My kids are blessed. My husband is blessed. I’m blessed.
We are blessed to be surrounded by friends and family who love us. We are blessed that those same friends and family are in a financial position to afford to spend money on each one of us at the holidays. And that love usually comes in the form of STUFF.
Some of the STUFF we receive are things we need, immediately consume or use over and over, and some of the STUFF looks cool, but ends up not being that cool, and sits on the floor/closet shelf/dresser and collects dust. Essentially, it becomes clutter.
And I’m sick of clutter.
So sick of it, in fact, that I sat down with my husband and threw out the idea of NOT exchanging gifts with our immediate family and instead taking that money and going on a vacation. He was thrilled with the idea, but believed (and rightfully so) that we needed to get our kids buy-in.
On a side note, immediate means my husband and two kids. And Santa still makes an appearance at our house. I can’t control Santa. He has a mind of his own.
The next night we had a family meeting and voted to take a skiing vacation instead of exchanging gifts with each other.
The radical part, in my opinion, is that my kids are not teenagers or young adults, they are nine and eleven. They are in the “gimme-more” years and yet chose to have an experience vs having more stuff.
As parents, we want to give our kids more than we had as children and everything their heart TRULY desires. But often times our kids’ desires are fueled by marketing, peers, merchandising and our own guilt. Looking back on my own childhood, there are several gifts that really did rock my world (hello, Barbie RV circa 1981 that was big enough to put a small dog in it and drive around), but there were tons of other gifts that ended up as clutter or even unopened.
However, our vacation to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park or a trip to Worlds of Fun with my best friend, those experiences still live on in my mind. Every time they pop into my head, they bring to a smile to my face and warm my heart. That’s something that plastic from China can not do.
And before you go all “You are a SCROOGE!!!” on me, I’m not saying getting rid of every present, but rethink the presents you give and look for ways to incorporate an experience into your gift giving.
With the help of my readers, who so graciously gave me a ton of ideas, here are 60 Gift Ideas For Kids That Is Not Stuff.
60 Gift Ideas For Kids That Is Not More Stuff
- City Zoo
- Children’s Museum or Science City
- LEGOLand/SEALIFE Aquarium
- City Pool Passes
- Amusement Park – most have deals around the holidays
- Water Parks
- Theatre Tickets (Broadway or Children’s Theatre)
- YMCA or local community center
- AMC Movie Passes
- Indoor Attractions (Pump It Up, Sky Zone, or bowling)
- Ice Skating
- Roller Skating
- Shooting or paintball range
- Sporting event (soccer, baseball, football, NASCAR)
- Local special events (circus, play, special exhibit, or concert)
- “YES” Day – have one day where you answer yes to every question/request
- Overnight in a hotel with pool with friends
- Great Wolf Lodge or other in-door waterpark
- Date night to Chuck-E-Cheese or Dave & Busters
- Camp out & hiking at local state park
- Upgrade your vacation – stay in nicer accommodations, extra days, more attractions
- Skiing at local slope or Colorado
- Membership to professional sports fan club – like the Blue Crew in my hometown
- Rent a boat and waterski or jetski at local lake
- Rock climbing
- Letter a month – give a grandparent or loved one 12 cards that are already stamped and have them send to your child
- Geocaching – download one of the best apps and spend the day
- Tie-Dye Kit – we’ve used this one and it is the BOMB
- Paint walls in child’s room – their choice
- New pet – tread lightly, because you will be the one taking care of it
- Frozen yogurt or ice cream shop
- Manicure/pedicure at local salon
- Haircuts/highlights at local salon
- Local grocery store – so they can get buy their own snacks
- Amazon – for Kindle books or Amazon Instant Video Rentals
- Google Play
- Xbox Live Gold Membership or Xbox Gift Card
Classes or Lessons
- Horseback riding
- Dance or ballet
- Guitar or Drums
- Pottery or Paint-Your-Own-Pottery
- Art Classes
- Makeup Tutorial
- Acting or singing
- Cooking or baking
- Sport (tennis, soccer, golf, archery)
- LEGO master builder
- Jewelry or sewing – most of the big box stores have monthly classes or you can do online classes at Craftsy.
- Monthly subscriptions services (Readers recommended ABC Mouse)
- Magazine Subscription (Reader recommendations include Highlights, Ranger Rick, American Girl, and Family Fun.
- Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, soap
- Hair chalk or coloring
- Character Band-Aids
- Toothbrush & fun toothpaste – don’t ask me why, but my kids go nutso for this every single year
- Lip balm or chap stick
- Small bottle perfume or cologne
- One day to be spent with mom or dad (or both) – with child choosing the agenda
A big thank you goes out to my readers who helped me compile this list.
What other gift ideas for kids that is not stuff can you think of? What do you think about trading stuff for experiences?