The holidays are here, and with them comes a (seemingly) endless list of Christmas gifts. It seems as we and our kids get older, the lists get longer.
I don’t know about you, but as much as I love seeing my kids open Christmas presents, I’m tired of drowning in “stuff.” The Christmas presents flood the house at this time of year and then quickly get tossed aside and around, creating an irksome mess for this mama.
So, our solution was to ask for more “experiences” for our kids from our family and friends. While it didn’t eliminate the clutter, it reduced it significantly. This concept also gave us a substantial list of things to do throughout the year (concerts, amusement park visits, etc.).
Now, though, we’re in a bit of a pinch with the lingering pandemic. While things look better from time to time, as a family, we’re still being extremely cautious. Therefore, we aren’t taking regular trips to the museum or the amusement park or attending other events.
Family gifts for Christmas
What do we do then? I’ve crafted a list of Christmas gifts that aren’t toys. They aren’t necessarily experiences either. You’ll find something for everyone on this list that will still create a magical Christmas experience without adding clutter.
1. For the whole family: Pitching in for a professional family photoshoot
Do you still celebrate and exchange gifts with your extended family? What about your siblings? We still exchange gifts with my parents (grandma and grandpa) and my sister’s family. Instead of giving each other things this year, we came up with a few other ideas. One of them was pooling together money to hire a professional photographer to take our family photos.
This is a hit with the grandparents. They love nothing more than photos of their kids and grandkids! My little ones also love getting photo books. The design options are endless. You can craft together a sleek book for grandparents while also putting together a storybook, a kid-friendly book for the tots. There are so many gift ideas you can put together with wonderful photos.
2. For the celeb-obsessed teen: A new skill or hobby class taught by a famous person
Have you tried an online class yet? There’s a variety of options for learning a new skill or finding new ways to enhance the skills you already have. Masterclass is a great option for the teenagers in your life. Highly recognizable celebrities often teach these classes, making one an even “cooler” gift.
While we’re on celebrities, another online gift that would wow your teenagers would be a cameo. This gift can be pricier, but Cameo is where you can buy personal video messages from your favorite celebrities.
3. For the creative preteen: Drawing tools that the pros use
One of our favorite pandemic activities was online drawing tutorials. Art For Kids Hub was one of the best sites we could find that had step-by-step instructions for drawing really cool things. There were pop culture references, holiday sketches, and silly characters.
The best part was that it was incredibly easy for me to find the exact tools the artists were using. I shopped through their Amazon page, and my kids were ecstatic to be using the same tools as those they saw in the video.
4. For the new reader: Magazine subscriptions
Our 1st grader is an emerging reader who is constantly looking for new material to browse. He’s read every book we have in the house and is always checking things out from the library. Kids this age (5-8) are also old enough to pay attention to current events.
5. For the big sibling: Bedroom furniture
One of the best gifts I got for Christmas as a kid was a new bed. I never asked for it and certainly didn’t expect it, but to get a new piece of furniture to call my own was a huge deal!
Now, that’s a pretty big-ticket item, but it doesn’t mean we can’t find smaller pieces to make our older kiddos feel like they have something of their own for their personal space.
6. For the kid who loves to make a mess: Tie-dye t-shirt making kit
My boys are very crafty (ages 5 and 7) and messy. I love that they enjoy crafts, but there are only so many art projects we can fit on our refrigerator. I’ve loved finding more purposeful crafting kits that allow them to be creative and make their mess but then actually put the crafted item to use.
Tie-dye shirts are a great example of a way for them to get silly, messy, and create something they can wear.
7. For the little kid who hates taking baths: Single-use bath items
There are some really cool bath items out there developed with kids in mind. I feel like bath time can be hit or miss with a lot of kids. However, finding colorful and entertaining bath items will certainly draw your kids into the bathtub.
The best part is that these items aren’t toys that will linger in the bathtub and get all slimy and mildewy. You simply use them, and they’re gone.
8. For the adventurous kid who loves the outdoors: Scavenger hunt
This would be a lot of fun for siblings of all ages. My kids love to be outdoors and take walks in the woods. A fun idea we’ve wanted to try is a Christmas scavenger hunt that leads to something really fun, active, and engaging that is outdoors.
The gift itself can be whatever you want it to be. The scavenger hunt can be anywhere, too, depending on your home setup.
For your active kids, you could put together a scavenger hunt around the house that eventually leads them outdoors. This is where you can put up something like a climbing ladder or slackline to keep your active kids busy for hours.
9. For the household that loves sweets: Donut maker (or another nifty kitchen appliance)
Honestly, the last thing I need is another kitchen appliance. Still, I’ve been able to purge a few items to make room for something my whole family will enjoy.
I love doing family gifts that we can open together and use immediately. Growing up, my favorite family gift was a hot chocolate maker that we still use today with my parents. This year, I spotted this donut maker, and I think I’m going to order it for my family.
Donut making, especially on Christmas morning, is such a fun activity. Plus, you get to choose the flavors and ingredients. Making your own donuts is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without having to leave the house or break out a deep fryer.
10. For those who need to get out of the house: Family day
Finally, there is the ultimate gift of spending time together. While some may not be comfortable giving indoor experiences, there are still plenty of things you can do outdoors as a family. This will all depend on what’s available to you locally and is within your budget. Kids are extremely easy to thrill when you keep a few things in mind.
First, you can all brainstorm and maybe let each child pick a destination. Second, you can pack a lunch or special snacks that they may not usually be able to enjoy. Third, let the day flow! If you try to stick to a hard schedule, there’s a good chance it won’t go as planned.
I find these offbeat, unplanned days to be the best. Some of my fondest memories with my kids are the days I put everything else aside and just focused on them. Here are a few tips for finding something unique to do around you.
- If you are a family full of foodies, see if there has been a cooking or food show filmed near you and check out that food destination.
- See if there are any outdoor concerts or movie nights planned in your area.
- Geocaching is a great family activity for those who like the great outdoors.
- See if there is a local ferry around.
- Set up a bonfire and some outdoor chairs for s’mores and hot chocolate. You can make it extra festive and decorate a tree outdoors.
Now you’re ready to skip the toy store
I’m not trying to be a Scrooge! I’m sure my kids will get some toys this year, and it won’t be the end of the world. Still, I’ll feel better with some of these ideas in mind. Even just making a few changes and gifting a few non-toy items will keep the clutter out of your house and maybe even change the spirit of Christmas in your home.