Monday, November 11, 2013

10 Christmas Gift Ideas For Kids That ARE NOT STUFF

(Disclaimer - I have previously blogged a complaint about celebrating Christmas too early.  Please note that this is not celebrating, but responsible-parent planning!)

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Our mailbox has already begun to be inundated with advertisements for Christmas stuff - mostly toys.  One ad even said, "It's time to start making room for more stuff!"  (I think they were selling festive holiday organizational plastic bins as well as toys...) 

It's totally not my intention to get up on an evergreen-and-holly-scented soap box  (but oh, how I do love my holiday scented soaps!) and preach about materialism and the Christmas spirit. But when did the iconic symbol of a happy Christmas become an entire living room completely strewn with papers and ribbons - the remains of what was clearly a communal gorging on gifts??  

Please don't assume I'm some sort of anti-material goods wacko. I'm completely not.  I like stuff and gifts and toys as much as the next person, and I do in fact buy playthings for my children. (I have a particular weakness for books, arts and craft supplies, and wooden toys!)  But this year I'm trying to remember that "Christmas gift" does not have to be synonymous with "toys."

A friend and I were chatting the other day about making gifts count and had a mini brainstorming session on gifts for kids that are not "stuff."  Some of our ideas are included here...


And I'm not talking movie tickets.  What about to the symphony? Or to a play?  Check out what's playing at your local Theater of Youth.  Or see if your local philharmonic orchestra has shows especially for children if you don't think your little ones are ready to sit through a traditional concert.  (but they might be! you never know unless you try!) For ideas that are a little less cultural, shall we say, consider ideas like the circus, travelling rodeo, or monster truck rally!


Think of local attractions that a family might not get to without the gift of tickets.  For instance, we live near Niagara Falls but have never taken our kids on the Maid of the Mist boat ride that goes down into the gorge (obviously a summer activity!) We also live near a railway line that takes passengers for long scenic rides on a train pulled by a bona fide steam engine - my parents treated us to a ride last Fall! Think of stuff like that :)


to local museums, zoos, botanical gardens, indoor playground, gyms and pools.  Or consider looking at tickets for a special exhibit that will be opening at a local museum.  


The non-toy gift I think we're going to shoot for this year is a gift certificate for family bowling.  Our kids LOVE bowling, but we hardly ever go, so I think they'll really like this. Another one we've done before - for Father's Day - I bought an hour of archery lessons and some extra range time for my Dad, Russ, and the boys.  Some other family fun gift certificates might include indoor mini golf, a skate rental at a roller rink or ice skating rink, a couple hours at the driving range or batting cages, indoor rock climbing.


Make-your-own pottery shops, classes for sewing, knitting, etc... at your local craft store, hmm, what else???


Horseback riding lessons, cooking classes, dance classes, a spot in an athletic or fitness class (like a YMCA soccer, basketball, or youth aerobics), etc... 


If your family doesn't go out too often then a gift certificate to any restaurant will probably be a real treat for your kids! Maybe focus on a specialty food if you have an adventurous family, or a novelty restaurant if you already go out to eat often - I'm thinking of places like the rotating restaurant at the top of the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Canada :)  

(this "stuff" is ok because it doesn't take up space or need dusting!)

This came to mind because I've been trying to build our own library of digital audio books and stories for the kids.  A gift card to Amazon, iTunes, or the like would allow a family to purchase electronic versions of books, audio books, music, apps, etc... to have on the family computer, Kindle, or other tech device.  It's "stuff," but not.   


This was one of the most creative gifts we ever got.  Two years ago, my parents signed us up for a Snack of the Month Club.  The kids loved it!  Who am I kidding??  I loved it!  Every month we got a box full of snacks on our doorstep - usually stuff I wouldn't have bought otherwise, so it was a real treat.  I've seen all kinds of these "clubs" - chocolate, fruit, popcorn, bacon.  You're sure to find something your kids will like!  


Sometimes a gift doesn't have to cost anything at all!  One of my kids' favorite gifts is when the receive a coupon for an afternoon of baking alone with Papa.  One on one time is priceless and is always appreciated by kids with siblings! 

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That's all I've got for now.  I'm sure there are plenty of great ideas that I'm missing, so please leave your thoughts on this subject in the com box!  We can get this list really rollin'!


  1. Wonderful ideas, we think along these lines as well and the kids love it!

    1. I agree - wonderful ideas indeed - especially the suggestion for memberships - they are great Christmas gifts that give for a long time - all year in fact! Nice share and a lovely blog!

  2. I don't know how I got here, but Hello!!
    This year we are thinking of a gift book for our kids, with 12 activites in the book to do throughout the year. Things my husband and I will promise to do as a family, instead of one of us taking the kids to give the other.
    Some things close to home, some further away, some free, some cheap, some more $$. Spreading the cost over a year, making memories etc

    1. What a fun idea! Kind of sounds like a coupon book! I love it!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. I was looking at ideas for Christmas presents and I'm so glad you've mentioned memberships. It's such an unusual but thoughtful idea. I am going to buy my son a membership to the pool and also to an educational games website (I was thinking of I love your gift of time idea too. Baking with mommy has a nice ring to it. Thank you so much for this list Theresa!

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  6. So cute I think all are Lovely Gifts for kids surely I will practice this thanks for sharing such a lovely blog.

  7. Those are really nice gift ideas, kid will love. I am gonna try out this with my kids. They will love it and also they will enjoy it. Thank you for sharing this blog.


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