Five Gift Ideas that Aren’t Toys

Who doesn’t love seeing the joy on a child’s face as they open up presents at parties and holiday get togethers? That excitement of feeling like you’ve picked out such a great gift, trying to keep up with their interests as they grow.

The downside to gifts, especially toys and games, is it is difficult to predict how much it will be used and loved. Pieces may be lost, easily broken, or the toy may be discarded quickly after the party is over. For myself, as a mother of four young children, the clutter that toys create is absolutely maddening; especially the ones that really aren’t played with. I’ve thought long on suggestions for family members who wish to buy meaningful gifts that won’t be a waste of their money. I’ve found some local suggestions, but of course, there are many, many more around Rockford! There is something for all ages, all over.

  • Spark an interest! Booking a class is a gift that could encourage a hobby, life skill, or even a career.
    • Kate’s Pie Shop and Record store offers pie baking classes! During the class, parent and child learn how to bake the perfect pies. They even get to take home the ones they make! This is a great experience for an aspiring baker.  You can find schedules and details at the website
    • Three Ravens Studio offers hands-on pottery classes for children and couples. You can find information on their wares and class schedules at
    • Doodles Art Studio offers party packages and classes for all ages! We have personally held a birthday party here for the kids, and it was fantastic. Each child took home a beautiful piece of art, and some sparked a lifelong interest.
  • Schedule an activity! Even if it is a once in a lifetime, there are many activities you can arrange for you to do with the recipient, or them and a parent. The excitement and memories last much longer than a toy.
    • Zip Rockford is perfect for those thrill seekers! What an experience to have for anyone of any age. Right here in town, there is the opportunity to try something new.
    • Rockford Speedway has tickets for you and your racing enthusiast. A great opportunity to bond over something you can do time, and time again together. Root for your favorite racers!
    • Plan a day at Morton Arboretum for those that just want to enjoy whimsy and outdoors. Find the beautiful statues among the trees, and revel in the serene environment.
  • Subscriptions are the gifts that keep giving. You can provide a learning opportunity for many months after the celebration!
    • Tinkerbox is a monthly subscription that delivers a STEM project. Each kit encourages critical thinking, creativity, and a love for learning.
    • Little Passports deliver worldly experiences every month to children of all ages! This subscription caters to different age groups, and shares information about our world past our home towns.
    • One Third Stories is a literary subscription that helps teach young children a second or third language through fun, and easy stories.
  • Extra-curriculars can be expensive, and sometimes that keeps children from being able to participate in sports or activities that they wish to. Pooling money towards an agreed upon activity could make a huge impact on a child’s life.
  • Gifts to be opened for those that really enjoy it:
    • Plants are a great idea for children and teens. Gardening is great for mental and physical health, and can be tailored to suit the interests of so many personalities. From veggies to succulents, there is a garden type for nearly everyone. This also provides inspiration for future, or adjoining gifts of gardening tools, soil, seeds, or gift certificates to nurseries.
    • Art supplies is something that can also be tailored to various ages, and personalities.
    • Needed personal items such as sheets, bath towels, dishware, etc. These are things that occasionally need replaced, and can be purchased to reflect the recipient.

Of course, the recommended locations are examples. There are many locally owned crafts, businesses, and services that cater to one of a kind experiences. The benefits of avoiding non-toy gifts can appeal to so many: less waste, more personal, supporting businesses, and lasting memories. Chance of disappointment? Slim!