The Littles

7 Gifts for Kids that Won’t Create Clutter

There are nineteen days left until Christmas. My oldest daughter informed me of this today at breakfast. Have you got your Christmas shopping done yet? I’m still working on mine. It can be difficult trying to find just the right gift for each person on your list. If I’m going to spend the money on a gift for someone, I want to make sure it’s something they will enjoy and use, and not just toss aside or stuff in a closet until the next time I come to visit. <What? Nobody does that…>

But the crowds in stores this time of year drive me half nuts. Where the holiday season was magical as a child, it can become a big headache as an adult, if we allow it to. I know a lot of people have grown tired of how materialistic Christmas has become. And in the Aftermath of Christmas, there is often the dread of, “where are we going to put this now?”

Even so, it’s still important to me to show I care about and appreciate my family and friends. So I’ve compiled a list of kids’ gift ideas that will make everyone happy. And the great thing about these gift ideas is that they are all gifts that keep giving for years to come!

Plea of a Parent buried in Stuff:

Kid’s will always ask for more. They will always ask for the latest, the greatest, the newest. And it is OK to tell them no. When my sister and I were small, I remember my parents tried hard to create experiences for us rather than showering us in toys. Looking back as an adult, I don’t miss the toys I never got. But I do have some incredible and very fond memories of my childhood.

Instead of gifting toys and electronics that will be played with for five minutes and forgotten, or draw kids away from time with family, try gifting an experience, culture, or knowledge. And avoid creating clutter in the house. Gift the intangible and the non-material. It teaches children what to value in life.

7 Gift Ideas of Kids that Won’t Create Clutter

Every one of these gift ideas works for boys or girls. Every one of these gifts ideas is adaptable for any age or ability. And every one of these gifts can fit into any price range you need it to. For example, an afternoon of skating and cocoa, or one month of swim lessons might cost around $30. Whereas a membership may cost $100-200.


1). Gift a membership – To the zoo, the children’s museum, the art museum, or any museum for that matter…A membership is a gift kids can enjoy all year long. And it is something they can enjoy together as a family. Plus, with memberships lasting a full year, you don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts the family may have. For people living in the city, the zoo is excellent because it provides a kid-friendly environment where kids can run, wear themselves out, and get a little vitamin D. Places like children’s museums and art museums are wonderful distractions on rainy days.

2). Gift lessons – Piano or guitar lessons, dance or swim lessons…lessons can get expensive, and a lot of parents can’t afford lessons for their children. I wanted to learn to dance since I was three years old, and it was my aunt and uncle who made it possible for me to take lessons as I got a little older. My own daughters today ask me for dance lessons, violin lessons, and swim lessons. Children love to learn!

This gift idea can so easily be tailored to a child’s needs, age, and interests. For me, swim lessons are an absolute must for younger children, from a safety point of view. Learning to play music is known to improve emotional stability, improve math skills, and is often referred to as the best anti-drug. And dance is great exercise!

Private lessons often cost about $60/month and up. Parks and Recreation usually has a wide variety of lessons available for every age group and at a very reasonable price, starting at about $30/month and up.

3). Gift an event – Tickets to an orchestra concert, a pop concert, a sporting event, a play, a ballet, an opera, or Disney on Ice! The list of events is endless.

4). Gift education – Open an education fund through your local credit union or bank for children in your family. You can add to it at each birthday or Christmas and invite other family and friends to add to it as well.

5). Support their extracurriculars – If they play soccer or football, play violin or clarinet, are on the chess team or robotics team, kids always seem to need special shoes, equipment, bags, etc. for their extracurriculars. Although many schools provide fundraisers to help cover the costs, it still adds up for parents. Ask their parents what they need most!

6). Gift an afternoon outing – Tickets for ice skating and cocoa, the movies, an afternoon at the art museum, or the local gardens. Did you know the Portland Art Museum offers special family tours on Sundays? Many other places you might not immediately consider kid friendly offer special events for younger participants. Gift children an afternoon of seeing the sights in their own neighborhood.

7). Gift a vacationin the form of a book! – OK, OK, so this is a bit more of a material object. But did you know children’s need for books is like their need for shoes? As they grow and learn, they need books that match each new developmental level they reach. By supporting and encouraging their early literacy, there’s no telling what world of opportunities you may be creating for them as they get older.

Although a gift card to an afternoon of ice skating might not be as in-the-moment exciting as opening a toy, not showering our children with hundreds of toys teaches them to value their experiences, their culture, and the people around them more than they value their things. It teaches children that Christmas does not have to be material.


*Caution: Many of these gifts are like gifting a puppy! As fun an idea as it might be to gift a puppy, it does come with extra responsibilities! With these gift ideas, how will the child get to their lessons or event? Will the event fit into their family’s schedule? If you’re gifting lessons, are you gifting one month’s worth, or a full year? Coordinate with the child’s parents to make sure your gift doesn’t become a burden. Consider including a ride as part of the gift if appropriate and able.

6 thoughts on “7 Gifts for Kids that Won’t Create Clutter

  1. This is awesome, Clarice! I love it 😉 you’re a natural writer. This is a blog i will definitely follow. A couple other people have also suggested that kids only need 3 christmas presents a year: a book, a necessity (like clothing) and a want (i.e. Toy).

    1. Thank you Karen! I love the idea of a small Christmas – a book, a necessity, a want. I think I’ve seen you post something about that recently actually.

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