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10 Brilliant Non Toy Gifts for Kids Who Have Too Much Stuff

When you are looking for Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, or presents for special occasions, you may feel lost. Many kids have more than they know what to do with. Luckily, this article is packed with great ideas for non toy gifts for kids that will provide endless play and new experiences.

(This post contains affiliate links – meaning at no extra cost to you, if you purchase a product I could earn commission).

Do you have boxes of toys that no one plays with?

Can you be found swearing under your breath when you step on a rogue LEGO on a daily basis?

Do you hate seeing that expensive toy that your child “had to have” sitting in a corner?

You may feel pressured to get your children a bunch of “junk” as gifts to avoid handing out a boring gift card. Or you feel obligated to crack open your piggy bank to spend more money on random toys when they already have so much stuff.

In reality, more toys actually leads to less interactive play.

too many toys

Proven Benefits of Experience Gifts

In a recent study, researchers gave children either four toys OR sixteen toys. They noticed that the children who were given fewer toys played with them in more ways and for longer periods of time.

Also, it was noted that the children with less toys played in more sophisticated and imaginative ways.

Basically, less toys correlated with better quality play.

Read all about Benefits of Toy Minimalism here.

This is the reason why your kids ignore their piles of toys and get excited to play with the box.

This year, instead of buying all toys for holidays and birthdays, join me and buy “experiences” for your child.

Experience gifts (or non toy gifts) are great ways to lead to creative play and quality bonding between family members.

Try making experience baskets based on something that will drive an activity for your child, or something that triggers their creative juices to flow.

Check out these simple non-toy gifts that are great for younger children and older kids, alike.

1) Painting and Art Sets

There is something special about painting on an actual easel or canvas. My kids spend hours painting with their paint sets, and we have a special wall in our house where we set up all of their artwork.

When we hang their canvas paintings on the wall, they feel like real little artists.

Some of the items you can use to create your own “paint set” gift include paint, paint brushes, aprons, canvases, and etc. Click on some of the below items to create your paint set!

Also check out these 8 Gifts Designed for Autistic or Sensitive Kids

2) Baking and Cooking Sets

When kids have the opportunity to engage in an activity that they usually watch their parents do, it boosts their confidence.

Let them crack the eggs (even if I have to dig out a few shells), and I let them measure the flour (even if it leaves us in a cloud of powdered smoke).

Baking sets are the perfect gift for kids of all ages.

Related: Life Skills to Teach Kids Before they are Teenagers

When kids have their own aprons, bowls, or mixing spoons, it ignites a love of baking in them! There are also some great starter cook books geared towards children and getting started in the kitchen with some age appropriate recipes! Check some of these items for a baking set!

3) Fishing, Bird Watching, and Bug Catching

Depending on your child’s interests, consider a nature gift.

Kids love to have an excuse to get outside and get dirty. My husband recently started fishing with our kids, and they can fish for hours.

When my son found fishing rods under the tree on Christmas morning, we didn’t realize how much fun our entire family would have with this new hobby.

Check out these items to put together a fishing kit:

Here is what you need for bug catching and bird watching:

4) Photography Kit

New toys don’t stay “new” for very long. But a new hobby can bring joy for a long time.

My kids are fascinated by the pictures I take and always want to try out my camera. Due to this interest, I got them a photography kit so that they can explore and experience photography first hand. 

Older kids may be ready for a digital camera.

Click here for Easy to follow Photography Tutorial for Beginners.

There are great ‘first camera’ sets to teach younger kids about photography, too.

You will be amazed with some of the pictures that they take. I found that “fujifilm” is a great brand to start with.

Make sure you print some out so they can put them in a photo book or show their friends. Here are some examples of great sets you can get them to get started:

Looking for a great new holiday tradition? Check out these kindness elves printables

5) Gardening Sets

This holiday season, consider getting your kid into gardening.

Gardening is a great hobby for children and a fun gift whole family can enjoy. They learn the basics of growing plants and tending to nature.

When they start to see their plants pop up and even get to taste some vegetables from their garden, it teaches them what outcomes can come out of working hard and being patient.

Are your kids grown? Check out these Christmas gifts for adult children.

Also, check out these easy veggies to grow with kids!

You can easily create your own garden set for your children with garden gloves, seeds, and a gardening book:

6) Science Kits

Science gifts are a big hit with little kids.

Depending on your child’s age, there are many different kits out there for the curious minds.

These educational gifts reduce screen time and get your kids thinking and learning. Depending on your kid’s age and interests you can chose between some of these options:

7) Metal Detector

Last year, my son got a metal detector for Christmas.

He spent hours with his friends in the woods behind our house with that fun gift. This gift is a great option for kids around 10 years old.

8) Board Games

Yes, board games! There are some classic board games and some great new games out there.

These games are a great way to get the family interacting and laughing.

Some of our favorites include:

board games

9) Subscription Boxes

A subscription box makes for a great gift.

Subscription boxes are not magazine subscriptions- they are so much more. They are interactive and give children something to look forward to.

These make for a wonderful gift that ignites imaginative play:

10) Tickets to Favorite Events

Think outside the box. What are your kid’s interests?

Would they enjoy a trip to a local museum or a science museum? Could tickets to a sporting event get them excited?

These make great stocking stuffers!

Final Thoughts on Non Toy Gifts for Kids

This year, instead of adding to the piles of plastic toys in your closets, get your kids items that will help them experience the world.

These practical gifts have been my kid’s favorite things they ever received.

They will enjoy spending quality time doing these activities over getting pieces of plastic any day. Make your own activity kits for them. It will be less expensive and more fun!

If you are interested in toy minimalism including what it means and how it will rock your world, click here!

What other ‘experience’ gifts can you think of?

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Wednesday 2nd of November 2022

How about a coloring cookbook as an "experience gift" idea. Christmas is coming, and it's perfect for growing minds! I created two versions (mealtime and breakfast favorites), and plan to create more. They are all in picture format for young ones to be more independent in the kitchen. My little chef (4 year old daughter) loves them! I'll post a link to my website if you are interested in finding out more information (please don't judge, I am a mother/wife/nurse first, and I am not exactly website building savvy). Also, I sell them on Amazon which makes life easier :) Thank you!

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Sunday 28th of November 2021

These are such amazing and imaginative ideas for kids’ gifts! I think they will truly enjoy the experiences and build childhood memories rather than a toy which they may or may not remember in years to come. Thanks for sharing this post, I’ve bookmarked it for use later on when my baby is older!!

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