I thought it might be fun to put together a gift guide for those of us that neither want toys for kids gifts nor want to give toys for gifts. Not that I have a problem with toys, but my kids already have (or had) so many that more is just excessive.
I’m sure I am not the only one that likes to think outside the box when it comes to gifts for family, friends, and my kids friends. Kids, in particular, get so many gifts at a party that it can almost be overwhelming! I’m here to help you gift something useful, fun, and memorable!
*This post was originially published in December 2016 as a Christmas gift guide. I reformatted it to fit year round since we gift more than once a year;)
*This post may contain affiliate links.
Why A Minimalist Gift Guide
When it comes to gifting, my family has an issue with gifting a gift card to kids. They want something tangible to give to the kids. Kids don’t really get excited over gift cards and such. I get it, it’s true. So what can be done?
I set out to create a list of family activities paired with items that are both inexpensive and small. We don’t need to pair a gift card with an equally expensive toy now do we? Nor did I want anything that would defeat the purpose of reducing the clutter in my home. Also, when it’s small and inexpensive, once the kids lose interest (which they always do) you won’t feel bad when you put it in the giveaway pile.
This list is mainly focused on family activities we can do together. These gifts are not only things the kids like, but the gift will also create family memories for everyone involved. And that is a gift that is invaluable.
No Gifts For Birthdays
One last thing before we continue, when it comes to my kids birthday parties, I request no gifts. My kids want to have a party to have fun with their friends. The gifts are nice, but totally unnecessary because the true gift is the memories they are making spending that time with friends. This has gone well for us and rest assured we still get our kids gifts so they aren’t left with nothing.
Tickets to go snow tubing at your “local” ski resort. Pair with sleds. We like these because they are affordable, slide well, are small enough that the kids can carry them, and when they inevitably break it’s no biggie!
Gift card to a local adventure center. Pair with an outdoor necessity (sunglasses, bug spray, sunscreen, etc).
Seasonal passes to a local amusement park. Sometimes amusement parks offer free preschool passes so that’s super affordable! 🙂 Pair with an outdoor necessity (mentioned above).
Gift or punch card for bowling. Bowl America has a summer blast pass and when you sign up you get free games year round as well. Check your local bowling alley for a similar program!
Tickets to Chuck E. Cheese. Pair with a bag of tokens.
Gift card to Chick fil-A or somewhere else the kids enjoy
Little Passports– this is a monthly subscription where your children receive an adventure depending on their age (America, World, etc). They get a suitcase and map the first month. Subsequent months they receive information and souvenirs from a specific location. It’s a great way to teach geography and history.
Magic School Bus Monthly Kits– this monthly subscription sends a science experiment for your children to do. It’s based on the highly successful and classic TV and book series The Magic School Bus.
Tinker Crates– another great monthly experiment subscription. Children do experiments or build something. It’s great for encouraging future interest in STEM careers!
Monthly book subscription for kids and adults. Books are delivered to your home monthly based on your interests. A great way to build your book collection when you may not know too many titles, authors, or what’s new.
Adults: wine of the month club. I’m partial to this one. But there are plenty of options out there like this and this. I have done this a few times and I love getting wine in the mail! I never know what I will get and I love to try new varietals (types of grapes and wines) to see what I like and don’t like.
Really any family game that fits your families ages and interests work. We love the classics such as…
Labyrinth– each player has certain images/pieces they need to find. The labyrinth can be moved to help get you to your destination, but beware! Your opponents can move the labyrinth and block you in favor of them getting to their own pieces. This game is a lot of fun and involves some strategy to ensure you get your pieces before your opponents get theirs! It can be quite frustrating when you are almost there, but your opponent changes the labyrinth and blocks your way…
Ever since a school I worked at had a strategies lab, which was basically a room full of games, I have been obsessed with these strategy games. I have several and am always looking for more.
Gravity Maze– players build a marble run based on the template on the cards. These also increase in difficulty.
Square by Square– this is a bit like tangrams. The player is given an image and has to build it based on the blocks supplied.
Balance Beans– the player is given a template on a card and then is told to add certain beans to the scale. They must put them on the scale in such a way that they balance.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. There are a lot of strategy games out there.
In Conclusion…Family Activities That Can Be Enjoyed All Year
My goal with a minimalist gift guide is to provide ideas for things that we can do as a family all year. Our kids are young and with us for such a short period of time that we want to enjoy what time we have with them. You know, before they leave us for friends and cool kid stuff.
What family activities do you have on your list this year?