Clutter-free Gift Ideas for Kids

Give a spectacular gift – outside the toy box!

I don’t know about you, but a little piece of me dies when gift giving holidays roll around and I think about adding more clutter to our playroom. We work very hard at practicing the policy of getting rid of toys when new ones come in, but when grandparents, aunts, uncles, Santa and others add to our toy collection, sometimes that policy just doesn’t cut it. With 4 kids, we found that we had to figure out ways to curb the toy floods. We encourage consumable gifts. We also try and think outside the box a

Here are some ideas for gifts the kids will enjoy that don’t create chaos in the playroom.

Gift Cards

Now, gift cards to toy stores or box stores won’t solve the problem. I do like stacking gift cards from the same place and allowing the kids to get ONE bigger item instead of multiple gifts, but it’s still a gamble. I prefer gift cards to restaurants, movies, experiences, etc. iTunes cards are also great for allowing kids to get movies, music and more for their devices.

Audience seated in front of an empty stage with a blank white screen in a darkened auditorium, high angle view


We’re lucky to live close to a great zoo. We get a membership every year and our kids LOVE going. We homeschool, so our schedule allows us to really get our money’s worth out of the membership. Some other ideas: amusement parks, historic sites (e.g. Colonial Williamsburg, Biltmore Estate, etc), National Parks Passport, YMCA, conservation organizations, etc. These are experiences that people love, but often don’t rush to pay for themselves.

For a list of accredited zoos in the US, click here.



Now, most kids don’t want clothes for gifts. Where’s the fun there? But, clothes can be really fun gifts when they really fit the personality of the recipient. I have a daughter who loves all things frilly, so getting new clothes with sparkles and lace make her day. And another daughter loves animals, so a shirt with a zebra on it is a great gift. Other ideas: Crazy socks, PJ’s with favorite characters, rain boots and rain coat.


Our home welcomes books. We have reading time everyday and the kids get excited anytime new books are added to our library. Storybooks are great, but typically, those don’t get re-read very often. Our kids tend to head back to fact books, atlases, drawing books, joke books, Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Kid reading book, light in darkness


This is one that I go back and forth on. I’m not a big fan of lots of magazines laying around my house, so we don’t typically subscribe to any. But, a lot of kid magazines (affiliate link) are monthly or even bi-monthly releases, so it’s manageable. Remember looking at Highlights as a kid? I ALWAYS wanted a subscription to that magazine! Imagine how excited kids would be to get mail every month. Another subscription idea is one of the snack box subscriptions that are popular now.

Outdoor toys

We’ve tried focusing on outdoor toys to offset the incoming deluge of gifts. Our kids have been so happy! Last year, they got this (affiliate link) awesome swing and it was a huge hit. The company also sells a frame if you have a yard that doesn’t have a tree with a strong enough limb. Bicycles are also great gifts, as well as skateboards, scooters, motorized toys, etc. Here’s just a sampling (affiliate) of all the options!

Bicycle Accessories

These are along the same lines as outdoor toys, but often overlooked. Kids love a fun bicycle helmet, basket, bell, flag and more. Plus, children grow so fast that the helmet you bought to go with their bike might be outgrown before the bike. There are tons of options here (affiliate).


For birthdays, we almost always forego gifts and instead, we take our kids to do something fun or go on a trip. We live near a Great Wolf Lodge and scheduled a visit during our girls’ birthday week (2 kids were both born in January). It was great! The staff there made our kids feel like rock stars. We’ve also grabbed a friend and gone to Chuck E Cheese. Lessons (horseback riding, tennis, golf, etc) are also great gifts that keep on giving. Other ideas: summer camps, zip lines, amusement park trip, camping, white water rafting, horseback riding, paint party, etc.). Experience gifts are GREAT for adults, too!

Bath Toys

Bath toys are GREAT gifts. Kids love them. They don’t clutter the playroom. Moms don’t love buying them. They get gross after a while and need replacing, so they’re super practical, too. Want to buy some cool ones? We’ve rounded up some here.

This is far from a complete list! And like it or not, your kids will probably still want (and receive) toys on holidays. So, if you find your playroom becoming overwhelming, check out these tips for restoring order!

7 steps to an organized space - I can DO this!

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