Last week marked the official “100 days until Christmas”… and believe it or not, I’m actually finished Christmas shopping for my kids!
I never planned to finish so early — and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t even realize how many gifts I had stocked away until last week when I purchased a few more things from our local Just Between Friends sale.
After the sale, I decided to quickly look through everything I had for the kids’ gifts (after they were all soundly sleeping for the night) and I was shocked to see I only had one “toy” item for Simon and 1 “toy” item for James — otherwise every other gift was something besides a toy.
Then, the very next day, I got 2 emails and a Facebook question asking how I deal with all the toy gifts around the holiday season… so today, I’m talking about toy gifts (or rather, the lack of toy gifts)!
First of all, I should mention that compared to many people we know, we don’t give our kids many gifts for birthdays or Christmas (usually just 1 birthday gift and a few smaller Christmas gifts). This is not because Dave and I are anti-gifts or because we can’t afford gifts, but rather, it’s because of the following factors…
- they are very young and still don’t really grasp the concept of “gifts”. They are just as excited about a book or clothes or candy or a cardboard box!
- they don’t NEED anything — we have more than enough toys, books, games, clothes, crafts, and more!
- we often give them things throughout the year — not just birthdays and Christmas (for example, we got a new kiddie pool this summer and gave it to them right away, and we recently got new shoes for everyone and let them start wearing them right away)
- they get quite a few gifts from relatives 🙂
Second, we hardly spend any money on our kids’ gifts — this is a conscious effort on my part because I much prefer buying used whenever I possibly can (read why in this post).
I certainly do NOT think there is anything wrong with spending a bunch of money on gifts for your children (or for anyone) if you have the money and if that is a way you enjoy showing your love. However, our kids are hard on their toys and clothing, so if I buy it used for $1 or $2, I’m a much nicer mom because I don’t stress over them ruining something expensive. They can play with it until it’s worn out and then we’ll throw it away or donate it if it’s still usable.
Finally, I want to mention that we do NOT worry about making sure our gifts are “fair” for each child. We don’t stress about giving each one the same number of gifts or spending the same amount of money on each person. We just give them things we know they will like, things they need, and things they will enjoy.
Anyway, I’ve been asked for non-toy gift suggestions so many time over the past couple of years that I figured it was time to write about it again. First I’ll share what we’re giving our kids for Christmas this year, then I’ll share a few more non-toy gift ideas at the end of the post.
NOTE: not all the items are pictured below as some were in a spot I couldn’t get to while they were sleeping.
**We will probably give Nora the wedding dress and the frozen shirt for her birthday in November, but I included them in the picture anyway.
- Dress-up clothes (a waitress costume and a wedding dress — I’m guessing it was a flower girl dress — for $3 each at a second-hand sale)
- Playdough “tools” (got this for $5 on Craigslist and it has a TON of accessories — I will buy NEW playdough to go with it!)
- Beads to make jewelry (I randomly found these on clearance at our grocery store for $2)
- Boogie board (from Costco — and the only “new” item I purchased for her. This will be for her to keep in the car to “write numbers and make lists”)
- A Frozen t-shirt (from Craigslist for $1)
- Unicorn Backpack (I used gift cards to buy backpacks for each kid and we’ll use them for vacations and traveling)
- Dress-up clothes (a police uniform for $3 from the second-hand sale)
- Personalized dump truck book (I got this for free with a Groupon deal last month)
- A huge yellow dump truck (from a neighbor’s garage sale for $2)
- Coloring book (from the dollar store)
- Slippers (got them on clearance last year but they were way too big for him so I saved them)
- Raccoon Backpack
- Dress-up clothes (some of Simon’s old things that are still too big 🙂 )
- Set of small wooden trains ($1 from a local thrift store)
- Pj’s (from our neighbors garage sale for $1)
- Lift-the-flap books (he got them as a baby gift from relatives but I saved them since he couldn’t use them as a baby and he LOVES these type of books now)
- Chameleon Backpack
** Most of these stocking stuffers were (or will be) purchased from Hollar.com for only a copule bucks.
- candy and snacks (fruit snacks, granola bars, Tootsie Rolls, M&M’s suckers, etc.)
- Christmas ornament
- socks and underwear
- markers, colored pencils, or crayons (I stocked up during after school sales)
- tiny flashlights (they love these things!)
- nail polish and chapstick for Nora
- new loofahs for their baths
- “coupons” for Culver’s Custard
Thanks to the gift cards that allowed me to get all 3 backpacks for free, I only spent around $50 for everything listed above — and $20 of that was for the Boogie Board (which I have been wanting to get for Nora for a long time already).
Talk about some frugal Christmas gifts!
Obviously, the main reason I can get away with such frugal gifts is because my kids are really young and don’t understand “new” versus “used”. In fact, aside from one trip to Buy Buy Baby to return something, they have never even seen a real toy store. I’m fairly confident Nora thinks our local thrift store IS a toy store.
That said, I was fairly impressed with the how easy it was to go almost completely “toy-free” for 3 children under 5!
Even if you don’t want to buy used gifts (or give hand-me-down gifts) I feel very confident you could easily give several super fun gifts that don’t require walking down a single toy aisle.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with giving kids a few toys for their birthday or for Christmas, but if you’re specifically looking for some non-toy gift suggestions, here are a few of my favorites.
A few non-toy gift ideas:
- pj’s and slippers
- jewelry or watch
- hats, scarves, gloves, sunglasses, or other accessories
- backpacks, bags, purses, wallets, etc.
- new water bottle or lunch bag
- movies or DVD’s
- musical instruments
- Christmas ornament or yearly decorative item
- games or puzzles
- arts and crafts
- sidewalk chalk and bubbles
- toiletries, makeup, hair products, hair accessories, nail polish
- food, candy, or other treats
- educational kits (science experiments, nature explorations, etc)
- dress-up clothing
- fun neck pillow or blanket for in the car
- something new for their bedroom (poster, decoration, pillows, comforter, lamp, etc)
- restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, or “coupons” for a family night out
- a special event with a parent or friend
- savings bond or cash into a specific bank account
If you’re looking for more gift-giving inspiration, check out some of the other posts (links below) I’ve written about gifts over the past 6 years!
Ideas for charitable donations (for the person on your list who literally has everything)
Clutter-free wedding and bridal shower gift ideas (just in case you have any over the holiday season)
If you’re still running stuck, just Google or search Pinterest for “non-toy gifts” and you’ll find endless suggestions!
Like I mentioned above, the point of this post is NOT to say we shouldn’t buy toys for our kids — but rather to offer some ideas and inspiration for those of you who know your kids will get so many toys from relatives that you need to come up with a few other ideas for your own gifts.
With a little bit of planning, I feel very confident you (and your children) will thoroughly enjoy the upcoming holiday season, even without a boatload of new toys…