Gift ideas that don’t add more stuff to your house

the everyday mom Dec 11, 2019

I love buying presents for my family. I carefully mull over gift ideas my husband or kids will love. I thrill at knowing a good secret. I adore seeing the look on someone’s face when they receive something they’ve been pining for… or even better, that thing they didn’t even know they wanted!

Because of that, I have been known to go a little overboard at Christmastime. After a few years, this led to an unfortunate (though not unforeseeable) problem: too much stuff. Sure, a tree surrounded by mounds of presents is beautiful. But what happens when years’ worth of mounds need to find places in our home? We end up overwhelmed with stuff. Our kids, instead of feeling blessed by their abundance, start to become ungrateful and careless with their belongings.

Over the past two or three Christmases, I have tried to replace things with memories. Let’s not add to the clutter that already pulls at us. Instead, let’s give our kids things they will enjoy and remember—and not pass along to Goodwill in order to make way for next year’s Christmas haul.

gift ideas that don't add more stuff to your house


Are you looking for great gift ideas but already feel like your house is beyond full? Here are a few of our favorite presents that won’t add more stuff to your house:



Yes, some families use all of their Christmas money to go to Disney. Next time you hear about one of those, could you please ask them to adopt me? For the rest of us, our Christmas budget doesn’t quite add up to Mickey status. That doesn’t mean that we can’t take a trip as part or all of our gift, though. A night or two at an indoor water park, weekend in a nearby city (with kid-friendly or couple-friendly activities planned), or a stay at a national park (even if they have to wait for better weather to “redeem” it) is a great way to say, “Merry Christmas!”



Tickets to a sporting event, concert, or play can be huge hits! But don’t feel limited to the big names. One year my daughter got tickets to a local college basketball game and had a blast. My husband and I often enjoy going to see local musicians, even if we have never heard of them. Knowing the type of event that will interest the receiver is far more important than a specific name.

You can also create your own custom event, whether a family outing or a special one-on-one date (with your spouse or a child!). A trip to the zoo, movies, or bowling alley can be tons of fun, and the memories will last far beyond Christmas morning.



Do you have a crafty kid? Stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby offer a variety of classes, or you can coordinate with other like-minded parents and book a private party. It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to gather a group of friends and make a fun craft!

If your child loves to be in the kitchen, look for places that offer kid cooking classes. Depending on the store and the age of your child, they might have parent-child courses or one that your child can do independently. Some even offer “camps” that take place over multiple days.

Whatever your child’s interests, do a quick Google search for classes that will build skills and provide hours of fun at the same time!



Similar to classes, but with a longer time commitment, lessons are a great way to build skills and confidence. Piano, violin, guitar voice, swimming, gymnastics, tae kwon do—the possibilities are endless! And yes, introducing a new instrument might technically mean more “stuff.” In the long run, though, you’ll be adding so much more than just one morning of excitement over a new toy.

What if you don’t find a place that offers lessons in the thing your child loves? Ask a talented person you know if they will invest in your child. My crafty daughter wanted to learn to sew, and my mother-in-law is handy with a sewing machine. What better way for my girl to learn than sitting next to her grandmother? Family members and friends can help to build skills and relationships, a double-win.



We have had a membership to our local zoo since Grace was one, and it is one of my favorite things to do! When our big kids were younger, we would go almost weekly during good weather. Even now, we love being able to drop in whenever we want.

If the zoo isn’t your scene, consider a museum. Anything from an interactive children’s museum to natural history to art—kids often enjoy it more than you think! And most museums (and zoos!) have reciprocal programs that provide free or discounted admission to similar facilities that your family might also enjoy.


Gifts of memories declare great messages to those we love: “I see you!”, “I believe in you!”, and “I want to spend time with you!” And here’s the best part: This isn’t limited to just kids! Two years ago, I planned six dates and scheduled one a month for January through July. I created a 4×6 photo description of each one, printed them, boxed them, and presented them to my husband, who actually cried. He said it was the most thoughtful gift he had ever been given.


This holiday season, consider giving a gift that lasts beyond Christmas morning.CLICK TO TWEET

What are some of your favorite “non-stuff” gift ideas?

This post is part of #FridayFive, hosted by Mrs. Disciple. Check out the link up for other great posts about gifts!

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