Practical Gifts for Kids | Gifts for Kids that aren't Toys | Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Kids

Thursday, January 25, 2024

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I am not sure when every holiday turned into something over the top filled with themed pajamas, placemats, decorations, and gifts... but that's where we are today. While I love a good theme, I don't have the time to go all out for every holiday (or the place to store all of those decorations). And while presents are fun, my kids don't need a constant influx of new toys or items. And I know that the dollar store or dollar spot at Target has lots of themed items for cheap...  but I don't want junk in my house. 

All that being said, I do think it's fun to recognize the different holidays in some way. For Valentine's Day, for example, we always get a heart shaped pizza for dinner. This is something easy that is still special, without it requiring tons of effort or more stuff.  And even though I don't want to constantly bring new toys into my house, there is something to be said for their excitment over presents or something themed. For that reason, whenever a holiday comes around that doesn't necessarily warrant new toys, but we want to get them something to open - we reach for a practical gift. Practical gifts are great gifts for kids that aren't toys. These are gift ideas for kids that they will actually use!

Here are some of the practical gifts we've done in the past. They would make a great gift for one of the more random holidays, or a great way to round out gifts to any other holiday like Easter, Christmas, their birthday, etc. (I think it's also good for them to practice gratitude for gifts that maybe aren't as exciting as toys. And this way they can practice at home, with you.) Many of these items are things we have given our kiddos for Christmas/Birthday/Easter.  With Valentine's Day coming up, these would be great Valentine's Day gifts for kids. 

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1. Smoothie Cups* - This is actually what my boys got for Valentine's Day last year. We do a lot of smoothies in our house, so having a fun cup for it is nice. You can buy these in a set of 4 or a set out 2. We chose the stainless steel version but they also come in glass* if you'd prefer those. 

2. Beach Towel* or Bath Towel* - Towels are something that can usually use an upgrade. Especially if you started with baby hooded towels, you'll need to get "big kid" towels as your kid grows! My oldest really could use a bigger pool/beach towel. I am trying to decide between a typical pool towel style* or one of these poncho pool towels* instead! I really like the poncho style* as it would be convenient for a cover-up and let them be hands free for snack time, but the "normal*" style might be better for drying off. TBD what I go with for the next practical gift he gifts! 

3. Toiletry Bag* - We actually got my son this toddler toiletry bag* for his fourth birthday. Between needing shampoo/body wash for after swim lesson showers, going to Grandma's house, vacations, etc. it's nice to have a little bag that can hold his toiletry items. This one* comes in over 20 patterns and is less than $20. 

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4. Chef Apron* or Kitchen Tools* - If your child likes to help in the kitchen, consider a chef apron or other kitchen tools! We have an apron on my son's wish list as he loves to help me bake and cook. There are so many patterns and design to choose from, you're sure to find one that fits your kids' interests. For example, here is a unicorn apron*, one with bears*, or one with animals*. If you don't already have toddler safe knives*, now is a great time to buy those too!

5. Umbrella* - My oldest received this umbrella* in his Easter basket last year. He is always so excited to use it any time it rains. I recommend a clear umbrella so that they can easily see out if it while they are walking. My youngest (almost 2) will probably get one of these in his Easter basket this year too! This is something you'll be glad you have for when it's raining and you need to walk into a store or daycare. Here* is another option with different patterns if you didn't find any your kiddo would like at the first link.

6. Gear for sports or activites - My birthday is in January so my parents had to plan for Christmas and my birthday less than 2 weeks apart. Often for my birthday, I would get new gear for dance. I was always so excited for it! A new leotard, leg warmers, tights.. you name it. It was something I needed and would get used. This is another great option for your kiddos too. Right now we are only in swim lessons so things that we might buy are a new swimsuit (this is my fave brand* for the boys) or googles*.  Maybe you need a soccer ball* or a new leotard* for dance/gymanstics. 

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7. Backpack* - We gifted my son this exact backpack* on his third birthday. He loves taking it into daycare each day and it gives an easy place to bring home artwork. (It's also nice to put hat/gloves in for winter!) You can personalize it if interested. I never personalize the boys' stuff because 1) I want to be able to resell easily when done and 2) I don't want strangers to know their names. We went with the large size so that it easily fit things he needed. This pink floral design* for girls is darling and here is a fun outer space print* too!

8. Art Supplies* or Chalk*- Anything that your kids use a lot of and regularly needs replacing makes a great practical gift. For Easter, both of my boys usually get a new set of chalk* as we use them all the time in the warmer months. Crayons* are also another hot commodity around here, so they are frequently in Christmas stockings!

9. Clothes or Shoes for the Upcoming Season - I mentioned this in my Easter Basket Ideas for a One Year Old post, but we often do shoes or pjs for summer in Easter baskets. They're going to need sandals and short-sleeve pjs anyways, why not include them as a gift?! I also think it is good for kids to learn to open something that is "boring" and still express gratitude. We can't expect them to know how to act/say thank you if someone gives them a t-shirt if they don't get a chance to practice at home. Gap* is my favorite place for toddler pjs. DSW* is my favorite spot for kids shoes. 

10. Things for Travel - Headphones* for an airplane ride, sleeping bag* for overnight trips, their own suitcase*, etc. If you and your child go on road trips, vacations, spend the night at Grandma's, etc. consider some items that they will need for traveling! (You could easily pair this with the toiletry bag in number 3!) Both my kiddos got headphones* for Christmas to prepare for an upcoming flight. A bunch more suitcase designs are available here*.

Do you have a favorite practical gift for toddlers? What is your favorite non-toy gift to give? If you have a favorite gift idea for the kid who has everything, please sound off in the comments!

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