Over the past few weeks, I have been going through closets, baskets and bins, purging everything we don't use. It's a little bit embarrassing how much stuff we've collected over the years, especially since we had kids. It's amazing how many things I can find behind the couch or under their beds.
One thing that became clear is that we have way too many toys. And of course they aren't just simple, easy-to-put-away toys. They are toys that have 8 million parts and pieces, which end up scattered between every room in the house.
With my daughter's birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, we vowed to not buy any more toys. We have plenty, and the ones that we do have either don't get played with or are treated poorly.
My husband and I have been brainstorming some creative non-toy gift ideas that our daughter would enjoy. If you are also looking for some unique gift ideas that won't add to the clutter, check these out...
I personally believe you can never have too many books. Reading is so important for every age, so you can't really go wrong with a book. Sites like Goodreads, A Mighty Girl and Barnes & Noble often have great recommendations for kids. Depending on age or reading level, you can also give a set or series of books.
2. Art supplies
My girls do art on a daily basis so we go through our art supplies pretty quickly. I know they'd be thrilled to get some new things as gifts. If you are looking for an inexpensive gift, art supplies are the way to go. Some ideas? Packs of good-quality paper, crayons, markers, colored pencils, chalk, paint, watercolors, brushes, play dough, clay, beads, a chalkboard or easel, etc. The options are endless!
3. Learning gadgets
Think outside the box and give a "toy" that's really more of a learning tool. Some ideas? A bug-catcher, a globe, a telescope, a magnifying glass, an ant farm, gardening tools, puzzles, a science kit, etc. These kinds of gifts might add to your clutter a bit, but they are awesome things to have on hand for curious kiddos who love to learn and explore the world around them.
You can find instruments for kids of every age, even babies! Our toddlers love their mini piano, drum and wooden xylophone. If your child is ready to choose an instrument of their own, a birthday is a great time to gift them one! Maybe they want to play violin or guitar. Maybe they've been begging for a drum set or a saxophone.
5. Sporting equipment
Another great non-toy gift idea is sporting equipment. It's great for kids to be active and outside. Consider giving them a new bike or helmet, a soccer ball and cleats, a baseball, bat and glove, ballet shoes and a new leotard, a yoga mat and a yoga video for kids, a football or basketball, a frisbee or jump rope, a trampoline or rollerblades.
Many kids begin doing organized sports or taking lessons when they are 3-5 years old. If you think your child is ready, consider giving them lessons for their birthday. Some ideas? Dance class, soccer or baseball, swim lessons, music lessons, yoga for kids, karate, gymnastics, art lessons, etc.
Another great way to celebrate your child's birthday is with a fun and memorable experience. Instead of more "stuff," consider gifting them a fun outing. For example, a day trip to the zoo or science center, a movie out with friends, a special concert or play, a fishing trip or a visit to a local children's farm, a fancy dinner out or a birthday manicure, a sporting event or a night at the skating rink. These kinds of gifts are fun for the whole family!
A membership or season pass is another great non-toy gift idea for kids. Consider purchasing a membership to your child's favorite museum, science center, zoo, pool, amusement park or aquarium for a gift that lasts all year long. This is a great idea for grandparents, too!