In such a consumer driven society it is hard to steer our kids away from the desire and need for things. The irony is often the gifts that weren’t things, are the gifts from our childhood that we remember most fondly. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of inspiration and memory jogging to get the creative gift-giving juices flowing.

We put together a list of our top gift ideas for children that aren’t things.

Gift Ideas For Children They Will Remember Forever

1. Their own fruit tree to grow and nurture

Even if you don’t know a thing about growing a fruit tree your local nursery should be able to help. Failing that there is nothing you can’t google and nothing that doesn’t have a YouTube tutorial. Educate yourself and share in the experience of learning and growing with your child as a team. They will cherish the fruits of your combined labour like precious gold!


2. A veggie growing kit and your help in cultivating their own garden

Depending on the age of your child, the extent of your involvement can take any form. Many people have said learning to grow veggies from their grandparents or parent was their most treasured experience. If you don’t have someone knowledgeable in your corner, make learning together part of the experience (your local nursery and YouTube will have all the info you need). You can make this gift as small or big as you want. It can be as small as a patch of sand and some seeds or it can include all or some of the below:

  • A small shovel and spade
  • A watering can (can be made from a 2L beverage bottle with holes in the lid)
  • Seeds or seedlings (depending on whether you want to grow from seed or not). Mix up some quick growing leafy plants like lettuces, spinach, nasturtium with some small fruit-bearing items and root vegetables to keep the motivation going. Visit your local nursery and get their advice on what grows best in your area and what grows well together at this time of year.
  • A vacant flower bed or a flower box
  • Some compost and potting soil

If your child is really enthusiastic and taken by the experience you can easily extend the learning into compost creating too. Check out our blog on creating great compost at home.


3. A seed man with growing hair

Cress seeds or alfalfa seeds grow quickly and can easily be used to make hair for a seed head man, PLUS the sprouts are delicious! Give your little Seed Man’s hair a trim and throw his ‘hair’ in the salad – the kids will LOVE their ‘hair salad’. You can either give your child a kit with all the different pieces required to make their own little man or you can give them a ready-made one (or both)! You could end up with a whole family of seed men on your windowsill …

Here is a short tutorial on how to make your own seed man.

Worth noting: Be sure to get the seeds that are suitable for sprouting and consumption. Avoid the regular agriculture seeds (which are heavily chemically treated).


4. Their own kid-friendly recipe book

This is a personal favourite of mine. I used to regularly pick out a recipe from my Winnie The Pooh cookbook that my Mom and I would make together. I loved it! And your child likely will too.


5. The ingredients, tools, and recipe to make something yummy

Pick a fun recipe they will enjoy the results of and pre-pack all the ingredients. Include things like fun cookie cutters, edible decorating items etc and watch their eyes light up with excitement. I don’t know too many kids who don’t like to bake and create yum things complete with crazy decor.


6. A perfume making kit

Depending on the age of your child you can add many different things to this kit. For older children who want the real deal, actual perfume is made with an unscented alcohol (like cane or vodka) OR an unscented carrier oil (like jojoba oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil) and essential oils of your choice.

Here is a really easy video tutorial on how to make real perfume.

If you have younger kids that will be inspired by something more crafty and hands-on then using fragrant herbs and flowers from the garden is a real treat. Add some vanilla extract, a perfume bottle, and a coffee/tea strainer into their kit and let them choose the rest of their ingredients. This fun video shows you how to make perfume with young children.


7. Their very own kitchen tools

Kids love to help out and feel productive. If they are used to seeing you cook and like to help out in the kitchen get them their very own vegetable peeler, grater, mixing bowl or manual egg beater and officially assign them those duties …. and every kid needs their own apron! The youngsters will love it!


8. Homemade Playdough

There is a reason this has been given as a gift to kids for generations. It is simple to make and provides a never-ending supply of creativity and fun entertainment for kids. Here is our favourite playdough recipe for healthy activities for kids.

9. Fruit picking at a local orchard

This is obviously dependant on where you live. Strawberry farms are great fun for kids. If you can’t find fruit picking nearby put out a request on your local community facebook group for any vegetable gardeners who wouldn’t mind a helping hand on harvest day. It’s great fun for the gardener and the children!


10. Cold clay molding kit

Cold clay is great for kids. No toxic ingredients and their creation can be set in a normal oven or left to air dry (depending on where you live). Here is our favourite cold clay recipe without glue or, if you wanting a stronger more ply-able version and don’t mind the ingredients in wood glue, this cold clay recipe with glue works really well.

11. Arrange a visit with a local farmer or craftsman

Find a local craftsman that might be willing to show some young fans what they do for a few hours. Some great career experiences include a beekeeper, farmer, baker, yoghurt maker, shopkeeper and many more.


Our Personal Experience

Our family has moved to alternate Christmas present challenges each year. Some years we do handmade gifts only, others it is treasures from home or gifts below a certain (very challengingly-low) price range. It is great fun for us and the kids! There are so many memorable gift options other than toys. They aren’t expensive and your child will look back on those gifts with fond memories! Check out our other articles for more alternate zero waste and plastic-free gift ideas that aren’t toys.