Fun Non-Toy Gifts for Kids

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From craft kits to music lessons, there's something for every little one on your gift list.

Toys galore top your kids' holiday wish lists. But this year, you want to think outside the box - literally. What can you buy that you'll feel good about giving - and that will still give them lots of enjoyment?

The best gifts you can give kids of all ages are ones that will spark their imaginations and help them create special memories. Here are some suggestions to inspire you. Many are suitable for kids as young as 2 years old, with parent participation, of course. Happy shopping!

Science and learning

Encourage kids' natural desire to explore and discover with:

  • Binoculars, microscopes, or telescopes for hours of in-depth discovery.
  • An ant farm. The easiest to care for are the kind with a nutrient-rich gel habitat because they don't need watering.
  • A subscription to a kids' magazine like Highlights for Children or Spider.
  • Educational computer games, including updated classics like Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and The Oregon Trail.
  • An indoor gardening kit, complete with seeds, pots, and soil.
  • Age-appropriate books or a gift card to a bookstore so kids can pick out their own.
  • A child-size apron, wooden spoon, and whisk, plus some kid-friendly cookbooks to inspire a budding chef.

Money matters

Teach kids the meaning of money and charity with:

  • A piggy bank or electronic counting bank so kids can keep tabs on their funds.
  • A savings bond or a savings account in the child's name.
  • A donation to a charitable organization in the child's name, as well as a related token gift. For instance, you could donate a farm animal to a family in need through organizations that do this. A stuffed cow or sheep for the child could acknowledge the donation.

Creativity builders

Help kids stretch their imaginations to the limit with:

  • An unfinished play table and chairs that kids can decorate themselves with nontoxic paints.
  • Musical instruments like a drum, xylophone, recorder, or small electric keyboard.
  • A digital camera (or photo printer for a child who already has a camera). Younger kids will love easy-to-hold models with bigger buttons.
  • Kid-friendly music or poetry on CDs or as MP3s.
  • A craft kit with nontoxic art supplies like paints, markers, colored pencils, glue, glitter, feathers, pompoms, and stickers. Younger kids will love a set of easy-to-hold chunky crayons in a cute apron they can wear while they color.
  • Dress-up clothes and costumes, including hats, wigs, shoes, and eyeglasses.

Travel gear

Whether they're heading across the country on vacation or around the block for a sleepover, kids will love having their own:

  • Small rolling suitcase or backpack. For toddlers, look for bags that double as cuddly stuffed animals.
  • Personalized sleeping bag in their favorite color.
  • Pint-size fanny pack to hold a camera, snacks, and a small sketch pad and pencils.
  • Passport holder (good for plane and train tickets, too).

Fun experiences

These non-tangible gifts will help make lasting memories for kids of all ages:

  • Tickets to a sports game or kids' show or concert.
  • Trip to an indoor water park or family activity center.
  • Dinner with a few friends at their favorite restaurant.
  • A yearly pass or family membership to a local zoo or children's museum.
  • Cooking classes, swim instruction or music lessons.

Still need ideas? Use the child's interests as a starting point. A sports fan would love to have a kid-size jersey of his favorite player. Or create a new tradition with the kids in your life by going together to pick out a new calendar or holiday ornament after a special lunch or dinner together. You'll both cheap caverta online look forward to doing it again year after year.