Swimming in Toys?! Here are Some NON-Toy Christmas Gift Ideas…

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non toy gift-ideas

I can’t be the only one that feels like I’m swimming in toys these days, right?? They used to be contained in the playroom, but I reclaimed that area and I forced them all into bedrooms. Yet, I’ve somehow found myself tripping over toys in every room again.

4 Gift Rule

This year, we’ll try to follow (as best we can) “The 4-Gift Rule for Kids”, because the idea of getting more toys in just a couple of months is terrifying to me! If you’re feeling overwhelmed too, check out this list of non-toy items that make great gifts…

Kids at Zoo

Green Kid Crafts

  • Subscription Boxes: Kiwi CrateLoot Crate, Green Kids Crafts, World Book Junior Explorers, and Kid Stir are all great monthly subscription boxes for kids.
  • Tickets to an Event: Movies, sporting events, symphonies, plays, ballet performances, dinner theater, concerts, circus, etc. My kids love anything that makes them feel special and grownup!
  • Hobbies/Classes: Craft, dance, theater, horseback riding, pottery, art, musical instruments, cooking/baking, karate, gymnastics, etc.
  • Kits: Magic KitScience KitTelescope/Astronomy KitRobotics Kit (we own and love this one! My kids took the “Boat Bot” to the pool multiple time this summer!)

Spa Kits


  • Camera and/or Photo Album: These popular new INSTAX Instant Cameras are so fun! My kiddos are each getting one along with a photo album.
  • Wrist Watch: Maybe it’s just my kids, but they think that wrist watches are the coolest new retro-ish thing. Man, I feel old…
  • Art Supplies
  • Kid-Size Tools: Regular ToolsGarden Tools, and Cooking Tools are all very exciting to kids.
  • Bedroom Makeover: A new bedding set or desk can give kids’ rooms a very personal touch. Making an art wall is a fun idea, too, if you have a little artist like I do.

Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.

Join The Discussion

Comments 61

  1. Stefanie

    The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix is worth checking out ๐Ÿ™‚ More for middle school age or so.

    • h2sdanielle

      I’ll check it out! Thanks, Stefanie!

  2. jkdurham

    My daughter loves the owl diaries

    • Sara

      If she’s done reading a few of the books would you mind sending them to me?

    • h2sdanielle

      Just Googled this series- I think my daughter will love it! Thank you for the suggestion!

  3. Kristin

    These are some really great ideas. I would personally love to do a family trip. I would love to give the kids a gc to buy something at our destination a new swimsuit and a beach bag and go. And maybe one Santa gift ;). I think it would be a lot less stressful and a lot more fun.

    • h2sdanielle

      What a fun idea!

  4. Kari

    Depending on the age of the kids, Kohls has series with the matching stuffed animals for $5 each for Kohls Cares. I’ve bought 3 of the sets. I just bought the Clifford the Big Red Dog set, and they also have the Madeline, Paddington Bear, Corduroy, and Curious George available now. In saving Clifford for My one year old’s Christmas.

  5. Michelle

    I love to get a great deal and toys are some of the best deals out there…so instead of spoiling my own children I have used my savings for good… I make ” birthday bags” for children at the local food bank. I include a larger toy, party supplies, cake mix & frosting, cupcake pan & liners… It has been both rewarding and exciting to get to spoil so many children… I know everyone donates at Christmas but this is something for year round giving๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Susan

      Great idea:)

    • Jamie

      Oh my goodness, I love this so much and I think this might just be my daughter’s new project for the school year. We homeschool and she really wants to start volunteering but she isn’t quite old enough. This will be perfect!

      • Michelle

        I label each bag according to age group and gender(1-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9& up). One thing I will say is not all food banks will be receptive to this idea… Crazy… Yes the food bank I go to is 2 towns away… But when u find the right place to donate it will be awesome! I also volunteer once a month when I deliver bags and I look forward to it all month!

        • Kim

          That is awesome Michelle! Way to do something good in this world. It sounds like you make a lot of kids’ days:)

    • Dawn

      This is great. Kids in need always have a birthday we can help Brighten their day instead of just Christmas. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Julia L.

      You are so kind. I’m definitely looking into this. Thank you for sharing and for being such a thoughtful person. The world needs more people like you! ๐ŸŒป

    • h2sdanielle

      This is a great idea! My local mommy group does this, too! We love to donate both Christmas gifts and birthday baskets to the homeless shelters. I LOVE the cake idea, too! Thanks, Michelle!

    • Krista

      That’s an amazing idea!! If you don’t mind, I might share this with my family and church group, we’re looking for new ideas for ways to donate and give back.

  6. Bleau

    The Fudge books

    • h2sdanielle

      Yes! Love these books! Thank you!

  7. Dawn

    This year we are doing Disneyland! 4 of my 6 kids have never gone! And they will each get $40 or $50 spending money to use. Plus “morning” gifts each day they can use for the trip or the day. We got tired of all the toys and it was turning into something we didn’t like. This year is going to be a great memory! (Although I will miss the beautiful tree loaded with presents underneath too, but that only lasts a few hours anyway and is over the next day!)

    • h2sdanielle

      I’m not sure I could let go of my tree, but I love the memories over toys idea! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • April Rose

      I bet Disneyland will have some great Christmas trees!!! Take lots of pix and make an album for or with each kiddo (depending on ages.) Go forth and make memories. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Jamie

    My daughter really enjoys The Magic School Bus series.

  9. Amanda M

    This year I am trying to steer from toys too, my in laws( kids grandparents) will be gifting us a weekend trip as a family which I love and think it is an awesome idea. For my oldest(10year old girl) I am taking her on a special mommy/daughter date to NYC to see Aladdin on Broadway. My goal is to make memories and share time together not have yet another doll thrown in the back of the closet in a bottomless bin lol

    • Nicole

      Your trip sounds amazing!!! What wonderful memories for your daughter!!๐Ÿ˜€

  10. jolene

    I recommend the Kingdom Keepers books, they are written about Disney World, my kids love them. They are about 5th grade level and up.

    • Tracy

      Thanks so much! I’m going to check these out for my 6th grader. We go to Disney every year for Christmas for around 10 days with just a few little gifts while we are there and what Santa leaves when we get home!

    • h2sdanielle

      I’ll have to check these out! Thanks, Jolene!

  11. Sabrina

    My son loves The Boxcar Children series!

  12. Tracy

    Santa is doing a sleepover theme. Both girls will get a suitcase (still looking for a deal), sleeping bag, overnight bag with polish, face masks, etc that I grab when I see deals.

    Then we will do a certificate for a night at a hotel with a pool.

    • Cheyenne

      What a great idea!!

    • h2sdanielle

      I bet my girls would love this! Fantastic idea!

    • Mandi

      Great idea! Herbergers Home Store always has crazy cheap sales on good luggage – I have bought many of these bags – Leisure brand – and they have all stood up to major air travel abuse for over 10 years! I just checked and you can get a black 24″ upright for under $15 online right now! In the store, I always see all sizes available for the same price – never over $20 even for the huge size – and there are always lots of colors and designs! Hope that helps – here is the link to the 24″ I mentioned: http://www.herbergers.com/product/470122.html?CID=GOOG-PLA-AS&gclid=CNXl1O22x88CFQMoaQodRQUOIQ&kwid=productads-adid^53182897341-device^c-plaid^109976880251-sku^0044142463309@ADL4HERBERGER-adType^PLA

    • Mandi

      Herbergers Home Store has the best suitcase deals – look for Leisure brand! I have these and they really last! They are available online too (24″ upright is under $15 right now!) – Totally worth buying!

  13. april

    I love these tips. I need to give more nontoy gifts. My son’s birthday is only two weeks after Christmas so it’s always like toys, toys, toys, toys… toys. I swear they multiply overnight.

  14. Jo28p

    Best gift ever were water park passes! My mother in law got them and my kids have a blast and we always have something free to do in the summer!

  15. Margaret Kelly

    Do the Instax cameras ever go on sale?

    • Cheyenne

      Yes! Sometimes they even have a buy a camera get a free roll of the picture paper thing!

  16. alienna21

    39 Clues books- different authors write different books in the series. I’d say good for 4th grade and up.

  17. Rachel

    I like to get fun themed family board games or travel books/activities. Nothing like Haunted Mansion Life!

  18. Ellen

    Love this…thank you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re welcome Ellen!

  19. Hayley

    My 11 year old loves the new James Patterson’s series for kids. He is such a great writer. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How cool. You’re welcome Haley!

  20. Nb

    One year I gave my nephew a fort kit and put it in a bag so he always had his supplies. It turned out really cute. Also did a dress up bin. Scoop up costume deals after Halloween, a basket or something from Home Goods to hold it all and then make a cute tag.

  21. Susan Crawford

    I have 2 nephews and 2 nieces and I try not to buy many toys. But every year I take photos of their birthday party. I and wait for the free shutterfly photo books or I will do a placemat with their age. It makes for nice memories that they can have. Plus I usually buy one nephew a new winter coat. It works out well.

  22. Lucy

    Michelle, what a great idea! I love it! You are such a blessing to those children. Thank you for doing that. You are making the world a better place one birthday at a time. โ˜บ๏ธ

  23. Happymama

    Last summer, my daughter was 2 and fed the giraffes at out local zoo. She’s 3 and still talks about it! I think it’ll be a special memory that will be lasting!

  24. Kristen

    Book series shout-out to some oldies-but-goodies: Encyclopedia Brown, Boxcar Children, Chronicles of Narnia, Black Cauldron, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys….

    • h2sdanielle

      Great suggestions! I totally forgot about some of those. Thanks, Kristen!

  25. Jenn S.

    My dad gets my family six flags passes in September so we can use them as soon as we get them and they are good for the following year. My kids know that its for Christmas and they love it. Plus it takes the stress off my dad who doesnt enjoy shopping even for himself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • h2sdanielle

      Love that idea!

  26. Mel

    Thanks for these great ideas Danielle! Love your posts. My kids’ birthdays are a month before Christmas and a few weeks after so we give them the option of a traditional birthday party or a trip (i.e. zoo, aquarium, camping) and they have always chosen the trip. I definitely think they will remember the trip memories much more than a party and helps us cut down on the “toy-nado” around the house.

    • h2sdanielle

      We have two January birthdays, so I totally get it! Thanks, Mel!

  27. jennifer

    I want to get this camera for my daughter for Christmas because I got her a neat scrap booking kit and I think she would love it. Is $50.99 the best price on these?

  28. Liz Struzik Hornung

    My son and I love everything written by Stuart Gibbs. He did a trilogy based on the 3 Musketeers that was fabulous. We love his Zoo books, his Spy books and his mysteries set on the first Moon Colony. I will say the books are for 3rd grade and up, and I feel the author really understands boys. Loved the explanation on how to go to the bathroom in zero gravity.

  29. Jenn

    Dream House Kings, Little House on Prarie, Nancy Drew, The Hobbit, older kids might like CSLewis’ scI-fi series, Sisters Grimm, the Broze Bow, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler, Lunar Chronicles for teen girls, and our family favorite Bunnicula.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh my goodness, I forgot all about Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Great suggestions! Thank you, Jenn!

  30. Laura

    I keep checking for the lowest price for fuji camara set on Amazon. I just feel there is going to be a amazing deal coming soon

  31. Megan Goodnight

    My 11 year old daughter loves the Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell. It’s a comedy series written from the perspective of a 14 year old girl in her diary.

  32. Lacey Fox

    We are doing the same thing in our house this year! (Something they want, need, wear, read) Thankfully I have the reading part all taken care of! If you have never heard of Usborne Books & More, you should definitely check them out! My son LOVES them and well because of that I got into the business opportunity. Feel free to check them out and see for yourself. They have over 1800+ titles in a wide range of interest areas. Interactive, fun, and educational all rolled into one! This is the link to check them out: https://k5631.myubam.com/ (Hope it is okay that I posted it) I am new to this and a customer turned great friend shared this with me <3 Happy Holidays to you all!!

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