Looking for the best useful gifts for kids that aren’t toys? Our Non-Toy Gift Guides have been viewed by millions, and have helped countless parents find the perfect present.
Welcome! We’re thrilled you’ve found our guide to the Best Practical Gifts for Kids, part of our Unrivaled Guide to Non-Toy Gifts For Kids Of All Ages.
In this part of our Non-Toy Gift Guide we’re bringing you tons of fun ideas for useful gifts that will still get high fives from your children. These practical gifts are the ones that will be used over and over again (hooray!), yet can still be super exciting if you select wisely.
That’s where we come in. This guide to the best practical gifts for kids 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 of all ages 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.
And the best part: none of these practical gifts are toys! If you’re busting at the seams with toy clutter, or are buying for a kid who already has it all, these are some of the best non-toy gifts.
Whether you’re shopping for the holiday season, a birthday, or another special occasion, you’ll find the best practical non-toy gift ideas for everyone on your list right here – from babies to toddlers, and tweens to teens.
Before we jump right in, if you’d like to be alerted to any sales or special offers we receive on any of these items, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll also get first dibs when we update or launch new guides.
Please note: this post contains affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for full details.
Remember to Bookmark, Print and Pin this list of Practical Gifts for Kids so it’s always handy when a gift-giving occasion arises:
Practical Gifts For Kids
OK, ready to jump right into the list of the best gifts that are useful, practical and fun? We’ve categorized these great gift ideas into a few different categories, including:
- Practical Gifts for Your Child’s Room or Playroom
- Beauty & Fashion Practical Gifts
- Practical Gifts for Bath Time
- Practical Gifts for Travel
- Practical Tech Gifts
- Practical Gifts That Are Everyday Useful Items
Keep scrolling to review them all – you’ll find unique gifts for all different age groups.
Practical Gifts for Your Child’s 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 gift idea in this section is an incredible present for those who can swing it!
Soft Furniture Playset
If you’re tired of your kids beating up your grown-up furniture, yet still want to inspire open-ended imaginative play, we have just the solution: a convertible couch that’s part-furniture, part-playtime.
These infinitely configurable couches come with several large foam pieces covered in a washable fabric. You’ll be shocked at the amazing creations and uses your children will imagine – from castles to rocket ships, forts to reading nooks, and of course, cozy and comfy lounge spots. They can even double as a mattress for sleepovers.
We highly suggest the original Nugget for top quality, but Amazon also sells a variety of brands that may save you some cash.
Fun Bedding or Pillows
Check out stores like Target and Home Goods for a new comforter, fresh set of sheets and trendy pillows that won’t break the bank. We especially love Target’s fun and whimsical PillowFort line featured above.
Reversible Sequin Pillow
Kids go absolutely nuts over these reversible sequin pillows! Simply run your hand or finger over the sequins and they flip to reveal another color – allowing kids to make cool designs, write words or simply change the color to fit their mood.
You can find just about any color or creature with a quick Amazon search, but we especially love these ones that you can personalize to reveal your child’s name and favorite things! You can even customize them with a special family photo.
And bonus: kids reported that they found playing with the sequins to be quite calming. Use it with them before bed to wind down, practice spelling letters, their name or sight words…trust us, you won’t be able to keep your hands off it either!
These charming, innovative plush friends are much more than just a pillow. Open it up and there’s a soft blanket inside which double as a dress-up cape! Pillowies are perfect for everyday play, as a nap-time set for daycare, or to use in the car or while traveling. You’ll find your kids carrying them around with the convenient carry handle, and placing all sorts of treasures inside! It’s a fun, practical gift they’ll quickly become attached to.
Choose from several different designs including forest friends like this cute raccoon and friendly monsters.
Kids love to be comfy and cozy, and a backrest pillow will make that a cinch. These come in all different fabrics, patterns and colors, and kids love to add them to their beds to use while reading or lounging.
We can attest to the high-quality of the Pottery Barn Teen version which includes a removable washable cover, but Amazon also has plenty of choice.
Whether an older child wants to put their feet up and do homework on their bed, or a younger child wants to draw or color while in the car, these lap desks make a fantastic practical gift.
With a soft surface on the bottom, and a hard top, kids can place these movable “desks” on their laps to make work or play more fun (and comfortable!).
You can’t go wrong with the high-end selection from PBTeen which feature trendy fabrics and designs, and many of them actually open-up so they can be used as storage. We also love these ones from 3C4G and this cute Puppy Lap Desk from Crayola is perfect for on-the-go creativity.
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 so fast.
For instance, 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.
For tweens and teenagers, you’re bound to find just the right soft and cozy throw with this selection – from Pom Pom Sherpa, to Chunky Knit or Faux Fur. A fantastic practical gift that will get tons of use, and will be well loved.
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.
Alternatively, why not grab some of your child’s favorite photos and easily create framed prints with the help of Mixtiles. The beauty of this gift is that it’s incredibly easy to hang (and re-hang) them thanks to their amazing stick technology – no hammer and hooks required.
We’ve tried them ourselves and can attest that they really do stick…yet don’t take off any paint! This is a great gift for tweens or teens – use some of their selfies with friends or other assortment of pics they’ve taken over the years.
Have fun picking out some useful accessories for their room or playroom. You can’t go wrong with the ones from Crate&Kids like this smart Magnet Bar (great for displaying artwork), fun Storage Bins, and the swoon-worthy Beaumont shelving collection.
RELATED: We recommend many more genius organizational products in our post How To Create The Ultimate Homework Station – pop over and take a peek!
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 childrens’ birthday or holiday wish lists!
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 for younger children), or one that helps them get out of bed (hello, teenagers!)
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 Crate&Kids, 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.
For an extra element of surprise and delight, you could fill it with some new dress-up clothes, musical instruments, or sports equipment.
Kid-Sized Chair or Bean Bag
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.
Stuff ‘n Sit
Alternatively, if your house is overflowing with stuffed animals like ours, then boy oh boy do we have the perfect gift for your kids (which in a way, is also a gift for yourself!). Meet the Stuff ’n Sit. It may look like an ordinary bean bag, but it’s actually a genius way to store your kids’ stuffed animals…and get rid of the clutter once and for all.
Simply unzip and stuff them in! The fabric is high-quality, extra thick cotton and it opens up nice and wide with a reinforced zipper. There’s also a great sturdy fabric “handle” on one end which helps with moving the chair around once it’s filled.
If you’ve got extra blankets, pillows or even dress-up costumes, add them in too! Your kids get a fun new chair to lounge on and a super easy way to tidy up their rooms, while you get to enjoy an instantly clean and organized space. Talk about a win-win.
The Stuff ’n Sit comes in 3 different sizes and several different patterns/colors/fabrics. We recommend getting the Extra Large 38” – it will fit about 90 stuffed animals, which sounds like a lot, but trust us, if you have multiple kids and have been to your share of arcades and fun fairs, you will fill it up!
(editor’s note: my kids have a zillion stuffed animals that they don’t play with all the time, but aren’t ready to depart with – the Stuff ’n Sit was the perfect solution. They can still keep their stuffies, but I don’t need to see them! Plus we get a comfy seat in our playroom, and on rainy days, the kids open it up and play with them for hours because they’ve been tucked away and feel new!)
Personalized Growth Chart
Your kids will love tracking their height on their very own growth chart. Customize these beautiful designs from Jolie Prints with your child’s name and mark their height every couple of months. Or go with a more classic one that they won’t mind having on their wall for the long haul, like this cut-out name in bold colors from Pottery Barn Kids, or these gorgeous rustic wooden “rulers” from Etsy that are handmade to order from 100% solid pine, and come in different stains/colors. It will serve as a literal reminder of how far they’ve come.
RELATED: For more personalized gift ideas, check out:The Best Personalized Gifts for Babies & Kids
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, and optional accessories including a book bin and storage tray.
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.
Personalized LED Nightlight
These stunning nightlights can scare away any bedtime “monsters” with their warm glow, but also look so darn cute on your child’s nightstand! Personalize them with their name and favorite things, from unicorns and rainbows, to sports and dinosaurs.
Quite possibly the best practical gift for kids of all time: books! The gift of reading never disappoints if you choose the books wisely. We always suggest supporting your local bookstore and going with their suggestions for your child’s age/stage, but we’ve provided a short list of favorites below:
For babies and toddlers, you can’t go wrong with board books from Sandra Boynton and Melissa & Doug soft activity books. We also love these Alphabet Legends books – not only can your child learn their ABC’s, but they can also learn about famous legends from sports, history or current events.
If you have a child in the 4-6 range, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to the world of chapter books. The ones we selected in 7 Chapter Book Series That Will Successfully Introduce Your Child To Chapters (And Have Them Begging For “Just One More…”) all feature lots of illustrations, short chapters and engaging storylines.
Kids of any age can’t help but be enthralled with these beautiful The Story Orchestra books which feature stunning illustrations and a retelling of a classic ballet story. But the unique element is that on each page you can press a button to hear the sound of an orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s or Vivaldi’s music that corresponds with that scene.
Add one or more of these accessories to your books to create a practical and fun reading-themed gift:
- Kids’ Books Bucket List Scratch Off Poster: We are positively obsessed with this incredible “Bucket List” scratch-off poster which features 100 book titles, from early-year favorites (think “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Where the Wild Things Are”) to children’s classics (“Charlotte’s Web” and “James and the Giant Peach”), and even more contemporary novels like “The Hunger Games” and “Percy Jackson”. Your child can hang it in their room and with each novel you read, they can scratch off the corresponding square. As they grow older, they can work towards completing the entire list, which will most definitely serve as a constant motivation to read some pretty incredible stories.
- Mark-My-Time Digital Bookmark: This bookmark can be used as a countdown timer that alerts readers when they’ve completed a set amount of reading time. Alternatively, use it as a cumulative timer, to add together minutes spent reading over a series of time. We found kids get really excited about using these digital bookmarks and it makes them want to stay with reading for longer… big win!
- Book Light: This awesome mini LED light can clip onto their favorite book and is great for encouraging reading before bedtime.
- My Bookmark: These incredible bookmarks from MyBookmark are so unique and kids think they are super cool. Choose from their huge selection including mermaid tails, unicorns, Star Wars and plenty of holiday themed fun – there is sure to be a character or theme that will connect with your child.
Budget For A Total Room Makeover!
Oh how we would have loved to have received this gift 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!
This is one of the most creative non-toy gifts and something that any child, especially tweens and teens, will go crazy for!
Beauty & Fashion Practical Gifts
I’m sure we’ve all opened up our fair share of socks and underwear on Christmas morning, but clothes can be a welcome gift to the right child. Use our list of beauty and fashion-related presents to point you in the right direction.
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.
Searching for a practical gift for Christmas or Hannukah? New winter gear will always come in handy, so try finding a cute hat (this trendy faux fur cable knit pom pom hat comes in over 40 different colors!), puffy vest, or pair of fuzzy socks, gloves or mittens. Even a coat, snow pants or snow boots can be very much appreciated.
If your gift giving is more in line with warmer weather, search for bathing suits, cover-ups, flip flops (try Havaianas for girls and Reef or Under Armour for boys), or a stylish sun hat.
A unique and super cozy alternative to the blankets above, is an oversized wearable blanket. We’re partial to the original Comfy, which now comes in all colors, fabrics and a kid-friendly size. It will never drag on the floor, and kids love to tuck in their legs to the XL hemline for total comfort. They’re great for camping, sleepovers, cool beach days and of course, lounging around the house.
Jewelry Box + Jewelry
When looking for the perfect jewelry box for your child, you’ll want to choose one that’s well‐made and can last them into their teenage years. We love the Abigail selection at Pottery Barn Kids which offers solid construction and classic details like a turn‐key closure and miniature ballerinas which can be wound‐up to “dance” to music from Swan Lake.
This collection comes in a variety of sizes and can be personalized with your child’s name with a variety of colors and fonts from which to choose.
Make the gift that much more special by tucking some fun pieces of jewelry inside. For younger girls, we love the colorful, bling-worthy pieces from Super Smalls that are inspired by grown-up jewels. While tweens and teens always go crazy for these beautiful personalized name rings from Grace Personalized. Got pierced ears? Try the timeless earrings from Pip Pop Post (a mom-run business!) – they’re hypoallergenic with an ultra-comfortable flat screw-backing.
Alternatively, special pieces like a locket with hidden photos, or a bracelet with personalized charms can really make this gift extremely unique and meaningful.
The gift of protecting our childrens’ eyes is priceless, and necessary for all ages…even babies! Check out our list of the best UV protective sunglasses for baby/toddler and teens/tweens.
RELATED: 5 Stylish and Safe Baby & Toddler Sunglasses For Your Burgeoning Hipster
RELATED: Seriously Cool Sunglasses For Tweens and Teens (That They’ll Actually Want To Wear)
An “Oldschool” Watch
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 sporty digital one from the huge selection from Freestyle. Their “Shark Mini” is the perfect size for small wrists, and comes in 2 band styles: a Velcro leash, and our favorite, the clip.
For older kids who have a grasp on reading an analog clock face, 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.
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 collection, 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 – they’re as practical as it gets!
For toddlers, we dig these no-slip slipper mocs from Hanna Andersson for safely keeping their tootsies nice and cozy all winter long. We also think the Cruz II from See Kai Run is an excellent choice, especially for new walkers or those that like a tighter, shoe-like fit.
For bigger kids, 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!), but if you’re not looking to break the bank, take a peek at the cute selection from Jessica Simpson for similar styles.
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.
You could even pair with a cute brush (we highly recommend the Wet Brush for tear-free detangling) and headband holder for a full hair-themed gift!
Products to Pamper
Bundle a few of these items together in a trendy acrylic caddy for the ultimate pampering present:
- Nail Polish: Pick an assortment of fun colors and go chemical free with our favorite brands, Ella+Mila (this 10-pack makes a super gift all on its own) and Piggy Paint (this set includes 4 colors + fun nail stickers!)
- Manicure Set: Pair the nail polish with a fun manicure set like this Keiby Citom one.
- Lip Balm: Lip balm is a super practical gift that makes a great add-on to any present. Look for trendy ones like these from Eos that are now 100% natural and organic. They’re perfect for a holiday stocking stuffer!
- Spa Face Masks: Kids love feeling like they’re at a grown-up spa with these nourishing one-time use face masks. Transform them into their favorite animals with the ultra cute selection from the masque bar, or go for this teen-friendly set from FaceTory.
- Bath Bombs: Add some fizzy fun to bath time with a set of natural Bath Bombs. We recommend these from Dabble & Dollop which are paraben, sulfate and tear-free. They’re made to be mixed so your kids can create their own scents and “recipes”.
Practical Gifts for Bath Time
Splish, splash, these are useful gifts for the bath. All are really practical 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 relaxing bath? It’s an extremely practical gift that your kids may never want to take off!
Try one of these Lands’ End fleece robes which come in fun, colorful patterns and solids for girls and boys from toddlers (2T) to 20 year olds! If you want one that’s a little more playful, these Critter Robes are always a hit.
Personalized Bath Towel
We can’t say enough about these hooded beach towels from Pottery Barn Kids, and this is a practical 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.
RELATED: 10 Unique Gift Ideas To Welcome A New Baby (Bronzed Baby Shoes Not Included)
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!
My Bambino also has a cute selection that can be personalized with their name and designs like this boho rainbow. And the best feature of all? The top step lifts up to reveal an extra storage space!
Bath Time Fun Products
Any products that help get our kids to take a bath are deemed practical and useful to us! Couple some of these with the bath towel or robe above for a full-fledged bath time present:
- Bath Crayons: Your kids will never want to leave the tub 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).
- TruKid Bubble Podz: We’re obsessed with these TruKid Bubble Podz which are made with natural ingredients for a chemical-free tub full of bubbles – hurrah!
- Bath Bombs: Again, we recommend the “Droplets” from USA-made Dabble & Dollop. They’re paraben, sulfate and tear-free. The smaller size makes them perfect for kids to create their own scents and “recipes”.
- Bath Mitt: Make getting clean fun with one of these soft character wash mitts. It can even double as a puppet for bath time productions!
Practical Gifts for Travel
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.
Having their own bag for all their personal belongings creates a great sense of ownership and pride in a child.
If you’re looking for a beach bag style, we can’t say enough good things about the Extra Large Zip Top Canvas Tote Bag from Lands’ End – it’s super roomy, sturdy and has a ton of interior pockets. Kids can use it from birth (in fact it’s on our list for 10 Best Gifts For A New Baby), to college.
If you’d prefer a duffle bag, this one is our clear winner. It features a roomy interior with zippered shoe compartment, an easy-to-carry shoulder strap, and comes in tween and teen-friendly designs.
RELATED: 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.
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).
For older kids who have outgrown characters, the selection from PBTeen is stellar – from graphic prints to ultra-modern shapes, many of which can be monogrammed for that extra special touch.
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).
For younger kids one of these brightly colored pouches from Stephen Joseph is sure to make them smile. Tweens and teens may prefer the more grown-up selection from PBTeen.
All of them are big enough to fit their toothpaste, brush and other travel sized items. Add a little surprise by filling it with a fun spinning toothbrush, hair accessories or bubble bath.
Personalized Luggage Tags
These bright and happy custom luggage tags from Etsy 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.
These make a great Christmas stocking stuffer!
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).
For indoor use, we love these adorable Shaggy Head designs from Pottery Barn Kids – the animal head is super soft and serves as the pillow, and kids love the feeling of snuggling up to a friend at night.
For older kids, head to PBTeen to browse their fabulous collection of colorful designs with fun fabrics and patterns.
If your kids will be braving the great outdoors, 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.
Whether or not you actually plan to go on a real camping trip, a lot of camping “gear” comes in very useful for other occasions. Older kids will love their very own 2-4 person tent, even if it’s just for hanging out in the backyard.
A camping chair is great for comfort at the camp site, or for lounging while watching their sibling’s soccer games.
This Paracord Survival Bracelet is a must-have for any older teen who loves to hike, fish or camp. It includes a flint fire starter, a whistle, compass and a scraper that can be used as a knife.
And our very favorite – these pop-up LED Camping Lanterns – which can be used for lighting up their tent, or simply as a great way to read at night.
Going on a trip soon? Gift The Ultimate Travel Journal for Kids which is packaged with journaling ideas, games, activities and prompts so your child can create a keepsake of their adventure and never forget their favorite memories.
Practical Tech Gifts
Activity Tracker / Watch
We give our highest recommendation to the incredible Garmin Vivofit Jr – a wearable activity tracker watch for kids age 4-9. This neat device keeps track of your child’s steps, sleep and percentage towards their 60 minutes of daily activity goal. Its 1-piece stretchy band makes for a comfy fit, it’s water/swim friendly and does not need recharging (battery will last about a year). It also includes a timer feature which your child can easily set on the watch themselves – we found this useful for daily activities like brushing teeth, waiting turns, doing homework and daily reading.
But that’s not all! Sync the Vivofit Jr. with the free app and you can create a whole personalized chore system where you give your child “coins” for each task they complete. Your child can see the coins come into their virtual piggy bank on the watch face and you can set up a reward system where they can redeem their coins for special “prizes” (editor’s note: both my 7 and 5 year olds have the Vivofit Jr. and it has been a game changer for chore completion. They will do anything for their coins – even if it means cleaning up the entire play room, or taking out the trash…with zero complaints! Still in shock at how effective it has been. Can’t recommend enough!)
If your child is starting to gain some independence (roaming your neighborhood, being dropped off for afterschool activities, etc), and you’d like a way to connect with them, the Gabb Watch is the perfect solution, and it certainly makes an exciting practical gift.
The Gabb Watch gives you all the features you need, including GPS tracking (even notifications if your child leaves a specified location), 25 parent-managed contacts (no outside calls/texts), flashlight, step counter, and a parent-controlled lock mode to limit distractions during school hours. It’s even sweat, water and dirt resistant!
Create a practical gift of tech accessories that any tween or teenager would love (and find extremely useful!)
- Loopy Case: These smart phone cases are a teen’s dream – not only do they come in a variety of fun colors (including metallic, marble and brights), but there’s a genius loop on the back for slipping your fingers in for extra support while texting, taking selfies, or for general everyday carrying. The loop also acts as a stand for propping up the phone, but is soft and flexible so it doesn’t interfere with being slipped into a pocket. We tested them out ourselves, and found that it’s also a great product for moms who are often juggling multiple things in our never-free hands!
- Braided Charging Cables: These braided cables are much stronger than your average cord and can withstand plenty of wear ‘n tear. They come in lots of different colors and fun metallics that appeal to this age range.
- Portable USB Charger: For kids with cell phones or tablets, this mini USB charger is perfect for keeping in their backpack to provide extra juice to their devices if they’ve forgotten to give them a charge.
- Wireless Tracker: Have a child that’s always losing their tablet, phone, keys, video game controllers, remote control or wallet? Hook them up with these Wireless Trackers which comes with 6 tags to hook onto things like keys or mounted to other devices like phones. Simply press the color-coded button on the transmitter to signal an alert and the corresponding receiver will sound a loud beep so you can easily locate it – goodbye frustration and frantic searches!
Practical Gifts That Are Everyday Useful Items
What kid doesn’t dream of a new bike with a big red bow on it?! It makes an extremely functional, yet exciting gift, that is sure to get lots and lots of use. And in this day and age of technology, it’s a sure-fire way to get your child up and moving outside in the fresh air. Fist bump for that.
Now we have one brand that we give our highest-of-high recommendation to: Guardian Kids Bikes. We’d heard about their innovative super-safe SureStop brake system and had the opportunity to test them for ourselves. We were blown away. Not only are these bikes a breeze to assemble (they come 95-99% assembled based on which one you select), but the quality and craftsman are comparable to that of a high-end adult bike.
The SureStop braking system reduces stopping distance and helps prevent braking related accidents including head-over handlebar falls and front-wheel skidding. There’s only one brake lever making it much easier for kids to control, and the system automatically distributes the right amount of braking power to both wheels for smooth and controlled stopping. These bikes are worth the investment for this braking technology alone.
The website will easily help you calculate which size bike will be the best fit for your child. All their bikes are lightweight (about 10lbs lighter than the average kids bike), and include a sturdy kickstand.
Overall we found that riders who were a bit timid on their big box store bikes quickly became much more confident on the Guardian Bikes thanks to the quick and easy stop, and their overall geometry (lowered frame and longer wheelbase) which is specially designed to help kids learn to ride more easily.
This is one investment you won’t regret…and that your kids will never forget!
We love gifting a new piece of sporting equipment because it can not only help inspire a new passion, but motivates kids to get outside and be active.
While a new bat or ball is always a good option, also think about what your child might need for the next sports season (cleats, dance shoes, safety pads, helmet), or what they might like to try (fishing rod with lures, snorkel, ski goggles, skateboard, etc).
Flashlight or Headlamp
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 it in the most creative of ways. A huge hit I would recommend to anyone)
Pass on the preschool-type ones which don’t have much magnification, and instead get these Kids Binoculars by Kidwinz, which although designed for kids (shock proof, easy to focus, rubber eye pieces), function far beyond a toy.
Go for one like this oversized version from iMagniphy which is great for smaller hands and also includes an LED light.
A lot of fun for siblings or play dates, these KidzLane Walkie Talkies are super simple to use, feature fun voice changing options, and can spark tons of imaginative play. Over and out.
A seriously useful gift that would go brilliantly with a new raincoat or cute pair of rainboots. They’ll love one of these amazing color-changing umbrellas from Stephen Joseph, 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.
Add play money (or the real thing) inside for a fun surprise. You could even tuck away a gift card, or coupon from our Non-Toy Gift Guide: Gifts For Making Memories!
For babies or toddlers who are starting to explore the fun (and messy!) world of food, an extremely practical gift idea is a basket of mealtime essentials, which could include:
- Bib with Sleeves: Save yourself a few extra loads of laundry with Bumkins Bib with Sleeves – perfect for those extra messy meals (yes, tomato sauce we mean you).
- Snack Catcher: Say goodbye to Cheerios at the bottom of your stroller seat with the Munchkin Snack Catcher. Little hands can reach in, but the lid seals up while they munch.
- Sippy Cup: We highly recommend the BPA and Phthalate free Grosmimi Magic Sippy Cup – with a weighted straw, your child can suck up every last drop and it has a rotating handle to protect their wrists.
- Cool Eating Utensils: Pick any of our recommendations in this popular post and your kids will soon be devouring broccoli with their Dinosaur Chopsticks, scarfing down Chili with their Lickety Spoon and finishing every last vegetable with their Dinner Winner plate.
- Squeeze Pouches: These fun squeeze pouches make eating on-the-go a breeze and pack in a ton of fruits and veggies. Some of our favorites are from Happy Baby, Plum Organics and Sprout Organic.
A beautiful set of personalized note cards or stationary makes a lovely gift for an older child who can use them to write thank-you’s, or sweet notes to their friends. We adore the modern and whimsical selection from Minted. And with hundreds of designs, you’ll find the one best suited to your child’s interests.
Journal or Diary
Pick out a special journal or diary where your child can confess their inner-most thoughts and feelings. The high-quality ones from Peaceable Kingdom come in a variety of fun designs that include a real working lock and key – so their secrets stay safe from sneaky siblings!
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 250 ideas to choose from! If you missed any of them, be sure to check ’em out to find the perfect gift:
- Non-Toy Gifts For Learning & Expanding Horizons: Here we provide recommendations for non-toy gifts that encourage learning – everything from a simple magnifying glass, to STEM toys & activities.
- Non-Toy Gifts For Making Memories: Create memories, not clutter, with these meaningful experience gifts.
- Non-Toy Gifts To Receive In The Mailbox: All the best magazine and subscription boxes for kids.
- Non-Toy Gifts To Spark Creativity, Imagination & Special Interests: Unique gifts to encourage your child to be creative, inspire a new hobby, or be the starting point of a life-long passion – everything from cooking to origami!
- The Best Board Games For Kids & Families (That Aren’t Candy Land or Monopoly): Our top picks for family-friendly games.
- The Best Arts & Crafts Supplies & Gift Ideas for Kids – From Toddlers to Teens: Crafty and creative kids will no doubt be thrilled with any of the art supplies and craft kits from our best-of list.
- The Best Personalized Gifts For Babies & Kids: Custom gifts from name puzzles to jewelry and beautiful keepsakes.
And if you haven’t downloaded our free coupons, click on the graphic below for a meaningful gift (that costs nothing!):
But wait, there’s more! If you love the idea of non-toy gifts, but still would like to give something that IS a toy, you’ll want to head over to The Ultimate TOY Gift Guide For Kids.
Forget the hottest new toys – we’ve given our top recommendations based on extensive testing for functionality, longevity and fun (all based on your child’s current obsession!)
- 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
- The Best Gift Ideas For Super Hero & Star Wars Lovers
- 200+ Unique Stocking Stuffers For Babies To Teens (That Aren’t Junk!)
And we’re always working on more guides (coming soon: The Best STEM Gifts for Kids).
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
What was your favorite idea from our practical gifts for kids list? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
Love, love, love this!!
Such a great gift guide and I think my kids would love to receive something from any and all of these categories!
Great post! All of these things can be a lot of fun, too!
My kids always appreciated practical gifts! I think the trick is knowing what they like and what will make their lives more enjoyable.
So many good ideas here. I love the tee pees – they are so cool. I also like the idea of wall art. It’s not something I’d thought to get. And the umbrella was a huge hit here for a previous birthday, so I know that one’s a winner.
Wowie. This is awesome. I’ve stopped buying toys for the girl already. Love these. So will my girl. So many ideas! I’m pinning this 🙂