50 Alternatives to Gifting Toys for Presents

Posted under Gift giving, Play activities

Doesn’t it seem that children of today have so many toys?
I try to pare it down, but no matter how much I do, there always seems to be too much.
Is that true for you too?

And with each Christmas, birthday, party invitation, celebration or day at the shops/op shops, more toys seem to appear.

So, this Christmas I will try to fill my children’s stockings with things other than toys and I might pass this list on to well meaning family and friends. A gentle (yes, gentle!) nudge in ths direction is often needed, isn’t it?

Here is my list of toy-alternative inspiration.  50, yes, 50 ideas you might like to try. 
Maybe you’ll be inspired too…
  1. Clay plant pot and packet of flower seeds
  2. A net bag full of Spring bulbs ready for next season
  3. A tomato planter box and trellis and a tomato seedling. I heard today that my friend Amanda is buying her little girl a pre-cast raised Garden Bed for less than $100.  This truly is the gift that keeps on giving! Love it!
  4. A good quality set of gardening tools
  5. A funky pair of gardening gloves
  6. A franjipani tree
  7. A fruit tree (orange, mulberry or lemon would be my pick!)
  8. A worm farm and 1000 starter worms
  9. A gift certificate to the movies for two and popcorn voucher (Mum or Dad and child treat) or a gift certificate for our local chocolate cafe!  A wonderful way to create a special memory.
  10. A gift certificate for ‘Build a Bear’- a shop where they put together their own soft toy and it travels home with them in a special carry box (Our local one is in Surfers Paradise)
  11. A teapot for one and a small packet of herbal peppermint tea leaves
  12. A flower tea bomb.  Just like a bath bomb, but immerse this in hot water in a clear jug to watch it unravel into a posy of flowers- So sweet!  (Try any speciality tea shop- Robina Town Centre has one downstairs near David Jones entrance that sells them)
  13. A new pillowcase embroidered or patchworked with their own name. (Time to get out your embroidery hoop and thread!)
  14. A felted wallhanging for their bedroom door
  15. A Good Morning Tray. Fill it with a brass bell, a special cup and a teeny vase.  What a lovely way to wake up your children on a weekend mornings
  16. Drawer liners- a delightful way to induce beauty and reverence for smell.  Young girls might love this
  17. A bath bomb or fancy bubble bath for a deep soak
  18. A hose attachment for the bath.  Children love to wash themselves with running water.  What fun!
  19. An embroidered towel set of their very own for bathtime
  20. A individualised cutlery set.  Children will be excited to use their matching set of cutlery at the family meal table.
  21. A money box to save up for their next holiday treat
22.  A box of hand baked gingerbread cookies, personalised with their own name using white store-bought tube icing or royal icing through a paper piping bag.  Add 10 loops of red ribbon so they can hang them up on the tree if they like.
23.  A craft box of their very own- add a small pin cushion, needle case and needles, pair of scissors, a few metres of gorgeous ribbon, a bottle of glue, a sampler of paper, a glue stick, a set of good quality pencils and a pencil sharpener and some cross-stitch material squares.
24.  A set of paper patty pans in bold colours
25.  Their very own dish mop or brush
26.  A set of teatowels, a baking bowl and measuring cups
27.  An apron and oven mitten set, made by you or a friend in their favourite colour
28.  A child sized wheelbarrow or rake
29.  A heap of different sized bowls for the sand pit (Think Op shop)
30.  A pile of cool and funky material offcuts. Tidy the edges up, neatly fold and wrap with raffia for a cute gift of creative possibility
31.  A felt keyring in their favourite motif that they can attach to their school bag or lunch tin to help them identify their things
32.  Herb starter pots- basil, oregano, lemongrass, chives, parsley are all popular to use in dinner dishes and are easy to grow and care for
33.  A child size broom for sweeping
34.  Their own eco-friendly window washing/soapy bubbles set.  Moondew children love this task so their own cleaning tray (those ones with the carry handle) filled with a spray bottle, small sponges, chammy cloth and ‘bubble’ solution could be lots of fun.
35.  An amber necklace or bracelet
36.  A groovy stationery set- letter paper, stamps, envelopes and ways to make them individualised and full of funk!  Squirter pens, paint brushes and paint washes or twist up crayons are fun tools to use
37.  A set of oil pastels and a tin to keep them in
38.  A homemade set to make pompoms. You’ll need balls of wool, cardboard circles, a pair of scissors, a finished pom pom so they know what it looks like and tying string.
39.  A circle paper punch and a sampler of colourful paper so they can cut out circular nametags, book cover nameplates or make a sculpture of hanging 3D paper balls
40.  Wooden kitchen utensils just for them- wooden spoon, mallet, whisk, pastry brush  and a rolling pin(Ned will wake up to this on Christmas morning). You might add a child friendly cook book. Pick one up in great condition in your local op shop.
41.  A coin purse with a variety of coins from different countries
42.  A pair of binoculars and a pass to the local observatory or planetarium
43.  Their own set of hair shampoo and conditioner
44.  A new hairbrush
45.  A set of old vintage keys on big jangly ring.  Imagine the fun and creativity in discovering what the keys may have been used for.  Mystery and mayhem
46.  A handwritten icecream recipe, an icecream scoop tied with a ribbon bow and a handmade voucher for buying all the ingredients to make it.  Try the recipe in the book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.
47.  Revamped bedside lamp covers.  Bring a bit of life to old style.  Find a how-to in the library craft section.
48.  Make them a picnic cutlery set from an old linen tablecloth.  Sew up enough pockets for knife, fork, spoon and napkin then roll it all up.  A length of twisted rope can be attached to the final product to tie it up for portability.
49.  A new hat.  Baseball cap, or sun hat, or sun visor or water resistant sunshade, there are plenty of options.  Try your local market for inspiration.
50.  A set of train/boat/plane/steamtrain tickets (depending on your locality and cash flush-ness!). One of my favourite memories is being 15 and taking a Mystery flight with my friend Rebecca. We ended up in Cairns (about 30 hours north of here) for the day and went snorkeling under a blue summer sky on Green Island. Just that morning, we’d left the cold and pouring rain! But the greatest thing about the trip was the feeling we were trusted and the “grown-up-ness” of the adult-less air travel!   Taking your children on short trips now is the best way I know to excite and inspire world travellers! This is truly a gift for life!!!!
Remember that someone wise once said, the journey means as much as the destination!
Happy Alternative Gift Giving!!
I’d love to compile a list of your fab ideas too. 
Write your favourite gift giving tip/gift/ guide here.
Let’s share some gift giving love around the world!!

12 Responses to “50 Alternatives to Gifting Toys for Presents”

  1. Clara

    My children all adored their handmade cloth dolls, which I stitched for them this year (their Elves), so for Christmas I am making doll clothes and backpack carriers. Plus a gnome fire crew. My 5 year old adores his knitting fork which he had on his birthday, and I’ve also been sourcing cheap vintage Matchbox cars on Ebay. And for their Christmas sharing present this year they’re getting a handcarved horse and cart (locally made, so an heirloom gift really) and a set of Lyra crayons, as used in Steiner schools – fantastic quality. Sharing presents are gifts in more ways than one I reckon….

  2. Nicole

    Fabulous list – thank you! We’re sticking a lot of art supplies into stockings this year. :)

  3. Anonymous

    wow just found your lovely blog and have shared with our members of the Down to Earth Forum…we love handmade too.
    Thank you so much for your time and generosity,

    coffeee Sue

  4. sheri

    What a great list, and the site has so many ideas for crafts and activities, I love it. I’m sharing with the Holistic Moms Twitter party (#holisticmoms) so they can get some ideas for the holidays.

  5. Lara

    What a great list Amber, I know some adults that would really appreciate a few of your ideas too! Really got me excited for the gift giving experience again, much more so that reading through brochures filled will loveless commercial toys. Thanks for the inspiration..as always!

  6. Amber Greene

    I am SO HAPPY to read your comments and tips and ideas. You made my day so much brighter (and I am truly thankful for the light after having been to a very sad funeral for an 8 year old ex student today). Thank you to those of you who passed it on too. Each of us has such an opportunity to make a difference in the world and our little children’s lives! Bring on a wonderful Christmas!! And hold your children tightly.

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