Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids that Aren’t More Things

Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids that Aren’t More Things

As the mom of two small children, my house is bursting at the seams with “things” for my kids. Between the toys, books, art projects, games, and more, there is a lot of stuff. Sure, some of these things get used more than others, but after even a relatively short playdate, it looks like a bomb of children’s items has gone off in our home.

With the holidays approaching, I’d like to offer a few alternative (yet thoughtful) gifts for kids that aren’t “things.”

Memberships around town

Living in Beaverton means we’re only a short drive from some fantastic options that provide entertainment and education. Popular memberships include the Oregon Zoo, the Children’s Museum, and OMSI. These are the kind of gifts that keep on giving as there are different events, exhibits, and programs throughout the entire year.


Even if a kid isn’t the biggest fan of school, there’s an option to learn more about something they love. Music, Coding, Martial Arts, Ukulele, the possibilities are literally endless. It’s not homework if it’s fun, right?

Savings Bond or College Fund Contribution

Okay, it’s not the most exciting idea, but it is probably the most practical.

Trip to the Theatre/Movies/Concert

There’s a lot of versatility here. Depending on the event, the tickets themselves can be a luxury gift. However, if tickets are relatively affordable, you could package multiple tickets together (for a night out with friends) or include extras like popcorn and drinks.

It can get pretty tricky to know what a kid likes at any given time, particularly as they get older. But if you can surprise them, like REALLY surprise them, there’s no beating that kind of pure joy and excitement. I STILL remember freaking out about the NYSNC tickets my dad gave me one year (yes, he went with my friend and I and won “Father of the Year” in the process.)

Sponsorship for Sports

If you have a kid in just about any sport, you probably know just how expensive that gets. Between uniforms, equipment, tournaments, membership dues, and all the miscellaneous costs along the way, it adds up fast. Sure, “sponsoring” a kid is basically like cash. Still, at least you know it’s going towards something they really enjoy doing.

Convention Ticket

Being so close to Portland means there’s a convention center nearby, and they host a vast assortment of special interest conventions. Comics, video games, card games, sci-fi, you name it. What could be cooler? (Just make sure it’s age-appropriate.)

Multi-person BIG ticket items

For really expensive gifts (like a new iPhone or a destination trip), why not pool your contributions together? Sure, it means fewer gifts overall, but in this instance it’s about quality over quantity.

Katie Carrick lives in Beaverton with her husband, two young children, and their yappy but loveable dog, Mendel. She’s a former clinical scientist who now works as a freelance writer. For more information visit