Best Non-Toy Gift Guide for Kids for Holidays and Birthdays

The best subscription boxes and magazines for kids

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).

This part of our Non-Toy Gift Guide focuses on fun surprises that kids can receive via the mailman. I mean, how exciting is it for a child to get mail?! They love that special feeling of something arriving just for them (because it doesn’t happen very often), and a subscription to a fun magazine or subscription box will give them something to look forward to every month. It’s a fabulous gift that literally keeps on giving.

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Remember to Bookmark, Print and PIN this list so it’s always handy when a gift-giving occasion arises!

Best Magazine and Subscription Boxes for Kids


Not only will your child delight in pulling these out of the mailbox, but with the engaging content, they won’t be able to put them down. Our recommended magazines are all high-quality with a healthy balance of education and entertainment, and are a great way for kids to practice their literacy skills as they get older.

Best Magazines for Kids - Highlights


Highlights is one of our favorite magazines for children, and with 3 different magazines that cater to different ages and stages, your child can start at Hello (ages 0-2), move on to High Five (2-6) and then graduate to Highlights (6-12). Each issue is filled with stories, crafts, learning games, recipe ideas, science experiments, and fun puzzles. There’s even a bilingual Spanish/English version, High Five Bilingüe!

The varied stories and activities make these magazines the perfect companion for a road trip, airplane ride, or to look at while waiting at a restaurant or Doctor’s office. (editor’s note: my kids also love Highlight’s Puzzle Buzz series which features tons of “hide and seek”, mazes, complete the picture, spot the silly things, and more.) 

Best Magazines for Kids - National Geographic


National Geographic Kids magazine is perfect for kids ages 6-12 who are interested in nature, wildlife, science and geography. The beautiful photography, engaging articles and interactive activities will hold your child’s attention while teaching them to protect and care for the planet. There is also a wonderful version, National Geographic Little Kids, for the younger set (ages 3-6) which focuses on animals, cool science and families around the world.

Best Magazine Subscriptions For Kids - Zoobooks


For over 30 years, Zoobooks has encouraged kids’ natural love of animals, with award-winning photography, incredible illustrations and articles full of fascinating, kid-friendly information. Zoobooks is highly recommended by teachers, and is perfect for animal lovers ages 6-12. For the younger set, the same high-quality is available as Zootles for kids 3-6 and Zoobies for 1-3 year olds. There’s even Zoodinos for Dinosaur lovers!

Best Magazines for Kids - Sports Illustrated Kids


If you have a budding athlete, or a child who loves to watch sports, this magazine takes home the trophy. Perfect for boys and girls aged 8-14, SI Kids gives youngsters the inside scoop on their favorite athletes, plus news and photos from the world of sports. Add in a healthy dose of puzzles, games, “tips from the pros”, gear recommendations and rules of the game, and you’ve got a magazine that will be read over and over again.  


Speaking of getting fun surprises in the mail, these monthly Subscription Boxes for kids are the newest trend, and one we’re happy to jump on board with. Whether your child likes technology, science, art, geography or books, there’s a subscription box to cater to almost any interest. We’ve tested out the best of ‘em and have listed our favorites for your child to enjoy every month.

Best Subscription Boxes - Groovy Lab In a Box


KiwiCo’s mission is to make STEAM accessible, engaging and fun – inspiring kids to see themselves as scientists, artists, creators and makers. They offer 7 different subscription boxes based on your child’s age and stage – they are all extremely high-quality, beautifully designed and thoughtfully crafted to stimulate your child’s passions. We had our Kiwi Crate tester’s creating incredible pin-ball machines that they built themselves with the provided materials and played with for hours. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on the next month’s box. If we could give it more than 2 thumbs up, we wouldn’t hesitate!

Tadpole Crate (0-36 months) encourages the development and creativity of your baby or toddler. Monthly boxes include an age-appropriate product (toy/activity), board book, magazine and parenting toolkit.

Koala Crate (3-4 years) encourages play based learning and includes all the materials and inspiration for projects related to a theme such as music, garden or cityscapes. 

Kiwi Crate (5-8 years) includes science activities, arts and crafts, imaginative play and more. Monthly crates include everything you need for projects related to a theme such as science of color, lemonade stand and treasure hunt. 

Atlas Crate (6-11 years) focuses on geography and culture. Kids get to explore a new destination every month and learn about other cultures through hands-on projects.

Doodle Crate (9-16+ years) is perfect for those older kids who love to create, craft and design. They’ll receive fun crafting materials and learn cool techniques like solar imaging, embroidery and woodworking. 

Tinker Crate (9-16+ years) aims to teach STEM principles to help kids solve problems and build critical thinking skills. Each month’s crate comes packed with materials and instructions to create incredible science and engineering projects.

ALL NEW! Eureka Crate (14-104 years) makes hands-on science and engineering fun with high-quality materials and step-by-step instructions to build amazing things (like their very own ukulele!)

KiwiCo is very flexible and allows you to switch which crate your child receives at any time. Subscriptions are available on a month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month or 12-month basis.

SPECIAL OFFER: Get 50% off your first month with this link and code: WHATMOMSLOVE

Best Subscription Boxes for Kids - Little Passports


Teach your kids all about the world, with a monthly adventure from Little Passports that focuses on geography, history, culture, language and science. Choose from the Early Explorers (ages 3-5), the World Edition (ages 6-10), or the USA Edition (ages 7-12) to learn about new places, or opt for their new Science-based boxes (Science Junior for ages 5-8 or Science Expeditions for age 9+) to reveal the world’s mysteries through science experiments and activities.

Our testers really got excited about the featured destinations (a new country or US State is featured each month), diving into them with the accompanying souvenirs, pop-out models, activities, stickers and other fun goodies. It’s a really fun and unique way to inspire kids to learn about new cultures and inspire them to travel.

Little Passports subscriptions are available on a monthly, 6-month or 12-month plan.

Best Subscription Boxes For Kids - KidStir


We adore this company for creating an experience for kids that not only educates them, but gets them excited about food. Their monthly kits are so well-crafted and center around a theme like Appetizers, Snacks, Salads or Breakfast. Each contains 3 fun recipes, a shopping list, extra info on the foods involved, games, activities and our favorite: 2 top-quality kid-sized tools. Kidstir is a total winner in our books – informing kids about food, and arming them to make healthier choices (editor’s note: Don’t be scared if your kids are pickier eaters – you’d be amazed what our kids tried amidst the excitement of the tools, recipe cards and them actually making it…new foods were consumed, and even enjoyed!)

Kid Stir subscriptions are available in monthly, 3-month, 6-month and 12-month plans. A small selection of single kits are also available for purchase.

rowan earring subscription

If you have a daughter who has her ears pierced, Rowan is a fun subscription box that sends a new pair of high-quality earrings each month + a surprise accessory. You can choose between Gold Vermeil or Sterling Silver (always Nickel Free and hypo-allergenic), and subscribe month-to-month, or save more with a 6-month or yearly subscription.

For your first box we recommend adding on the accessory pack that includes a cool acrylic earring stand. Each box is beautifully packaged and the earrings they select are small, classy and often match the current season (ie. snowflake earrings in a December box). The best part watching them get excited each month as they receive their new pair. 

Rowan is a perfect gift for hard-to-buy-for tweens and those who have just gotten their ears pierced!

Order any subscription box or magazine subscription 4-6 weeks in advance. This way the first issue/box can be wrapped up and presented as the gift, with an explanation that more will arrive via the mailman!

Best Subscription Boxes for Kids Bitsbox


Give your kids a head-start in this increasingly digital world with a subscription to Bitsbox where they will learn the language of the future: coding. Bitsbox teaches kids to code their very own apps by copying real code and then tweaking it to make it their own. With each box they receive beautifully designed coding cards (and a sturdy binder to keep them safe) that build on their developing skills and inspire them to create cool programs like birthday cards, robot destroyers and dancing animals. Kids simply pick a card, enter the project number into the Bitsbox website, and type in the provided code – they can then change the code to customize the apps (and learn all about different functions as a result). Once they’ve completed an app, they can share it to any mobile device – great for getting younger siblings involved, or simply making mama proud.

The real beauty here is that kids are having fun (hello, screen time!) while learning a skill that will set them on a path for future success – could there possibly be a better gift than that?! Bitsbox subscriptions are available on a month-by-month, 3-month, or 12-month basis and come in Basic, Deluxe or Digital packages. Recommended age: 6-14

Best Subscription Boxes - Groovy Lab In a Box

If you’re looking for a subscription box that will give you oodles of quiet time, the amazing sensory kits from Young Wild & Friedman are the answer. Each box has a specific theme (some of our favorites include ConstructionDinosaurUnicorn and Fairies), and includes 3 colored and scented homemade play dough balls (made with no chemicals!) plus small figures and other accessories/supplies. Everything is cleverly thought out and encourages open ended play.

The kids we had testing the kits, sat and played with them for HOURS. Hours people! Quiet, thoughtful play where we could just see their imaginations at work. Although you can choose to order single kits, we highly suggest their monthly subscription program – not only will you a discount on each kit, but you’ll never be stuck without a rainy day activity ever again.

Best Subscription Boxes - Groovy Lab In a Box

As busy moms we rarely have time to hit the mall and shop, so when we started using the online styling service, Stitch Fix, several years ago it completely revolutionized our wardrobes. That’s why we were so excited for the launch of Stitch Fix Kids, and we’re happy to report that we were just as impressed with the styles and ease of the “shopping” experience.

To start, you simply fill out a survey about your child – including their interests, sizes and color/style preferences. You’re also able to set a budget for different clothing types which allows you to save on everyday items like T-shirts, but splurge a little more on hand-me-down pieces like special occasion wear and coats. Then a Stitch Fix stylist will pull 8-12 pieces for your child and send them with a personalized note and styling suggestions. You’ll then decide what you want to keep, and what to send back (all in the pre-paid package it comes with).

We tried this service out on our own extremely picky kids (editor’s note: my daughter has a very limited wardrobe because she is so particular about her clothes, but she wanted to keep almost all of her Stitch Fix items and wears them regularly! Big win for us!) and we’ve never seen them so excited about trying on clothes! It was a big success with several pieces becoming new favorites, and we were very impressed with the prices and quality. Sizes run from 2T to 14.

SPECIAL OFFER: Get $25 off your first Stitch Fix (for kids or for yourself!) with THIS LINK


Every month the We Craft Box comes loaded with a themed story, coordinating craft materials, and easy-to-follow photo directions – essentially everything your child needs to start immediately creating. There’s a new theme with each box – from outer space, to Llamas and lollipops!

As a parent, it’s a completely stress-free experience – no trips to the craft store, no searching online for creative activities, everything is already set-up and thought through.

For older kids, these boxes can be completed independently, for younger children (under 6) they are fun to sit down and do together.

You can pay month-to-month or save with 3, 6 or 12 month prepaid subscriptions. They also sell single one-off boxes that are great for keeping on hand for when you get hit with the “Moooom, I’m booored”s.

Best Subscription Boxes for Kids - The Story Box

You can never go wrong with gifting books, and The Story Box makes receiving them that much more exciting. Each box is curated by a speech-language pathologist and includes 2 brand-new books and a parent guide. Choose from Board Books (ages 0-2 ½), Picture Books (2 ½-6) or receive one of each in the Family Package. The parent guide includes some great tips and ideas for how to engage with your child while you read. Your kids will fall in love with reading – and with The Story Box!

The Story Box subscriptions are available on a month-to-month, 3-month or 6-month basis.

Best Subscription Boxes - Groovy Lab In a Box

This award-winning subscription box arrives stuffed with everything your child (or as Groovy Lab calls them, STEMist) needs for a cool hands-on project based around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). After they’ve completed several experiments, your STEMist is challenged to an Engineering Design Challenge, where they must apply what they’ve learned to complete the challenge. Our budding STEMists had a blast with these kits, creating a hydroponic garden while learning about seed germination, drip irrigation and photosynthesis! Recommended for ages 8+.

Groovy Lab In A Box subscriptions are available in monthly, 3-month, 6-month or 12-month plans. Themed single, duo or trio boxes also available subscription-free.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:

And don’t miss out on our free printable coupon book

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. We’ve given our top recommendations based on extensive testing for functionality, longevity and fun (all based on your child’s current obsession!)

Stocking Stuffer Printable Coupon Book for Kids

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

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