With the holidays approaching it’s easy to feel a little anxious about the influx of gifts you know are coming, especially if you have kids. If you’ve living a minimalist lifestyle or are in the process of decluttering your home, the idea of holiday gifts can feel a little troubling. You’re working hard to clear the clutter and embrace a life with less. The last thing you want is to have all your hard work undone in a few hours on Christmas morning. But fear not! There are easy ways to navigate holiday gifts as a minimalist family. This is my clutter-free gift guide for kids to help you find clutter-free gift ideas for kids they’ll love and you won’t regret buying!
You can also check out my clutter-free gift ideas for yourself and everyone else on your list for more great clutter-free gift ideas!
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Don’t let your pursuit of minimalism interfere with your gratitude
First of all, it’s important to note that choosing to embrace a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean you can never give your kids gifts. Or that you need to worry about other people giving your kids gifts and undoing all your hard work decluttering.
You don’t want your pursuit of minimalism to take the fun out of gift giving or the holidays for you and your kids. And you certainly don’t want your pursuit of minimalism to interfere with the gratitude you feel when people love your kids enough to give them gifts.
Always remember that gift giving is how many people demonstrate and express their love for you and your kids. And it’s a wonderful thing to have people in your life that love you and your kids enough that they want to spend their hard-earned money on gifts to express their love.
Don’t let your pursuit of minimalism make you forget how amazing it is to be loved. It is important to appreciate the love and intention behind the gift, rather than getting upset about gifts adding clutter to your home. Even if it’s not a gift you would choose yourself, someone loves your kids enough to buy them a gift, and that’s amazing!
Friends or family who buy gifts for your kids during the holidays sometimes ask what your kids would like as a gift. This is a great time to suggest these clutter-free gift ideas for kids. But remember, if they don’t ask, or ask but buy something different anyways, don’t forget to keep your focus on your gratitude for the gift and the love behind it anyways. And teach your kids to do the same!
Start with less and declutter regularly
If you have thoroughly decluttered your home and established a few minimalist routines, the gifts you receive over the holidays won’t undo all of your decluttering and minimizing efforts. I’ll share more details about how to prepare for the holidays as a minimalist in an upcoming post. But by already starting from a place of less before the holidays, then doing a pre- and/or post-holiday clean out, a few new gifts won’t undo all your work.
If a gift turns out to be something your kids don’t play with regularly or love, remember that you aren’t obligated to keep it forever. If something isn’t being used or loved in your home, it’s ok to declutter sometime after the holidays and donate anything that turned out not to be a hit with your kids.
The best clutter-free gift ideas for kids
With that being said, there are ways you can be more intentional with the gifts you buy for your kids or suggest to people who buy gifts for your kids if they ask, to avoid adding clutter to your life during the holidays.
The best way to avoid adding clutter to your home with gifts, is to give and ask for gifts that aren’t “things” at all. Buying your kids or asking for experience gifts or consumable gifts will still let your kids receive a gift they’ll love, without adding any clutter to your home at all! Think about what activities your kids love, and find something related to their interests that they’ll be thrilled to receive.
Giving experience gifts is the ultimate way to give kids a gift they’ll love, without adding clutter. Here are some examples of experience gifts to give you some clutter-free gift ideas for kids they’ll love:
- Passes or a membership to an amusement park, zoo, museum, science center, etc.
- Tickets to a sports game or concert
- Enrollment in an activity, lesson or class they’ll love
- Passes or a membership for swimming, bowling, skating, etc.
- Gift card to go pottery painting, to a paint night, or other craft activity they’ll love
- Movie passes
- Passes to an indoor playground, trampoline park, water park, mini golf course, go cart track, etc.
- Gift card for frozen yogurt, ice cream, slurpees, etc.
- Gift card for a manicure or pedicure
- A “date day” with you or someone special. A great way to give an experience gift is to do the experience with the child. Your time is often the very best gift you can give. You can take the child to any of the above activities. Or simply plan a day to spend with the child doing something they’d love. Maybe a picnic and play at a playground, sledding and hot chocolate or even an afternoon spent baking. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Often uninterrupted time spent with you or someone special is the best gift you can give a child.
Experience gifts can still be unwrapped
You can still give your kids an experience gift and something to unwrap. Find something related to the experience and give it to the child, along with a card, note or certificate telling them about the activity.
For example, give a new bathing suit to go with a swimming pass. Or a new apron to wear when you take them to paint pottery. Be creative and include a small item that relates to the experience, so your kids can still unwrap something, but avoid adding unnecessary clutter to your home.
Consumable gifts that will be used up are great clutter-free gift ideas for kids too. Here are some examples of consumable gifts for kids:
- Craft or art supplies. Can be as simple as crayons and pads of blank paper, or more specific supplies like water color paints.
- Craft kits or science experiment kits
- Treats they love – although you don’t want to go overboard with candy and treats, most kids love receiving some special snacks or treats as a gift.
- Movie night baskets – include everything for a fun family movie night. A DVD or gift certificate for a digital movie download or rental, and a variety of popcorn and treats to enjoy during the movie.
- Game night baskets – include everything for a fun family game night. Include an age appropriate game, and a variety of snacks and treats for game night.
Awesome clutter-free gift ideas for kids & minimalist families
However, if you, or friends or family, want to buy a physical gift for your children, the best way to avoid adding clutter is to be intentional with what you buy. Look for tried and true gifts and toys that seem to be universally loved by kids. Of course, take into consideration the child’s preferences and interests, and look for something you think they’ll enjoy.
When a toy is used or loved, it isn’t clutter because it adds value to your kids’ lives. Buying or asking for gifts that your kids will love and use is a great way to avoid gifts becoming clutter.
The key is buying or asking for the right gifts that will be used or loved. But sometimes that’s hard to do. It’s hard to know what will be used or loved without ending up as clutter in the bottom of the toy box. Toy stores today are filled with so many toys, it’s overwhelming just taking it all in, let alone finding gift ideas that will use used and loved.
Below is a list of 25 clutter-free gift ideas for kids to help you choose gifts your kids will use or love, rather than adding clutter to your home! These are all things my own kids play with regularly and love. I have a 3-year-old son, and a 6-year-old daughter, to give you a frame of reference.
25 awesome clutter-free gift ideas for kids
Remember that less is more with most of these clutter-free gift ideas for kids. Keep it as simple as you can. Kids don’t need every accessory or tons of extra pieces to enjoy a toy. Look for high quality toys that will last. And toys that let your child use their imagination while playing, instead of the toy doing the playing for the child.
1. Tea set
A simple metal or plastic tea set is always fun. My kids love filling their tea set with water and spend a lot of time having tea parties.
2. Play kitchen with a small selection of food and dishes
A play kitchen is great for pretend play. Keep the food, dishes and accessories to a minimum. Kids don’t need much, and are good at using other toys and items as pretend food. Too much pretend food and dishes seems to end up dumped all over the floor anyways!
3. Dress up clothes
A cash register is great for pretend play, our kids love to play pet shop and restaurant. And it’s also great for learning numbers, math and money management skills. Remember that less is more when buying any pretend money or coins. We have a small amount of pretend paper money, a few old gift cards, and sometimes borrow a few real coins.
This is a great toy for pretend play and practicing fine motor skills. My kids use this as pretend food in their kitchen, as well as to practice cutting and reassembling the food pieces.
This is a fun toy if your kids enjoy playing restaurant or coffee shop. My kids love taking orders and making coffee and tea. This toy gets played with so much at our house, way more than I even expected!
Lego and Duplo are classic toys that never go out of style. They give kids so many opportunities to be creative and use their imaginations, and are excellent for fine motor skills.
8. Magna Tiles
These magnetic tiles are a minimalist family’s dream. Not only are they are small and easy to store, but they have endless possibilities for hours of creative play.
Kids love to move and explore. A tunnel can be collapsed for easy storage, all while providing lots of fun, active play time.
A slide gives kids more opportunities to move, play and burn off some energy. We live in a place with long, cold, snowy winters, and having a few active toys that encourage climbing and playing are life savers during those long months.
11. Mini trampoline
Again, we like to have a few toys that encourage active play and burning off some energy. A mini trampoline is always fun for kids who love bouncing, active play.
A tent makes an awesome fort, reading nook, hideout, etc. It’s easy to store, and all kids seem to love having their own, secret spot.
13. Picnic basket
A picnic basket is such a great play tool. Remember to keep it simple and classic. Our kids love making their own picnics at snack time. Then setting them up and enjoying them wherever they decide their picnic spot will be.
14. Digital movies, music or audio books
Digital downloads are clutter-free gifts that can be enjoyed again and again. Find something that will interest your kids, knowing their interests and preferences.
15. Baby doll, doll stroller, doll crib
Baby dolls are classic toys that many kids seem to enjoy playing with. Keep it simple, kids don’t need dolls that talk, eat and poop. Instead, a simple doll is more open ended and perfect for most kids. A stroller and doll bed or crib are usually toys that get lots of use and love as well.
Balls are great open-ended toys that encourage active play.
17. Doctor kit
A doctor kit is a great pretend play toy and is great for encouraging imaginative play.
18. Riding toys (scooter, bike, plasma car, cozy coupe, ride-on toys, etc.)
Active riding toys are usually things most kids love. Even during our cold, snowy winters, our kids often ride their bikes, scooters and cars in the garage and have a blast.
19. Table and chairs
A child-size table and chair set is a great gift for kids. They can use it for crafts, drawing, coloring, snacks, playing restaurant, etc. This is the one piece of furniture that gets the most use in our playroom by far.
20. Simple doll house, car garage, barn, etc.
Doll houses, garages, and barns are great toys for pretend play. But again, keep it simple. Choose one that lets the child do the playing rather than lighting up, talking and playing for the child. And a few simple dolls and furniture, cars or animals are usually enough.
21. Mail box
This mail box is so much fun. It acts as a shape sorter, lock and key practice and an imaginative play toy all at once.
Books are excellent gifts that open a world of imagination for kids. There are so many excellent books. Some of our favourites are The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Cat in the Hat. As well as activity books like the I Spy books to keep kids engaged and learning.
Trains seem to be one of those toys kids either love or have no interest in. If your kids are in the group that love trains, then they can provide hours of entertainment and learning as kids build tracks and imagine scenarios.
Most kids love to draw, color, paint and create. An easel gives them a great spot for creative play.
25. V-tech watch
Although I try to avoid battery-operated toys or “screen” toys, my kids both have one of these watches and really enjoy them. Their favourite game on the watch is a running game that tracks how fast they run before the timer goes, then rates their speed with an animal. Both kids do a lot of laps around the house racing their watch, and I love the activity it encourages.
Enjoy the holidays, avoid the clutter
I hope these lists give you some clutter-free gift ideas for kids so you can enjoy giving and receiving gifts for your kids during the holidays without worrying about adding clutter to your home. With a little thought and intention, it’s easy to find clutter-free gift ideas for kids that they will use and love, without adding clutter.
The holidays don’t need to be something you dread, thinking about all the gifts and “stuff” that comes with them. Remember to focus on gratitude first, then use these suggestions of clutter-free gift ideas for kids to buy or ask for gifts for your kids that they will be thrilled to receive!
What are your favourite clutter-free gift ideas for kids? What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below. I’m always looking for more great clutter-free gift ideas for the kids in my life too!