles from the Writer Mom:

12 Days of Christmas Gifts for Kids — 12+ Fun and Unique Gift Ideas

Useful Gifts to Put in a Christmas Eve Box for Your 1-Year-Old

25 Magical Christmas Eve Traditions to Start This Year

Easy Christmas Crafts for Toddlers to Make at Home

5 Great Ways to Save Money on Christmas Gifts

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