Awesome Gifts That Aren’t Toys

It's easy to focus on getting toys for kids for the holidays, but sometimes the best gifts aren't toys at all.  The holidays are a great time to get kids some things they need, some things they didn't know to ask for (like great books they haven't read yet), experiences, or to splurge on things you wouldn't ordinarily buy.  With four kids my home can easily become overrun with toys if I'm not careful so I always look for gifts that aren't toys to give my children around the holidays. Below are some gifts that aren't toys my children have actually received in the past – or will receive this year – that are great gifts not found in the toy aisle.  

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To be honest, you probably won't wow your child with a pair of jeans or socks they know you would have bought them anyway, but new clothing that is a little beyond the ordinary from what you might normally buy makes a great gift.  This year my kids are each getting something from Tea Collection.  Tea clothing is super-soft and super-cute.  I love their Everyday Play sets that make great gifts of coordinating outfits without the work, like this Galaxy Go Getter set with a hoodie and matching shirts and this Stellar Explorer set with coordinating leggings and shirts.  My kids love space, but tons of other themes from tutus to stripes are available.  Of course, everything is also sold separately and just a cute hoodie or beautiful sweater would also make a good gift.  Sizes start at baby and go up through teens.  For more traditional options, check out the classic line by Feltman Brothers that offers timeless styles for babies and toddlers.  

Keep your little girl's ears warm for years to come with these stunning rainbow ear muffs from Bari Lynn that will ensure she does not get lost in the crowd and will be the envy of her friends.  Good for little girls through tweens!  



Give kids something that will last many years with a nice piece of jewelry.  If your child is little, you can even start a tradition by adding a piece each year.  Isabelle Grace offers beautiful options that will last. Isabelle Grace offers cute Mommy & Me matching pieces, sure-t0-please heart or arrow necklaces, and tons of hand-stamped options for customization at a reasonable price.  Chamilia also offers beautiful options that are sure to please, many with Swarovski gems and others ready-to-gift in boxed sets with coordinating necklaces and earrings.  


Make a kid (or grown-up) on your list feel as through the night they were born was the most special night in the world.  These posters of The Night Sky  are completely customizable. Choose your child's birthday (or any special date) and watch a map of the stars that night appear from anywhere in the world you choose.  Then, enter your message, the child's name, a saying, or anything you wish.  Choose whether or not to have your print framed.  This is a gift your child can hang in any bedroom they inhabit for the rest of their lives.  

{ MORE: 15 Creative Ways to Dye Easter Eggs }

Museum, Amusement Park, and Zoo Memberships:  

A membership is a gift that gives all year long.  Choose a local children's museum or zoo for a gift that will keep kids occupied throughout the winter and beyond.  

Room Decor: 

An easy and functional way to jazz up any room is with a colorful rug. And because we are talking about kids, the rug should be washable. Check out these beauties from Lorena Canals.  This Happy Lanes rug is a great size for kids' rooms and the color scheme and design can grow with kids so won't need to be replaced once they enter the next phase of childhood.  

Kids love to hide in tents and under covers.  A cool lantern like this Lumo 200 can quickly turn into a prized possession. One very kid-friendly feature is that it can change colors. Parents will like that it's low-power and can last up to a month, even with daily use.    

Sporting Equipment:  

Wilson makes the best sporting goods for kids that are high-quality at affordable prices.  Basketballs, kid-sized footballs, football gloves, and more made for tossing the ball around for years to come make great gifts that the whole family can enjoy.


Walkie-talkies are a staple of childhood.  These Chat Tag walkie-talkies from Cobra are awesome because of their long range and because they can be clipped on to leave hands free for playing.  


Do kids really need their own smart speaker?  Probably not, but my kids' Google Home minis have replaced a lot of other gadgets we used to have.  It's great being able to ask Google to play lullabies at bed time, white noise once they fall asleep, have voice-activated dance parties, set alarms to indicate both when it's okay to get out of bed in the morning and when it's time to wake up, play guess-the-animal sounds, and more.  As kids get older they will be able to use their Google Home minis to check the weather in the morning, set timers for homework, and more.  It's also great to use multiple Google Home devices as an intercom to let the kids know it's time for dinner or time to leave for school.  


Kids generally only need one pair of shoes at a time, but just like grown-ups they like having a variety.  Check out these adorable shoes from Livie & Luca that are also super-comfortable.  My daughter loves her suede boots with fringe as a change from her everyday sneakers and my toddler son gets compliments on his kicks all the time – rarity for boy's shoes.  

Gift Cards:  

Even young kids like a little independence.  Get them a gift card to that store where they are always asking for a lollipop or ice cream cone. or even their favorite fast food restaurant.    

The Coolest Umbrella Ever:  

You may not give much thought to your umbrellas but my first time out with this Holo Umbrella that comes in both kid and adult sizes.  The iridescent colors shimmer in the rain.  My first time out with one I got stopped not once but two times by people asking where I got such a cool umbrella.    

Art Supplies:  

Art supplies are always a hit with kids from markers to glitter to colorful paper.  Give kids something different to make their gift of art supplies seem special, like these Bavarian Gnome Crayons. This cool DohVinci on-the-go Art Studio that is an all-in-one kit that allows kids to create with minimal mess and maximum creativity.  Or, get a Painted Rocks kit and allow kids to transform the included craft rocks into anything they wish.



Glittery Goo: 

Let's face it.  Everyone could use a little more sparkle in their lives.  Check out Unicorn Snot that works just as well as face or body glitter as it does in hair.  Kids will be thrilled to get glitter from a Unicorn on top of the awesome gel.


Lip Gloss:  

Gummy bears!  Lip gloss!  It's a perfect combination.  This set of Gummy Bear Lip Gloss is sure to please anyone on your list this year.  

Forbidden Food:  

Does your child always ask for a certain kind of candy or other treat that's on the no-no list?  Whatever your child desires will make a great gift to put under the tree.  

Show or Sports Tickets:  

Is there an awesome show or game coming up anytime in the next year?  Get tickets now and wrap them, then relive the excitement of Christmas once you go.    


Cool Nightlight:  

The coolest nightlight around has to the The Original Moonlamp.  These orbs are 3-D printed based on images from NASA satellites.  The lights can be adjusted to a warm yellow or cool white and are dimmable.  They are also cordless.  Unlike other nightlights that kids outgrow in year or two, the original Moonlamp looks just as good in a child's room as it would in a teen's room so it will last your child for years. This moonlamp is a great way to help your child drift off to sleep. They come in seven different sizes so you can fit one wherever you have space or get a couple to make a nice grouping.  

Cozy Blankets:  

Weighted blankets are hot this year as more and more parents learn about their benefits and ability to promote better sleep.  Check out Mosaic Weighted Blankets which come in a variety of weights, sizes, and styles ranging from traditional, to contemporary (think emojis and zebra prints), to luxe fabrics.  This is another gift that will last for years – and possibly be a gift for you as well if it helps your child sleep better and longer.  Or, allow your kids to get cozy under a blanket like this super-soft knitted Lorena Canals one that is washable – a must for kids! 



If there is one thing everyone could use more of it's books.  Books come in all forms!  These Highlights for Children My First 123 and ABC books are a great way to introduce kids to letters and numbers.  Get a gorgeous layered picture book like Into the Forest by Laura Baker that will likely become a family favorite.  Try the stunning Around the World in 80 Puzzles and allow kids to let their minds soar as they solve simple puzzles from pictures based on the famous book.  City by Ingela P. Arrhenius is breathtakingly illustrated, enormous book filled with iconic images from cities accross the world.  For slightly older kids, check out The Unicorn Rescue Society and allow your child to follow along on adventures where they try to protect all of the world's mythical creatures.  For a not-your-typical alphabet book, check out Animalphabet by Julia Dodson.  Children become engrossed in letter after letter while learning about various animals (yes, z is for Zebra!).

{ MORE: Why It's Okay to Be the Family Who Only Makes It to Church on Easter and Christmas }

DNA Test: 

A DNA test may not seem like an obvious gift for kids, but an ancestry tests like 23 and Me  will give kids the gift of knowing their family history and where they came from.  23 and Me just involves some saliva so no blood or needles are involved.  Choose from ancestry only or a health and ancestry report.   This is one gift kids will come back to year after year and can help ensure their next family tree assignment is complete.  


Science Experiments: 

Give your child the gift of learning with an age-appropriate science kit like this Magic School Bus:  Attracted to Magnificent Magnets Science Kit. Watch kids ooh-and-ahh as the figure out how magnets work firsthand. Klutz also makes many great science kits geared towards kids.  Some favorites are the Grow Your Crystal Mini Worlds kit or put a new twist on crystal with a Grow Your Own Crystal Jewelry kit.


A Camera: 

Say cheese!  This KiiPix Instant Camera is a great choice for kids who want to get behind the camera themselves.  It's simple to use, sturdy, and kids can get instant results. 

What gifts are you giving that aren't toys?

What do you think?

Awesome Gifts That Aren’t Toys

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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