We’re all looking for great gifts this holiday season! But a plethora of “hot” toys under the tree may not be exactly what your child needs. I’m sharing tons of kid friendly, non-toy gifts for toddlers, kids and teens. These are practical holiday gifts for kids that they will totally LOVE! I’ve got something here for everyone on your gift giving holiday list.
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Why Choose Practical Holiday Gifts for Kids?
I’ve never been one for silly and frivolous. Perhaps because money was tight growing up our gifts erred on the practical side. Despite my current stance on buying practical holiday gifts for kids, I’ve been there as a parent. I’ve bought the silly and unnecessary gifts because my kid had it on their Christmas list. I wanted my kids to get that “hot” gift like their friends. But after seeing how short-lived that super-hot toy was has made me rethink the entire gift buying process. Yes, we’re frugal and stick to a gift buying budget for our four kids. But it’s also about making smart purchases and giving kids exactly what they need and not just what they want in the frenzy of the season.
8 Practical Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy
- How many times will my child actually use this item?
- What is the approximate cost per use on this item?
- Am I buying this as a “want” or a “need”?
- Could we possibly borrow or rent this item instead of buying it?
- How does this item add to my child’s life? Will my child benefit from having this item?
- Am I considering this item only because it’s what “all the other kids” are getting for gifts this year?
- Can this item be used by anyone else in the home?
- Will this item be handed down later? Or could it possibly be resold?
Develop a Childhood Hobby
Before you buy anything, think about your child on a personal level. Too often we toss items into the basket that we think our kids will like. But how about choosing a gift that really speaks to their personality. A gift that will encourage their talents or nurture a new hobby. Once you have an idea on a theme, it’s easy to buy a few coordinating pieces to go along with each hobby. Here are some great suggestions for a new childhood hobby!
- Camera, like the Canon PowerShot ELPH with case & accessories
- Beginner Photography Book, like National Geographic Kids Guide to Photography
- Beginner’s sewing machine, like the Janome Arctic Crystal Easy-to-Use Sewing Machine (that color!)
- Scissors, like Gingher 8 Inch Featherweight Scissors(I’ve had this same pair for 35 years, they last forever!)
- Sewing box with essentials, like the Singer Polka Dot Small Sewing Basket
- Fabric. Start with basic cotton prints, I like to buy mine from Etsy
- Watering can, like Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Watering Can
- Child sized garden gloves, like JustForKids Genuine Leather Work Gloves
- Digging tools like a shovel, spade and rake, like Garden Wagon & Tools for Kids
- Seeds for Vegetables, Herbs or Flowers
- Fishing pole, like Sougayilang Spinning Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
- Fishing Lures Tackle Kit
- Basic Fishing: A Beginner’s Guide
- Outdoor tent, like the Coleman Sundome 3-Person Dome Tent
- Sleeping bag, like a REVALCAMP Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather
- Lantern, like MalloMe LED Camping Lantern Flashlights
- My First Book of Knots: A Beginner’s Picture Guide
- Apron, like the Curious Chef 4-Piece Child Set for Girl or Boy
- Safety knives, like ONUPGO Plastic Kitchen Knife Set
- Wilton 46-Piece Deluxe Cake Decorating Set
- Monthly subscription to a meal prep food service, like Dinnerly
- Drawing pads
- Drawing Pencils
- Colored pencils
- Watercolor paints
- Bow and arrow set, like Crosman Elkhorn Jr. Compound Bow
Choosing the BEST Practical Holiday Gifts for Kids
If you say the words, “Practical Gifts” do your older kids roll their eyes? So how can you choose the best practical holiday gifts for kids, the gifts that they will love, the gifts they’ll appreciate and truly be able to use? By truly focusing in on your child’s personality and taking into consideration their favorite things, you’ll be able to find practical items they can play with and use year-round.
Character driven gifts are often what kids love the most. Look for high quality items that feature their favorites. Keep it classic by choosing items that feature characters like Star Wars or Mickey Mouse as these never go out of style!
Give the Gift of Lessons and Instructions
Choose local classes that your child shows interest in. Sign up for a month to try it out and make sure it’s a good fit for your kid.
Gifts that Move Your Kids
Enjoy the great outdoors with these practical gifts for kids that will get them up and moving. Consider making these a family gift so that everyone can join in on the physical fun.
- Bicycle, like the Schwinn Boy’s Scorch Bicycle
- Tricycle, like the classic Radio Flyer Red Rider Trike (Amazon Exclusive)
- Scooter, like the Razor A5 LUX Kick Scooter
- Skateboard, like Ten Toes Board Emporium Zed Bamboo Longboard Skateboard
- Roller Skates, Chicago Girl’s Classic Roller Skates (just like I owned as a girl!)
- Ice Skates, like Jackson Ultima Excel Kids Ice Skates
- Trampoline, including a Skywalker Trampolines Mini Bouncer or full sized outdoor version like Skywalker Trampolines 15’ Rectangle
- Jump Rope
- Snow play toys like the A-DUDU Snow Tube
- Water Bottles
- JBM international Helmet for Multi-Sports
- Kid’s protective gear like Innovative Soft Kids Knee and Elbow Pads
- Wham-O Pro-Classic Frisbee
Practical Kids Items for Home
These practical gifts for kids will encourage at-home time with the family. Gifts range from warm and cozy, bedroom decor or fun in the kitchen!
- Bedroom comforter, pillows and blankets (you’ll find so many kid-friendly character choices at ShopDisney)
- Wall art; do a search for your theme on Etsy to find beautiful handcrafted options
- Place mats, like the merka Explorer Set
- Jewelry box, like JewelKeeper Unicorn Musical Jewelry Box
- Creative QT Extra Large Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag Chair (this one is sooo clever, it holds stuffed animals inside!)
- Popcorn maker, like the Great Northern Matinee Movie Theater Style Popcorn Maker
Practical Toys That Withstand the Test of Time
I’m not against toys. Toys are important in all stages of childhood for brain and social development. What I am against are toys that don’t require any input from the child to “play” them. Toys that kids will use once and then never show any interest in again; those toys just aren’t worth bringing into my house.
From the start, purchase toys with “staying power”. Look for toys that can be used in multiple ways and that stir your child’s imagination. Purchase high quality toys, even if they cost a bit more. You’ll have these toys for years and maybe even hand them down to future generations.
Also, your kids require a lot fewer toys than you think! A few versatile staples like blocks, fabric silks and vehicles can be used in conjunction with new toys to extend their life.
- Tonka Truck Vehicles
- Melissa & Doug Solid-Wood Building Blocks
- Fabric Play Scarves
- Brio Deluxe Railway Set
Gifts That Bring the Family Together
Choose something that can be gifted to several family members or a group. These are the ultimate gifts for family time and many can be used year-round or for weekly together-time, like game night.
- Puzzles, like these from ShopDisney
- Board games for families, like Jenga or Pictionary
- Photo Album, like the versions from Shutterfly
- Dinner Gift Card
- Annual Pass. Consider a local museum, play house or even Disneyland! Did you know that if you purchase regular tickets you can upgrade to an annual pass by applying the amount paid for the ticket to a year-long pass (as long as you do it before the last valid day of your ticket).
- Movie Gift Card
- Tickets to the theater
- Musical Instrument Set
- Monthly subscription box with something you all love, like Disney goodies from Walt Life
A Love of Learning
My first-grader’s love language is learning. If I gifted him a desk full of school supplies, he’d be thrilled on Christmas morning! If you have a kid who loves to learn consider these practical gifts for kids that will keep them educated.
- Desk Organizer, like Blu Monaco Office Supplies Desk Accessories
- Piggy Bank, like the Digital Coin Bank Savings Jar
- Magazine subscription, like Highlights for younger kids and National Geographic Kids for older children
- Illuminated World Globe
- Books – READ my suggestions on the top 100+ Books for Kids of All Ages
- Subscription Box, like Little Passports
- Calendar, like a photo personalized version from Shutterfly (this is on my son’s wish list every year!)
- Art lessons
- Butterfly Habitat, like our favorite, Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit
- Kindle Unlimited Membership Plan
Gifts to Clothe Kids Head to Toe
I don’t know many kids who cheer when they receive socks & underwear on Christmas morning, but you can still find some fun and practical clothing gifts for kids that they’ll love. We always gift our kids a special outfit to wear on Christmas Eve (often something coordinating that looks good in photos together). Choose character-driven styles or something fun and quirky for bonus points!
- Pajamas and Slippers, like these from ShopDisney
- Bath towel, like the Jumping Beans Hooded Bath Towel (my son had this exact one!)
- Winter outerwear including a hat and gloves, jacket or coat (Lands’ End has a fantastic selection)
- Holiday outfits, like these from Gymboree
- Dress up play clothes, like these from Little Adventures
Electronic Gear That’s Practical
I’ll confess that I’m not really up on the latest tech. We keep it mostly unplugged in our house, even for the teens. But there are some practical and still fun things that kids may enjoy as a gift. When I do purchase tech equipment, I tend to just buy the adult version instead of the one geared for kids. However some items may include added protection to the equipment in the child’s version to make them less likely for breakage with younger kids.
- Walkie Talkies
- Tablet for educational learning, like an Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet (comes with a 2-year guarantee—if it breaks, return it and they replace it for free!)
- Subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, with ad-free music and audio books for kids
- Drawing tablet, like the PicassoTab Drawing Tablet and Stylus
- Amazon Music Unlimited
Gifts to Build
Think beyond the LEGO sets (though these are always great gifts!). If you have a kid who likes to build or make, help them learn by using their fine-motor skills. I’ve including building sets and crafty things for kids of all ages.
- Model making kit
- Real Kid’s Tool Set
- Origami papers and book, like Origami Extravaganza!
- Balloon animal making kit
- Snap Circuits
- Woodcarving tools, like this one from Xacto
- K’NEX 100 Model Building Set
- Marble run, like Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set
On-the-Go Gifts for Kids
My kids love to travel so the practical gift of travel essentials will get them excited about an upcoming trip!
- Suitcase (love the Disney-themed versions from ShopDisney)
- Umbrella, like the Hatley Kids Sea Sharks Umbrella
- Backpack, Lunch box or personalized tote bag (the Lands’ End bags are our family favorite!)
- Sleeping bag, like the Unicorn Sleeping Bag Set
- Neck pillow, like Skip Hop Zoo Travel Neck Rest
Practical Stocking Stuffers for Kids
I used to think that stocking stuffers were just the junk filler. Aren’t stocker stuffers are just extra stuff, seen once on Christmas morning and then abandoned in the far reaches under the bed? Not so. These practical little goodies can be used year-round.
- Lip balm (Lip Smacker Disney Princess Balm)
- Watch (Swatch Back To School Swiss Watch)
- Sunglasses (Pro Acme Flexible Kids Polarized Sunglasses)
- Flashlight (Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Firefly Flashlight for Kids)
- Hot Cocoa Packets
- Magnifying Glass
- Sugar-free Gum
- Swim goggles (Speedo Kids’ Skoogles Swim Goggles)
- Hairbrush (the Wet Brush Pro Detangle Hair Brush is the BEST for detangling!)
- Wallet (LEGO Brick Wall Wallet)
- Shower gel
- Gratitude Journal for Kids
- Toothbrush (Brush Buddies Peppa Pig Toothbrush)
- Gift Card to a favorite location
- Fun Band-aids (Band-Aids Variety Pack for kids)