No More Toys: Alternative Gifts for Toddlers

Christmas is right around the corner. If you’re anything like me, you probably make a mad dash for the remote every time a toy commercial comes on television. We love Christmas, but what I don’t love is all of the unnecessary toys that my children receive as gifts.

About three years ago my husband and I started doing a four gift Christmas for our four children. The gifts consisted of the following:

1. Something you want.
2. Something you need.
3. Something to wear.
4. Something to read.

For us this is easier, because it forces our kids to think really hard about what it is they want, instead of just wanting it because they see it.

As a kid, I loved waking up on Christmas morning and finding a mountain of gifts in the living room, and as a parent I wanted nothing more than being able to do the same for my kids. But after several years of doing this for my kids, it just seemed the only thing gained from it was more “stuff”. And to be honest all of the toys, drove my husband and I completely batty. Without all of the toys (x’s 4) its easier to keep our home clean.

But now back to the point of this post. Even if you don’t practice a minimalist lifestyle like we do, but you want to cut down on the amount of toys your child(ren) receive for Christmas,here are a few ideas that you give to family and friends.


We love visiting our local zoo and children’s museum. At our local zoo a family membership is $79. Which is much cheaper than some of the gifts my children receive. The plus side with memberships is that it is a one time purchase for the year, and it allows for you to visit as often as you like throughout the year.

  1. Zoo
  2. Aquarium
  3. Museum


Lessons are a great way to determine if your child will be interested in something for the long term. Depending on what the lessons are in you may be able to get a packaged deal. Locally swim lessons through the YMCA are $50 for six weeks or you can take a beginner ballet class for $30 a month.

  1. Dance
  2. Foreign Language
  3. Music
  4. Gymnastics
  5. Swimming

Family Trip

So this can be a little pricey, but this could definitely be a big gift from several family members. Besides what better gift is there than being able to spend time with one another?

An Experience

DIY gifts can be great, so add this to that column. A printable coupon book can used to give kids one on one fun time with mom, dad, grandpa, aunts, uncles or whomever. Whether its a movie date or cookie baking, this would be sure to make any little one’s day.


I would like to add, that although we strictly adhere to our four gift rule, we always include a Santa gift, which is like a wild card gift. Of course since we have to budget Christmas, it’s nothing ridiculously expensive, but it is something (else) that they were wanting for Christmas.


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