Non-Toy Gifts for Kids


As a mom of two toddlers, it goes without saying that our house is filled to the brim with toys. So when my youngest was nearing her second birthday, I finally mustered up the courage to swallow my gracious-host pride and sent an email to guests dropping hints  (Okay, telling them…) that toys were off-limits for this occasion. That said, I didn’t leave them high and dry to scramble for ideas! In this post, I round-up six of my favorite clutter-free  gift ideas for any occasion that kids (and minimalist moms!) are sure to love.

  1. Somewhere to Go

As a parent who is always looking to explore somewhere new or visit somewhere familiar, I love the thought of tickets or a membership to a museum, zoo, or some other adventure in which I can share with my children. Gifts like these avoid the “I’m bored,” or “what can we do today?” comments that can seep their way into long or rainy weekends. Some local ideas include:

Roger Williams Park Zoo

Providence Children’s Museum

Providence Bruins

Alex and Ani City Center  (This would be cute paired with two mugs and hot cocoa mix)

YMCA Membership  (And/or swim classes)

Golf lessons at Button Hole

Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School

Thomas Land

Newport Mansions

  1. Something for Travel

This summer was a fun and busy travel season for us, with impromptu family trips to the Cape, Maine, New Hampshire, Block Island, and Great Wolf Lodge. Our oldest loves to pack his Paw Patrol suitcase with everything he needs (and then some), and our youngest is getting close to the age where she will want to do the same. A suitcase packed with a new shirt, a passport book for fun, or tickets to an excursion is a great surprise for a little one and makes them feel involved on the adventure.

  1. Something to Give

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you give to someone else. Throughout the year, I try to collect toys here and there and then, as a family, we deliver them to Hasbro Children’s Hospital right before Christmas. This is a tradition I began nearly a decade ago that I love now sharing with my own children. In addition to my annual toy collection, we now go to Target or Barnes & Novel on their birthday and pick out one gift for them and one gift to donate. Besides being a good lesson in sharing, it’s an important reminder for all of us to never take good health for granted and that we should always take care of those that need support.

  1. Something to Spoil

I tend to be on the strict side when it comes to parenting, but when it comes to someone giving a gift, sometimes I know I can’t say no. Although Brooke, our youngest and soon to be two-year-old, may not appreciate it right now, I know she would love for a family member to gift her ear piercing one day. But I’ll save this one for when she’s a bit older…

  1. Something to Share

As an amateur baker, I love spending hours in the kitchen, whipping up delicious, sweet treats and making the house smell like fall (basic and proud). Back when we were solo-kid’ing it, I used to bake all the time with Jake. With two, it’s a bit chaotic, but I’m looking forward to putting together a basket of sprinkles, add-ins, and food coloring to introduce the great world of sugar highs and red stained hands to my little ones. Bring on the cookie swaps!

  1. Something to Create

Our oldest received an amazing monthly subscription box to Koala Crate from his Teetee and it was something he looked forward to each month. Not only was it fun to receive mail that was especially for Jake, but it included an educational book, and two to three crafts or games. One box keeps us busy for about a week, so it’s well worth the money and a nice gift to give a family member.

There are so many fun ideas that encourage family bonding and that help avoid cluttering up the house with unnecessary, oft-unused toys. What are some of your favorite ideas?