50+ Ideas for Non-Stuff Christmas Gifts

I don’t know about you, but I was distressed last week to see numerous gleeful declarations that the Christmas season was now upon us . . . on November 1. I was still trying to find Oktoberfest in the grocery store.

I’ll spare you the rant on how the Christmas season doesn’t actually start until December 25, and the four weeks prior to that are actually Advent, and how Fall is so wonderful, can’t we please enjoy pumpkins and leaves through Thanksgiving before switching to carols and lights? (See? One sentence–that’s only a mini-rant.)

Instead, I’ll get practical. Whether we’re enjoying leaves or lights this month, the “Christmas shopping season” is upon us.

If that makes you panic a little, wondering what can I give the kids that won’t just be more STUFF?  I present my list of 50+ gift ideas that don’t involve stuffed animals and plastic toys that are quickly forgotten, broken, or lost. Things that make memories instead of trash. Things that won’t wind up scattered all over the floor of their rooms—and every other room! Or, at the very least, things that bring a fun twist on stuff we actually need anyway.


Experience Gifts

  • passes to go roller skating or ice skating
  • tickets to a kid-friendly concert, play, or sporting event
  • ingredients for a recipe to make together
  • seeds to plant and watch grow
  • restaurant date to a fun place like Rainforest Café
  • movie date with a big tub of popcorn
  • gift card for an ice cream shop or their favorite fast food place
  • visit to a museum or science center
  • passes for a climbing gym or ropes course
  • registration for a season of soccer or a series of swim lessons
  • subscription to a magazine like Highlights, Animal Tales, or American Girl
  • announcement of a trip you’ll be taking together soon


  • art supplies like paint or clay
  • sidewalk chalk
  • beads and string to make jewelry
  • bubbles
  • supplies and instructions for a science experiment
  • a fun food like the ingredients for s’mores or cookies the child can decorate
  • stickers or temporary tattoos
  • balloons (helium-filled or simply to blow up and play with)
  • a junk food they are normally denied
  • a disposable camera
  • a notebook and fun pen
  • an activity book or workbook for a subject they like

Fun Necessities

  • socks or tights with a fun pattern
  • fun underwear (if you’re a close family member!)
  • a light-up or character toothbrush
  • lotion, body wash, or bubble bath
  • character band-aids
  • hair accessories
  • shoes or clothes
  • room décor (a bulletin board, special pillow, or art for their wall)
  • a cool box in which to house all their little “treasures”

And for the grown-ups…

  • restaurant gift card
  • gourmet food items (wine and cheese, a fancy dessert, etc.)
  • free babysitting
  • tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event
  • mani/pedi gift card
  • overnight at a hotel
  • gift card for something they wouldn’t ordinarily get for themselves

What do you get someone who already has too much?

Something they keep in their hearts and memories, not on their shelves.

(This post and featured image updated from one that appeared on my old blog, The Parsonage Family.)

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