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5 gift ideas for children (that aren’t toys)

5 gift ideas for children (that aren’t toys)

Need to buy a child’s gift and don’t know what to get? It feels like there is always someone to buy for, whether it is our child, nieces and nephews, grandchildren or friend’s parties. Sometimes it is hard to come up with an idea, especially when the child seems to have enough stuff already.

When a child receives lots of toys for their birthday or at Christmas time, they are initially excited. Most kids love the thrill of opening up a present to find a new thing inside.

Once the shine has come off a bit and the gift doesn’t seem so interesting anymore, the following two things tend to happen:

1. There is an increase in overwhelm for the child. They have too much choice about what to play with. They get distracted. They don’t delve into deep, meaningful play. There is too much mess to clean up.

    2. There is overwhelm for the parents. This tends to affect the primary caregiver, who is home the most. They have to find a spot to store it, create systems for toy rotations, tidy it up, and manage the pieces.

    It’s a lot. When I’ve gently asked some family members to avoid buying toys or less of them, I have been told, “but they like it,” or “they’ll be so excited opening the box.” Yes, of course they would be but in the end, as a parent I have to manage all the stuff. We have so many more things and toys than a generation or two ago. This wears us down and can steal some of the joy of motherhood.

    I have been on a journey of decluttering. It has made a world of difference in our family. It is important to have gift ideas for children that won’t add to the overwhelm, go to landfill or break the bank.

    Here are 5 gift ideas for children:

    1. Toy library voucher

    Toy libraries are amazing. My local one has gift vouchers for purchase for just $35 a year or $20 for 6 months. It is a brilliant way to give the gift that keeps on giving without adding to the excess in the family home. This can be bought with another family to keep cost down or even put money in the card to go towards buying the toy library membership.

    2. Op shop voucher

    Money doesn’t go very far in department stores. When my son went to spend some pocket money, the $15 barely bought one Paw Patrol car. We went across to Savers and he was amazed at what he could purchase.

    You could offer to take the child shopping to spend it, and could go towards books, clothes, shoes, dress ups, or art supplies. If there was a particular toy they wanted they could get that too, and when they get bored with it, sell or donate and then buy a different one. This reduces the impact on the environment because you aren’t buying a new toy with packaging, and the child is choosing something that they really want.

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    3. Books

    Growing up we had an uncle who only ever gave books as gifts. This didn’t always seem very exciting, but I secretly loved having a new one of my own to read. I loved being able to write my name in the front and keep it in my bookshelf. I could reread it again and again. Books can be expensive but they don’t have to be bought new. You could buy a set of books from Marketplace or Gumtree, or from an op shop for a fraction of the price. It’s nice to check first with the child or parents that second hand is ok. If they say it’s fine, money will go further meaning more books for them!

    4. Audiobooks

    Listening to a story in the car can help to pass the time, especially on long trips. It can be a different option to screens during rest time at home. They can be a relaxing way to wind down at bedtime. These can be bought as a CD format (new or secondhand) or downloaded on a device to listen on a speaker. Apps like Libby and Borrowbox even let you borrow audiobooks from the library for free!

    5. Buy an Experience

    This is my personal favourite gift and love when my boys are given one of these. The options are endless but here are some that won’t break the bank. Some could be money towards an experience, or pay for themselves and the child to do together as a special outing.

    • Movie voucher
    • Bowling
    • Pony ride or lessons
    • Waterslide
    • Swimming pool
    • Roller skating
    • Play cafe
    • Farm visit
    • Ice skating
    • Animal sanctuary
    • Zoo
    • Aquarium
    • Boat or ferry ride
    • Trout farm or fishing trip
    • Strawberry or apple picking
    • Theatre tickets
    • High ropes course
    • Mini golf
    • Rock climbing
    • Cooking course
    • Drive in
    • Circus
    • Plaster fun house

    RELATED : Why You Should Consider A Toy Library Membership

    We have compiled a list of experiences and outings that our children have never done before. This is stuck on the fridge for ideas and inspiration for special weekends or if someone asks for a present idea. This helps our children to focus on less material things and helps us remember about the fun things we can do as a family.

    Too much stuff can create stress in our lives, but meaningful experiences creates memories. I encourage you to be extra intentional with gift giving going forward. Toys themselves aren’t bad, but children can only play with so much. They only need so much. Less things to manage can help families feel happier too.

    Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you below or connect with you over on Instagram or Facebook.

    Melanie Wegener