The Gift of Experiences: Non-Toy Gift Alternatives

Between birthday parties, grandparents and aunties, or the joy we get ourselves in shopping for our littles…

Our kids accumulate A LOT of STUFF.

I have a one-year-old girl right now, and our toy baskets and book cases are already overflowing. Mamas of multiples and kids who’ve had far more birthdays than our daughter–how do you do it?!

Even aside from the fact that we don’t have room for all the toys, I really want to instill in our child an appreciation for experiences, rather than an obsession for things. For our own family, I think there can be a fun balance between allowing for the excitement of Christmas mornings and birthday presents, while also limiting the amount of stuff we’re accumulating.

These gifts of experiences don’t have to be boring to open either! Wrap up tickets or pictures of what you get to do together! These gifts give time to create memories with loved ones or friends that might stick around longer than the excitement of a 5th superhero figure or another Elsa dress, (However, I’m positive they will love ripping open that gift box as well!) 🙂

The Gift of Experiences

Consider wrapping up one of these experiences for the next birthday on your calendar!

Non-Toy Gift Alternatives:

  • Membership/Tickets to the Zoo
  • Trip to the Children’s Museum
  • Passes to a Trampoline Park (Cedar Rapids has two- Sky Zone & AirFX)
  • A children’s magazine subscription: Highlights is a fun one!
  • A Weekend at the Water Park: Lost Island is in Waterloo.
  • A Baking or Cupcake Kit: Include a little apron, fun spatula, Funfetti, sprinkles & bright cupcake liners. I would make sure to include in the fine print that they have to use this gift with me…yum! 🙂
  • A Build-A-Bear Workshop Date
  • Movie/Concert/Sports tickets: Check out Cedar Rapids Roughriders, Theatre Cedar Rapids or US Cellular Center
  • Family Date Night: Gift cards to ice cream places or fun restaurants!
  • Movie Night Gift: Wrap up a new DVD with some candy or popcorn!

So when you’re heading to that next kiddy birthday party or need gift ideas for nieces, nephews, or your own children, think outside the box…literally! Give a gift of memories that won’t get lost in the toy box or left on a shelf.

What ideas do you have for non-toy gifts?


Kaitlin was born and raised in small-town Center Point, Iowa and grew up across town from her high school sweetheart, Jordan. They didn’t go far as they both attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, getting married just a month after graduating. They now live in Marion with their 1 year old daughter, Ella, and Golden Retriever, Millie. With a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a passion to teach and help others, Kaitlin is studying at the University of Iowa in the Masters of Teaching Science program. When she’s not in class or teaching piano lessons from her home, her favorite thing in life is staying home with her daughter. If she can ever find a spare minute, she also enjoys the outdoors, scrapbooking, cooking, party planning and German chocolate cake. Though life is jam-packed right now, she wouldn’t have it any other way!