Top 10 Alternative Gifts for Kids that are NOT Toys


Invest in the child’s future. One really cool app I have for my son is called Stockpile.  They let kids buy and sell stock and the minimum purchase a child needs to buy stock is $1!  Best of all there are parental controls where you can choose what they can and cannot do. If a child has an educational savings account, you could deposit money into that.  Maybe a child is saving up for a big item toy, you could give them money to save for it.

A Magazine gift subscription, like Highlights is a fun, often affordable and educational. Plus they will receive multiple times throughout the year.

Subscription gift boxes like Kiwi Crate have everything from cooking, robotics, STEM learning, to art. You can choose the age and interest of the child to get the best fit.

Educational Apps for a tablet – like ABCmouse. Although if you live in San Francisco and have a library card you can get that for free (hint, hint). Nonetheless, there are a bunch of apps my son loves that are not only educational, but also cost money; sometimes a one time fee or they are subscription based. Be sure to know what you are getting and if there are in app purchases, be sure to disable that.

Books! You can never go wrong with a book, and for good measure throw in some playdough or a candy cane.

Clothes, shoes, pajamas, or even socks. These things are so great for your child to receive, especially as a parent. If they have some character on it that your child enjoys, even better! Just remember to ask about size.

Something for the bedroom. Ideally small if size might be an issue, for instance, wall decals. They are super cool and the options are endless! The great thing about wall decals is that they can come off without ruining the wall and they are generally very easy and fast to hang up. My son has Superman hanging up in his room and he gets to enjoy that everyday.  The best part? If one day he decides he doesn’t like it, we can easily take it down without having to repaint.

A flashlight! I know this one sounds odd, but this was a HUGE win with my son. The great part is he still uses it today, and I will admit, I have used it on occasion as well. Not only can a flashlight help kids that are afraid of the dark, it is small and doesn’t take up much space. Ours sits in his basket with books so that if the mood strikes us we can read a book in the dark with a flashlight (so much fun even as an adult).

A blanket. If you knit, it might even be cheaper. One of my sons favorite blanket is the one my Auntie made him. I have no idea what it is, but that is the warmest blanket it in our house. Even my hubs and I enjoy cuddling under it! Best of all, it was made with love special for my little guy.

Another favorite blanket I received was the quilt another Auntie made for my son when he was born. That quilt was so soft and cute, and although he has since outgrown it, I have saved it for my son to pass down to his own kids.

Playdough. A big hit every time! I recommend homemade playdough, it is the best! It not only last longer, it is easy to make and you can make it in bulk… gifting all those kids on your list in one swoop.

I realized how exciting playdough can be, when I got invited to a Christmas party on short notice. I didn’t want to show up empty handed, so I made playdough for all the kids, and to my surprise it was a BIG hit. Who would have thought?!

Whatever you decide to do for kids this year, just remember it doesn’t have to be a toy or an experience. Get creative, there are so many options like the ones listed above.

So, what is your favorite non-toy gift for kids?

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Jennifer is Student Midwife who runs Little Ones Welcome, a holistic practice where she integrates Western and Eastern perspectives on Fertility and Pediatric health. She offers services in Acupuncture, Elimination Communication, and Post-Partum Preparedness. Jenn lives in San Francisco with her Husband Oliver, Son Eli, and Dog Franklin. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, walking, gardening, or just listening to the ocean waves. Jenn especially loves traveling, enjoying a good meal, and just chillin' with her boys !


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