When my son was about 10 months old we transformed our office in the front of the house into a play room. It was great! I organized his little toys into a couple of bins and we put a foam play mat down on the floor. He loved it. Then Christmas and his January birthday rolled around and our cute little play room was pummeled with toys!! I suppose there aren’t many non-toy gifts to give a one year old that he would be really excited about. As a result, the two cute bins were over flowing along with the new toy chest. There was no containing it all!

Calvin is the first grandchild on both sides of our family and after his bumpy entrance into this world every family member, near and far, was ready to make his first Christmas really spectacular. Our family is amazing and an absolute blessing. But, my front room was ankle deep in toys 24/7 as soon as he learned to walk! The problem only multiplied when our daughter, Adelaide was born. Twice the toys at Christmas, and her February birthday was just after Calvin’s in the new year. Eekk! Toytopia!

Clearing a path for guests to walk into the house has gotten a little old. So this year we are looking for some non-toy gifts! Here are some of our favorites from years past and some we are considering this year.

The Gift of Adventure

This is one I am hearing so much about this year. People are prioritizing spending time with family and “experiential” gifts. What a great idea! Here are a few my kids have received in the past and few we would love for this year:

The gift of ice skating is a great non-toy gift to share with your child.
Give the best non-toy gift – special time with you!
  • Annual Passes or Day Passes – to the zoo, local children’s museum, science center, jump park, kids gym
  • Tickets to a show, movie, sporting event, or special program
  • Lessons for a musical instrument, dance, swimming, sports, or art
  • A special “date” where your child can go out with the gift-giving family member on an adventure
  • Tickets to a theme park or water park

Non-toy Gifts that Spark Curiosity

  • Monthly boxes – Little Passports has some great monthly subscription boxes that can be enjoyed all year long! The Early Explorers box is perfect for ages 3-5. There are lots of fun science experiment and STEM type boxes for older kids too. Amazon has also launched a STEM monthly subscription box with options for ages 3-4, 5-7, and 8-13.
  • Highlights magazine – this one is a little nostalgic for me. I loved these magazines as a kid! My parents got Calvin a subscription last year and he really enjoyed it. So fun to receive every month!
  • Kits that include everything for a art or science activity make for a wonderful gift! This Dynamo Lab science experiment kit contains everything needed to conduct 21 “mind-blowing” experiments. It’s great fun to learn through play!

Something to Wear

Ok stick with me here – I know this sounds boring. You don’t want to be the lame aunt that gifted your nephew a scarf for Christmas while fun Uncle Ryan bought him a drone. BUT, my kids have received some wearable, non-toy gifts that they were really excited about.

Boy using his new rain boots and umbrella gifts on a rainy day.
Calvin sporting his new boots and umbrella. He was thrilled it rained and he could use his gifts!
  • Rain gearKid-sized umbrellas and fun rain boots are an easy gift that offer a lot of fun! My kids each received these from Tyler’s aunt last Christmas and they LOVED them. As you can see from the photo, Calvin was thrilled to see that it was raining the day after Christmas!
  • Dress up costumesPrincess dresses are a big deal right now with my 3 year old, Addie. Extra points if it’s anything Elsa or Minnie Mouse. Calvin still loves to dress up too! Doctor outfits with medical supplies and any “heroes” are his go to.
  • Special shoes – light up shoes or shoes with a favorite character on them go a long way in this house! The kids love them and so do I. They both ruin shoes or grow out of them so quickly I will gladly accept a gift of new shoes.

Something to Read

My all time favorite toddler books are the Poke-a-Dot books by Melissa and Doug. Each page has little dots that the child presses and they make a popping sound. It seems simple but my kids are mesmerized by these books! They help with fine motor skills and a lot of them involve counting and animal vocabulary. They are great for the car or 10 minutes of quiet time. We also like the Play-a-Sound books. Each symbol coordinates to a symbol on one of the pages. So if you match the pictures it actually reads the book to you.

What are your favorite non-toy gifts? Tell us in the comments!

Also read: The Best Children’s Books about CHD