100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids

100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids

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As my kids grow older and their “stuff” seems to multiply overnight, I find myself wondering how many toys a kid really needs.

Simple Toys are Best

Is it just my kids, or do your kids love to raid the recycling bin for “craft supplies” too?

My boys are 11, 7, and 3, and empty cardboard boxes are still pretty exciting.  Oh, and one of my toddler’s favorite activities is a big bowl of dry rice with a scoop, funnel, and a few small bowls.  Which means he’s also learning how to use a small dust brush + pan…  

My boys also love to build blanket forts, turn sticks into weapons, and invent their own games.  Sure, they still build with Legos and spend countless hours arranging and rearranging our well-loved and ever-expanding Schleich farm set.  But I’m always amazed at their creativity when limited to just a few simple toys.

100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids | Roots & Boots
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Tackling Clutter

As much as possible, I try to emphasize high quality toys that foster creative play.  We also encourage daily outdoor play time.  But despite my best efforts to keep our toys simple and few, I still find myself plotting ways to reduce the clutter that can accumulate in our home.

One obvious way to keep clutter under control is to limit what is allowed to enter the house.  We’ve adopted a policy of fixed storage capacity: when a child receives a gift or brings home a toy from a relative’s house, it must fit into our existing storage or something else has to go.

The next step up from our policy of fixed storage capacity is the periodic purge.  This often follows Christmas or a birthday or a string of days when I’m just tired of seeing stuff All. Over. The. House.  And you know what?  I thought my kids would really balk at purging their toys.  But they’ve surprised me by actually embracing the task.

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Fighting Consumerism

I’m so glad to have involved them in the purging process instead of stealthily weeding out certain toys at night under the cover of darkness.  Who, me?  It’s so important for them to understand that our home can hold only so much stuff.

In some small way, the process of purging forces them to face the effects of our consumerist culture.  They realize the toys they once found so mesmerizing have lost their appeal and are now headed to a thrift store or even to a landfill.

My family still struggles with consumerism, and at times my kids still wish for certain toys.  It’s human nature.  But I’m thankful that overall, they seem to be escaping the unbridled consumerism that seems so prevalent in our society.

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100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids

Another key way to fight consumerism and cut down on toy clutter is to give non toy gifts for birthdays and at Christmas.  Goodness knows our children simply do not need more stuff!  Experiences and simple, meaningful, useful gifts trump more “stuff” any day.

On that note, here’s a list of over 100 non toy gift ideas for kids…

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Tickets & Subscriptions

Tickets and passes to local attractions make great family gifts.  Most grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren, and are often happy to provide enriching experiences.  Instead of saying “Please, no toys”, it can be helpful to suggest a few local options your kids would enjoy.  My family has enjoyed pool passes and theatre tickets courtesy of my parents.  This year an uncle and aunt are providing a gift card to a local movie theater.

  • Concerts
  • Children’s theatre
  • Movie theater
  • Sporting events
  • Laser tag
  • Mini golf
  • Bowling
  • Aquarium
  • Zoo
  • Community center
  • Children’s museum
  • Swimming pool
  • Water park
  • Nature program
  • Magazine subscription – Our favorites include Zoobooks, Nature Friend, and Ranger Rick.

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Another great suggestion for the grandparents!

  • Art
  • Music
  • Drama
  • Pottery
  • Swimming
  • Karate
  • Gymnastics
  • Dance

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Tools & Skills

Tool sets, pocket knives, and wheelbarrows have been big hits with my boys.  Kid sized work gloves make great additions to Christmas stockings and Easter baskets!

100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids | Roots & Boots
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Arts & Crafts

When he was ten, my oldest son received an assortment of craft supplies stored in a plastic box with a handle as one of his Christmas gifts.  It was his favorite gift!  Also, weaving isn’t just for girls.  My middle son (currently 7) absolutely loves making potholders and rubber band creations.

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My family’s favorites are listed below.  Most are available in CD, mp3, and streaming options.

100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids | Roots & Boots
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By books, I mean wonderful, beautiful books of course.  Let them check out all the other stuff from the library!  It’s a daunting task to recommend excellent books for various ages and genders, so instead I’ll share a few of my favorite resources and book lists and leave the specifics up to you.  The good news is that there are plenty of wonderful titles to choose from…



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Audio Books

With so many good audio books to choose from, this list is definitely not exhaustive.  But it should point you in the right direction.  Age range can be hard to pinpoint, but the books at the top of the list are generally aimed at a younger audience while the books farther down on the list are good for older kids.  Be sure to find the exact readers linked here.

100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids | Roots & Boots
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Family Movies

This isn’t my favorite non-toy idea, but we do try to stock some great movies for family movie nights.  Here are a few of our favorites (our boys are 11, 7, & 3).

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Nature Gear

We’re big fans of nature explorations!  My boys are outside all the time and have used the fire out of everything on this list.

100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids | Roots & Boots
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Sporting Goods

Send those kids outside to develop motor skills and burn off energy!  Teach them a few life long skills such as fishing, archery, and bicycling.

100+ Non Toy Gift Ideas for Kids | Roots & Boots
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Outdoor Play

My boys often spend hours outside every day, so I like to make sure they have access to sturdy, versatile equipment.


Nontoxic Lunch Gear

Sturdy nontoxic lunch gear can get pricey, but we’ve found it to be well worth the investment.  We own multiples of each item listed below, and highly recommend them all.  Holidays and birthdays are the perfect time to start or boost your family’s collection!  Need more details?  I’ve written more about our experience with nontoxic feeding gear for babies and packing a plastic-free lunch.  

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Bags & Apparel

Every kid needs a good set of bags for school, the library, and weekend trips.  Cowboy boots and watches have also been big hits with my boys.

  • Backpack – For school, the library, and trips.  Even our littlest guy has one that’s just the right size.
  • Cinch sack – My guys use these like crazy.  Nature outings, trips to grandma’s house, and more.
  • Duffel bag – Every child at our house has received their own personal duffel bag for weekend trips.
  • Watch – We like Timex watches.
  • Wallet – Our boys have little zipper pouches similar to these.
  • Cowboy boots – We’ve had a good experience with this brand.  Tip: pull holes are helpful for young kids.

Experiences and simple, meaningful gifts trump more "stuff" any day. Here are over 100 awesome non toy gift ideas for kids sure to fit every budget... | Roots & Boots
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Don’t forget to check out these lists for more ideas…

What was the best non toy gift you received as a child?  Does your family struggle with toy clutter?  What other non toy gift ideas for kids would you add to this list?

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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. oniry on 01/03/2018 at 12:43 pm

    Very nice idea dear. Happy new year 2018!

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