When will we learn? The things our children will look back and remember as adult won’t ever be the toys they received from Santa on Christmas morning or the palm-sized gadgets in their stockings. No, it will be the memories and experiences – not just from around the holidays but all year long. It’s not what they receive, it’s who they spend time with and what experiences they have. These non-toy gifts will help you give your children memorable experiences to last all year long, and for many years after that!
I am currently coming down off a cleaning and purging binge. It wasn’t pretty.
Every couple of months I hit a breaking point. I get stressed from the amount of time I spend picking up, cleaning, and sorting all the belongings in our house and my blood pressure spikes. I want to play with my kids, but there is another mess or another pile to sort through. It’s evident that we have too much stuff – more specifically toys.
When this happens my palms get twitchy and I start grabbing things to throw away.
If I see a toy laying on the floor… in the trash.
A single sock laying on the floor… gone.
A pile of coloring books that have been sitting on the counter for a week…. see ya later.
But this time, I went pretty far in my cleaning binge. I think maybe too far…
When the kids went to sleep one night last week, I ransacked the playroom, the toy box, and army crawled into their bedrooms to lurk around with my flashlight.
I filled my car full of boxes and bags of toys, clothes and equipment they’d long ago lost interest in, outgrown, or hadn’t played with in ages and did a midnight drop at Goodwill all before anyone would see the pile of bags (and try to drag everything back out.)
The next morning, I felt a pang of guilt for getting rid of so much in such a sneaky way – although also completely annoyed at the large amount of misspent dollars I had calculated in my head– all while I sipped my coffee eyeing the kids over the brim to see who would say something first.
And you know what? After a week, no one even noticed all the toys that were gone or asked for help finding anything!
That’s the moment I swore up and down we were doing something different for Christmas this year! We would not be filling our spaces back up with toys I would one day again purge on another cleaning bender.
Toys Should Not Be The Focus of Christmas
For me, I grew up in a house where mountains and mountains of wrapped presents practically ate our Christmas Tree alive each year. We’d sit down on Christmas Eve to unwrap a huge pile of gifts and then again on Christmas morning to unwrap another absurd pile of presents, tearing through one box after another, not even pausing to inspect the toy we had just opened.
When I think back to all the Christmases we had, as an adult I can’t tell you a single toy I cherished for more than a couple weeks. Actually, I can’t recall many toys I received at all.
What I can tell you sticks out from my childhood were the trips, the special moments with my sister, some of the traditions we had as a family and adventures we had together. These are still the things I cling to today and want for my own children.
This is precisely why we’re drastically cutting back the number of gifts each of our kids is receiving this year, and instead focusing on non-toy gifts.
That’s right, we’re gifting experiences and creating memorable time together as a family. Sure, my kids will get a small handful of presents but they’ll be more books, art supplies and maybe even a subscription box they can revel in all year long, but the “big ticket items” will be experiences.
There will be no black-Friday shopping trips or bulk orders on Amazon Prime that leave our delivery carrier dripping beads of sweat, or last minute trips at 9pm to Target.
Instead, I’m cracking down on meaningful and purpose driven gifts this year.
When You Plan Christmas Presents for Your Kids This Year…
Let me ask you this: How long do toys last in your house before they’re broken or lost among other toys don’t get played with very often? What about before they clutter your house, loose a piece, need new batteries and fill up your closets to only be played with every blue moon?
Before you buy your children and your family one more toy this holiday season, consider giving them a memory making experience.
Children and Parents hold onto memories; they don’t remember toys and objects. What they do remember are meaningful times, places, trips they took and experiences they had with family and friends.
These experiences, just as important as the traditions you have with your family, create a lasting family bond, a sense of belonging and security for children.
Memories will last a lifetime, toys won’t.
Here are 16 Non-Toy Gifts for Kids. These are wonderful experiences you can be excited to give to your kids, grandchildren, relatives and friends. Rest easily knowing that the memories they create will leave them happier than any toy ever would.
MEANINGFUL GIFTS YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE
- Movie Tickets
- Family Membership or Admission to a Local Attraction: Zoo, Aquarium, Museum, Children’s Museum, Ride on the Train or even a Kid’s Gym like Gymboree
- A Special Day or Overnight Trip
- Supplies for Camping or Something your family participates in on an annual basis. Sleeping bags and a family-sized tent may just be on our list this year too!
- Tickets for a Train Ride
- Sports Tickets – MLB, NFL, Basketball, Soccer, etc.
- A Family Outing – Amusement Park, Local Activity, Pottery Painting, Rock Climbing, Ice Skating, Jumping Gym, Bowling, Skating, Zip Lining, Horseback Riding, Roller-Skating, etc.
- Musical Instrument and Lessons
- Magazine Subscription – We love Kid’s National Geographic and Little Kid’s National Geographic, Highlight Magazine and Ladybug
- Fort Building Supplies – This blanket fort kit is awesome, and this construction fort kit we have so much fun building with it!
- Monthly or Quarterly Kit Subscription Service – See the full list of the BEST subscription boxes that give to kids all year long!
- Art Supplies and/or a Class – art supplies for kids of every age are always great gifts to foster your a child’s love for the arts, as well as use their imagination. A great option would be to pair art supplies with an experiences such as paint and brushes with a trip to a local paint your own pottery excursion or another form of art creation class.
- Tickets to a Play, Production or Musical
- Outdoor Equipment – A jungle gym, trampoline, climbing dome, bikes for the entire family, active equipment the entire family can do together. We’ve had this kid’s climbing dome for four years now and it’s still all of my kid’s favorite piece of equipment to play on – outside and when we bring it inside!
- Make Your Own Coupons for Monthly Dates with Mom or Dad
- Coupons for Special Outings such as Breakfast at a Restaurant, Hiking on a Sunday, Special Trip to the Water Slides, Tubing in the Mountains, or a Day on the Slopes, etc.
- Family Vacation or Mini-Trip
- Dress Up Costumes are great for letting kids explore their imaginations