Motherhood · Parenting

20 Ideas for a Non-Toy Christmas

Every year, on Christmas morning, my boys come down to the most enormous pile of presents. Which is great. I love how blessed we are to have so many people that care about us and want to give us gifts. I’m not complaining.

That said, my house is full of stuff. There’s so many things that just don’t seem to have a home.

Knowing already what friends and family have bought for our boys, this year we’ve decided to give the gift of time.

So what are we buying this year?

A Toolbox:

We’re buying the boys a toolbox to share with a few basic tools: a hammer, a saw, a set of screwdrivers. The idea is that every birthday and Christmas we can add to something they will make use of.

A Plank of Wood:

Alongside their toolbox we’re going to print out instructions for making birdboxes (to go in their little patch of garden), a set of acrylic paints and a plank of wood. Then we’re going to set a date with Daddy for some one on one time to help them build their birdboxes with their new tools.

A Kelly Kettle:

Photo Credit: Ceri Jones (from

Kelly Kettle Website

This is just ingenious and will allow us to spend much more time outdoors without having to worry about food. I’ve lost count of the amount of disposable barbecues we’ve gone through this year. This will allow us to easily cook hot food and boil water, with minimal effort and no waste, and is something the boys can be responsible for.

A Strike Igniter:

To light fires underneath our Kelly Kettle. And just to keep them busy trying to set things on fire (read:learn how to be responsible around fire).

Pantomime Tickets:

We have a friend coming to stay between Christmas and New Year and we’re going to book tickets to the pantomime. This year it’s Beauty and the Beast.

Camping Trip:

We’re going to head down to London and camp for a few days when the weather is a bit warmer. The plan is to do one of the big, free museums each day and spend a few days without the car, getting trains and the tube – which in and of itself is exciting for small boys.

Natural History Museum

Science Museum

National Maritime Museum

Imperial War Museum

A Calendar:

I’m going to sit down and put all the important dates on a calendar for the boys to see. I plan to add a trip or two to the beach, our camping trip, visits to my Dad and sister, birthdays, etc so that the boys can have something to look forward to.


The boys have been given a corner of the garden to call their own and it’s also time to start thinking about our vegetable patch for next year. They’ll each get a couple of packets of flower seeds and a couple of vegetables. I love these from The National Trust.

20 more non toy ideas:

  1. Days out – this could be anything from rock climbing to a farm visit to taking them out for milkshakes. Try the Sealife Centre or a local farm.

  2. Magazine subscription Nat Geo Kids, Eco Kids Planet or Whizz Pop Bang are all brilliant for kids.

  3. Survival kit – fill a rucksack with a local map book, a tarpaulin, compass, strike igniter, length of rope, camouflage paints, a torch, binoculars and carabiners.

  4. Camping gear – think about what you’re missing. Camping stove? Cooking pans/utensils? A sleeping bag?

  5. Seeds/plants – kids love to plant things and kids love getting muddy. Win/win.

  6. Garden tools – our kids have got some beautiful child sized spades and shovels. They’re the perfect size for small hands and, unlike many garden tools actually marketed for kids, these won’t break.

  7. Cinema tickets/panto – a family trip can be expensive so why not give tickets as a gift? Book it in the diary, buy a bag of popcorn and give them something to look forward to.

  8. A bike – if your child doesn’t have a bike then they need one. No childhood is complete without a bike.

  9. ‘Tickets’ for a film night/pizza night/ice cream sundaes – use some artistic skills and make a ‘ticket’ for a film night to give to your child. Wrap it up with a small bag of sweets, or a new fleece blanket to cuddle under, or raid the charity shop for DVDs they might like.

  10. Annual pass – whether you get an annual pass for the Merlin attractions or for your local farm, kids love going back to familiar places.

  11. A camera – give a kid a camera. Digital cameras are brilliant for little hands. You can delete the 100 blurry photos easily and keep the better ones.

  12. Microscope/Science Kits – educational but so much fun.

  13. Audio discs – these are priceless for car journeys, bedtimes and/or rain soaked Sunday afternoons. These are the boys’ favourites.

  14. Book Tokens – when I was a kid, this was hands down THE present I most looked forward to. My great uncle always sent book tokens and I remember heading to my local Waterstones on Boxing Day to spend a few hours choosing how best to spend them.

  15. Hats, gloves and scarves – no one can have enough gloves. Enough said.

  16. Recipe Books – baking books, curries, Chinese food…. the list is endless. My kids love planning meals and being in charge of what’s for dinner.

  17. Board Games – I hate board games, but my children love them. There are so many to choose from these days and can often be picked up in charity shops for a pound or two. Card games also go down well.

  18. A ticket for one on one time – kids always appreciate one on one time but if they’re anything like mine, they rarely get it. Book a date with your child to spend an afternoon with them doing something they love – a solo camping trip, indoor climbing or the cinema followed by pizza.

  19. New pyjamas – I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced a Christmas without a new set of pyjamas.

  20. Box of craft supplies – Googley eyes, coloured card, glue, glitter, felt pens, pom poms…the list is endless.

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