After my son’s last birthday party, when the wrapping paper was finally cleared, I stood in the living room with a pit in my stomach.
What are we going to do with all this stuff?
Every Christmas, birthday, random occasion leads to the same thing in a kid’s life: more stuff.
And while you want to give a gift (because most little kids don’t open a card and get excited over a check for their college savings plan), how can you give a meaningful present that the kids will love without making the parents hate you?
These gifts are fun for kids to open and use but won’t lead to tons of clutter.
If you can find a gift that makes learning fun, you’ll not only score points with parents, but kids will also have a blast.
This magic kit, magnet kit, and detective kit are all fun gifts that my kids have received (and loved). Some of these have small parts, though, so you may want to save these for older kids or try to find one that has fewer components.
Dress Up Clothes (and a Storage Bin)
Whether you have a boy or a girl, dress up can be fun! Kids especially love to dress up like their favorite relatives, so if you have a firefighter or construction worker in the family, even better!
My cousin, a firefighter, bought my son a fire truck tent and firefighter costume. My son has also received a hard hat, caution vest, and other fun career clothes.
In addition to dress up clothes, think outside the box (literally). My brother gave my son a tiny toolkit that he won at his job and my sister-in-law consistently wraps the kids’ toys in some type of storage bin.
Personalized bags are a unique way to keep kids organized.
Stephen Joseph bags are so cute and are sturdy enough to hold up to kids’ wear and tear. I’ve given personalized suitcases as well as backpacks to use as “busy bags.”
In addition to personalized bags, we use Mabel’s Labels to mark the kids’ items for school. The stickers make a great gift for friends.
Zoos, museums, parks, oh my!
You can pretty much buy a membership to anywhere and it’s the ultimate clutter-free present.
When buying a membership, keep in mind the kids’ ages and location. A zoo or aquarium membership might be a better option for younger kids while older kids might be more interested in going to an interactive children’s museum.
You could also get a membership to a national park or even a local waterpark that the whole family could enjoy.
Many memberships can be used at multiple locations, like a local zoo as well as discounted admission to zoos across the country, so don’t forget to ask where the memberships can be used.
Kids love getting mail.
A yearly subscription to a magazine is a great way to give a non-clutter gift that keeps giving. My kids save their magazines and re-read them when they’re supposed to be napping, but they’re always really excited to receive a new magazine each month.
We especially love National Geographic Kids. There are different magazines for the kids’ different ages, like the National Geographic Little Kids, although I usually order the older version. My son is old enough to understand the stories and ask questions but my daughter still enjoys listening and looking at the pictures.
My siblings do outings and day dates with my kids. They’re always the best gifts!
For their outings, my kids have been to a monster truck rally at our county fair, Hobby Lobby, and even to my brother’s house, where the kids watched a movie and spent the day wearing 3D glasses (and trying not to get fingerprints on the TV – it was a challenge).
The outings don’t need to be elaborate. The point is just to do something that the kids don’t do every day.
Every year on the last day of school, my son gets a subscription box. We’ve used both Kiwi Crate and Green Kid Crafts. Both companies are so much fun and my son looks forward to his summer activities of bug watching, building, and creating new things.
You can order one box or even a monthly subscription. During the summer, I usually opt for the 3-month subscription so that my son has something to look forward to each month that he’s out of school, but even sending one box is a fun way for kids to receive a gift.
Most kids love reading, but to make giving books even more fun, sign up for a subscription (or even a one-month trial) to Bookroo.
I randomly signed up for Bookroo a couple months ago, thinking it would be a great gift for my kids’ birthdays, and then promptly forgot about it.
A couple weeks later, my kids received their Bookroo books on the day of my grandfather’s funeral. It was an awful day in our house, but the books were individually wrapped in adorable paper. On an otherwise sad day, opening the books brought a little cheer to my kids.
After the funeral, we snuggled on the couch and read the new books, which were really cute stories tailored to the kids’ ages.
No one wants to receive clutter. No one wants to give a gift that won’t get used, either. Next time you’re in the gift-giving mood, give one of these non-clutter, non-toy gifts.