[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]gift ideas for toddlers that aren't toys, at paperandspark.com

Our daughter is only 14 months old and we already have SO many toys in our house. I cannot comprehend how we will contain the madness as she gets older and accumulates more toys, nor can I imagine what the situation will be like with more kiddos (eventually, don’t get excited).

We love all the toys that we are blessed to have, and I’d like to say that Hazel plays with most of them (or has at some point at least), but with the holidays quickly approaching, I’m trying to think of some out-of-the-box toy ideas for both gifting and receiving, before we have to rent a storage pod.

I know you might’ve seen some other “non-toy gift ideas” floating around social media these days, so I tried my best to come up with some truly unique ones. The goal is not to just think of gifts that won’t take up more space in the toy chest; it’s really about giving gifts with thought and meaning behind them…gifts that encourage learning, making memories, or spending time together as a family. Without further ado, here are my non-toy gift ideas for toddlers this holiday season.

Unique Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Toddlers

Growth Chart – This is a cute item that many houses don’t already have, and it’s a thoughtful gift and keepsake for the whole family really. Kids love to have a physical reminder of how fast they’re growing! I’m personally a big fan of the rustic wooden ruler growth chart trend going on right now. I like them non-personalized (or just with the family name) so you can use it for all the kiddos! Plus, if you move you can take it with you (versus if you’re carving notches on a wall).

oversized ruler growth chart by dollick designs on etsy

oversized ruler growth chart by dollick designs on etsy


Zoo or Children’s Museum Membership – An annual pass or membership to a kid-friendly museum, zoo, trampoline place or little gym (or gymboree) in the town your gift recipient lives in is a great gift that can be used again and again throughout the year. It also encourages family time and being active.

Dear Baby Journal – Shameless plug for P+S! Our “Dear Baby” journals are personalizable and great presents for babies (…aka parents of babies). Mom and Dad can write letters to their little one documenting precious moments, milestones, and special thoughts. The journal becomes a treasured memento to gift to your little one when they’re all grown up.

dear baby journal

Toddler-friendly Magazine Subscriptions – How much would your toddler love to get mail just for him? Believe it or not, there are magazines created just for little ones. Check out subscriptions like Highlight’s Hello magazine, created especially for ages 0-2, and made from sewn, laminated pages for heavy-duty playing. There’s also National Geographic for Little Kids, which is geared toward preschoolers 3-6 years old and perfect for kiddos that love to look at animals.

hello magazine

Canvas Photos – Another great gift idea that both little ones and their parents can enjoy is a printed canvas photo. Choose a special family photo and have it printed on canvas to decorate the family room. There are many economical yet high-quality options online these days for canvas printing, like Shutterfly or Canvas on Demand.

Gardening Kit – This gift encourages little ones to get outside (and away from electronics) and spend some time with mom or dad getting their hands dirty. Can you imagine how much fun your toddler will have working in the garden beside you with her very own kid-sized tools? You can find pre-made gardening kits online (for great prices I might add!) or make your own special bundle, starting with gardening gloves and a book about how seeds grow.

gardening kit for kids

Books – So maybe books are kind of cheating. If you’re having trouble coming up with non-toy gift ideas that the toddler on your list would like, when in doubt, go with books. Books are kind of like toys in that they take up space in your house, but they encourage interaction and family time, and they help little ones learn. So…they’re a good kind of toy! In my opinion, you can never have too many books. You can also tailor them to your toddler’s interests – dinosaurs, Elmo, Dora, princesses, trains, endless possibilities.

Toddler-friendly Plates, Cups, Utensils, etc. – Toddlers need to eat. Fun toddler-appropriate dishes, bowls, utensils, placemats, and cups are good gifts because they are things that parents of toddlers and toddlers actually need to stock their kitchen. You can get creative and order personalized bowls or plates for the toddler on your list, or get a dinner set that features their favorite character. We recently got this Sesame Street dining set that is both dishwasher and microwave-safe (a HUGE plus for the stressed parent). When Hazel was born, we were gifted with this amazing portable placemat, which we use every time we go out to eat. Also a great gift.

elmo plates

Gift Cards for Fun Toddler Things – Again, think of what you can buy to encourage family time and fun family outings. Ideas include gift cards to a local bowling alley, the movie theater, an ice cream parlor or bakery, or a toddler-friendly pottery class. Is the toddler’s family going on a family vacation this year? We’re planning Hazel’s first trip to Disney World for 2015 and Disney gift cards would be a great present (wink wink). A little toddler might not understand what they’re unwrapping when they open a gift card, so you can paste a few pictures of the store or destination to the wrapping paper or greeting card to help them “get it” and get excited.

Piggy Bank – Maybe it’s just the accountant in me, but I think a cute or personalized piggy bank is a fun outside-the-box gift for a little one. Help them learn about money and save their pennies (or really, their parents’ pennies) for an ice cream cone or ride on the train. Your piggy bank doesn’t even have to look like a piggy; cater to your toddler’s favorites with a Ninja Turtle, Minnie Mouse, or Frozen piggy bank.

ninja turtle bank

What are some of the best non-toy toddler gifts you’ve received or given?

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Please note that this post contains affiliate links. All opinions expressed are my own.

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