12 Non-Toy Gift Ideas For The Holidays (for babies to preschoolers)

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Toys are magical, especially during the holiday season — they’re educational, fun and downright cute but when you have multiple friends and family members buying for your young children the sheer volume of toys received can be a bit overwhelming.

So what’s a parent to do when the toy pile keeps growing? Gymboree Play & Music has come up with a list of 12 toy alternatives that will delight and encourage play for children ages 0 to 5 years old.

Sometimes it’s nice to give (and receive) a non-toy present that sparks imagination, creativity and kindness.

Let’s Play!

  1. Dress-Up Clothes – Raid grandma’s closet for old hats, shoes, purses, ties and scarves. Your little one will love playing dress-up and you can add a modern twist by taking selfies of each outfit.
  2. Museum Events – Choose a specific event at a local museum, this way kids can visualize their upcoming adventure.  For example if you live near Rochester, NY you might choose The Berenstain Bears: Down a Sunny Dirt Road at The Strong National Museum of Play. What’s going on in YOUR town?
  3. Tummy Time Blanket – Babies will love practicing “Tummy Time” on a brightly colored soft blanket. Try Etsy for beautiful handmade blankets.
  4. Sleeping Bag – Toddlers and Preschoolers will love having their own sleeping bag for movie night on the couch or to make a tent with a chair.
  5. Flashlight – Light play is so much fun! A moving light on the wall becomes a shooting star or a faraway planet. It also makes for a great game of on/off for babies.
  6. Charity Bank – Give your child a small bank for their favorite cause. Does your child love pets or recycling? Help them pick a charity and then let them save their pennies in the charity bank. Once the bank is full help them roll the coins and make a donation.
  7. Art Book – Self-publish a book of your child’s artwork from the entire year. They will be thrilled to see that they have their very own published “book”.
  8. Ice Cream Parlor Voucher – Create a “Treat Ticket” redeemable at a brand new ice cream parlor. Children of all ages will love building a triple scoop with their favorite flavors. The whole family can play a guessing game too — have each child choose their own flavors then have the family guess which ones they picked by color and texture.
  9. Huge Cardboard Box – A cardboard box can be a pirate ship, Landspeeder, clubhouse, birds nest or just a fun place to play.
  10. Bath Sponges – Kids of all ages love bath time! Water play not only gets little hands clean but it also makes for creative play. Kids can squeeze water, make bubbles and float their sponge like a boat.
  11. Mystery Box – Create a personalized mystery box of hand-me-down items. Ask grandpa, Aunt Jane and cousin Joe to contribute something fun — items can include things like old stamps, a harmonica or some seeds to plant in the Spring. Decorate the box in bright colors for an added touch.
  12. Baby Lab & Play Lab Classes at Gymboree Play & Music! Baby Lab is a multi-sensory play and learning lab that’s all about building brain power, stimulating reflexes and sharing giggles. Play Lab is an innovative new program that brings S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) learning to life with projects and activities that were specifically designed for their age group.

Share YOUR ideas for a non-toy holiday gift.

WINNERS! The Gymboree Play & Music #gymboween Instagram Costume Photo Contest

We had so many amazing entries for the Gymboree Play & Music #gymboween Instagram Costume Photo Contest that we decided to pick two.

First up is Danielle and son Shea from Staten Island, NY who show that our Gymboree Play & Music families are so creative! Play strong, Popeye, play strong!

Danielle and her family won a $100 in Gymboree Play & Music product pack.

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Our second winner is from Dana from El Dorado Hills, CA proves that the family that plays together stays together with these super creative Halloween costumes.

Dana and her family also won a $100 in Gymboree Play & Music product pack.

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Congratulations to both of our winners.

Gymboree Play & Music families come to class together to play and learn together, and then take what they know out into the world!

31 Bite Sized Tips For Surviving Halloween With A Toddler (from parents who really have toddlers)!

Halloween with a toddler? While this might sound like a storyline out of a horror movie surviving Halloween with kids under 4 can actually be quite fun if you’re prepared and patient.

We surveyed our Gymboree Play & Music parents and 88% plan on going trick-or-treating with their toddlers this year so we also asked them for their favorite tips on surviving Halloween with a toddler.

Here’s real advice from real moms and dads that just might help you make it through to November 1st!

Be flexible, have fun!
Don’t expect to hit a lot of houses; hide candy when they aren’t looking.
Less is sometimes more!
Replacing the candy with healthier options or non edibles when they’re not looking!
Stop when they want to stop.
Get out early.
Be patient and let them enjoy the experience 🙂
Make it fun! But always stay safe and aware of surrounding.
Let them choose their own costume!
Have fun and be prepared for a meltdown just in case.
Keep calm!
Bring a stroller or wagon incase they get tired from walking.
Just let them have some candy, they’re only kids once.
Get as much rest as possible before Halloween.
Pray for a meltdown free night!
Follow their lead – if it’s magic for them, great! If not, don’t force it.
Emphasize on dressing up and not candy.
Let them run!
Don’t stay out too late.
Stay in a group!
Bring snacks, a sippy cup, and a stroller.
Make sure the costume is still cute even if they take the headpiece off.
Have low expectations.
Make sure everyone eats dinner first.
Don’t over-plan.
Pace yourself, end the night when your toddler starts getting cranky.
Let your significant other take them.
Hide the dog so he doesn’t bark every time the doorbell rings and wakes up the baby!!
Have fun it’s only for one night.
Be prepared to NOT get any sleep that night.

May the Force be with you…
May rapunzel’s hair stay in place…
May you not have squashed Tootsie Rolls in your carpet this year…

We’re with you mom and dad!
Have fun and Happy Halloween!

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Enter The Gymboree Play & Music #gymboween Instagram Costume Photo Contest

ENTER The GYMB-O-WEEN Photo Contest TO WIN A Goodie Basket!

Gymboree Play & Music is celebrating Gymb-O-Ween with a national costume photo contest and a chance to win a $100 in Gymboree Play & Music product*.

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Dress up for a spooktacular Halloween celebration and costume party. We’re looking for candid and cute photos of your little ones in costume.

It’s super easy to enter.

  1. Just snap some pics and share your favorite costume photos on Instagramwith the hashtag #gymboween and you’re in.
  2. Post your photos by November 1st (you can enter more than one photo) and don’t forget to use the #gymboween hashtag.

You can view all the entries on Instagram at


We’ll be sharing our favorite pics on the Gymboree Play & Music social media channels and one national entry will win a product prize package with a $100 value.

Happy Gymb-O-Ween!

*Enter for a chance to win. No purchase necessary to enter the competition. Participants enter the contest by uploading original photographs through the free Instagram app using the hashtag #gymboween. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use. All entries must be received by 12:00 PST on November, 1st 2017. Entrants may submit as many entries as they wish but no entrant may win more than one prize. The winner will be selected by Gymboree Play & Music in its sole discretion. One winner will receive a $100 prize package provided by Gymboree Play & Music HQ. The winner will be notified via email by November 15th, 2017. The winner must claim their prize within 30 days of notification. Winner consents to the use of his/her name, photo and/or likeness, biographical information, winning entry and statements attributed to winner (if true) for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation.