Non-Toy Gift Guide: Gifts That Are Practical (But Far From Boring)
Welcome! We’re thrilled you’ve found our Unrivaled Guide to Non-Toy Gifts For Kids Of All Ages. Not to toot our own horn or anything, but when it comes to presents that aren’t toys, this is the biggest, most extensive and foolproof gift guide on the Internet (toot toot).
In this section of our Non-Toy Gift Guide we're bringing you a load of fun ideas for practical gifts that will still get high fives from your kids. These gifts are the ones that will get used over and over again (hooray!), yet can still be super exciting if you find the right ones.
That's where we come in. Our guide not only gives you the ideas, but also provides recommendations on where to get them - the coolest, trendiest, highest quality items that we've put in front of kids to test their reactions. Anything that the majority ho-hummed was automatically nixed, leaving just the best useful gifts that we guarantee your kids will love.
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Remember to Bookmark, Print and Pin this list so it’s always handy when a gift-giving occasion arises!
For Their Room or Playroom
To a child, their room is just that – THEIR room, and they love to personalize, decorate and re-decorate it to make it their own. So gift some fun accessories they can add, or think about a child’s playroom and what might make it comfier, tidier or more exciting! The last one in this section is an incredible gift for those who can swing it!
Fun Bedding or Pillows
This one is a little tricky if you’re not buying for your own kids because you need to ensure that your gift will have a place in the child’s room, and not look, well, out of place. That means being familiar with their room’s color scheme and overall style – is it fresh and modern, or more rustic and homey?
Whatever the style, we promise you, you will find something on Minted.com that will be the right fit. Minted has the best selection of artwork for kids that isn’t too kiddy. Their pieces are fun, many can be personalized, and can be bought in all sorts of different sizes, with or without a frame (and there’s tons of frame choices too!).
Custom Photo Art
Yes, yes, yes! Just look at these stunning pieces of art you can customize with photos of your child and their favorite people. These are so far beyond the old school photo frame collection, and make a beautiful gift that can adorn the walls in their room way past the baby years. The heart and moon designs can even be hand-pressed with real foil that add a sophisticated shine, and that dinosaur?! Too cool.
Have fun picking out some useful accessories for their room or playroom. You can’t go wrong with the ones from Land of Nod like the Stick With Me Magnet Bar (great for displaying artwork), Crisscross Bins, Cloud Corkboard, and Budding Artist Caddy.
Piggy Bank (+money!)
This is a great gift for teaching children the value of money, and how to budget and save. We’re currently obsessed with this Smart Piggy Trio Bank, which is just that – smart! There’s one “book” for spending, one for saving and another for sharing. They’re all super sturdy and easy to open so kids can keep track of how much they’ve collected. And you could even include a little (or a lot!) of pocket change in each one to start them off.
The overall concept really encourages them to think about others, and not just that expensive Lego set they have their eyes on. It even comes with a Kid’s Guide that introduces the basic money concepts.
This should be a must-have on your child’s birthday or holiday list!
Help your child get a grasp on time, and how to read it, with a cool alarm clock. Choose a fun character one, one that helps them stay in bed (we highly recommend the simple stoplight shown here), or one that helps them get out of bed (hello, teenagers!)
There are a plethora of options out there for a fun kid’s night light, so take your pick (they’ll all scare the monsters away just the same). But we must say, we are partial to these modern wooden nightlights by Creative Light – they provide a nice soft glow, come in numerous different designs and look like a piece of elegant art in their room!
Playhouse or Tee Pee Tent
A child’s playroom is not complete without a fun hideaway to call their own. A place where they can curl up with a book, giggle with friends, and hide from little sisters. You can’t beat the selection from The Land of Nod, who offer top-quality, long-lasting material with modern and fresh designs. From tee pees to ice cream trucks to telephone booths, they’ll make your child disappear all day long.
A tad ironic that a box for toys is on our list of non-toy gifts, but if you’re here looking at this guide, chances are your kids could really use some storage for the toys taking over your house. A beautifully made toy box can not only solve the clutter problem, but can be a lovely piece that can be passed down from generation to generation. The designs have come a long way since our day, and these modern ones barely even look like a clunky toy box. Take your pick!
Give your child a comfy place to rest, relax or read in their very own, perfectly proportioned chair. Our kids all have the Anywhere Chair from Pottery Barn Kids, and they get used every day. They are incredibly light-weight so can be moved anywhere (hence the name) they want – into a book nook for reading, in front of the TV for movie night, or turned over and made into a fun “slide” (editor’s note: my kids put theirs together upside down and make super fun obstacle courses!). They come in a rainbow of colors, patterns, and materials, and can even be personalized with a child’s name. This is a wonderful gift for babies (who will grow into them), toddlers, and grade-schoolers. For an older child, try one of their equally awesome Anywhere Bean Bags.
Personalized Growth Chart
Your kids will love tracking their height on their very own growth chart. Customize these whimsical designs with your child’s name and mark their height every couple of months. Or go with one that they won't mind having on their wall for the long haul, like these gorgeous rustic pine “rulers” from Keepsake Rulers. They are handmade to order from 100% thick pine (no veneers here), come in 4 different stains/colors, and can also be personalized. It will serve as a literal reminder of how far they’ve come.
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Adjustable Train/Activity Table
Why decide between a smaller kid-sized set, or a bigger version they’ll grow into, when you can have it all! This Adjustable Activity Table Set comes with 3 different sized legs, giving you the option to start it as a train/play table, then convert it into a little kids’ art table, and finally into a big kid desk. It also has a paper roll attachment, a slide-out drawer, and the option to purchase larger bins for additional storage of train tracks or art supplies.
RELATED: Like the idea of buying multi-functional pieces that your child won't quickly outgrow? Check out our popular post: The Secret To Less Baby Stuff. These 10 Multi-Functional Baby Products Will Grow With Your Child & Last For Years.
Budget for a Total Room Make-over!
Oh how we would have loved to have received this as a little girl. A budget for a full room make-over, complete with paint color of choice, bedding and accessories. Wrap-up some recent catalogs from their favorite stores with a book of paint-chips and a note explaining the rules!
Beauty + Fashion
Clothes (That You Wouldn’t Usually Buy)
To amp up your clothing gift (which many kids, particularly girls, will squeal with delight over) look for something special that you wouldn’t normally purchase for them. Perhaps it’s an item that’s a little more expensive, from a coveted store, or something they’ve had their eye on for months. Whatever it is, if you’re gifting to someone that’s not your child, always include a gift receipt so they can exchange the size (or style!) if they need to.
Pick a special pair of cowboy boots, a silly pair of rain boots (little boys are always drawn to these fire chief ones and girls to the butterfly wings; older tweens/teens will beg for a pair of Hunters - go for gloss or glitter) or a coveted pair of Air Jordans. Whatever it may be, be sure it's a pair they'll want to wear until their feet just can't squeeze into them anymore.
Your kids will feel so grown-up with a watch of their own (and it’s great for knowing when it's dinner time). Pick a fun digital one for younger kids and an analog one for older kids. We’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t tell you about the great selection from Flik Flak (the kid’s line from Swatch) which has a plethora of designs (from kiddy to girlie to sporty), and shows numbers for both the hours and the minutes – perfect for those learning how to tell time. The only downfall is that when you tell your child “Just a minute!”, they can actually hold you to it.
A new pair of soft jammies with their favorite characters, colors or holiday motifs are a useful gift that kids actually love to receive. We like to invest in a few pairs of PJs from Hanna Andersson – their flat seams and 100% organic cotton make them super comfy, and they just get softer and softer with each wash (editor’s note: I can attest to this - my 3rd child is now in 2x hand-me-down Hannas and they are like buttah!). Hanna always has fun prints (kids will love the Disney Princess and Frozen collections, and super fun holiday Star Wars patterns) and their stripes are always on-point.
On cold winter days, our kids love to slip on a pair of warm slippers to mosey around the house. Our personal favorites are these Swedish Moccasin Slippers from Hanna Andersson, and you can never, ever go wrong with a pair of Uggs (especially for teenage girls who value the brand just as much as the warmth!)
Handmade Hair Accessories
Girlie girls will go gaga over these gorgeous handmade hair accessories from one of our favorite Etsy shops, LaBelle Baby Bows. You’ll find bows on clips and headbands hand crafted from stunning fabrics — pick velvet for the holidays, gauze for summer or a limited edition vintage pattern for everyday musings.
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Look for trendy ones like these from Eos. They make a great stocking stuffer!
Splish, splash, these are gifts for the bath. All are really useful but will still elicit delight from your child when opening.
Children love to feel grown-up in a kid-sized robe, and who doesn’t love to stay warm and cozy after a nice bath?! If you’ve never felt the super soft material used by Barefoot Dreams, you need to suss them out, pronto! (editor’s note: I have 2 Barefoot Dreams robes myself and they are unbelievable…you feel like you’re in a cozy nest! Great gift for moms too!) Your kids will never want to take it off!
Personalized Bath Towel
We can’t say enough about these hooded beach towels from Pottery Barn Kids, and this is a gift that can be used for kids of all ages - from newborn to teens. Make sure you personalize it with their name to make it exclusively theirs.
Personalized Step Stool
Kids often need a little extra boost to reach the sink, hanging clothes or to open their blinds. A handy step stool makes all of these tasks possible, helping them become more self-reliant (and less likely to call for help – hoorah!). We adore the stools from Craft Carve (via Etsy) which can be customized with the child’s name, have a variety of different options for stains/colors and even doubles as a puzzle!
SPECIAL OFFER: Craft Carve has created a special discount code just for What Moms Love fans. Use discount code: WHATMOMSLOVE10 at checkout for 10% off your order.
Getting your child to take a bath is simple once you pull out these easy-to-wipe-off crayons (just make sure they understand that they can’t draw on other walls...especially with say, permanent marker). Couple these with one of the gifts above or stick in a stocking for a fun stuffer.
For kids’ who travel (whether that be to exotic destinations, or just to Grandma’s house), having their own luggage and supplies can be really handy…and many can double as pretend-play items in between vacations.
Backpack or Large Tote Bag
Having their own bag for all their personal belongings creates a great sense of ownership and pride in a child. We cannot say enough about this Extra Large Zip Top Canvas Tote Bag from Lands’End – you won’t find anything as roomy and sturdy with this many pockets anywhere. Use it from birth (in fact it’s on our list for 10 Best Gifts For A New Baby) to college. (It also makes an awesome beach bag!)
And click over to view our popular Back-to-School Guides for the Hottest Backpacks for Grade Schoolers, Tweens & Teens, or ones that are just the right size for your Preschooler.
Mini Wheelie Suitcase
If you do a lot of over-night trips, your kids will think these 18” Hard Side Disney suitcases from American Tourister are just the coolest thing. They are small enough for them to wheel, and come in 9 different Disney character designs (from Princesses to Star Wars).
Your kids will jump at the chance to help pack up their toothbrush when they’ve got their very own toiletry bag (seriously, it works wonders). These fun ones from Stephen Joseph will fit their toothpaste, brush and other travel sized items too. Fill it with a fun spinning toothbrush, hair accessories or nice-smelling bubble bath.
Personalized Luggage Tags
These bright and happy custom luggage tags from When It Rains Paper can easily attach to any of the bags above to further personalize your gift. Kids will love seeing their name (although we do suggest just using their initials for safety reasons), and moms will love easily spotting their luggage on the airport carousel.
SPECIAL OFFER: Get 10% off the purchase of any luggage tags from When It Rains Paper with promo code: WHATMOMSLOVE
Every child should have a sleeping bag – and not just for camping! They are crucial for sleep-overs (that time will come!), and our kids bring them out all the time just to play in (they are great in playrooms for fort building too). We recommend the Coleman 30 Degree Youth Sleeping Bag - it will keep them warm and toasty if using outside, has a fun adjustable hood, and an interior pocket for keeping their treasures. It’s also machine washable (a must!) and at just under $40, a really great value.
Alright, you’re probably thinking “totally lame” and we get it – a regular ol’ blanket probably would be opened and tossed aside without much fanfare, but not this one. This one will be ripped open and immediately put on, transforming your elated child into a cozy mermaid or shark (or err, shark attack victim). These Blankie Tails are made from a super soft minky material and are perfect for cuddling up on the couch for movie night, reading in bed, or taking on a sleep over in place of a sleeping bag. Oh, and crazy potato-sack-like-races. Trust us, it will happen. Our kids didn’t want to take these off. A fantastic gift that will get tons of use, and will be well loved.
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple flashlight. It can be a welcome gift that makes fort building and “monster” exploring that much more fun. We love this one that has a rubber grip and assorted bright colors (and is far better made than those geared solely to kids).
And if you want to really get them excited, try a headlamp for hands-free play! (editor’s note: my son asked for a headlamp for his birthday and has used this one from Totobay in the most creative of ways. A huge hit I would recommend to anyone)
A seriously useful gift that would go brilliantly with a new raincoat or cute pair of rainboots. They’ll love this adorable Ladybug one from Skiphop, or pick one of Hatley’s graphic prints for a slightly more grown-up feel.
A wallet may seem like a ho-hum gift idea, but hear us out. Whether it’s real or not, kids LOVE playing with money. For little kids, the wallet serves as a great prop for imaginary games like store and restaurant, and they feel so grown-up having one just like Daddy. They also love to use it for their real money when going out to purchase something (perhaps with their “spend” section of our Editor's Choice Piggy Bank), and having the responsibility of taking care of it is a great skill to learn. For older kids it becomes a trendier item that will travel with them for everyday use.
You can't go wrong with the fun selection from Loungefly. These are high-quality wallets that have plenty of slots for cards and cash and a zippered compartment for coins, upping the play factor for the littles, and convenience factor for the big kids. They also have simple coin purses and a ton of fun character options from Star Wars to Disney to Hello Kitty.
Whether it’s a store-bought one with cute puppies, or a homemade one with family photos, calendars are great fun for kids who love to count down the days until big events (like a vacation or hello, Christmas!) (editor’s note: I make two photo calendars every year using the super easy drag ‘n’ drop templates from Shutterfly, one for the kids and one for myself. They have the best selection of layouts, styles and sizes and they always turn out fabulous. Give it a try!)
Phew. If you’ve been through all of our Non-Toy Gift Guides that’s over 200 ideas to choose from! If you missed any of them, be sure to check 'em out:
- Non-Toy Gifts For Learning & Expanding Horizons
- Non-Toy Gifts To Spark Creativity, Imagination & Special Interests
- Non-Toy Gifts For Making Memories
- Non-Toy Gifts To Receive In The Mailbox
And if you haven't downloaded our free coupons from our Making Memories guide, what are ya waiting for?!
- The Best Vehicle Toys For Car, Truck and Construction Junkies
- The Best Building Toys For Kids (From Blocks To Robots)
- The Best Gross Motor Indoor Toys For Active Kids (To Get That Energy Out!)
- The Very Best Babies, Dolls & Doll Accessories For All Ages & Stages
- The Best Doll Houses & Accessories For Your Doll-Obsessed Girl (or Boy!)
- The Best Princess-Themed Gifts For Your Little Princess
- 200+ Unique Stocking Stuffers For Babies To Teens (That Aren't Junk!)
And we're in the midst of testing products for new guides that will be released in 2017:
- The Best Arts & Crafts For Boys & Girls
- The Best Board Games For Solo, Sibling and Family Play
- The Best Toys For Super Hero & Star Wars Fanatics
For notification when we release each new guide, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter. We'll also hook you up with exclusive deals, and freebies like our popular report: 10 Screen-Free Toys For Guaranteed Quiet Time That Will Let You Relax, Recharge or Put The Laundry Away
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What was your favorite gift idea? Did we miss anything? Give us a holla in the comments below and we may even add your idea to the list!