I have to admit something: I can no longer buy traditional gifts for my kids…
my mission is to find perfect gifts for preschoolers who have too many toys
Let me explain:
My kids don’t play really well independently.
They play well when there are other kids around, or when one of us plays WITH them… but they don’t play with their (many many) toys on their own. (There’s a small handful of toys they DO play with, but these are the exception, not the rule.)
I’ve always thought it was a little weird, because they have SO MANY toys! So many OPTIONS!
This past week we drove out to a camp site to meet up with friends, and as we were getting out of the car we murmured about how (not well) our children were going to handle the day… with no one else to play with and no toys along for the ride (oops).
I found two pails in the trunk, and we gave them two plastic cups… and sent them off to a rock pile to play.
I have to tell you… our jaws hit the ground in amazement when we realized that they had been playing in the rocks with their pails and cups for over TWO HOURS. (They were head to toe DIRT, but they were HAPPY.)
The thing is…
They don’t play like that at home… and I honestly think it’s because they’re overwhelmed with too many toy options and they literally don’t know where to start.
(The experience actually made me decide to implement toy rotation, but that’s a story for another day.)
I’ve also decided to (for the most part) stop giving toys to my kids as gifts.
With the holidays coming, it’s tempting to buy yet another toy, because let’s face it – there’s nothing like the joy of giving something awesome to your kiddo and watching their face light up as they open it… but I’ve finally come to understand it’s that more toys is not what my kids need.
The problem of too many toys is literally overwhelming them and sucking the joy from their days!
(It’s is a very first world problem to have, but I swear it’s real!)
(THIS IS A COLLABORATIVE POST WITH LITERATI BOOK CLUB, OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
So what can we give the our preschooler who has too many toys?
I still want to be able to give my kids gifts… and watch them open things, and experience their joy… so I’ve compiled this list of 10 fun gifts for preschoolers who have too many toys.
1) A Membership to the Literati book club:
This is a gift that will give ALL YEAR. (My kids LOVE receiving their Literati book box!)
Reading with your child is not only fun for them, but also SO beneficial in helping them to learn reading (and to love reading). It’s literally just good for your child’s brain!
Literati (is a way-easier-than-the-library) monthly book subscription for kids – it costs a little under ten bucks a month, and my kids get so excited at having their very own package show up to their door.
(It’s also more pandemic resistant than the library!)
Literati sends five age appropriate books based on the month’s theme (think things like kindness, bravery etc), and they’ll give you a full week to TRY THEM OUT and decide whether or not to keep them.
They’re books that are handpicked by adults who are motivated by making reading fun for both you and your kiddo, so you aren’t going to get a lot of duds in these boxes.
Here’s what we got in this month’s box:
The Look for Lady Bug in Ocean City is SUCH a fun little book that I would never have tried if not for the subscription!
My three year old is not as invested in “long stories” as my four year old, and this book is very interactive – you are spotting a cute little bug in these absolutely gorgeous art-work pages. (we had a couple books in this vein before, but they were more first-words style and she had outgrown them. I hadn’t thought to look for more advanced versions!)
The alphabet skills book is PERFECT for where we are right now – both my kids are practicing their letters, but the wipe-off style means we can use it over and over again – AND take turns.
I honestly wasn’t excited about Edward the Emu… I thought the cover was boring (oops, I know what I did there LOL). However, the story is SUPER SWEET, about an Emu that thinks everyone else is more special than him (of course he learns he is wrong)!
In this months box we also got Slow Samson, absolutely adorable about a little sloth – really beautiful and engaging art work here.
The only book I wasn’t excited about was Hide and Seek – but just because the story is very basic and a little juvenile for where my kids are currently at.
You can spend the entire week reading books to your kids, and then send back the books you don’t want to keep (which could be ALL of them if you don’t want to keep any of them). You only pay for the ones you keep, and you’ll be paying the same price for them (or less) that you’d pay on Amazon.
(This month, I’d probably just keep them all and save Hide and Seek to give away at a baby shower!)
2) A Subscription to an educational app
While we do try to use screen time wisely, we have found that it’s unrealistic to keep our kids screen-free.
One thing we absolutely DON’T let our kids do is play mindless games on our phones or tablets. We prefer that if they are going to use a screen for 15 minutes here or there, they play learning games.
The HOMER Learn & Grow app has literally THOUSANDS of educational games – (and I mean real education, like teaches them letters, sounds, sight words, addition, subtraction, etc) and it’s only 60 bucks per year. What’s better is that you can get a free 30 day trial to see if you kid loves it first! Our kids absolutely love it – and I LOVE that it doesn’t clutter the house and it helps to keep them entertained when we travel.
3)A ticket to an amusement park / water park / zoo:
A day out on the rides or chatting with the animals will last in their memories MUCH longer than any plastic thing will.
We took our kids to an amusement park this year for the first time ever… 2 months ago… and they are STILL talking about it and asking when we can go back.
4) A family “date” night (like a movie and dinner out at their favorite restaurant… including desert):
This isn’t something that we’ve personally been able to do yet (my kids have never been to a movie… thanks pandemic), but we are planning a family date night now and we are all SO excited about it!
My kids rarely get desert when we eat out (and they’ve NEVER had a pop haha) so this will probably be a big part of the night.
Spending quality time with your children can be a wonderful gift for preschoolers who have too many toys in itself – most of us lead really busy lives and it’s easy to forget to take time to sit together and laugh.
(Another thing that’s been really great about the book subscription is that it’s provided a new opportunity to SIT TOGETHER and read new books each month!)
5) Craft supplies:
Craft supplies(or things like playdough etc) are NOT the same as toys in my opinion- they allow for imagination and creativity… and they don’t truly contribute to long term clutter, because when they are used up you THROW THEM OUT haha.
A gift basket of scissors, glue sticks, markers and colored pencils is always a hit!
6) Fun bedding:
A pillow case or blanket featuring their favorite Disney characters or super hero will be a total hit – and it’s absolutely not a toy. (You could even do personalized bedding that has their name on it.)
I got my daughter this set of paw patrol-themed bedding for Christmas last year and oh my gosh – SHE SLEEPS IN HER OWN BED WITH IT.
7) A watering can and some seeds:
Planting and caring for living things is a great learning experience – and it’s so much fun to watch little plants sprout and grow.
You can make planting a more involved project by painting the plant pots!
8) A tree swing or hammock:
These as they are the most magical thing to have in your yard – I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in the family (including you) decides they need one!
9) A room full of balloons:
It might sound silly to you, but it will be like a dream to your preschooler who has too many toys! Grab 100 balloons from the dollarstore and fill their bedroom! It’s like a giant ball pit… they will have a BLAST, and when you’re done with the fun, you pop ’em and throw ’em out.
No (long term) clutter, no (long term) mess.
10) A pizza party with their friends:
Just like a special family date is fun, a special friends date is fun!
A for-no-reason party is fun for kids of ALL ages, but especially exciting to little people who are only used to birthday get togethers.
They don’t need much – just some pizza and fun games, like “pin the nose on the snowman”.
11) A new board game:
Board games are a really great way to spend quality time with your kids – and so many of them provide good learning exercises (like counting, reading, sequences and losing gracefully haha)!
Here’s a list of our favorite family board games for kids 3-5 and up! (Games that my little kids personally take part in and understand!)
12) STEM activities/toys
Yes I know, this was going to be a list to SOLVE for your kiddo with too many toys – but STEM toys are different (really). STEM toys are based in science and can help enhance their problem solving abilities, critical thinking skills, and logical reasoning.
Personally I think it is best to introduce these kind of things to our kids when they’re young. This way they can have fun with them and get excited about them loooong before they have peers complaining about “boring” science.
I really liked the products from The Stem Kids. We ended up trying this microscope, and my kiddos (both under 6) had a blast looking through it. It was also pretty affordable, which is a huge plus because many STEM kid sets are not.
If you like the idea of still giving physical things, but generally avoiding plastic junk, here’s a much larger list of Christmas gifts for toddlers that aren’t toys!
Coming up with gifts for preschoolers who have too many toys takes a little thinking, (and maybe a little knowing what your kid is really into) but I think it’s a well worth-while thing to do.
If your kids are a little older, this gets even easier – holidays, spending money, even clothes and jewelry become great gift options!