Non Toy Alternatives for your child’s Christmas list

As Christmas and my daughter’s 1st birthday roll around I’m having to think about what to put on her Christmas list. What won’t be on there?….toys.

This might be a hard sell for the grandparents but we don’t have the space or the need for a bunch of toys she will outgrow within a few months.

So I started thinking about non toy gifts we could add to her Christmas list. These ideas will work for older kids too but are especially geared towards young kids.

baby with presents text overlay non-toy gift ideas for kids

Let’s face it, many toys are really for us parents. We buy them because we think they’re so cute…even though we know our child will probably be more interested in the box.

The only toy your child generally likes is the one that’s guaranteed to drive you insane. (My daughter loves the keyboard my grandmother got her which thankfully does have a volume button)

kid making noise mom covering ears

When we go to visit my grandmother my 10-month-old has a basket of stuff that we literally refer to as her junk, because that’s exactly what it is.

It’s plastic containers filled with items so it makes noise if she shakes it, random plastic items, an empty water bottle. And she will play happily there with that basket of “junk” over and over again. She doesn’t care at all that none of them are labeled fisher price, Vtech, or baby einstein.

Now don’t get me wrong we do have toys. We have blocks, and balls, and noisemakers.

She will get a few items for Christmas but those will come from us. I try to choose toys that will grow with her so that I get more bang for my buck.

family and kids opening christmas presents

My daughter is blessed to have 4 grandmothers, 3 grandpas, 2 great-grandmas and numerous cousins. So you see how quickly our home would be taken over if everyone got her a toy for Christmas. So what are we asking for as alternatives to toys?

Here’s what is on our list!


I love to read and want to start building her a library early. I wish books were cheap but they really aren’t.

parents and child reading book

I know we could go to the library or get them second hand but I’m still a bit of a germophobe and babies don’t exactly play gently with their books.

I’ll also be asking them to inscribe a note in one of the books to make it a special gift.

You can check out some of our favorite books on our sister site.


My daughter grows like a weed and at 10 months she’s wearing mostly 18 or 24 month clothes. Our stash from the baby shower is long gone.

Hopefully, clothes can help appease the grandmas need to buy cute things for her while giving us something that is an actual need. Since it’s a gift they may even want to spring for items from one of our favorite baby boutiques.


I’m a stay at home mom right now, but that means most of the time we do stay at home. Without me bringing in a steady income we have just enough to pay our bills, which doesn’t leave money for all the fun classes that are offered for moms and babies.

We take plenty of walks but I would love to go to gymboree, mommy & me yoga, etc. Unfortunately, these classes seem to run about $20 each, even if we only wanted to go a couple of times a month it adds up fast. So, I’m asking for gift cards so we can do some special activities and have some good bonding time.

young girl and giraffe

Experience gifts are even better as your kids get older. My girls are now 5 & 3 and this Christmas we’re getting a Museum pass and maybe zoo passes as gifts from the grandparents. It will keep them entertained far longer than most toys!

College Fund

She’s 10 months old, do we really need to start a college fund now? Let’s face it college is expensive and the costs only seem to be rising. I’d like to save her from having to have the debt my husband and I have from college loans.

jar of money on side labelled college fund

If we start saving now we should be able to pay for a large chunk of her education 18 years from now. My father has already opened a 529 account for her that we contribute to.

My grandmother used to buy us savings bonds every year although a 529 is usually a better way to save for college now although you can still buy bonds on


I use this non toy gift idea specifically for birthdays but you could use it for Christmas too.

I heard about this great tradition where family write letters to/for the child on each birthday and then when they turn 18 or upon graduation they get a big box of letters from the family.

wooden box of letters

Letters full of hopes and dreams, letters from family members that no longer are living, letters full of memories of their childhood. I love the idea and the grandparents…well the grandmothers at least have been into it.

You can read more about these yearly letters here.


For toddlers snacks can be a great gift idea. Little kids are eating machines and pouches and puffs can add up quick. So give the family a list of your kids favorite snacks and let them create a little treasure box of your child’s favorites as a gift.

I love these type of consumable gifts because they’ll get used up and eventually be gone. Snacks for younger kids and then things like little craft kits for preschoolers (although snacks continue to be a good gift idea too).

If you’re looking for a few inexpensive gifts to use as stocking stuffers check out my list of toys that cost under $10.

Toy alternatives for Christmas

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