13 Ideas for Non-Toy Gifts for Kids

Christmas is creeping closer and I can already see the stress in the faces of many parents who battle their consciences and budgets to make Christmas enjoyable for their children.

All parents want to make Christmas fun for their kids, but what are some suggestions of gifts for children that won’t create more clutter in your house, break your bank balance and/or are educational or sustainable?

I’m a big fan of recycled toys from charity shops or vide greniers (boot sales, flea markets), and we have donated many bags of good quality clothing, books and puzzles to various local charities but this blog post is intended as a suggestion for parents who may be trying to minimise the toy clutter.

Here are some suggestions for non-toy gifts for kids:

1.  Memberships

Gift your child a yearly membership – an art gallery, animal park etc.  On the French Riviera, the Médiathèques offer annual subscription with access to books, films and kids workshops.  You can also buy an annual pass which includes Aquasplash water park, Kids Island, Adventure Golf and Marineland (conditions apply)

Annual pass for entry to 4 French Riviera theme parks

Annual pass for entry to 4 French Riviera theme parks

2.  Events

Gift your child a movie or theatre ticket, or a ticket to a sports match. Having an event to look forward to is exciting!  Azur Arena, Anthea Theatre, Info Concert for regional event details and Grimaldi Forum in Monaco are a few places to start looking.

AzurArena at night (image: antibesjuanlespins.com)

AzurArena at night (image: antibesjuanlespins.com)

3.  Classes

Gifting classes is a great way to let kids know you are paying attention to their interests.  Music, sailing, dance, horse-riding, art and drawing, karate – choose something they enjoy.  Check with your local mairie (town hall) for available classes in your area.

4.  Recipes, baking and cooking

My son loves helping in the kitchen, and we have weekly baking sessions.  You could choose a special recipe together, print it out and go shopping for the ingredients.  Or, put all recipe ingredients in a jar with instructions and a cute gift tag as a gift idea. One of my super-simple rainy day recipes we make is here

5. Arts and crafts supplies

Make a simple arts and crafts discovery box filled with wooden ice-cream sticks, glitter, old cardboard rolls (toilet paper rolls are fine!), paints, crayons, pipe cleaners, feathers, glue, pom-poms, stick-on adornments like googly eyes, felt, Velcro.  You can pick up super-cheap craft supplies from €2 stores, or for an excellent selection head to La Grand Récre or Cultura.

Create an arts & crafts discovery box (image: imgarcade)

Create an arts & crafts discovery box (image: imgarcade)

6. Restaurant gift voucher

Make a simple voucher to gift your child for a restaurant outing.  They can go to a restaurant for ice-cream, cake, dinner etc and they get to choose a friend to come along. Stick to a budget so it doesn’t get out of hand and you end up ordering from the whole menu (example €10 for both children).

7. Outdoor equipment

Most children love outdoor activities.  Gift them a fishing rod, hiking shoes, tennis racquet, butterfly net, kite, scooter. Decathlon is great for outdoor equipment, or head to one of the local vide greniers.

8.  Science and discovery

If your child is interested in science and/or discovery, how about a small torch, compass, telescope, binoculars, barometer, magnifying glass, bug catcher, solar powered light. Nature et Decouvertes are great shops for science and discovery.

(image: Nature et Decouvertes)

(image: Nature et Decouvertes)

9.  Games and puzzles

This one may be disputed as a ‘toy’, but games and puzzles are a great gift for encouraging problem-solving and concentration.  You can pick up good quality second hand puzzles in the classified sections on Angloinfo, Le Bon Coin or Facebook groups such as ‘Baby and children’s items for sale on the French Riviera’.

10.  Gardening equipment

Encourage the ‘green fingers’ in your child, by gifting them a flower, plant, seeds or shrub of their choice, or a watering can and child-friendly gardening tools.  Carrefour has basic pot plants, and Villa Verde has an extensive gardening selection.

11.  A gift for someone less fortunate

Make a budget of €5-€10 which your child can spend to buy a small gift intended for someone less fortunate.

Explain how not all children are as fortunate to receive gifts every birthday or Christmas, and involve them in the process of buying the gift and choosing wrapping paper, and they get to deliver it to the charity store or homeless shelter.

Vinci holds annual toy collections on the autoroutes near Nice St-Isidore and Antibes, and Century 21 real estate agents also hold toy collections every year (both collections this year have now finished).

Another option, is to donate a few canned (non-perishable) goods to the local mission or food bank as they often hold Christmas lunches for the less fortunate.

Give a gift to someone less fortunate (image: itd.gov)

Give a gift to someone less fortunate (image: itd.gov)

12.  Bedroom redecoration

Tell your child their gift can be a bedroom redecoration to a theme of their choice. Again, rather than a complete overhaul of the décor (walls, soft furnishings, storage) stick to one or two new items.  Pinterest has great ideas for updating your interior decor on the cheap.  Whether they love pirates or princesses they will be excited to see the changes!

13. Books

Books are a lovely gift. We often give books with a preference for books with an educational tone.

Good quality childrens books can be found on local Facebook groups – ‘Antibes Books Buy Sell or Swap’,  or ‘Baby and children’s items for sale on the French Riviera’.

Some brilliant website for free e-books to download to your Kindle, tablet, iPad etc are Oxford Owl, Loyal Books, and Robert Munsch.

I hope you have found my list inspiring!  If so, please share your comments or like this article on Facebook. Thank you

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated to or a saleperson for any of these websites or products mentioned in my blog article. All opinions are my own, and information is provided as a resource only and I hold no responsibility for 3rd-party links not working correctly.

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