Parents everywhere know it to be true at Christmas time and every other month of the year. Toys mate and multiply like rabbits in the middle of the night! Pure joy floods a child’s face when she opens a gift on Christmas morn, but fear strikes in the heart of those who care for the spaces they keep.
There are plenty of wonderful gifts to be given that don’t require batteries or an enormous toy box. Over the years, we’ve both given and received a number of treasured presents from friends and family that our girls loved and didn’t end up piled in the corner during the months following Christmas. Scratching your head on what you might be able to give? Check out this list of non-toy ideas for the special child in your life.
Museum and Zoo Memberships: If your budget allows, giving an entire family a membership to the Children’s Museum or the Indianapolis Zoo is a fantastic Christmas gift. Most families consider an annual fee to be a bit beyond their regular budget but would love to take the kids to these destinations more than once a year.
Movie Gift Certificates: Even if you hit the matinee, the cost of going to the theater continues to climb. Provide a gift card toward the experience of a child going to the movies or treat the entire family to a flick. Consider adding extra money for snacks, too.
The Bare Necessities: Socks and underwear probably aren’t on the top of a child’s Christmas list but once again if they don the faces of their heros, you might score some awesome points.
Movies at Home Gift Basket: Have less money in your budget to work with but still want to provide family fun? No problem. Put together a basket with a DVD or a gift card from Amazon so a family can rent or buy a digital flick instead (hooray for nothing to store!). Add some popcorn, candy, and other favorite snacks. Wrap the gift in a cozy blanket for the family to snuggle together under.
Bathing Beauty Bag: Bath and shower time become more like playtime when a child has a character towel and/or character themed body wash. Give the gift of a kid spa with all of the bath time extras parents love for kids to have but hate to spend the extra money buying. Bonus points if you include bath bombs, nail polish, or lotion for girls or body spray for teen boys (even if they overuse it).
Cooking Kit: My girls have always loved helping in the kitchen. Having a few items in the cabinet of their own allows them to own the experience and enjoy whipping up a treat a little bit more. Put together kitchen utensils, a mixing dish, and maybe the ingredients for their favorite treat.
Dine Time: Younger children especially love a plate graced with their name, fun colors, or a character. But even tweens and teens love a special fun mug or water bottle decorated with the emblem of their favorite superhero or TV show. Ask a parent what their child is into right now and find some coordinating dishes to delight this Christmas.
College Fund Money: Sure you may not be the fun aunt or uncle right now, but putting back a few dollars for the future instead of dropping $25-50 on Legos might be the very best gift of all. Consider establishing a 529 account for a child. You can start one with as little as $10 and add the money you’d spend on gifts there. You’ll have less to wrap but you’ll be giving a greater gift, for sure.
Spend Time Together: While certainly we all have childhood memories of opening an amazing gift or two on Christmas morning. Hello blue Barbie eye shadow, short cowgirl boots, and faux rabbit fur coat Christmas of 1985. However, we probably all would admit we’d much rather have the people from our childhood over the toys anyday. Instead of giving a gift, plan a special day. Go out for lunch. Read a book together. Color or create something. Serve and surprise someone with a blessing. You’ll give a gift that lasts a lifetime.
Character Blankets or Bedding: Snuggling up under a blanket feels even better when it features a favorite friend or character. Ask who the child loves the most and then buy a blanket, sheets, or pillow to match.
Magazine Subscriptions: Give a gift that shows up every month of the year. Choose a great magazine subscription for a child. Right now, Amazon is featuring a number of great deals on magazine subscriptions for kids and teens.
Classes or Sports Fees: Fuel your favorite kiddos passion and dreams. Sign them up for an art class. Pay for special coaching in the sport of their choice. Find a 5K and register (bonus points if you run it together!).
A Watch or Fitness Tracker: For the kid that’s always on the go, consider a fitness tracker or watch. We LOVE the Vivofit Jr. by Garmin and our youngest daughter is never without hers. It interfaces with an app to not only track activity but to help you monitor chores, set alarms, and even unlock facts about animals on a special interactive game.
A Sleeping Bag: Camp, sleepovers, or simply a campout in the living room – a kid’s sized sleeping bag is a gift for parent and kid alike.
Digital or Audiobooks: Books are always a great gift. Consider giving the gift of reading but maybe in the digital or audio format this year to take up less space! Or consider giving a subscription to Audible.com.
Give a gift that lasts more than a year. Choose a non-toy item to bless those little ones this Christmas and watch both their faces (and those of their parents) light up with joy.
Check out my ebook Keep the Happy in Your Holidays: 21 Ways to Save Time, Money, and Your Sanity This Christmas for more money saving tips!
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out The Debt Free Devotional on Kindle.
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