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Screen-free gift ideas

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

We know that reducing the amount of time our children spend on screens is one way to promote their positive social and emotional development. So when it comes to the holidays, it can be a real struggle to think beyond the video games.

But, great gift ideas for kids that don't involve screens are out there! Here are some excellent ideas from some of our favorite screen-free (and clutter-free!) parenting blogs.

Experience Gifts

A fun and memorable way to give a gift, especially for your more adventurous kids.

“Experience” Gift Ideas

  • Memberships or passes to an amusement park, zoo, museum, science center, aquarium... the list goes on! Spark your child’s adventurous nature AND their intellectual curiosity.

  • Tickets to a sports game or concert

  • Enrollment in an activity, lesson or class they want to learn more about

  • Memberships or passes for swimming, ice skating, bowling, or other activity

  • Gift cards for pottery painting, group paint nights, or other craft center programs

  • Passes to an indoor playground, trampoline park, water park, mini golf course, or go-kart track

  • Gift card for ice cream, pizza or another special treat

  • A mani-pedi gift certificate

  • A “date day” with you or someone special to your child - it’s a great way to combine other passes or craft ideas on this list while spending quality, one-on-one time with your kids. It doesn’t have to be expensive!

  • An opportunity to give back to their community - a day volunteering together as a family, building a “Little Free Library” together, or researching a cause or charity your child feels passionate about - and finding a way for them to get involved.

And you can still give your child something "substantial" to open or unwrap with an experience-centric gift. Think t-shirts or merchandise for the concert they now have on their calendar, a set of brushes for the painting class they’ll take, or simply a hand-written card and certificate for a day spent with someone they love.

Consumable Gifts

Consumable gifts are a great way to combine an experience and a physical item they can see and hold. Excellent for kids who enjoy hand crafts or science experiments.

“Consumable” Gift Ideas

  • Art or craft supplies - brushes and paint, sewing or knitting kits, or intricate coloring books for kids who enjoy quiet, focused creativity

  • Science experiment kits - an awesome gift for your kid who is always asking “why?” Or “how?”

  • A special treat or baked good - a budget-friendly and heartfelt way to show your kids you care

  • Movie or game night baskets - combine all the elements needed to hold the perfect family bonding night. Popcorn, candy, brand-new board games (with all the pieces!), even cozy blankets or special pj’s.

  • New books or puzzles - or puzzle books! Always a great idea for your child who is far happier buried in a book or project.

Gifts that Encourage Free Play

Younger children are always looking for ways to entertain themselves and explore their imagination!

“Free Play” Gift Ideas

  • Dress Up Box - from hand-me-downs to silly props to last year’s Halloween costumes, dress up boxes can be a timeless way for kids to express themselves.

  • Play kitchen or doctor center - going hand in hand with dress up boxes, themed play centers can encourage curiosity as well as creativity.

  • Blocks - a time-tested, proven way to entertain small kids for hours. From wooden blocks to Legos, building less-than-structurally-sound towers and villages can be just as satisfying as knocking them all down and starting over.

Gifts that Inspire Outdoor Play

Every parent knows the struggle of telling your kids to play outside, especially on those gorgeous sunny days. Sometimes all they need is a little push to get moving.

“Outdoor Play” Gifts

  • Something they can push or ride - bikes, trikes, battery controlled cars, mini strollers...

  • A play house - a great gift that withstands years of wear and tear

  • A trampoline - great for encouraging movement and competition!

  • A swing or swing set - it might sound simple, but we all have memories of swinging a high as the sky - no screen can beat the thrill of a good old fashioned swing.

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