The holidays (and really any gift-giving occasions) are a great time to teach by example how experiences and intangible things that matter are a lot more valuable than just getting or giving more “stuff”.
Here are some gift ideas for kids that aren’t toys:
1. Their own membership to a place they love
If your kids love animals, you could get them a membership to the local zoo or aquarium so they can go spend time there whenever they want to. Same with music venues, museums they enjoy, or recreational parks with mini golf, laser tag, etc.
2. Classes and lessons
If your child is interested in photography, art, theater, dance, sports, carpentry, horseback riding, basically anything at all, you can find an awesome class where they can go to learn more about it and get better at it. This could be done as either a one-time class or a term’s worth of multiple classes/lessons.
3. Tickets to a fun event
Use the gift-giving occasion to give them the gift of a new experience: the symphony, their first live-action play, their first 3D movie, a music concert, a sports game, whatever they would enjoy. You can do it so that you’re going to go together, just special time for the two of you, or give them two tickets and tell them they can invite anyone they want.
4. A magazine subscription
Not only will they get the one-time gift of the subscription itself, they’ll get mail every month, which is exciting for kids. Ranger Rick, Highlights, the Babybug/Ladybug/Spider, etc., series are great magazines with high quality content for kids.
5. Musical instruments
If they have expressed interest in a particular instrument, you could get that for them, along with lessons, and maybe a movie or video showing that instrument doing something awesome in action. If they’re too young to have an actual instrument, you can make them their own or get them a small one, like a shaker. Small keyboards with sample tracks and different sounds are a lot of fun for kids to play with, too. Label the keys with the corresponding notes and teach them how to read music.
6. One on one fun activity time
Give your kid the option to choose a fun activity doing whatever they want with you – ice skating, swimming, skiing, boating, bowling, roller skating, a picnic, whatever they want.
7. A cute or fun piggy bank
Make saving fun for kids and get them a fun piggy bank to start putting their money in. You could put a little fun money in to get them started, and consider getting a bank that has several different slots for saving, fun spending money, and money to donate or share with others.
8. Snow Trip
If your kids have never seen snow, plan a trip for them to go see and play in it. Plan for hot cocoa with marshmallows, sitting by a fire, sledding, snowman-building, snow fort making and snowball fights, and some really great memories to make them love the cold and snow.
9. Ski or Snowboard Trip
Another great way to experience the season together, whether they’ve seen snow before or not, is to go on a ski trip together. Be sure to take plenty of family pictures, go up to the top for the view if you’re able to ride back down without having to ski down if your skills aren’t up to snuff, and definitely invest in at least one lesson (or more, if you can!) if it’s anyone’s first time – it will make the trip and the activity much more fun. And even if it’s not their first time but they just want to get better, a lesson can be a really great gift to increase skill and help them get more out of their riding or skiing time.