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.