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Holiday – Ten Non-Toy Gifts

Whether it is Christmas or birthdays my kids are at the age where they get a lot of toys as gifts.  We love toys and my boys play with their toys frequently but we do get overloaded at times.  As a family we have started doing outings rather than gifts for birthdays and other big events so I am trying to put the same practice in at Christmas.

Over the past several years I have listened to many friends talk about wanting family gifts for Christmas or experiences rather than toys.  The truth is there are a lot of options beyond traditional toys and your family will probably appreciate them more.

I wrote this post last year and decided to update it with a few new ideas!


Family pictures are a treasure!  Everyone loves getting a sweet Christmas card in the mail or a framed family picture as a Christmas Gift.  Our walls are lined with pictures of the boys.   Booking a photography session for your family or a family on your Christmas list would be a great pre Christmas gift.  

King's Family Picture

Subscription Boxes

We did this for my cousins children last year and they loved it. Many of the boxes are categorized for ages so you can make sure it is an age appropriate gift for the recipient. I did a quick google search for the ones that I wanted but Cratejoy really is a one stop shop. They are the current search engine for subscription boxes. The ones I purchased last year were offered for multiple months in a row so each child received their initial box and then another one about two months later. Keep the Christmas fun going!


As the mom of three boys I am here to tell you that sports are expensive.  There is the initial cost of participating and then the major cost is in the equipment.  The first year is typically the most expensive and where a family would love a little support.  Especially if they have older kids who may want a specific kind of bat or helmet that may be over their budget.  Paying the entry fees would always be appreciated but if you want to give them an actual gift on Christmas day think about things like equipment and uniforms that they can open and enjoy.

Classes and Camps

Art and music lessons can be a great creative outlet for kids and most schools don’t have large programs for these anymore. Families are booking lessons privately and this could be a fun way to invest in a child’s hobby or talent. Many of the private art and music schools in our area offer weekly classes but also camps over holidays and in the summer. If you have a budding musician or artist in your family this may be right up their ally.


Going to the Zoo or the Aquarium regularly is so much fun!  Having a membership allows you to pop in and out and not feel like you have to spend the whole day there to get your money’s worth.  Most memberships you only have to go once or twice to make them worth it.  Places like the Louisiana Children’s Museum and Children’s Museum of St. Tammany offer memberships and little perks for members when they attend.

Movie or Ice Cream Gift Certificates

My kids love to go to the movies and out for sweets.  Recently they have also started to enjoy going to the movies as a family.  Gift cards to go out to the movies and have dinner, like at the movie tavern, would be an excellent choice.  Also, ice cream nights or restaurant gift certificates so the family can go and do something all together.  Places like Nan’s New Orleans Café have ice cream right next door!  Also, have you been to Sweet Idea?  Total treat for our entire family!


Do you have a family in your life that loves to cook?  Think about a meal delivery service that the whole family can participate in.  Services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have great plans that will allow a family to involve everyone to prepare a meal.  Similar to the subscription boxes these can be ordered months in advance so the family can enjoy them for Christmas a beyond.

Event Tickets

Ballet, symphony, theater, sports, concert, festivals…  The list is endless!  We love doing things as a family and having nights out and this would be the perfect gift for the adventurous family in you life. The Saenger Theater has a variety of musicals and other events.

New Room

Think about a way that you could buy gifts that will help build or decorate a new room for a niece or nephew.  Blankets and sheets and comforters or even wall art.  This could be an opportunity to work out a surprise with their parents or take them shopping and use it as a bonding experience.  Check out Moon Blossom Art the next time you are looking for something different and fun to decorate a room!

Family Basket

These could be fun to build and be as complicated or as easy as you want them to be.  Movie Night with a DVD or gift certificate to red box (do people still do that?) or netflix and popcorn, candy and trimmings.  The list would be endless when you identify what the family is into.  Baking.  Camping.  Grilling.  Fishing.  I can go on and on.

Christmas doesn’t have to be all about the toys this year so reach out to the people on your list and see if they would rather a family gift and minimize the amount of toys rolling in the house.

Editors Note:  This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been completely updated 11/16/19.

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