No Toy Christmas Gift Ideas

Updated on October 30, 2012
S.B. asks from Keller, TX
24 answers

The Christmas season is right around the corner. I am already being hit up for gift ideas from the Grandparents. My children have plenty of toys. Santa will be bringing more, I am certain. I am trying to think of suggestions that aren't necessarily toys, but my children will still be excited about and the Grandparents will enjoy giving. I know some will suggest memberships and movie passes, but knowing the gift givers, they will want to give something tangible that the kids will get excited about. (However silly that may seem). I have a boy and a girl. I have already come up with robes, jammies, and slippers. A jewelry box for my daughter. A beginner tool box for my son who is always his father's handman assistant. Books. Telescope. Ant Farm. ANy other ideas from you creative moms and dads out there?

ETA: My daughter is 4 and my son is 7.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Wii gaming system. Perfect gift for the whole family to enjoy.

Careful w/ the ant farm ... my nephew had one and they multiplied so quickly and somehow got out ... ants EVERYWHERE in his bedroom.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You mentioned an ant farm (great idea!) which made me think of the butterfly tent my mom got my girls one year. It was AWESOME! Don't just get the little butterfly thing, get the big tent where the kids can crawl inside with the butterflies. My girls would carefully climb in there, and then the butterflies would land all over them. It was really cool. Not only that, but they did get to see the whole process from caterpillar to butterfly (the caterpillars are mailed to you). We set the butterflies free after about a week. You can order more caterpillars whenever you want (we've ordered them about 3 times). The tent collapses and we store it in a plastic bin in the basement. Actually, just the other day my girls got the tent out for the first time in a year. We didn't have caterpillars, but they just played with the tent in the yard. A very cool thing to have!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Bah Humbug! I think you ought to go ahead and cancel Christmas because kids think it is all about the toys.

Kids need toys at Christmas. Santa has a toy workshop, not a sewing factory that makes them clothes. It's good time to weed out the old toys and donate some to families that don't have as much money as you do. It's also a great idea to rotate their belongings so they don't have so much to manage. They do this in child care and with kids with ADHD and other issues like this. It makes it seem like they get new toys every few weeks or months.

Too many toys is very manageable and is very little work if you develop a system to rotate them that works for you. The kids will play in their rooms a lot more because the toys are always new to them too.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Grand Forks on

Our zoo memberships and museum memberships are by far the best gifts we get each year, but how about a fish bowl and a Siamese Fighting Fish, a small terrarium and some stick bugs, watches, cameras or bedding. (When my MIL gives the boys their memberships she includes a small gift from the zoo or museum gift shop so they have a "package" to open.)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

No, it doesn't sound silly to me. My sister loves to give that much-desired gift that gets the "wow" factor when it's opened, so I get it.

You didn't mention their ages, so it makes it a little harder, but my daughter who is 7 loves arts and crafts. She also loves to write so last year I made a gift bag of office supplies - stapler, envelopes, tape, lots of print paper, bright post-its, color pens, note pads etc. She loved it. Does your daughter like music? How about a radio/CD player and a few Kids Bop CDs? Those butterfly gardens where you have to send away for the butterflies.

We also got my son who is 4 a tool box, a real heavy plastic one, but a smaller size. He stores his play handyman stuff in it. My son loves puzzles and games. Depending on his age, how about starting him on a quality electronic train set? It can be built on and added to as the years go by, then saved for his son one day....

This summer my kids were both completely into bugs, so bug catchers and anything scientific where you could analize or magnify the bugs was a hit. Since you are in TX you may be able to do this year round.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

They make jewelry boxes that your daughter can decorate herself. My niece got one last year and loved it. As for your son, maybe to go along with the tools a bird house kit, or maybe model airplanes or cars. Something he can build with his dad. My dad still has all the model airplanes he built with my brothers hanging in his workshop in our basement, and the boys are all in their 40s. Are they musical? We got a electric keyboard one year as a gift for all the kids and we loved it and played it often.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Toy box
Tents - the fold up kind
Outside toys

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Craft kits
Sea Monkey kits
Gardening tools
Magazines for kids

In the end, relatives/grandparents, will get things, even if you give them a "list", of things THEY think are fun kids' gifts, even if that is toys.
Because yes, they want to give something fun and tangible.
Which for most relatives, that means, toys.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

LED Blankets and Pillows. They are online and a bit pricey but my daughter (5) wants one every time she sees one!!

What about something bigger they can use when it's warmer (trampoline, pool, slide, swing set)? That way they are 'getitng something' but it's something they can/will use when it's warmer outside?

Arts and crafts things so you can do them together? Educational toys that are age appropriate?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Are there any movies that they have been wanting to see that are out on DVD? Favorite book series or characters (my niece LOVED fancy Nancy when whe was 4). Or if you want clothes that they will be excited about, you can request clothes with certain movie/book characters on them. I am not sure if you consider this a toy or not, but there are some really fun family games in stores.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Decorations/trinkets for their rooms. My cousin loved when we gave him a cool mobile to hang in his room.

Craft kits, as long as they are age appropriate. Someone gave my daughter (at age 4) a kit for growing crystals intended for age 8 and above. It had chemicals and too involved even with parental supervision.

An add on to an existing clothes, stroller, buggy, bed, etc.


Games like Elefun or Hungry Hippo.

Sport equipment for the 7yr old.

Toiletry kits for the bath.

Sunglasses and fun hats. School always seems to have crazy hat or crazy sock days, and it'd be great if those were on hand without requiring purchase.

Art supplies.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Not sure how old your kids are but.....:
-kids LeapPad
-Jewelry making kit for your daughter
-cute pillows for their rooms to decorate AND lay on
-new bed comforters in your kids' choice
-building blocks

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If they are interested in crafts, maybe a subscription to kiwi crate ( It says it is geared toward 3-7 year olds. They have sibling options if you want to have them share a crate.

I ordered a few for my kids and they seemed pretty nice but, at the time, I just couldn't get my kids interested in doing crafts. I have still have the boxes though, waiting for them to get more interested in doing crafts. (BTW, my kids were barely 3 when I first ordered them. They are now almost 4 and one is starting to show interest in crafts.)

For the 7 year old, maybe some car model kits. I remember when I was a kid they had some snap together ones so no glue was involved.

Another idea is a subscription to a kid oriented magazine. They could wrap up one issue and indicate more is on the way.

Depending on your living situation and yard size, maybe an outdoor playhouse for the younger one? Or a trampoline for both. These kind of fall in the toy category, but they are outside toys.

If it weren't winter, I'd suggest having them arrange for a jumpy house rental to show up the day after Christmas or something. It's not tangible but if it's the next day, it could still be fun.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

this may have been mentioned but Kid Towels or even fun bedsheets are a hit in our house.

Do your kids have a little kid sized folding table. and chairs. We used ours for years.

maybe they could buy a bookcase or LEGO organizer and a book or small lego set to got with it.

a baking set of kid sized utensils and a kids cook book.

my kids love puzzles and i don't feel too bad about not keepign them forever because they are pretty cheap.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Sports equipment - soccer ball, baseball bat & glove, etc.
Aprons for helping you cook/bake
New backpack/lunchbox for school
Something to hang on the walls in their bedrooms/room decor
Books, books, books!
Bike, roller skates, scooter, plasma car, etc
Children's cookbook
Art supplies

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter just had her 5th birthday and she only got one toy.We got her projector flash lights, a globe, a bike helmet, LOTS of books, movies, and games.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

Many towns/cities have educational stores where you can buy things like train sets, age-appropriate science kits, art kits, etc... Those are awesome stores! :) My daughter loved the puzzle books (story books that have a puzzle on nearly every page).

It's hard to get things that aren't exactly a toy, isn't it?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids could never have too many books and craft supplies :-)
Board and/or video/computer games are great too, because they can play together!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Oh, how I feel your pain! I had to deal with this with my mother-in-law! She absolutely refused to listen to any of our suggestions and would give my kids a bunch of junky toys they didn't want or like, wouldn't give us any of the receipts or exchange anything. So, after putting up with this a couple times and seeing she wasn't going to change, we decided after the season we would just give the stuff to Good Will. I would give my kids a few dollars to compensate and they were fine with it. (By the way, she STILL does this and my kids are in high school now!)

MY parents, on the other hand, would listen to our suggestions. Instead of several small toys, I would suggest just one toy and a book or game and then if they absolutely felt that wasn't enough, they could give cash (to put into savings) or a gift card. They (and my sisters) totally understood and loved our suggestions. In fact, it cut down on shopping for them and that was something they appreciated. They still got to see them open a gift or two instead of 100!! Ok, exaggerating, but it sometimes felt like 100!! lol!!

Also, my kids always had to clean out and give some of their toys to charity (either in November or December) if they wanted Santa to bring anything new.

Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

What ages are your children?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

A vacation to Disneyworld !!!!!


answers from Houston on

bath chalk, goofy shampoos, books with enclosed cds



answers from Colorado Springs on

More books! Art supplies! Even more books! Art kits are okay, but sometimes just a big tablet of paper and crayons or paints let them use their imaginations more.

I don't know how old your children are, but one of the best things one of my granddaughters got for one Christmas was a real camera. Not a "kids' camera" - those are unreliable and can try to take over your computer. An inexpensive point-and-shoot might be better.

If they're into music, give them some CDs of music they would like. If they're learning to play an instrument, give them a CD featuring the instrument they're learning.

You (not the grandparents) might think of giving them each a gift card to your local craft store so they can go after Christmas and pick out supplies for something they'd like to make.

Oh, did I say books?

(Oh, and save all the boxes everybody's gifts come in and then get your children to figure out what to make out of them.)

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