Gift Giving Ideas for the Holidays

When it comes to the best gift giving ideas for children, many of us feel stumped . We all love the gratification of seeing kids open gifts from us with total excitement and joy. But we often purchase kids' gifts that break easily, are only used momentarily or aren’t developmentally appropriate.  

In the spirit of the Holiday Challenge, I wanted to share some of my favorite “non-stuff” gift giving ideas for kids this holiday season. Instead of feeling compelled to run out to the store last minute or purchase the trendiest toy, let’s give gifts this year with more purpose and intention.

“Non-Stuff” Gift Giving Ideas for Kids 

Below, is a list of thoughtful, “non-stuff” gift ideas for children. I’ve also included some ideas on what you can wrap to represent the gift so kids still have something to open (since that’s half the fun).

  • A membership or day pass to your local zoo, aquarium or children’s museum: This is a great way to explore your city as a family while also giving children the opportunity to learn and explore. You can wrap a small figurine (like a fish or animal) or a map of the location to represent the membership/passes in the event you don’t have the actual tickets yet.  

  • Tickets to a children’s play, musical or ballet: Maybe your child’s favorite show happens to be in town or he/she simply enjoys performing. Whatever the reason, your child will love the experience of attending a show or performance, especially if there are children or young adults performing and sharing their passion on stage. Wrap the tickets, a book or CD representing the show or an outfit they can wear to the event.

  • A trip: You can plan a trip that you know your children have been asking for (vacation on the beach, visiting a family member, Disney, etc.) or plan a trip together. It could be a week long vacation, a camping trip or just a day trip. Whatever the length of time, your kids will love the idea. If you plan the trip together, empower them by giving choices. For example, “We can go camping here or here" or "We can go these dates or these” and share what each choice offers. Part of giving a trip as a gift is including your children in the process. You can wrap an item they will need to take on the trip, include photos and/or an itinerary.

  • A mommy or daddy date: Having time alone with one parent is so special for children. Don’t we all have a special memory of some one-on-one time with a parent? Kids love having our full attention! You could plan an outing and include some of your child’s favorite activities or plan a special outing together. Get your child in the process by asking some questions. “What are some activities that you would like to do together?” “What does a perfect day with Dad look like?” You can give younger children two choices at a time, so they can be a part of the process too! You may start off the day with an outdoor activity, then choose a favorite restaurant for lunch and end the day with a creative craft. Create a voucher that represent the mommy or daddy date and a list of fun activities to do together.  

  • Lessons or classes: Are there any hobbies that your children have been especially interested in or asking to do? Look into various classes or private lessons. Some ideas could be sewing, cooking, baking, knitting, pottery, painting, gymnastics, music, languages or martial arts. Wrap a material they will use or need, like an apron for cooking or needles for knitting.

  • An activity of their choice with a friend: Since children don’t have much decision making power, especially when it comes to outings, your child will love getting to choose where to go with a friend. Your child may have a favorite spot that isn’t necessarily your favorite, so remember it’s about honoring their choice. Some ideas are: Rock climbing, bowling, ice skating, roller blading, pottery painting and the cinema. Make a few passes that can be used throughout the year. You can also create some solo vouchers that would be just for your child to use.

  • A special class at home: What is a hobby or a passion that you have that you don’t tend to share with the family? Maybe you make bread, bird feeders or model airplanes? Whatever the skill, plan a way to share this passion with your children. Take the time to prepare a class and something your kids can create during “the class”. Another idea is to ask a friend to share a special skill. Perhaps you have a friend, who is an amazing cook, and would happily give your children a cooking class at home or have you over. You could offer to do the same for your friend’s children or offer a nice bottle of wine as a thank you. Wrap an item that would be used during the class like a frying pan for the cooking class or a hammer for the bird feeder.

Gift Giving Tips

  • Think of creative ways to give these gifts so your child still has something to open. You can make it fun by placing boxes of smaller sizes into boxes of larger sizes, Russian doll style. Who doesn’t love opening box upon box?  

  • What stuff is needed to give this experience? You may not need to purchase anything additional at all. Check the house and see what you already have that can be used to represent the gift. Or you may prefer to purchase a small item that is new to represent the gift like an animal figurine to represent a zoo membership. In some cases, you may even be able to rent what is needed. It’s not that I’m against purchasing tangible gifts. It’s all about making choices with intention!

  • Make a small list of thoughtful tangible gifts that friends and family can purchase from. I recommend an Amazon Wish List for this. It may seem rude, but it’s a great way to keep gift giving in check and keep things purposeful in your home. Here are some ideas for gifts that have staying power and are educational too.

  • Another ideas is to invite family members to contribute toward experience gifts or come up with their own ideas!

I hope this post helps you enjoy the holidays with a bit more purpose and intention this year.

I would love to hear from you. What are your favorite, non-stuff, gift giving ideas for kids?

Keep well,