Holiday Gifts for Kids: Thinking Outside the Toy Box

Holiday Gifts for Kids Thinking Outside the Toy Box USAA Community.pngWe have all spent a lot more time at home than in previous years, and I cannot be the only parent whose heart beats a little faster thinking about the influx of new toys around the holiday season. I can almost feel the pain from the next Lego brick I'm going to step on...


As I reminisce about previous gifting seasons, I recall one of my daughter's favorite gifts (at two years old) was a subscription to Highlights magazine (their books for babies are perfect for traveling, spills, drool and don't tear!). This got me thinking, what other non toy gifts could we request or give this year?


In an effort to limit the amount of “stuff” we have, while remaining grateful for the generosity of family and friends, I asked some military spouse bloggers to share their favorite non toy gift ideas this holiday season.


Sarah We love the gift of experiences- like memberships to the zoo, museums or tickets to go see a stage performance! 


Tessa:  We have also gifted tickets and been given music classes, craft subscription boxes and a much needed night away! So much better than a present!” 


Kelly: We donate money or time (recipient's choice) to a charity in the recipient's name. We have also continued this on for family members who have passed to keep them included in the holidays. 


Britni : I've always gotten joy from giving - whether that be picking out something for someone else who is in need (like a Christmas Angel type program), or giving time to someone else in need. I'll never forget Christmas caroling when I was a little kid - we visited homes of the elderly and their responses and the looks on their faces still stay with me today all these years later. 


Kara F: We do our countdown to Christmas with books, I go to the children's consignment store and buy 25 books (most are $1) and individually wrap each one, then he opens one each day until Christmas


Kara P: Tickets or passes. My kids are 7 and 11. I like to get them a pass for a museum or the zoo. I'm also buying my 11 year old tickets to see Harry Potter play with the symphony. I'm big on experiences in our house, more than things.


Bridget: For our kids we like to give them anything that will help them be creative such as art supplies, books, puzzles, science kits, etc... We are an outdoor family, so we will also buy them hiking, backpacking, and camping items. My daughter this year is interested in photography (I am a pro photographer as well) so photography related equipment to help her be creative in that sense. Basically anything that can help a child be creative and to get away from toys, video games, cell phones, computers, and the TV.


Alejandra: My girls are in gymnastics, so they get excited over new leotards. I'm sure kids in other activities might also like to receive related gear. Baseball glove, helmet, etc. Also want to add, for my oldest, we got her a Little Passport subscription. She's loved it!


Pamela: Books are my favorite book to give kids for holidays and birthdays. There's never a gift that doesn't include at least one. Depending on the age, I also like to do experiences to new places, movies, or dinner at their favorite place


Sonia: Our 'non toys' is definitely the gift of time. We plan special times with our kids and ask that family do the same. We rarely get to see family so their time is more valuable than any gift they could buy. 


Ashli: We love to create memories - toys break, clothes get too small, but memories last forever. A Christmas Eve box with a DVD, pajamas, a special ornament & a "voucher" for a fun family experience that can be redeemed at your child's choosing (obviously within reason!) It can be as simple as "going out for ice-cream at Cold Stone" or "a day at the zoo."


Jennifer : I love this gifting plan for our kids: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.


Lizann: We don't do many toys. We prefer books, art/craft supplies, science kits, sports equipment-- things that will keep them active. With my oldest (now 8), I plan a mother/daughter day to the Nutcracker or a concert. Our kids are 2, 5, 6, and 8.


I plan on gifting my girls (7 and 5) with an annual pass to a local aquarium and a craft subscription box. The joy of receiving something in the mail each month spreads out the Christmas cheer! What non toy gifts have you given in the past or plan to give this year? Please share in the comments!




This post has been updated and was originally published October 2017