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Gift Ideas for Children that aren't Toys

Updated on July 13, 2012

Holidays and birthdays seem to include an obligation to buy gifts for children. If your house is anything like our these gifts are soon overflowing the children's rooms and pouring out into the rest of the house. So other than a cease and desist in gift giving what can you do to preserve your closet space? I have a list of several gift ideas that wont take any room in your house.

ice skating lessons at our local rink
ice skating lessons at our local rink | Source
horseback riding lessons
horseback riding lessons | Source
outdoor adventures
outdoor adventures | Source

Gift Ideas that Get Ride of Clutter

Amusement Park Trips as Gifts

Many people will save money to provide a trip to Disney Land or Disney World for their children. Rather than setting aside extra money for Christmas gifts use that money and make your Disney trip and Christmas trip. Imagine your children's excitement when they wake up Christmas morning and they open a card full of Disney pictures while you explain that see those images in person is their gift. Your children will be packed and ready to go in no time.

However, you should not forget the smaller parks. These parks are usually less expensive and more conveniently located. Search your location for theme parks, water parks and fairs.

For younger children you could also look for play centers, bouncy houses, and zoos. For the older children include go carts, arcades, mini golf, laser tag, paintball and science centers in your search.

Artistic Lessons as Gift Ideas

If you have an artistically inclined child the gift of lessons in her particular art form would be ideal. (I use her because it is more typically the girls who are exploring the arts, but if you know a budding Picasso then definitely get that boy some art lessons.)

For the musically inclined there are a variety of lesson possibilities. Depending on your child's temperament (and your pocket book) you can choose individual or group lessons. Whether your child is a singer, song writer or guitar soloist there are classes available. Also, don't forget that you can get piano, percussion or just about any musical instrument instruction for your child. If you are unsure were to go to find instructors try your local music store.

If the visual arts are more your child's style, here too there are a variety of possabilities. Painting, sculpting, and photography are all ways that your child can explore the visual arts. Ask about instructors at your local art supply store or try a ceramic studio for painting on a medium other than canvas or for use of a potter's wheel.

And let us not forget theatre and dance. There are usually several theatres and dance studios in any populated area. Theatres devoted specifically to children will avoid the hassle of subject matter that is too mature. Shop around for the studio that best fits the needs or you and your child. Remember to consider how your child's needs will grow and change as she will be unlikely to wish to leave her friends after she has become established in a studio. If money is an issue the local YMCA often offers dance classes at a cheaper rate.

Athletic Lessons as Gift Ideas

Art lessons are not the only type of lessons available. If you have a sports star in the house consider a sports camp. These camps provide your child the opportunity to work on his skills with other like minded kids. Sports camps can usually be found for sports like baseball and basketball. However, if ice skating or hokey is more your child's style inquire about group lessons at your local ice rink. If your child is particularly skilled in his athletic endeavors consider hiring a private coach. When your child is beaming with his next athletic trophy you will be glad you did.

Adventure Trips as Gift Ideas

If you have a nature lover or adventure seeker consider the variety of outdoor adventure available. White water rafting, hiking and ski trips are great ideas for older kids (or even Mom and Dad). Make it a family adventure or (depending on their age and maturity) send them off with their friends. It is a gift your children will love and it wont clutter the house.

The Gift of Tickets

Finally, don't forget the possibility of tickets as gifts. Weather you buy tickets to your child's favorite concert or movie tickets redeemable for any non-special-feature movie your child might start to think you are a little less uncool than he or she thought. But don't forget the younger child. We always make a gift of the latest Disney movie to our girls. They quite enjoyed sitting with Mom and Dad as they munched their candy and watched the princess try to rescue her mom.

As you can see there are a wide variety of gift possibilities that wont encourage your children's materialism or add to the clutter in your house while still allowing you to express your love through gift giving. So enjoy your next holiday without worrying about the overflow of gifts.


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    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      5 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Glad the ideas were helpful. I know my girls have more toys then they know what to do with so outside the box thinking is always appreciated.

    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 

      5 years ago

      My grandson's fifth birthday is right around the corner in March and this hub is perfect timing. I plan on renewing my membership to the Discovery Center in Rockford, IL again as we both love going there. He hasn't taken swimming lessons yet and loves the water so I may enroll him in a session. Of course checking it out with his Mom first. Thanks for all the cool gift ideas!

    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      6 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thanks for the support! And, yes, books make a great gift. Although we usually go to the library for our books. Otherwise the books would take over the house! And I do agree that time is by far one of the best gifts you can give your children.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 

      6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      These are all excellent ideas. I am a writer, and my wife a professor, and we are childless. We give gifts to a niece, and to children of friends. We aim to inspire and educate - so experience beats out things, every time. If you are going to give a "thing" then books, if the child reads, or toys from MindWare, are good ideas, as they are more about fun than possession.

      But there is one gift greater than all of these - the gift of time. Let us enjoy time with the little ones while they are little. This can include trips to museums, galleries, even restaurants with new and interesting cuisine, walks in parks and hikes or adventures anywhere from the beach to the mountains.

    • CassyLu1981 profile image


      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      Excellent hub :) I love all your suggestions. We like to give our kids gifts that don't cost money and I think it really helps them learn more about the "cool and fun" things life has to offer. Voted up and shared!!!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      YES! Love this Hub! I'm all about getting rid of clutter and giving 'experience' gifts instead of things. Thanks for the fabulous ideas!

    • lindacee profile image


      6 years ago from Arizona

      I wish this Hub was recommended reading for every parent. Wonderful alternatives to toys! Voted up, useful and interesting!

    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      6 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thank you, K.

      Riverfish, I agree toys can be a real hassel - especially when you consider how little use the toys receive.

      JPCMC, my girls love showing off the new things they learn, plus it's fun watching and learning with them. Great fun and learning experiences for all. :)

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      These are great ideas. Providing new experiences and learning experiences are great gifts. We just have to know what our kids like to do and take it from there.

    • Riverfish24 profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Nice suggestions! Really, after some time, toys are nothing but a pain for parents to store and use. These outdoor paid options are SO much better.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      I love the idea of gifts that won't end up in a toy box, garage sale or trash can. These ideas are fantastic because they will generate lasting memories and family bonding. Plus, they will allow kiddos to explore different realms of their personality and venture out! Great job Joy! Up, Awesome and Shared -K

    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      6 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thank you.

    • talfonso profile image


      6 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Those are spectacular gift ideas! I'm rating this up and sharing it with friends!


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