I hear you, mama! You’re overwhelmed with the ever growing pile of stuff the kids don’t play with. You’ve considered not giving the kids more gifts. Trust me, I’ve been there. We’ve begged our family members to have mercy on us. Over the holidays, we had a pile of gifts and I still have a corner in our dining room of gifts that haven’t been touched. It’s ridiculous isn’t it? That’s why I think it’s important to beg your families to check out this great list of non-toy gifts to give for the next birthday or holiday. They take up WAY less space and will get more use than the 2.5 seconds they play with a particular toy.
What an amazing way to bring new stories, pictures, and educational materials into the home that doesn’t take up a lot of space. Plus, it’s really exciting for the littles to receive their own mail on a monthly basis. Its like giving a gift every month … how cool does that make you?
Highlights Magazines offers different subscriptions for all ages!
Hello! is for ages 0 – 2. Hello! is a much smaller magazine made of much more durable material to stand up to teeth, drooling, and
High Five is for ages 2 – 6
Highlights (the original) is for ages 6 – 12 (or for adults wanting to relive their youth. I won’t lie … I want to renew for myself lol)
Other good magazine subscription ideas:
National Geographic Little Kids – everything you love about National Geographic, but for your kids ages 3 – 6 years.
National Geographic Kids – adorable and jam packed with educational stuff for ages 6 – 12 years.
Cricket Media magazines – These educational magazines are available in 5 different subscription levels based on age from 6 months to 15+.
While these might be considered “toys”, there’s still so much educational value and family bonding experiences to be had with games. Plus, I still have room for games in our coat closet AND I’m tired of the 3 that we have that are age appropriate for my daughter. Here are a few toddler games I can recommend.
- ThinkFun’s Move & Groove: I reviewed Move & Groove a while back and fell in love with the game. My daughter calls it “the cube game”. Our family had a great time getting up and moving according to the instructions. This game provides family bonding opportunities, a few giggles, and plenty of opportunities to keep your kid active.
Think Fun has tons of other educational games for all ages too.
But, of course, there’s all the classic family board games.
Aside from the fact that we’re completely out of space on our bookshelves, books are always welcomed. My daughter loves reading so many books, that she practically has her own library and we still borrow books from the real library on a weekly basis. She’s been known to make me sit down and read all of our borrowed books in one day, too. And, she’s good about sneaking an extra book or two in the room at bedtime.
Looking for some great book suggestions? I recommend the following:
For babies and toddlers, Sandra Boynton books are an absolute must. They’re short and often very sing-songy (is that a word? Let’s go with it).
For preschoolers or elementary children, my daughter loves The Pigeon books by Mo Willems! We have quite a few and we’re always adding another to the library.
Don’t forget about personalized books! Check out I See Me! Personalized Children’s Books and gift sets!
Looking for more educational stuff for elementary aged children? National Geographic Little Kids Books are great. There’s tons that offer a wide variety of educational subjects.
ACTIVITIES MAKE PERFECT NON TOY GIFTS
I love the idea of having more activities available to do out of the home, but sometimes the expense of them is a bit of a deterrent. Some great ideas include:
- paint your own pottery sessions
- museum memberships
- zoo memberships (we already have this and love it)
- classes – art, swimming, music etc
- paint night
- experience or adventure – think Crayola Experience, Disney, camping or traveling!
MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION BOXES
There are plenty of age appropriate monthly subscription boxes that would be a great addition to the work we do at home. These can range from book subscriptions, crafts, or hands-on projects that I’d be grateful not to have to plan and organize.
I reviewed the Little Thinker subscription box which happened to take a lot of pressure off of me to gather and prepare supplies and kept my kiddo busy for a long time!
Green Kid Crafts offers subscription box plans as well as discovery boxes in their shop. These are Craft and STEAM Science boxes designed for ages 3-10.
Kiwi Crate looks like another good service – you can purchase subscriptions of 1 month or up to 1 year, or even purchase single boxes of your chosen them.
Even Little Passports came out with an awesome looking new subscription for preschoolers called Early Explorers.
Are there any subscription boxes you would recommend for toddlers and preschoolers?
FOREIGN OR SECOND LANGUAGE EDUCATION
Get kiddos learning more than their ABCs. Try giving a children’s kit for learning a foreign language or even sign language. There are intellectual benefits to learning a second language early on and there are plenty of options suitable for children. My two favorites are Dino Lingo and Signing Time.
Our favorite is ABC Mouse Early Learning Academy. I’ve done a couple reviews for them and am happy to announce that they have expanded their curriculum up to 2nd grade. You can find my latest ABCmouse review here to learn more, or go ahead and sign up for a 30 day free trial. The best part is, signing up for a few months or a year will keep the kids busy for longer than a week!!