If your house already looks like a Toys ‘R’ Us vomited all over it, you may be dreading this year’s visit from Santa.
But this Christmas doesn’t have to mean another proliferation of Mega Blocks, Barbies, and Little People. There’s no shortage of great gift ideas that are 100 percent toy-free, and still lots of fun for the kids waking up with big expectations on Christmas morning. Let’s take a look at our top 10…
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It’s our firm opinion that a person can never have too many books, and that goes doubly for kids. Open up a window in their imagination with one of your childhood favorites, or check out some of the newest offerings out there.
2. Art supplies.
Sketchpads, easels, colored pencils, paints, clay… the possibilities are endless.
3. Passes and memberships.
The museum, the gym, the botanical garden, the zoo — where would your kids enjoy the chance to spend some time this year? (And where would you be willing to take them without losing your mind?)
More: 7 Places I have tried to hide my kids’ Christmas gifts
Got toddlers? My 2-year-olds love wending their way through the farmers’ market or picking their way through the apple orchard via their sweet red ride.
An indoor herb garden or tomato-growing kit can be just the thing to stave off the mid-winter blues if you live somewhere snowy.
6. Magazine subscriptions.
Getting stuff addressed to you in the mail is still fun for kids these days, right? There are tons of options out there for readers of all ages: Ranger Rick, Highlights, Stone Soup, and all the fiction and non-fiction offerings from Cricket Media (Ladybug, Cricket, Spider, Cicada…)
7. Kid-sized garden or kitchen tools.
Got a little one who likes to help out, but is still too small in the hand-ular region to use a regular hoe or spatula? Shop around for pint-sized equivalents that will let him pitch in in the kitchen, or work hard in the garden.
Whether it’s something big, like tickets for a theatrical production or sports game, or something small, like gift certificates for a movie showing, kids can enjoy the experience of going out instead of having just another thing.
Not socks, preferably. Well, maybe if they’re really cute socks. But if there’s an item that was outside the usual back-to-school shopping budget, maybe it could show up instead as a special treat on Christmas morning.
More: 10 Common household items your toddler would rather have for Christmas
10. The gift that keeps on giving.
Making a donation in a child’s name is a great way to help them remember that Christmas is about something bigger than this year’s haul of loot. Choose something based on your child’s interests and experiences! What do they care about most? Giving money to a local zoo, to UNICEF, to Heifer International can make the toys Santa brought (or didn’t bring) seem like the least important thing about the holiday.
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