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16 great non toy gifts for children!

We look at some ideas for presents that are not toys

Regardless of the age of your child, there are so many great and inspiring ideas for presents beyond just more plastic toys. As we recently mentioned in another post, toys are great, but over a certain quantity they simply add to the clutter and seem to make more harm than good to children. 

We surfed the web and found many interesting lists that we report at the bottom of the page, but we have decided to offer you our own, based on the interests and values we share. We hope this provides some inspiration to help plan your birthday presents or next year Christmas list!


Experience vs material possessions

Hootloot rates experiences much higher than material possessions, especially for kids. Who can forget the first time they caught a plane or rode on a proper bicycle or their first movie at the cinema? We are quite sure that the long lasting memories attached to experiences, trips or events are ones that very few toys can replicate.

Therefore it is obvious that we started with adventures and events:


1 - Play vouchers ! (aka time & attention)

This is probably the cheapest yet most desired gift by children. Have you ever tried giving play/time vouchers to your kids? You should see the sparkle in their eyes when they hear: you'll have Mum or Dad all for yourself for 2 hours and we can play whatever you want! This is going to be even more valuable and appreciated if your kids are amongst the many that don't spend much time with their parents (a recent survey found that parents only spend on average 49 minutes per day with their kids !) 


Eileen Hayes, parenting adviser at the children's charity the NSPCC, says: "Childhood memories are made of those priceless moments when you remember being valued by proud parents or listened to knowing you were cared for." "This is far more important for a child's happiness than a slick new game or expensive day out."


"Buy the ticket, take the ride"



2 - Tickets to sporting events

Football, tennis, horse riding, hockey... whatever their preferences are, a sport event is always a great day out.  If they’re old enough give them 2 tickets and let them take their best friends, otherwise mom or dad will fill the gaps.



3 - Tickets to concerts or gigs

Music and dance shows are always a favourite, especially for our pre-teens and teens who, already have a favourite singer / band that they would love to watch live. 




4 - Travel / holiday tickets

There are tickets for every budget... a boat ride, a ride on a steam train all the way through to an out of town theme park / weekend at Euro Disney . If you are up for a bigger trip and budget, check out our top 10 mind blowing travel destinations for kids for more inspiration ! A whale watching trip off the coast of Ireland or a luxury Safari in Africa could be the memories of a lifetime!




5 - Tickets for local entertainment

Zoo, aquarium, museums, climbing walls, theme parks, cinema and theatre, mini golf, horse riding etc. There is no end to range of possibilities, here. Make the gift into a fun day for the whole family.   You can turn a lot of the above activities into bigger and better gifts by buying annual memberships rather than day tickets. If you already know your child’s favourite sport or place, you can save money in the long run by buying yearly membership subscriptions to sport games, zoos, museums, theatre...



6 - Outdoor activites vouchers

Try out a real flight simulator, hot air balloon, helicopter tours, paint balling, horse treks. There are many companies that specialise in organised outdoor activites for families and kids. If adventure runs wild in your family, this is defintey the best gift.



7 - Foodie date

Get your kids to invite someone special to a restaurant, a tea room or a cafe where everything is paid for ! What a great gift for older kids that are feel mature but don’t quite have the budget to match. How cool to able to go to any restaurant with your best mate or special someone and take care of the ordering without mum and dad doing it for you ! This can also work well for younger children if you have a fun themed restaurant close by. Our kids loved dining at the Rain Forest Cafe in Central London where tables are dispersed in a jungle full or gorillas, toucans and giant butterflies....!


8 - A Hootloot account

Of course ! Why wouldn't you want to get your kids on Hootloot!!! Educational value aside, the feedback from the kids that are using it is great! They love uploading photos of their savings goals, checking how much pocket money they have to sort and make their very own e-cards to invite family and friends helping them achieve their financial goals! Hootloot's basic features are completely free !!!    Learn more  



9 - Classes and lessons

These days you can find classes for pretty much EVERYTHING, from harp and violin to pizza workshops, horse riding, ballet, making art from recycling, languages, Kung Fu, Flamenco, gardening etc. Pick the class that you know is going to inspire your child and watch him/her turn into a little pro. 



10 - A small pet

Gold fish or small terrapins have a great WOW factor, especially for little kids and are relatively low maintenance. Putting the kids in charge for feeding, cleaning the fish tank or getting stones for the terrapins will provide hours of fun and fulfilment as they learn to care for other beings. Just make sure you and your children are aware and can take the responsibility of what caring for  another little being involves. 



11 - A plant

If you think even a small pet is too much work for your family, plants are a great low maintenance alternative. They make lovely gifts for children by establishing a connection to nature. They provide a similar experience and fullfillment than a pet, maybe just not much interactivity. Choosing a plant with fruits like strawberries or colourful flowers will add extra to the fun.



But if you really want something they can unwrap...

12 - Magazine subscriptions

Whatever their interests, there is going to be some specialised pubblication that covers it! Find it and get a year long subscription. Culture and entertainment all in one gift, how special !


13 - Digital or video camera

It's never too early to start discovering the magic of digital photos and videos. There are very cheap digital cameras out there these days... I remember even seeing one for £20 at PC world! It is so interesting for a child to have their own proper tools like grown ups have, not the toy versions! This is good for older children but younger ones too. Our preschooler loves wandering the garden taking photos of leaves, snails and flowers! 



14 - Fun and educational things to play with

For example...

  • Binoculars
  • Flash light
  • Magnifying glass
  • Bug jar or butterfly farm
  • Science or electronics kits
  • Art supplies
  • Lava lamps

Whatever your child's preferences, any of these items would make great Christmas presents.



15 - Musical instruments

Hootloot loves musical instruments as gifts ! Especially real ones rather than toys. If you already know what your child likes, that's easy...either upgrade his favourite instrument or get him a cool accessory like a case or a strap.  Our son loves guitars … last year, when he was only 2.5 years old, we bought him a ukulele, the tiny 4 strings version. He loved his “little guitar” so much and played it every day, singing made up songs about whatever he sees around him. This year he has asked Santa already for a “big” guitar !...of course we have alerted our tireless “Ebay elves” to tell us when a good used one comes on the market !!!

16 - iTunes gift card, Spotify membership

If you have a teenager in the house, ITunes downloads must be up there with elecricity or gas bills ! It doesn't matter how much or what they buy, it's music and we like it.... so splurge on a gift card and buy some noise cancellation headphones for you !




We hope you'll find someting good for your children in this list.

Did you know that if you register with Hootloot, your kids can write wishlists to keep a record of all the great ideas for gifts they stumble upon during the year. They can turn then into saving goals and save their pocket money towards them or even invite family and friends to pay into their savings targets at birthdays or when they get high grades at school. Learn more how Hootloot works and why it is important that your children learn to manage their finances from a young age!



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