Are you inspired to have a more simple holiday with a little less excess at the end of the season? Especially when it comes to your children?
You're not alone.
Since I shared these two posts to inspire more simple celebrations and to share our family's almost toy-free journey, I've gotten several emails asking for a bit more guidance.
Less toys? Yes! Less clutter? Please! Less consumption? Amen.
These ideas are easy to get on board with until it's time to wrap presents or stuff stockings.
But then what?
Right. That's when it gets sticky.
So Sage (12), Lupine (8) and I worked up a list of 101 toy-free (and many clutter-free, consumption-free, stuff-free!) gifts to give to your littles this season.
Going toy-free requires a little thinking outside the box, so be open to new traditions and a new way of doing things.
Remember: just because it's a new idea for your crew doesn't mean it won't be fan-freaking-tastic. You might find that you all love it more than you ever imagined.
A few thoughts before we embark:
1. We often go overboard in our culture. Way overboard. I'm as guilty of this as the next. But when I started to pull back on the gifts (and the toys) I expected my kids to be a bit disappointed. At least at first. But they weren't. The first low-stuff year was voted the "best Solstice ever" by them both (That was the year they each received an ornament and a love coupon.) Go slowly and see how it feels to everyone. This isn't a formula for a better way to do anything. It's just how we do things around here. It might be a fit, it might not. Be open to either option.
2. Consider making a gift of something you might do anyway. It sounds silly, but if you child wants to take a class or go to camp, why not give that as a holiday gift? It would surely be appreciated. And your budget will be so darn happy about it.
3. And finally, consider the child. What does your little one love? What makes them tick? I'm betting it's not only toys. Craft a gift that suits their passions. Because these are the gifts they will remember. A train-obsessed two year old would flip for a ride on a real train or a visit to a train museum. And a ballet-obsessed six year old would be wild with anticipation to see a ballet rehersal or performance. You get the idea.
Many of the gifts listed below are items I have actually given my kids through the years. Obviously you have to consider the age and interests of your child, but this is a solid jumping-off place.
But enough chatter. Let's get to it.
101 toy-free holiday gifts and stocking stuffers
Give an Experience
These are among our family's favorite gifts – to give, to receive, and to cash in!
- Gift certificate to the skating rink
- Gift certificate to restaurant, cafe, or ice cream shop
- Movie theatre tickets
- Museum membership
- Love coupons for special dates together (one per month or one per season would be fun!)
- Music or dance lessons
- Tickets to a play, a concert, or the ballet
- Horseback riding lessons
- Magazine subscription
- Sparkle Stories subscription
- Gift certificate to summer camp
- Sleepover party "gift certificate"
- Media time tokens (if children receive limited screen time in your home)
- Home pizza party coupon
- Breakfast in bed gift certificate
- "Coupon" for an night at a hotel with a pool with a parent and a friend
- Certificate (homemade is great!) for special event, midway tickets for the county fair, etc.
Kitchen Gifts and Treats
My kids have been busy in the kitchen since they could stand on a step stool at the counter. For this reason special kitchen-related gifts are always met with enthusiasm. (And yes, treats are too.)
- Child-sized tea cup or dishes set
- Recipe and ingredients for a special dessert
- Tea party dishes and coupon for a tea party with a friend
- Fresh fruit
- Homemade cocoa mix
- Candle for the dinner table
- Place mat
- Travel cup or drinking jar
- Dried fruit or friut leather
- Nuts in the shell and a nut cracker
- Personalized cloth napkin
- Child-sized kitchen tools
- Recipe box with favorite recipes and blank recipe cards
Get out there! To the county park, to your backyard, anywhere. Even if you live in the city many of these gifts can be used at your nearby park or even on your patio.
- Garden tools
- Garden seeds, small pots, and potting soil
- Rope, pulleys, and other open-ended hardware store treasures
- S'more ingredients and a winter campfire coupon
- Nature exploration kit (magnifying glass, bug boxes, plant press, butterfly net)
- Sunprint paper
- Ice skates
- Treasure bag or backpack for nature walks
- Water bottle and snack pouch
- Fire starting kit
- Sleeping bag and bedroll
- Certificate for back yard camp out with a parent
- Fort-making supplies
- Gift certificate to hardware store
- Tinkering kit – hammer, nails, screwdriver, screws, and wood
Crafting is our number one way to spend a day. That makes crafty gifts a natural win.
- Playdough ingredients and recipe
- Glitter, glue, sparkles, scissors, tape, glue gun
- Beading or jewelery supplies
- Stamp pad for thumb-print stamps
- Colored pencils
- Watercolor paints
- Sketch book
- Pencil sharpener
- Acrylic paints, brushes, and paint mixing tray
- Sewing supplies
- Potholder loom
- Yarn and knitting needles
- Calligraphy pen
- Modeling wax
- Scratch board and tools
- Candle rolling kit
- Peg dolls, paints and perhaps a peg doll book
- Paper bead making supplies and instructions
- Washi tape
- Needle felting supplies
- Project book, needles, thread, and fabric
Simple things can be gifts too. When I was a child I think Santa brought me new socks and underwear every year!
- Wool socks
- Analog watch
For some kids a spa gift is heaven on earth. Read those labels though, won't you? Go with the good stuff. (Disclaimer: shameless self-promotion to follow.)
- Lip balm
- Bubble bath
- Natural perfume
- Face pencils
- Body glitter roll-on
- Jewelery box
- Natural nail polish
- Spa night coupon and supplies
- DIY body care kit
Just for fun
These didn't fit anywhere else. But all are fun, so there you go.
- Bath crayons
- Personalized pillowcase
- Holiday ornament (homemade or purchased)
- Deck of cards
- Board games
- Photo album or homemade story book of the child's life so far
Tell me – are you inspired to go toy-free this year? What would you add to our list?
20 thoughts on “101 toy-free gift ideas to simplify your holiday”
My kids would love ALL of these. Zariah actually asked for gf flour and some chocolate chips and supplies for special treats! She doesn’t want many toys, but is getting oh so practical on her own!!
Thank you, these ideas are wonderful and I am going to use some of them for sure this Solstice and Christmas!!!
Absolutely wonderful ideas! I added this post as a link on the list of holiday ideas that I compiled on my blog 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
amazing ideas!! i’m going to go over these with my family. thanks for sharing.
Oh yay! Thank you, Rachel. This is timely and makes me feel a little more calm:)
Thank you Thank you! Shared on IG to my other simple living buddies and have a postie-note full of ideas for our T. Some of em, I have at home already but have never had time to play with!
Some great ideas here.
Thank you for sharing! Wonderful ideas for keeping gift giving from being so much overwhelming stuff. Happy holidays to you and your family. 🙂
This sounds amazing !
i feel so inspired !
Could you tell me what game is Lupine or Sage playing in the the last picture looks like fun to !
Its a shut box or shut-the-box that we found at a yard sale. We love it!
Love this! One thing we really love about the Solstice is making gifts for each other. There is something so special about a pillow sewn and drawn on, a clay pot, a poem, or drawing. Rarely do I have to buy materials or do much prompting. They are thrilled to be making, in secret, little gifts they know the other will love.
I absolutely love this! My kiddos don’t want or need anything, but my relatives insist on getting them gifts, and I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with something they could feel like they are giving that’s not “stuff” related. Thank you!
I LOVE the gift certificate for a homemade pizza party!
We are switching from toys to books and experiences.
I recently discovered a pottery studio not too far from us that does family pottery classes! I did ceramics in undergrad and can’t wait to share the experience of the transformation from clay into something completely new.
Inspiring list, thanks for sharing!
My children are getting berry bushes with help installing them. A non-clutter gift that keeps on giving!
Just last night a friend called to ask if my kids would be interested in taking pottery lessons with their kids as a holiday gift. I nearly went in to edit my list, it sounded like such a good idea. Clearly you agree, Kara!
This list is quite timely for our family. My husband and I just decided to have a non-electronic Christmas. (Our kids teen & pre-teens – toys = electronics.) Thank you so much for the ideas! My head is swimming.
We found one at a garage sale as well! We’ve had so much fun with it. Well worth searching out.
These are some great ideas. I really like gifts that make my child think. One gift of the past I gave my kid was a BeeStretchy stretchy band stem toy (https://www.beestretchy.com). It really helped me teach my kid about Geometry. I really like the idea of geodes! Really pretty and she can learn a little bit about earth science! Thanks!
101 toy free gift is one of the most beautiful post which i like the most. It is the best post which i have gone through ever in the days of my holidays.