Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.
I love the decorations, the music, the food, the gifts.
I love being with family and celebrating together and taking time to enjoy the blessings that we have each year.
As a little girl, I was one of those kids who used to be out of bed to open gifts before 5am. My parents used to have to make a cut off time to keep me in my room. But, it wasn’t just the gifts I was excited for –it was the magic of the whole experience. The glittering lights, the beautiful wrapping paper, my parents all happy and smiley, my mom dancing around the house baking and cooking and trying her best to make my Christmas memorable.
I loved that.
Since having kids, it has gotten even more special.
We rarely buy our kids things during the year –birthdays and Christmas are really the only time they can expect to receive random things they want without working for them.
So, when the holiday season rolls around, I am excited and ready with my long-held gift list of things Santa just has to bring.
Probably, I’ve been more excited about it than they have and every Christmas morning I wake well before them, giddy with the anticipation of watching them open their treats.
As they’ve gotten older, it has become more difficult to find things they want to surprise them with. Honestly, they mostly wind up with a couple of gift cards, a new phone, and clothes shoved under the tree every year and I feel as boring as I clearly am.
This year we have a major surprise planned for them that has gotten us rethinking our entire gift giving strategy.
We’ve always cherished the opportunity to give them non toy gifts and experiences over items whenever possible –taking them to concerts (we’ve seen Hot Chelle Rae, Demi Lovato, and American Idol together), sporting events (NBA or NFL games), special events (Disney on Ice, Cirque du Solei), and vacations just feel more meaningful to us than a new toy that will probably get kicked to the curb before the new year is even rung in.
Some years, we can’t make it happen, but when we can, we do and the entire family loves doing something together.
I don’t think I need to convince you of the importance of non toy gifts and experience gifts or why making memories is more important than collecting things (after all, you probably Googled something to wind you up here, so you get it), nor am I here to shame you for buying your kid a Nintendo and a snowboard this year (totally do that too). But, if you are looking for some great non-toy gift ideas or some experience gifts to give your children, I have a list to help inspire your giving this year.
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15 Non Toy Gifts and Experience Gifts for Kids
Art supplies and an art class.
An awesome art set will get them in the mood for the class.
Tickets to ski or snowboard.
Never done it before? Buy them lessons! We gifted The Dudes snowboarding gear, classes, and lift passes to our local ski resort one year.
A museum membership.
If you have young kids, look for a children’s museum nearby.
Amusement park season passes.
Buy them an apron and enroll them in a kid’s cooking class.
Or order them an at home cooking kit to try.
Give them a vacation.
And let them bring a friend! As they get older, this is something my boys love being able to do. It makes getaways so much more fun when they can share them with their pals.
There are tons of great family movies coming out around the holiday season this year that they may want to use their gift to enjoy during their winter break.
Take them to paint pottery.
This one could actually turn into a gift for a loved one from your kids!
Tickets to a play.
We’ve gone to see musicals and larger productions at the Kennedy Center, but we also enjoy catching shows at local community theaters. The Dudes always like getting dressed up for a mom date night.
Tickets to a trampoline park.
Because they are way cooler than bounce houses these days.
Go see athletes in action. Live near a university? See if you can get tickets to a game. Or, go see the pros. Tickets to a local NBA, NFL, NHL, or MLS game are such a great idea for young sports fans.
And think outside of the box –they might love catching Rihanna or Jay-Z, but if they truly enjoy music, they will enjoy some smaller, local acts too.
A clothing subscription.
There are several options for this for kids now. We are huge Stitch Fix fans and their kid product seems top notch.
Money for college.
This one is especially impactful for older kids about to head off, but even younger ones will be able to see the value of it one day. And, their parents will thank you!
This is one of our favorite non toy gifts to give. Even younger children can benefit from having a watch they can learn to tell time on. This Lego watch is a fun place to start.
The gift of science.
Kiwi Crate is our favorite way to gift this. It’s a monthly subscription box jam packed with awesome STEM activities your kids can do on their own.
Pay for a sport and buy them the equipment.
Think they’d dig soccer? Sign them up for a session and give them a soccer ball for Christmas. Think lacrosse is more their thing? Find a league, sign them up, and get them a stick for Christmas.
A gamer’s subscription box.
Loot Crate is the perfect subscription box for the teen boy in your family who geeks out about things like video games, Stranger Things, Marvel superheros, and the like. They send cool collectibles and funky graphic tees each month based on the theme you pick. My teenager LOVED it.
A get out of school free card.
A one day pass for your kiddo to enjoy a morning of sleeping in and hanging out. Throw in a lunch or movie date and it will be so memorable. We do these once a year but we attach requirements to them in regards to school. They have to have good grades, no major assignments, and no after school activities that are school based for the day so they don’t miss out on anything too important.